dmorel's 220 Round & Shallow reef build


Can I borrow your towel
Well since I actually altered the physical structure of my house I believe I can officially start the build thread now.

A little background:

I've been reefing for about 8 years. Had a sweet 90 gallon tank back in Rochester NY. Moved out to PHX about 5 years ago and started it back up. Never got it back to where I liked it as much as my tank in NY and ended up getting out of the hobby for a few years. Started a new 58 gallon tank back in June and it's going well. I started to get the itch to do something a little different than what I was doing.

I started a thread to discuss the pros and cons of doing either a completely tricked out nano or an awesome large tank. Most everyone in my local club forum suggested the large reef was a better choice. Then, when I mentioned it to my wife she too insisted that we do something bigger, not smaller and the decision was made.

I know you guys love build threads to have lots of pics, so let us begin with the decision we could take this room off of the kitchen that is supposed to be a dining area (we have used it once to eat in since we moved into the new house in April) and turn it into big tank land... So this is what I had to work with space wise - note the screen covers a door to the "garage" (it's half a garage actually, very weird) which will be important later...


A new thread was started to discuss what options I had for the large tank.

After a few weeks of drooling over a 250 peninsula tank at one of the local shops that was just a bit too big for my room, I was joking to the shop manager that if we was just selling this awesome ROUND tank we were standing next to I could finally get started with my new build. After he said he would be happy to sell it to me I back peddled for a minute. Luckily JR (prototype on RC) who is a local I had met at one of the other shops to buy some zoos from had been doing the same rounds of the shops as I was and he and my wife spent a few minutes talking me into it. (It wasn't that hard!)

I went back later after measuring the stand to make sure I could get it into my house and paid for the tank and powder coated stand.

My wife took the following pic of the tank and stand. I implore you to pardon the fake corals they had housed in there...


The tank is a 5' round single extruded acrylic. It's only 16" deep, so this will be a very shallow tank.

The stand measures exactly 35 1/2 inch without the leveling bolts which brings us to today's beginning of the build thread...

The biggest door opening in my house is 35 inches! Uh Oh!

So, out came the door jamb in my garage to make enough room to bring the stand in.


I'm meeting with a buddy of mine tomorrow night to discuss some install options. He runs an aquarium install and service outfit and I will absolutely be relying on his assistance for the install.

I'm going to have the tank drilled and the overflow installed while it's at the shop and then home it comes and we move onto the next steps.

I'm already working on some really cool lighting ideas which I will write about soon.

Here we go, I'm pretty excited to be getting started.
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Premium Member
First off, excellent use of the dinning room. Who needs to eat when there's reefing to be done.

Secondly, that will be an awesome display! And, as you mention, cool lighting will be the key. Some of those Japanese style MH spots would be great!

Thirdly, kiss your wife, & give her a big hug, she's a keeper!


Can I borrow your towel
Food is highly over rated. We actually have a great place to dine that we use as a family all the time. This little "formal" area just doesn't fit our lifestyle.

Finding the MH spotlights is amazingly difficult. I've been able to find some stuff that might work out but I'll know more in a couple days. I have some really cool ideas, I just don't know if I can pull it off.
I admit I spent a bit of time thinking about solar tubes again, but I don't think that's the route I'm going to go down even though it IS compelling.

Yeah, my wife IS a keeper, 15 years and counting!

I'll have room for beer, but not food :)

Hope to have some updates on at least part of the plan tomorrow.


New member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=14164204#post14164204 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by dmorel

I admit I spent a bit of time thinking about solar tubes again, but I don't think that's the route I'm going to go down even though it IS compelling.

I think you will thank yourself in the long run. Some MH lighting could be used for color, and as supplemental in the winter months if needed.

Maybe a few of the snazzy Japanese spot lights, and the SUN??

btw, congrats and good luck!!!



Can I borrow your towel
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=14167233#post14167233 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by prototype
when are you getting the tank in the house??

If I'm lucky, about two weeks.
I should have the overflow mock up over to the builder next week.
Soon as they are done with that tank and stand come home.
In the mean time we are doing design and equipment gathering.

My GOAL is to have water in this thing in March at the latest.


New member
I can't wait to see you get that tank up and running. I had thought about a round tank in my next house if I get to custom build one one day. You might have an opportunity to do a cool fixture for the light.

You have a ceiling fan directly above the tank so there has to be a weight bearing stud there. I had thought of doing something like hanging pendants on a small motor that would slowly spin above the tank. It would be similar to the moving fixtures at Aquatouch if you've seen those. The wires would be easy to hide and you could probably use actual ceiling fan extention tubing. You could do Four Lumen Bright Reflectors for balance and good coverage. I'm sure someone could design it to work and I've never seen it done so it would be original. Just one crazy idea.:)


New member
That is an awesome idea about the rotating light 3 or 4 250w halides spinning around. If you used 3 pendant lights with a couple t-5 included in each fixture.

