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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey Everyone,

Thought I would share my setup. Its come a long way, and almost complete now. I have a few more ideas that I will tackle over the winter which will include a one touch water change with a drain directly plumed into the wall and I may relocate the RODI unit to the right side of the tank over the auto-top off and custom build a tall acrylic salt water mixing tank to the left side of the main display tank and scrap the current 'hidden mixing tank.'

Well here we go... I hope to inspire fellow reefers out there to get a big ass tank even though you might have a small space to put it in. I live downtown Toronto in a condo, and you learn to be inventive with your space usage sometimes. I set my tank up in my office/den and on days I work from home I couldn't be more relaxed. I haven't regretted the tank at all and find it very rewarding. I've made a few mistakes, mainly around water changing, auto-top off, which resulted in a wet carpet. Yes, to the person buying my place I will have a nice new carpet installed before I leave. I have also been adding equipment over time as I research and find out more. The main equipment I started with were skimmer, uv sterilizer, circulation pumps, aquarium controller, two Kessil lights, and fuge lights.

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There's the space, normally I don't have the lights on in here and usually let the tank light the room. The shimmer effect is awesome and I would tell everyone to get a single point light source. There's a nasty shadow from the center brace, hoping that will be corrected with an additional light. I started with 2 Kessils, now at 3, will add the final light in a few months. The lights are the A360W-E. Can't say they are for everyone, some people like lightning storms, all green, all red, wifi, etc etc etc. These lights work amazing with a controller and a major PITA to use on a stand-alone basis. The lights are marketed as 'Tuna Blue' which means you can only control the intensity and the amount of blue. I have mine ramp up during the day, and start and stop on full blue. I have the lights 50/50 blue/white balance at high noon. *PS, the flower/vase was not my idea

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Next up... A storage space is shown here, inside is where I mix for water changes. Also to note, a Digital Aquatics Elite controller. In total I think I have every module they have except for the dosing pumps (went with a stand-alone unit). Overall I would say that after doing freshwater without a controller for many years and now having one, I will never go back. The ability to monitor, control, and design aquarium functions is incredible. This is not a debate on which controller is best, I just say have one that is best for you. My particular controller is okay and does the job. I am a closet nerd so programming it was not an issue, nor was getting the NET module to work so that I can check on my tank remotely. Do I think they could have made a better product, yes I do. This controller is probably not user friendly nor is the connected interface 'pretty'. Keep in-mind they are about to launch a new system in 'Fall 2014'... still waiting on that one.

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Water changing made easy. Well almost effortless actually. So here we have a progressing idea. On Thursday I have the controller open a valve on the RODI to start filling the container, there's a float valve near the back so that when the water is high enough a circulation pump and the heater turn on. All I have to do is remember to add salt! Usually I do this on Friday night and proceed with the water change sometime on Saturday. As for what time on Saturday typically depends on what time I can manage to get out of bed. As for what time I can get out of bed, this always depends on how Friday night went... the cycle continues. My mistakes with this system... FLOAT VALVE!!! As much as I tried to time the filling, water pressure was not consistent leaving some days with more pressure, meaning less fill time, and other days more fill time. My programming on the controller was flawed which resulted in the occasional overfill. My solution was simple, a manual float valve was installed. The other solution could have been adding another float valve input to the controller, but I had no more inputs for that module and quite frankly I got lazy. Also to note, temp probe is programmed to shut off the heater at 78, just some redundancy there. Also there is a PH probe, its an old probe and doesn't really work. As a general rule, they should always be kept wet. I also recently tipped my return pump so that the intake is closer to the bottom of the tank to get almost all the water out. In total this is a 25 gallon tank. My display total volume is around 175 gallons. I do 14.285714% water changes per week. Probably don't have to do that much, but that's just what happens over here.

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Nothing too important in this picture other than a mysterious button. If I push that button it turns on the return pump in the mixing tank which is plumbed into the return of the display tank. Quick note on this, I also added a couple of fail safes, first is a ball value I need to open that connects the mixing tank and the main tank, the second is an in-line one way valve. The one way valve serves as protection against a forgetful operator. This way if I forget to close the ball valve and turn on the tank's main return pump it doesn't back flow into the mixing tank and then all over my house. I also have a high output RODI unit which is rated at 150 gallons per day vs the standard 75 gallons.

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Trial and error is the lesson here. I purchased a leak detector and the sensor can been seen on the floor beside the mixing tank in one of the earlier pictures. I have the RODI plumbed directly into the wall and I've had some accidents. Currently if anything malfunctions (mixing tank/auto top off) the main water input supply will be cut. I think this was a good use of $50 and suggest that everyone gets this unit.

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Auto top off stored to the left side of the tank. Not too noticeable unless you are well into the room. Manual float valve installed because I forget I am filling it and make a mess. A small pump injects RODI water as a float valve is triggered in the sump when the water level changes. This is a 5.5 glass tank in which I drilled for the float valve. You can also see the return line from the mixing tank.

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The fuge... I have two separate tanks in the stand connected by 1.5" flex pvc. I am in the process of turning this tank into 'FRAGNATION!' I've cleaned it up more since this pic and will add better lighting. I had some macro algae down there but it kept dying, so out it goes. I will try my hand at the great art of frags. I also plan to keep my extra BTAs down there, they have split a few times, so time to make some money back!

