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  1. #1
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    Dual Tank System Build Thread

    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:



    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. #2
    Monster Tank Builder Nolapete's Avatar
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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.
    4300 Gallon Tank Build
    Permadri Rubber Coat available through me.



  3. #3
    Senior Member xsdbs's Avatar
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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. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nolapete View Post
    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.
    That's a good idea, I'll check into that.

    Thanks.



  5. #5
    www.centralcoastreefclub. com Ace25's Avatar
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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.

    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. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ace25 View Post
    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.
    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. #7
    www.centralcoastreefclub. com Ace25's Avatar
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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. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ace25 View Post
    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.
    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. #9
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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.



    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:



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



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



    Continued in next post...



  10. #10
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    This is a good shot of the load bearing wall below:



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



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




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