JC -- making things happen since 1985

The 90 gallon Reef Tank (build)

I bought this tank over thanksgiving break. It is reef ready, so it has an overflow box in the corner. It came with a 40 gal Rubbermaid sump, an octopus protein skimmer, and a return pump. It also came with ~100 lbs of live-rock and sand substrate. Unfortunately, the original owner was planning on storing the tank long term so the rock was dried out and I needed to cycle it. The stand is nothing special yet, but it's really sturdy. It's also oversized for the 90. It came with 2 metal halide lights, (250w) with ballast and 2 4ft VHO lights I'm not sure how strong they are. The light fixture was home-made, and has seen some better days.
That is the start of the project. Here are some pictures:

The plan is to swap out the Rubbermaid with a 40 long. In order to do that, I am going to make the drain go straight down. When I make that change, I am going to add in a T-connector with 2 more ball valves, which will allow for easy water changes. I also plan on putting a 20 gallon directly above the sump with a drain to a float valve, which will work as my auto top off device. It might be a problem filling the 20 in that position, so I may add some flexible plumbing with a funnel to make it easier. I probably won't start that project immediately because I think I want to finish the stand first. As you can see there is currently a "shelf" around the tank. I am debating whether or not I should keep this or if I should modify the stand completely so that there is no overhang. I like the space under the tank, although I can do without it. But if I keep the shelf, I was planning on building the hood to go around the tank to make it almost like an in wall tank, but in the stand. This would block the sides, but who looks at the sides anyways. I was also thinking that would be a great spot to put food and other supplies. I could make it like a little shelving unit. Another idea that popped in my head was potentially making the lights on rollers that moved vertically. Then I could have the whole area above the tank just move up and lock in place, making cleaning/moving/feeding much easier. As for the lights, I am planning on building a metal fixture in the wood hood, so the supports for the light would be closer to the water, and if they got wet, they would not rot/mold. I hope to have this project done over Christmas break, but I get pretty busy. I have a new job I might have to work over break, so time is limited. We'll see how everything goes.

The color stain I decided to use is called "merlow." It is supposed to look like a darker reddish color. I did a test stain today and it looks kinda pink. I'll put on a couple more coats tomorrow and see what it looks like then. Stay tuned.
12/14: Today I added a third coat of stain and did some work on the sump. Here are a few pics of the stain. I only stained the top board. I did 3 coats on the left side, and one coat on the right. The sump used to have a center divider, because it used to be a display tank at a PetLand.
12/17-19: So I bought some boards that I am going to use as a "skin" for my stand. I have been thinking about the doors. I am going to add a door on each side of the stand to make the stand more accessable. So the stain that I used before, I didn't like. So I bought some different stain, and that didn't look good either. Finally, after Lowe's said they wouldn't be able to get the color that I wanted, they told me to go to MAB paints. The people at MAB were retarded and didn't have a clue what I wanted, and wanted me to bring in a board with it on so they could match it. Then I went to a small paint store, and instantly the guy took me in the back and made up a couple samples. One was good, but not quite as dark as I wanted, he said he'd mess with it, and get it more what I'm looking for with a bunch of test patches. I go back tomorrow to pick it up, I have a good feeling about this one.
(the following pictures were taken with my cell phone)
So I also finished the sump construction. I cut the plexiglass, but it was a little tight, I tried to sand it down, but it was taking a long time. I could tap it into place, and it was straight, so I decided it was good enough. This wasn't a good idea, cause the tank cracked over night. I don't know if it was just too much pressure over time, or if one of the pest control people knocked it. (I am not happy about the pest control people coming into my apartment on a monthly basis to do preventative spraying for roaches I don't have. They are probably going to kill my fish). I fixed the crack with silicon, and since I was waiting for the baffels to dry anyways it wasn't too bad. I filled it up and everything appears fine.
Yesterday, I met Rick from RC, and he was kind enough to give me a diamond drill bit and a bulk head for my auto-top off tank. Today(12/19) I drilled my first tank. Just one hole, and it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. I also went to Farm and Fleet and got a float valve for 8 bucks. I was going to get the rest of the plumbing for it, but I figured I'd just do that another day, and I want to figure out how deep I want to make the return section of the sump.
So I installed the sump, and there were some initial problems, but I can work them out. First the drain from the tank went straight down, and splashed a little, I put on a 90 angle at the end and that fixed that problem. My other problem is the drain from the skimmer is above the top of the tank, and at the edge, so it will overflow. I have the skimmer off for the time being, but I am going to put a sock over the drain to keep it from splashing out. I don't know if that'll be enough, if it isn't I will build a shield, or I might swap out my sump. We'll see.
ok so I visited Rick and he gave me a great idea for my skimmer, and that was to use a filter sock made of felt over the skimmer's drain. This not only keeps the water from splashing out, it also has the added benefit of being silent, and on top of that it collects particles. I have determined that there is a downfall. When the filter becomes dirty, the water doesn't flow through it as easily. This results in increased pressure of the drain, which in turn raises the foam level in the skimmer, resulting in a drastic increase of collection ending in the collection cup overflowing. I have not come up with a good solution to this yet, other than to clean the filter sock every 3 days or so.
I moved over a bunch more rock and also some hardy soft corals(around new years). While I was on a snowboarding trip in Colorado, the foxface disappeared(no trace). I also bought a sand sifting starfish and a pink spotted goby. Took some pictures on 1/17 when my roommate got back with his camera.

I then went to the frag swap and picked up some nice corals, and 2 of Rod's onyx clowns, from Rod's reef. www.rods-reef.com. Some of the corals I got were a birdsnest, with some nice zoanthids on it, a blue/purple tipped acropora, a green short acropora, a branching hydnophora, a small head of frogspawn, and a couple frags of zoanthids. I took some more pictures on 1/23/07. I was worried for the clown's lives from the goby. He was trying to eat them when they swam low, so I put them in a little breader box until I could determine what to do. I ended up catching the goby, which was very difficult, and selling it back to the pet store. I had 3 nets positioned at different parts of the tank, and a 2 liter bottle trap, filled with food. Finally I got him with a net. Anyways, here are the pics, the tank is starting to come together.

As if I didn't have enough, I picked up a ton zoanthids and some other miscelaneous frags from paul ($60). But I did sell off some of my xenia, and my clown that was in my 55($30). The new corals that I got were 3-5 types of zoanthids, really nice orange ones, some green ones, and some brownish ones(not too interesting). He also threw in a nice rock of Anthelia, a couple Montipora frags, a small birdsnest type coral(not the same as my other birdsnest), and a firecoral. The majority of the zoanthids he gave me were attached to an eggcrate, and I am still working on getting them all off. I did also manage to pick up some of the Aptasia that he had, and hopefully I'll get it taken care of with a perpermint shrimp soon. Took some more pics on the 25th.

So on the weekend of the 28th, I picked up a 150 gallon aquarium, and also a maroon clown, and 3 baby clowns about a cm long. I put them into the hexigon tank having no way of seperating the babies from the maroon clown, I lost 2 of them. The third, I brought back to U of I. I found that one of the onyx clowns was missing. I do no know what happened to this clown, and my roommate doesn't know either. Hopefully it'll show up, but some how I doubt that'll happen. I traded a couple frags that I received from Paul last week with Andy for a BTA. It is green and looks really nice under my lights. I was hoping my onyx would host it, but it doesn't seem interested yet. However, the small baby clown dove right in, and is claiming it as home.
pictures of the clown and anenome
this one is the best and a video of the bta eating, but the mysis didn't stay together, so it isn't a very good video. You can see the clown a little better too.