My 9ft long dream tank - 250G of DIY


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Name is Shane,
I've just cleared 100 posts but read alot, mostly in the DIY and Large tank forums. Frankly, this board is so large I'd never keep up if I tried to read all the forums. I also use the username Reeftopia, but that was taken on here. The avatar is my first breeding pair of discus from my early fish days.
About 2 years ago I came across a 9Ft Starphire tank for $500 in the classifieds. Around these parts it would go for about $2250 new. Unfortunately the owner tried to get it down the basement in pieces so I had to silicone it back together. The first shots are of the end of the reconstruction stage. It's really messy for a while!

Let's start at the beginning - about 7 months after purchase I had it fixed

From the end - had to buy new Euro bracing ($180 for 5 strips)

No pics of the move - I was carrying

My Quarrantine

And my drilling and plumbing plans

Locating the sump

I'll stagger the build log a bit and try not to overload each page too much.

To come:
- 99% silent drains, DIY VFD wave motion, extremely tight plumbing, death, algae, winches.....drama!


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So then I got it plumbed up. Took about 1 month to figure out where everything should go and not interfere.
Right side

Right side again

Left side

And this is where I get a little nuts. I'm convinced a T is not very efficient so I make diverters and glue them into the closed loop.

From the side

This is me speed controller AKA Variable Frequency Drive (VFD for short) it takes 1 phase power, converts it to DC, then to 3 phase power and allows for really efficient pumps at any speed.

But, Dart's aren't 3 phase - so I take the smallest Baldor 3 Phase...add a spacer

Then Add a Coupler

Then add the Impeller - and voila! a 3 phase 1/8hp pump

Oh, and I LOVE these - my intake strainers - PVC slip-thread coupling and a cap rolled in Perforated PVC. one of my best PVC jobs ever. Just test fitting the pieces here..

Oh yeah - and when I built the wall I made provision for RO and SW on tap in my living room (but over a year later I still use a bucket as I haven't connected the other end yet!)


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Even with a tank this size I still feel small compared to the other builds on this group. I'd have to say I too allot of inspiration from LiveforPhysics with the VFD powered closed loop. A big fan of some others past and present tanks including oregonreef, Invincible's, Jar*Head, mflamb, GlassReef Pookstreet and others I can't remember at the moment.

I'd like to bring things up to the water stage now with the first few months of filling it up.
Filled with SW - I'm sure I had at least one pic of the water test, but hey it's water in a box!

from the end

A bit of a diversion - how to build a silent overflow with no overflow box
-the original design by Shawn Willson





and my attempt - at no point does it restrict to a cross section smaller than a 2" pipe


sorry I do not have much more than that but it's quite simple....

Take a large 2-4" coupler, machine it so it barely slips over a 2" pipe, drill out the top of the pipe sides to allow it to drain when capped, get a 2-3" bushing, cap it and mill out the inside so it's only 1/8" thick, water goes over the 4"coupling, under the 3" coupling and into the 2" pipe. Air is regulated by a small hole in the cap.

now for the FTS before I go to bed, closeups later!


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Thanks Ace and Koander

Up close photos of early rock layout




First fishes - potters angel, Heniochus and Bicolour blenny, clown goby




nice shot of "Harry" and the shrimp - Harry succumbed to Brooklynella about 3 weeks after purchase

My boys and the tank


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Thanks guys - I don't know if others on the Large tank forum can relate but It's hard to beleive it's really that big once you get used to it. I really hope I never have to go smaller.

Some more of my DIY stuff - When I renovated the living room I put taps for RO and SW in the wall - sad thing is that over a year later I still rely on a 5G pail with a siphon for my ATO. And Don't worry - that outlet has a waterproof cover now. The top off and water change tanks are in a closet 6 ft up and 30ft away.

Pics again from Mid November 08

My Bali Jawfish

Heniochus #1 of 4

Cool Spatial shot


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<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=14147292#post14147292 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by gradth
Very nice tank. Love the rock layout.

Interestingly enough, only the base rock in my sump was bought new. All of the rock including that fantastic arch piece was used - purchased at an average price of $2.50-$3 Cdn!. (about $2.25 to 2.75 US)

Most everything so far was built using used parts, refurb Reeflo's, DIY canopy and 14 retrofit reflectors and T5HO bulbs.

I have to get pictures of the current setup,
..... sadly I'll have to also then admit my losses to Flukes over the christmas holidays - Over $300 in fish was lost due to a Blonde Naso I bought out of quarantine from another reefer.
I am currently down to 9 Chromis and a Zebra/Sailfin tang. It really sucks to see your fish bleed to death when you've figured out the cure too late.
Fortunately I now know about PraziPro and raised Alk levels. All new fish are required to undergo QT with UV and alternating prazi-pro treatments.

Good news after all that mess is I got my lighting on a winch and I can now raise my 9ft canopy without having to lift it by hand. Hidden RO and SW tanks are going to be done soon and will get around to hooking them up.
Plus I have 5 rare Cross' damsel in QT.


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I love how you have overflows in the tank instead of drilling the back or having a add on box in the tank. I linked to this thread by searching for variable frequency drive information. I too am considering switching to a 3 phase motor for use as a closed loop solution as opposed to buying more overpriced tunze/vortechs etc etc.


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Premium Member
Nice build so far.. You have some great ideas..

Did you test the flow on your T to see if it made that much of a difference? I am curious to know..