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Dual Tank System Build Thread

Discussion in 'Marine Reef Keeping' started by lanimret, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. lanimret

    lanimret AC Members

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    I've been planning this build since I got my new home about 6 months ago. I still have a lot of 'issues' to work out, and I am hoping that starting a thread here will be a way to get a lot of them answered before I start spending money.

    I have 3 primary goals with this build:

    1) To reduce the risk of overflows and potential breakage (I have a glass tank now). I literally have nightmares and leap up in bed from time to time thinking the tank shattered.

    2) To reduce the maintenance load and improve the tanks ability to function with limited intervention (like going on vacation for a week).

    3) To enjoy my tank more. I have found myself becoming frustrated and unhappy with my 'hobby' and I have come to the conclusion that it is because the tank resides in a room we almost never use so most of my time spent with the tank these days is during maintenance. So this project will put the tank in an area of the house we use regularly.

    The reason I am doing two tanks is because of the placement of the tank. What I will be doing is using the two tanks to build a 'wall' in order to turn a loft into a den. We were going to build this wall anyway, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I have some preliminary sketches of how this will look that i will scan and post later. The idea is to have a french door in the center with the tanks on both sides. The tanks will be open on 3 sides (kind of like two peninsula's with a door between them).


    This wall resides on a primary load bearing floor of the upper story. I verified this with the builder (foreman), but I am considering asking an engineer of some sort (structural, architect?) to come out and give me an 'ok'. This wall also resides directly kitty -orner to the 3rd car portion of my tandem garage.

    I drew up a rough sketch of the layout and planned plumbing:

    [​IMG]

    The biggest issue here will be the plumbing needed for the second tank to go under the door. These are 10" joists though and I have various pictures of the sub flooring from before the house was completed so I don't think it will be an issue to bring a couple of PVC pipes through a few, but this is another thing I am looking into.

    The tanks will be 100g Acrylic (48X24x20) tanks. I already have a lead on a pair that I hope will do the trick and I should know in a few weeks. As I require the overflow to be on one end of the tank (which will reside behind cabinetry) these tanks do not have overflows. I will be modifying them for my purposes. I cannot afford to buy custom made tanks, so this is the next best thing. I could probably go as large as 120g to be flexible.

    My current tank is a 75G reef and has been up and running for about 3 years. I built the sump out of a 20g and custom built the refugium out of high grade acrylic. I won't be reusing it sadly as I made one major critical design flaw that has caused me a lot of grief. The first tank (the on on the left) will be the replacement for this tank. I have not yet decided on exactly what will reside in the right tank, though I am leaning towards a FOWLR or aggressive tank.

    Equipment I will be re-using:

    48" T5 HO 8 bulb fixture
    Large (220g) Coralife protein skimmer
    1 #4 Koralia
    ~85 live rock
    Various heaters, pumps, and plumbing parts.
    1x Reefkeeper Typhoon 3 extreme
    1x 10g quarantine tank
    Clip on refugium light
    auto-top-off system

    Equipment I will need to buy: (I have a tight budget for this project)

    Light fixture for second tank (smaller)
    More Koralia's based on need
    ~100lbs of rock, not live, which I will cure and seed
    Sand, which I will buy not live and seed
    2x high head pumps (probably Iwaki's)
    1x ~60g used (as long as it holds water) acrylic tank for sump
    1x ~50g used tank (or other container) which will be used for 'simple' water changes
    1x refugium, undetermined size/design
    Various plumbing supplies
    Plywood, Particle Board, 2x4's and hardwood for cabinetry

    I will initially be focusing on getting the first tank up and running before I tackle the second. I will build it out, but won't fill it or populate it until after the first tank is complete. This will allow me to break up some costs (light, 2nd pump, etc) and keep me from getting overwhelmed.

    Also a major part of this plan will be a cabinet in the garage. I plan for this to be a 4' wide floor to ceiling cabinet which will house all of the equipment. I have some sketches of this I will also post once I scan them. This will basically house a sump on the bottom with a 'mixing tank' directly above it. Both will have drains. When a water chance is required, I will simply put salt into the mixing tank, let it sit. Then open the drain on the sump until it empties to a certain point, shut the drain, open the drain on the mixing tank, and refill the sump. This should resolve the hauling water across the house issue and make maintenance much simpler. The cabinet will also house my filtration system, quarantine tank, and refugium.

    Problems I have yet to completely solve:

    1) Plumbing under the door. Is this going to be more of an issue than I expect?
    2) What size drainage and return for each tank? and should I house this in a larger surrounding pipe as it passes through the wall into the garage (to catch any potential leaks).
    3) Difficult of adding an overflow into an acrylic tank while taking lip into account. Also what design to use (Corner, or just section off a few inches completely).
    4) Upper cabinet design that will allow for easy maintenance. I have a few idea's on this, but I haven't come to any conclusions.
    5) Will the weight of the tanks be an issue. I don't think so as long as I stick with 100g. Each tank at aprox. 1000lbs spread over 6.6sq ft is only 151lbs per sq ft, but I want to be certain.
    6) The million other issues I haven't thought of yet.