Or you could get a 6 or 8 bulb 36" t-5 fixture and spin it around the same way depending on what lighting setup you wanted.


New member
Very nice, very very nice. I love different looking tanks. I look forward to your build. I like the Idea of SLOW spining lights, that would be sick. I have a question is it a center overflow? Do you plan on hidding it w rocks? Lastly, what are you going to do for flow? CLosed loop from under the tank?


Can I borrow your towel
Working on the overflow now with Skip who is assisting with the build.
The current consideration is whether to do a standard 8x8 overflow (it will be a center overflow) with a dry box in it for power cords and using a couple of tunze's for flow, or building a sort of "specialty" over flow that actually incorporates some dry boxes to house the outside the tank end of some vortech pumps.
Doing a closed loop is also an option. I'm struggling with this decision a bit I have to say.

Getting some electrical and plumbing done to the house.
I'm having two 4 outlet boxes installed above where the tank is going to live for the lighting. Each will be wired to their own 20 amp circuit.
The equipment room already has a few GFI plus in it and with the lighting removed from the load, it looks like I shouldn't have to do anything else too tricky in there.

Also running a new water line and installing a sink in the equipment room.

We have figured on the contents of the equipment room as well.
There will be two racks.
The main rack will house the sump, a frag tank above that, and a giant refugium above that. I'm planning to simply use my existing 58 gallon display as the refugium and load it up! Water will be pumped from the sump to the fuge, which will overflow into the frag tank, and frag tank back to sump.. A small koralia will be added in frag tank in the case of needing extra water movement.
On the second rack will be the semi automated water change units. On the bottom will be a 40 gallon tank plumbed into the main system. Above that tank will be a 40 gallon tank not plumbed in the system. Ball valves and a pump switch will allow one to isolate the bottom tank from the rest of the system, drain into the sink, and refill with fresh salt water from the mixing tank above.

A 50+ gallon drum will contain reserve RO/DI water from my existing specrtrapure RO/DI unit. The drum will supply top off to the sump for evap (figuring with this much water volume exposed to air there will be a lot of evap) as well as have a dedicated pump to push water to the above mentioned holding tank for salt water.

DJ switches for all electronics of course.

Controller, calcium reactor and chiller have not been decided on.
I'm looking pretty hard at the reef keeper elite.
Skip is going to make some recommendations on the calcium reactor and chiller.
I'll probably do some more research on the controllers next week and try and make a decision.

I have picked a skimmer at least. I'm going with one of the Sequence ReeFlo Orca's. the 250 model. Should be a monster and pull great gobs of gunk. If anyone wants to talk me out of that skimmer, now is the time!

Still working on lighting. Ugh.
I don't see anything in the rotating realm likely to happen, but might do a track on either side of the ceiling fan so I can move a light rail out of the way to work on the tank. I'm still working on doing something interesting with spotlights and a pendent or two.

So next up is the actual decision on the overflow box. I really was hoping to decide today so I might just sit here and stare at these sketchups that Skip did until I decide something so I can get over to the shop and give them my specs. I'm ready to get rolling on having them build the overflow.

That's it for now.


New member
Dave! :wavehand:

Good to see you getting back in the game...

You looking to do another mixed reef: mainly SPS, a couple LPS with a sprinkling of zoas tank or something different this time? A big anemone would be neat in that tank.



Can I borrow your towel
Hey there Mark!
You know I heard Stoli made his way out here to PHX. He made one post at Christmas time on our local forum which got me really excited and hasn't logged back into RC since.

I'm mixed reefing it still. Mostly SPS, but lots of zoas mixed in.
I'm kind of excited to actually have a few fish this time around. I've always had so few fish, but with this much water and a nice open area for swimming, I'm hopping I can have a few tangs running around in there ;)

How's the old gang?


New member
He made one post at Christmas time... and hasn't logged back into RC since.
:lol: Why doesn't that surprise me.
How's the old gang?
There's only a few old-timers still active: RandyO, Gary, and a few others who stop by occasionally.

It's going to be fun watching your next masterpiece come together...

Get someone to help you with the lighting though, will ya?:) (goes off looking for that picture of the pendant balanced precariously over the nano).;)



New member
Hey dmorel, where are you located in the Valley? I moved from Henrietta in July 2007 and I am in Gilbert.

I have my 40g setup since September 2007. I cannot seem to get the same success that I had back in Rochester. Maybe it is the different water out here.

I have been attending the FRAG meetings out here including the auctions which are a blast.

Great to see URS people here in the Valley. Any other URS peeps are free to swing by to check out my tank and maybe have an ice cold "pop" too. :)