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Old 09/14/2018, 10:05 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 130
5' of questionable decisions.

So the story begins. Well, it actually begins a decade ago but let's not get into that just yet.

After years in the hobby, with wavering dedication, I come upon the beginning of my first real mature reef build. My family just purchased our first home we intend to stay in for a while, so naturally, I am ignoring all the needed projects and jumping right into a built in reef tank.

I spent a lot of time staring at random walls, and gutting the basement, to finally settle on a wall in our kitchen that has no real purpose. It had a granite desk built in which holds no value to us, so out it goes.

The trick is that below this will be the utility and fish tank equipment room. It also sits against a load bearing wall and spans over 5 beams. So, I am confident of the home taking the weight with no issues.

Originally, I was eyeing a SCA 150g starfire on sale for $895. As many suggest, just get the tank you want up front or you will live to regret the foundation of everything else. That being said, I was seduced into buying a 120g off Craigslist right afterwards for $100.

I'm a whore for a good deal. That lasted about 2 days though.I recently moved back to ATL but was on a different side of the city and wanted to check out the LFS on my side of the world. I was a bit spoiled living a couple blocks from Pure Reef up in Alpharetta.

We went from store to store until I walked into one of the largest known in the area called Premier Aquatics. Great selection, great prices....and then they stole $900 bucks from me. What I mean by that is I stumble upon a fully established Red Sea 625XL. I stared at this thing for like 15 minutes and realized the real difference between a 4 foot tank and what that extra foot really gives you. I then spent the next 48 hours convincing my wife why the $100 tank in the back of my SUV wasn't going to cut it.

So, after a few e-mails to Steve over at SCA, I found myself ordering a custom tank.

It is a custom Starfire 5' tank drilled for two return and the Reef Synergy Shadow overflow. The eurbrace has been raised to be flush with the top and the overflow will mount almost flush to create a waterline of only about 1.7" below the top of the tank. I went ahead and added some depth as well because why not. They didn't even charge for the extra depth. If anyone is interested in the price, message me. Going custom was very minimal.

I'll stop here, because it's lunch time and I'm fat.

More to come.

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Old 09/14/2018, 02:14 PM   #2
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Iím tagging along for the build.

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Current Tank Info: Frag tank at the moment, planning another
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Old 09/14/2018, 02:55 PM   #3
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Ditto!! Be right behind in the next couple of months with a 230 build

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Old 09/14/2018, 03:05 PM   #4
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Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 130
History and let the madness begin.

I have had a few tanks over the years but most were weak attempts mixed with moving too often and too many life changes to succeed.

Biocube 29, 14, 90g custom I never finished, and then a 120g I was really proud of that never got water in it(moved). I finally got a nice 30g rimless cube setup when I was in Alaska. I started to get some small automation going and it was OK for a while until a baby arrived.

Anyway, now that I can finally have all the excuses to do it right, here are my initial thoughts and research points.

- Fish room will be in the basement. I have never done this before but I have plenty of room in the 1,000sq ft space to carve out dedicated resources.
-Roller mat filtration. I am researching options. This is so new that it is hard to nail anything down in gen 1.
-The tank will be 40" base height and made to be viewed in the kitchen next to where an island will be installed with bar seating. Base will match bar height. top of tank will be at 64".
-Tank wall will be a textured wood wall made of distressed and shou sugi ban pine. Yeah, I play around with a bit of word working ideas of grandeur.


Right now I am getting ready to cut out the tile and backer board on the floor for the space where the stand frame will sit. I'll be making the stand out of 3/4" plywood so I have a base I can make drawers into and cabinets. These won't be used for the tank, as the plumbing goes to the basement, but it will give us some extra storage in the kitchen.

I have about 40lbs of dry rock on the way from a supplier I got at $1.10lb so I can see what I'm working with. If I like it, I'll order a few more boxes and start playing around with aquascaping.

The tank is due to be in the SCA warehouse at the end of this month. I should have it here at home by mid October.

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Old 09/17/2018, 09:43 AM   #5
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Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 130
I did some more work on the tank wall over the weekend. This should wrap up the demo and not I can start to design the frames, hood, and backsplash. On to the fun parts.

We spent all day Saturday going to the larger reef stores in Atlanta. I even had the chance to finally stop in to a place I have been shopping for the last 10 years. I haven't been in there since 2012 and they still remember the first tank I had. Incredible customer service and remarkable quality. They also continue to have fair pricing and am back on the top of my list for livestock and hardware.

We did learn some valuable price points over the weekend. There are some shops asking 100-200% higher than others, for no reason. A couple places to avoid unless they have something I must have. (You know how it goes)

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Old 09/18/2018, 09:45 AM   #6
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Posts: 130
Happy Monday.

I got a few things done over the weekend with the tank wall. I made an access box on the left wall and rear wall so I can have an access panel to each side. These panels will give me access to the left side glass that will be against the wall. This will allow me to put a power head on the glass. Also, I'll have an access panel on the back to get to the Shadow overflow rear box as well as the back glass for any random future reasons.

Right now I am in research mode.

Since this is a from the ground up build, incorporating things I have never done before, in more room than I have ever had, I want to use to most up to date methods and incorporate them from the start.

Thinking out loud on ideas I am looking into.

-Triton method. Building the system around starting this discipline from the start.
-Roller mat filters. This is not needed in the Triton method, but I am still doing my research on this new product
-Power saving technologies.
-Apex controller
-Kessils A360x x3 with the 48" Aquatic Life T5HO hybrid fixture
-Protein Skimmer - Cloud 9 or Octo 202-S
-Maxspect Gyre

Sump design:

I have a new 40B that came with a full baffle kit for a fuge setup. I am actually thinking about getting another 40B and creating a dual 40B sump system. Where one flows into the other through some bulkheads. This will allow me to make a larger refugium and have a large area for the skimmer section and return. Plus, more water volume for whatever may end up added to the system. Like reactors, etc.

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Old 09/20/2018, 09:06 AM   #7
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Awesome start to your build- Iím in suwanee and know the stores you are talking about- we have s few good ones around here.

Iím doing a 180 in Wall with a basement sump room. In fact- I just finished my scape and will be adding sand tomorrow.

I hate to solicit views, but that a look-


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Old 09/20/2018, 09:30 AM   #8
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Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 130
I'll message you. We have some stuff to talk about. I've looked at your build thread a few times but I did not know you were in GA.

Thanks for dropping in.

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Old 09/29/2018, 01:38 AM   #9
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Wow, what a build! Your wife must love you — able to convince her to buy a whole nother tank after just buying one off of craigslist for a steal???

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