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Scoto's Equipment Room Build + 8ft Tank (1 Viewer)

Scoto

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Hi all. I'm new to the forum and new to Houston, moved from Austin during the start of the pandemic last year. I'm originally from Australia, myself and the spouse both kept freshwater tanks there. I've also kept reptiles, worked at a zoo for a bit, spouse has kept frogs and currently grows pitcher plants, basically we're both pretty good at things in glass boxes. Since moving to the US I made a swap into saltwater and had an 'craigslist' special 100G tank for about 5 years before breaking it down for the move. It was a great tank done super cheap from second hands bits and pieces I got here and there, I loved it, and I learnt a lot of important lessons to apply to my next tank build.

I've had this tank brewing in my mind for the past 6 months or so. General plan is to have some water in the tank by the end of the year. I started the journey with modifying a walk in closet to be the equipment room, which is opposite the wall from where the tank will be placed.

This space was originally a very small storage closet with a partition wall for a much bigger walk-in robe. I was tossing up just using the walk in robe as the equipment room, because the bedroom it serves I currently just use as an office. But one day there might be some poor child in the bedroom and they really don't deserve parents walking in and out to service the fish tank. So we kept part of the space to be a smaller robe (the box that stick outs) and moved the partition wall to use a lot more of the storage closet space to be fish equipment room. I've attached a picture after painting (the left wall is the wall the tank will be against). Currently I also have some 75G tanks which will be water change station, and a 40G in the corner that will be the ATO reservoir. Obviously it still needs flooring at this point. I figure tile but haven't decided yet.
Fish Room 061821.jpg

Here is where the tank is planned, with my test tank in place to feel out if I like the dimensions. I want to also cut up the flooring and tile the area under the tank, two reasons 1) so I can replace the wood flooring in the future without stressing about the spot under the tank having the same flooring, I hate the current stuff. 2) to take the chance to ensure the area is as level as possible.
Test Tank 061821.jpg

Currently still making some decisions about the display tank, but figure I have some time to make them while I finish up the equipment room. I will then place the order and work on the water change station and sump build while waiting for the tank to arrive. I have some old Rubbermaid tubs from the last tank so might buy and get some rock cycling in the mean time as well.
 
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Scoto

Scoto

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Something I am actively seeking advice on is that I will be cutting away the drywall to create a window to the fish equipment area without creating a pass-through style window (I'm 90% the wall is load bearing and don't want to mess around with headers or cutting and moving studs). So all the studs will remain in place and I'll just route everything between them. But, because saltwater is what it is, I need a way to protect them now that they will be semi-permanently exposed (and also fill in the wall cavity a bit). My current plan is fill the wall cavity with expanding foam, trim it nice and neat and coat everything in drylock.
 

RobertP

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I would not recommend a pass-through window into the equipment room. Several reasons but the main one is because of the lights from your tank you do not want in the fish room. It can just create unwanted algae issues in your skimmer and sump. Also at some point in the future you might add a refugium to your sump and will want it's light running at night. You will not want to see your grow light coming out the window from the fish room. I would just cut as small a hole in the wall as possible just to run your drain and return pipes...and dont cut them until your tank arrives so you can have the right height and size.
If you ever have to move again this hole will be much easier to repair than a big window....and you wont have to worry about protecting the studs.
 
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Scoto

Scoto

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You make some good points. I think it all at this point depends on the design of the overflow and return as that will dictate what space I need and where. It's a really high priority to me to get the tank as flush to the wall as I can so I'm trying to work out what the trade-offs are in aesthetics and access for maintenance. I've emailed the two LFS most close to me in town to start quoting a planet aquariums custom tank and both never replied to my emails lol. I guess I trying calling or going in person, I've been work from home for a year now so I expect emails to solve all my problems for communication.
 

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Who did you reach out to? From my experience, and from what I’ve read from others, galactic coral is very helpful and responsive. No idea if they sell planet aquariums though.
 

Seaworthy Aquatics

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Galactic Coral does a great job, they just installed my new tank, but they were having issues with their email at time. I wasn't getting their invoices and things so perhaps they still have an issue with it. Calling and talking directly to David or John is probably your best bet anyway since they are crazy busy.
 