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Above the fuge... Mounted a doser here, its new at this point, hoping for total stability. You can also see some of my plumbing, yes yes... messy gluing. You can see the red handle, which is for the mixing tank input, great news its shut! I also designed the fuge to have an adjustable flow rate. I have control how much water goes to either sump. Currently I have the fuge receiving about 20% flow, and the remainder of the water incoming from the overflow is diverted to the main sump with the skimmer (manual adjustment from the black valve handles).

Motor vehicle Gas Machine Kitchen appliance Electrical wiring


The main sump... Hmm, looking a bit messy in this picture, oops. Well its pretty straight forward, water comes in, there's a skimmer, there's a reactor, there's probes, and then it goes back up into the tank. Main tip here is for when I do water changes, I installed a valve (black handle) that stops back flow into the sump from the mixing tank pump. Meaning if there was no valve there the water from the mixing tank pump would follow the path of least resistance and end up filling, then overflowing onto the floor. I also made an effort to keep all the wiring as high as possible. All the controllable plug outlets are at the very top of the space.

And that concludes the tour!

Ask me any questions you have, I would love to share my experience with you. I say get the biggest tank you can and then figure out the rest from there. If you need help planning your set-up I could also help you with some ideas. The main objective with this build was to do it right so that I could spend almost all my time enjoying the tank and watching it flourish vs spending extra time on maintenance and housekeeping.

Comments are welcome on this thread.

Mods... Is this sticky worthy???

-Joel
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you! Any suggestions for improvements or tricks of the trade?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the feedback!

I did check with the condo, however I will admit I neglected to leave out the size of the tank :) I specifically asked if there were any restrictions on aquariums, and the management said no.... so I left it at that!

From time to time the condo does enter my unit, so I would have to say they are aware its here. No communication about it, yet.

As for the weight, my floor is poured concrete, it can hold way more... perhaps 300 gallon (next tank).

Go big, always go big!
 

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That is amazing! I have been too afraid to put anything bigger than a 29g in my condo. Did you check with your condo rules about max tank size or weight issues on the floor?
There are no weight issues in condos with poured concrete floors for any size aquarium. Not to worry. And as much as it's always a good idea to check your condo docs, I have never seen a building where an aquarium is not allowed.
The whole pet issue thing is more about infringing on quiet enjoyment for neighbours than what you do inside your suite. So as long as your fish don't bark too loud or bite someone in the elevator, you will be fine.
It might be in some older buildings that the mgmt has created it's own rule because of an issue in the past. So there are always exceptions to this statement.
 

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great looking set-up. you've done a bang-up job! I have the same kind of self contained waterchange system. No buckets or barrels here.
 

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There are no weight issues in condos with poured concrete floors for any size aquarium. Not to worry. And as much as it's always a good idea to check your condo docs, I have never seen a building where an aquarium is not allowed.
The whole pet issue thing is more about infringing on quiet enjoyment for neighbours than what you do inside your suite. So as long as your fish don't bark too loud or bite someone in the elevator, you will be fine.
It might be in some older buildings that the mgmt has created it's own rule because of an issue in the past. So there are always exceptions to this statement.
Yeah I guess that makes sense. I've always been worried about the liability of the tank breaking and my downstairs neighbor getting a rainshower of 30g of fish water. Cant imagine that would go over well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I suppose the tank could burst (knock on wood)... I am not sure how all condo units are built, but my friend in the building had the person above them set their unit on fire. When the fire department came and put it out, with water... lots of water... none got into his unit. I would imagine that the units are somewhat water tight, more like fire proof, as building code. Obviously don't rely on the fact that you live in a concrete box that its not going to leak below you, but I would imagine its a safe bet you will flood the hall before your neighbour below.

As for the water changing station, super easy to set-up... if you need exact details I can elaborate. The long and the short is this, RODI into a container, circulation pump to mix, heater to heat, return pump to tank. I added a controller to do it all automatically, but a few switchable outlets on a power bar and you can do it just as easy.

Thanks for all the feedback, keep it coming!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Okay this is cool. Btw did Boogerboy help you set this up?

I'm more into FW planted aquariums but I really like what you've done. The learning lesson you're giving me: go big. It's more expensive but it's fawking awesome.
I used to have a planted tank with Cichlids... yes, its true! Everyone said it can't be done, which only made me want to do it more. Eventually, you have to try salt. period.

As for Boogerboy, not sure who that is!!! He better bring a box of tissues though if he ever comes over to check out the tank! From start to finish this was 100% me. Lots of research and planning was done first, including drawings of ideas for plumbing etc as I brainstormed. Not sure if I would so anything differently if I had the chance, maybe just more unions. I even used flex pipe around the pump return to help minimize vibrations, all by design. As for the money, I far exceeded what I thought I was going to spend, perhaps I would have changed that if I had the chance. No wait... its worth every penny!

Thanks for the comments,

Joel
 

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very nice setup.... I was worried about having a tank when I owned my condo.. so I got a dog instead.. wish I seen this then.... don't get me wrong.. love my pup... but, he can be a bastard at times. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
As long as your pets bring you enjoyment you can't go wrong. Thanks for the comments everyone. I will have to upload some pictures soon of the progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Wow, Found a Picture from Day 1

I can't believe the difference from day one until now...

Day 1
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Recent Full Tank Shot

Day 345

Still lots of room, but coming along nicely.
 

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Very nice progress in one year.
 
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