    I have every woodworking tool known to man (and have been building things for 15 years) so all the wood working portions shouldn't be an issue. I've also previously done some Acrylic work with my hand built refugium and sump. I don't believe anything in the scope I've laid out is outside my skill-set.

    Part of the point of this thread is simply for me to keep organized, and keep motivated. I certainly do not consider myself an aquarium expert, and I am hoping for any advice anyone is willing to give. Nothing trumps experience.

    I hope to get started in the next few weeks, I'll post some pictures of the locations and sketches I've worked up this weekend.
     
  2. Nolapete

    Nolapete Monster Tank Builder

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    Since your plumbing will be hidden, you can go inexpensive and build pvc overflows which do not require you to modify the tanks. There's a sticky on monsterfishkeepers.com in the DIY section.
     
  3. xsdbs

    xsdbs AC Members

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    this sounds like it will be a nice a set up and a nice project. can't wait to see it in progress.
     
  4. lanimret

    lanimret AC Members

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    That's a good idea, I'll check into that.

    Thanks.
     
  5. Ace25

    Ace25 www.centralcoastreefclub. com

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    Wow, that was more of a book than a post... Let me try and offer some advice on your questions, although without actually seeing what you have to work with some are just guesses.

    1. Plumbing under the door, yes, this is going to be a BIG issue I think. I am thinking you would have to cut/notch out spots in the cross members of the floor support to be able to run a PVC line through it which could certainly compromise the structural integrity of the floor, and a drain line is quite big and can be a major problem. Without seeing what it looks like under the floor it is really hard to say though.

    2. 1-1/2" or 2" would be my suggestion on drain sizes.

    3. Drilling acrylic for overflow is very easy to do. When your closer to doing it just post pics but that is going to be one of the simplest problems to solve IMO.

    4. No real question. ;)

    5. Engineer like you mentioned would be what I would do to have peace of mind, but I honestly don't suspect there will be any issues with the size tanks you stated.

    6. Million answers to those million questions... when you come across them, just ask. :D

    Your sump/return lines are a different issue to work out. Not sure if you were planning 1 or 2 separate sumps. If only 1, then you can use just 1 large return pump for both tanks.
     
  6. lanimret

    lanimret AC Members

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    Thanks Ace. Trust me, plenty of pictures coming. We spent every other day taking pictures of the house while it was being built, so I don't think I lack for info there.

    I was planning one large sump, and your right I could do what your saying, I guess a larger pump (not sure exactly how to calculate how much larger, i was looking at the Iwaki 40-55) coupled with some flow restricting valves. I will need to shut off one side completely to start with, but it might not be a bad idea. I was also considering using two pumps and combining them into one return to provide a bit of redundancy.

    If I don't go under the doorway, the only other option I had was to put a larger tank on one side, and offset the door, but I really don't like that aesthetically, so I'm going to try and find a way.
     
  7. Ace25

    Ace25 www.centralcoastreefclub. com

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    Actually, if it is only a garage under the floor, you could put the drain of the second tank straight though the floor and hang it from the ceiling of the garage. Shouldn't be really an eyesore if it is white PVC hung to a white ceiling in the garage. This would actually be a better option also because you can put a slight angle on the drain with shims to allow it to drain better and not have a straight horizontal piece like going under the floor would require. Again, without pics, just going how I picture it in my head so far. :) But your pics don't really say what the room is directly under the tanks.. if it isn't a garage, then out goes my idea.

    Edit: Thinking more.. if it is a inside room under the tanks, but the overflows can come down right by a wall, you could build a soffit around the pipes to hide them out to the garage.
     
  8. lanimret

    lanimret AC Members

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    It's not a garage, but its actually not a bad idea because it's a laundry room that leads to the garage, so that might be feasible. I have to look at exactly where it lines up, i'll do so tonight.
     
  9. lanimret

    lanimret AC Members

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    Alright, pictures galore.

    This is the best shot of the 'wall' itself I can get, it's as your coming up the stairs, and I don't have a wide enough angle camera to get a straight on shot.

    [​IMG]

    Next here is a rough sketch I put together awhile back to kind of get across the idea that I'm looking for. I've since expanded on the cabinets, but it's the right idea:

    [​IMG]

    Shot of the garage framing where the equipment will go (and the joists above):

    [​IMG]

    The relevant portions of the floorplan. Upper and lower locations circled:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Continued in next post...
     
  10. lanimret

    lanimret AC Members

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    This is a good shot of the load bearing wall below:

    [​IMG]

    A shot of the floor directly upon which the left tank will sit:

    [​IMG]

    And one more sketch of the general idea behind the equipment cabinet, though I doubt it will end up laid out like this exactly:

    [​IMG]
     
  11. bigwave

    bigwave AC Members

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    Wow, I am subscribing, this looks like quite the build.

    I don't have a lot to add, other than I am setting up a dual tank (freshwater) system myself in the next couple months, and I can't wait watch you and get tips. mine are going to be one above, and one below with a sump in the room behind.