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Scoto

Scoto

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I tried Oceanlife and Fish Gallery, just cause they were nearby. I'm still travelling around and visiting most of the LFSs around town to see who I like and isn't a 2 hour drive if I wanted to be a regular.
 

chrisfoos

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I tried Oceanlife and Fish Gallery, just cause they were nearby. I'm still travelling around and visiting most of the LFSs around town to see who I like and isn't a 2 hour drive if I wanted to be a regular.
If I know anything about the Houston area, everything is a 2 hour drive some days.... I expect one day to have a 2 hour backup in my driveway....
 
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Scoto

Scoto

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Well we a got deposit sorted for the tank. So I now have a deadline to get everything down by - nothing else helps keep the motivation going! Taking the long weekend to start getting the RODI and water change set up, pictures to come.
 

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I built a fish room in my garage behind my display tank that’s in the living room. My solution was to just drill holes in the drywall that were the same size as the pvc pipes and then silicone both sides of the wall to keep noise, moisture, and everything else out. It has worked very well.
 
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Scoto

Scoto

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@Cody I think I'm most of the way through your build thread. I don't think I saw how close the back of your tank is placed to the wall? That sounds like the way to go but I'm concerned I'll regret not being able to get to the back of the tank one day. Noise is definitely a concern given the DT will be in the living room.

Water mixing station test build is complete. I haven't glued it all yet as I need to add some unions and I'm sure I will hate myself at some point in the future if I don't. I dumbly figured when I was planning things that the unions at the valves would be enough to assemble/dissemble but after building it they are not (especially around the pump for replacing and cleaning it easily). I also didn't have a drill bit to mount the bulkhead at the top. This will go inside the equipment room once I get the flooring done. I also started working on running the RO to the equipment room but waiting on some parts. BRS had tonnes of their colored PVC for sale recently so picked up a bunch to make everything pretty!

water station.jpg
 

Cody

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@Cody I think I'm most of the way through your build thread. I don't think I saw how close the back of your tank is placed to the wall? That sounds like the way to go but I'm concerned I'll regret not being able to get to the back of the tank one day. Noise is definitely a concern given the DT will be in the living room.

Water mixing station test build is complete. I haven't glued it all yet as I need to add some unions and I'm sure I will hate myself at some point in the future if I don't. I dumbly figured when I was planning things that the unions at the valves would be enough to assemble/dissemble but after building it they are not (especially around the pump for replacing and cleaning it easily). I also didn't have a drill bit to mount the bulkhead at the top. This will go inside the equipment room once I get the flooring done. I also started working on running the RO to the equipment room but waiting on some parts. BRS had tonnes of their colored PVC for sale recently so picked up a bunch to make everything pretty!

water station.jpg
It’s at least 6”, probably 8” off the wall. I’ll measure when I get back to the house but there’s enough room for the external overflow and then some behind the tank.
 
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Scoto

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So we got some flooring in place! Some decent looking tile for under the tank (the PVC roughly shows the tank outline, so it'll have a little border of tile on all sides which I think will frame it nicely) and some clicky-clack vinyl tile for in the fish room itself.

PXL_20210804_023430621.jpg PXL_20210804_023449332.jpg

I also ran the water to the fish room (using 1/4" tubing that I hid with some cable runner so it's not burried in the walls) and installed the RODI and will soon have the water change station moved in. I thought I might need a booster pump for the RO given how far the water has to travel, but honestly it's making water faster than where I had it installed temporarily (~1G every 20min on a 75G/day system), but my pressure guage on it is dead so I can't check for sure. I'm hoping it's fine just based on the volume of water it's making.

No drain for the room as a whole which is a bummer, but honestly the space is only going to be just big enough for everything as is, instead I'm installing a retractable hose reel to run a line back and forth the bathroom across the hallway when I need it.

DT and stand are on order (I ended up going internal overflow... it was a decision I flip-flopped on so much, will I hate it? will I like it? we'll see!). My next step is getting a sump worked out. I am on the hunt for a 75G tank and it appears to be a challenge right now. Petco are completely out, petsmart only sell with included stands, and I've been stalking craigslist (and here) but only find drilled ones or people trying to get rid of the stand as well. Let me know if you've seen just like a regular aqueon 75G recently anywhere local. I think a 90G could work as well, mostly looking for that 18" by 48" footprint.
 