    The one thing I was wondering, is why mess with the overflows? Just drill the tank, and stick a pipe or 2 through with screens on them. They could be right at the water level, or come from the bottom up to where you want the water level to be at.

    Also it looks like there are some open spaces over the arches downstairs. Could you run your plumbing through that? Run the drain pipe from the rear of each tank, behind that floor beam, and into that pocket over the arch? It's hard to know exactly how thing are lined up not seeing it in person, but it sounds good!!! :)

    I hope it goes well, and I'll be watching with keen anticipation!
     
  12. lanimret

    lanimret AC Members

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    Thanks!

    Ya it is going to be a project, and I'm hoping this thread helps me stay focused and on task. My first major portion is getting the tanks fairly cheap. I've got a guy who's looking to sell me two tanks that will be perfect, but he's out of town for a few weeks. Unless I can find another option sooner, I'm just going to be preparing what I can until then. I won't start any deconstruction until I have the tanks in hand, the wife would kill me.

    As far as the archways, thats what I'm hoping ya. We'll see as I deconstruct, I'm sure I'll figure something out.

    And yes, I am seriously considering ditching the overflow at this point. I'm considering adapting something similar to what you mentioned, but with a few modifications. I'll probably work on that some over the next few days and post for feedback.

    I need to keep things as DIY as possible where I can or use what I already have. Budget is a major concern here, but I'm pretty confident it won't be an issue.
     
  13. Zaffy

    Zaffy Why would ******* be censored?

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    Hey Lani, Just checking in.

    I think I still have those diagrams on my desk here somewhere.
     
  14. Conski

    Conski AC Members

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    this is a big ol book with complicated skechtes.. why im up at 5am trying to comprehend this drunk is beyond me but i can honestly say that i hope you do this and im gonna be watching :)
     
  15. lanimret

    lanimret AC Members

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    I did some measurements today and it looks like bigwave is totally correct. The archways below line up perfectly with the floor above. This is awesome news because it means the plumbing will be much easier and no longer an issue. I have some decent shots of the area and it looks like it will be clear sailing straight across.

    So my most worrisome problem is solved. Great news.

    Thanks for the suggestion!
     
  16. lanimret

    lanimret AC Members

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    While working on my plumbing plan I started looking for some sort of screen to use on a standpipe style overflow drain. One thing I would really like to accomplish with this build is a better ability to keep more fragile animals like sea slugs. I've tried in the past and never have been able to correctly protect them. I was thinking of using a 2" pipe for the drain as Ace suggested and having it split into two 1.5" drains once it enters the tank (giving me as much surface area as possible for drainage) and using something like:

    http://www.marinedepot.com/Suction_Screen_1_1_2_inch_Slip_x_3.5_inch_Long_Slip_Fitting_Strainers-Spears-FT8611-FIFTSTSP-FT8631-vi.html

    Does that seem like a workable solution? Any better suggestions?
     
  17. Ace25

    Ace25 www.centralcoastreefclub. com

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    The plan sounds fine, but stay away from that strainer you linked to. I have 2 of those myself sitting in my "extra parts I will never use again" bin. They don't fit anything normal, ie. normal sizes of PVC. I found this one out the hard way. Just get the black tapered ones they sell at MD, they work much better IMO.. well.. they fit, which is the key. It is frustrating trying to make a part that is just a tad too big or small fit on something you want it to when a $2 part will save a lot of headaches.

    BTW, for drilling holes in acrylic, this is really all you need. And for returns, these bulkhead/adjustable jets are pretty nice.

    http://www.customaquatic.com/estore/control/subctg/~ctg=s_pf-tj-t2/~pctg=s_pf

    [​IMG]
     
  18. bigwave

    bigwave AC Members

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    Cool. I am glad that is going to work out. Hopefully the rest of the project goes just a well.
     
  19. lanimret

    lanimret AC Members

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    First draft of the primary plumbing diagram I am considering.

    [​IMG]

    Standpipe 'overflows' drilled through the bottom of the tank (with some kind of screen on top).

    Drain pipes are 2" from the equipment cabinet through the bottom of the tanks. At that point they will split off into two 1.5" pipes to create additional drainage surface area and minimize clogging. I'm considering combining these at the junction point into one larger pipe, but I am concerned with putting a large junction under the flooring, makes repair's easier.

    Return pumps feed into two seperate 3/4" PVC pipes which feed into a Y which combines them into one 1" feed. Each 3/4" feed passes through either a check valve or manual valve (or both) prior to entering the Y. This way if one pump breaks I can shut down that pipe and run both tanks off one pump until the other is replaced (or during maintenance).

    Every pipe has a manual valve before entering the flooring. My goal is to minimize the amount of junctions or couplings underneath the flooring in order to rule out leaks. I am still debating how I will plump the tanks themselves, considering a few options there with multiple return points placed in various locations to improve flow and minimize the need for power heads in place that are not aesthetically pleasing.

    I know, more schematics... I am a very organized planner ;)
     
  20. Ace25

    Ace25 www.centralcoastreefclub. com

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    Just wondering, why do you want to combine and split the return pipes the way your drawing shows?
     

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