Stickboy97

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Saw a guy selling 75g on FB,

Houston's Aquatic Marketplace (HAM) - John Lambert · 45m ·
Stacked 55gs - some scratches show, top tank needs to have frame replaced, with tops - $60
Stacked 75gs - some scratches show, with tops - $100
 
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Scoto

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Saw a guy selling 75g on FB,

Houston's Aquatic Marketplace (HAM) - John Lambert · 45m ·
Stacked 55gs - some scratches show, top tank needs to have frame replaced, with tops - $60
Stacked 75gs - some scratches show, with tops - $100
I think I may have found my sump literally after making this post lol! Thanks for a few other resources to look into.
 
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Scoto

Scoto

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Water mixing station is installed and so far mostly leak free (one very minor leak at the pump, I got it second hand so it may just be an o-ring that needs cleaning). Topping it up with RO water and giving it a rinse, then will empty and refill to begin mixing some salt. I have a few rubbermaids that I can start cycling some rock in to speed things up when the tank arrives.
PXL_20210809_184437629.jpg
PXL_20210809_184406845.jpg
It'll be a tight squeeze but the rest of the room is coming together as well, picked up some shelving over the weekend, sump is on the way too! I'm looking to basically have the tank 'minimum viable product' ready to go the moment the DT arrives so I'll start a dark cycle and let the whole thing run for a good month or two (I'm not a fan of fast cycling, slow and steady wins the race for me). Then we can start working out what to do with skimmer, more permanent wavemaker solutions, battery backup, refugium, controllers and lights (I have plans, just spacing out purchases and decisions).
 
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Scoto

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Alright, we officially have a sump! I modified a 75G using a Fiji Cube 40B sump baffle kit. The Aqueon 75G tanks are the same width as 40B but taller and longer, so it could give me more space in the sump for a relatively cheap and painless setup. I was pretty happy with the out the box features of the Fiji Cube baffle kits, the only thing I would love to see them add is some little pieces to make probe holders etc but there are tonnes of options for buying some. I don't know if I'll use the socks long term, I was really lazy about changing them out in my last tank (but they were all really painful to get to) so we'll see how they go.

I think my only regret is I would have made the return section a little bigger, but I wanted all the room for equipment! My silicone job is not the cleanest ever, but it's a sump, I'm the only person that will ever pay attention to it. The water change station is complete, I have some rock in a rubbermaid just rinsing in some RO at the moment and will switch it into salt this week to begin cycling. Next steps are beginning to build the stand the sump will sit on, getting the ATO sorted and equipment moved in, work out cord management and buy a few of the missing pieces I need for minimum viable start (need a new heater or two, some more rock and decide if I have enough spare powerheads just to get things going). New equipment purchases I need to start planning for are (not in order of priority):
  • Apex
  • A new skimmer (I have an old one I need to test if it still works, it was big enough for a 100G but i'll need a new one once the bioload gets up there)
  • Lights - I'm looking at 2x 48" Reef Breeders
  • Nice powerheads + Battery Backup Options
  • Dosing solution - I'm planning to do a sort of hybrid two-part type method and I haven't even worked out what I'm going to set up for this yet
  • GFO/Carbon? - Probably won't need for first 6 months
  • Refugium - do I do in the sump, do I do a third tank (what I did last time) dunno!? I'll work it out.

PXL_20210824_141056175.jpg
 
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Scoto

Scoto

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Okay, I need interior design help! I'm patching some holes in the wall behind the tank and will be painting before we move it in, I don't have the matching color for the rest of the room so I can probably pick whatever color I want. What color would you put behind your tank if you could?

The stand will be a minimal black stained wood, black back on the tank as well. There will be a canopy so no concerns about blue light leaking everywhere and making whatever color I pick a weird shade.
 

jrounding

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Okay, I need interior design help! I'm patching some holes in the wall behind the tank and will be painting before we move it in, I don't have the matching color for the rest of the room so I can probably pick whatever color I want. What color would you put behind your tank if you could?

The stand will be a minimal black stained wood, black back on the tank as well. There will be a canopy so no concerns about blue light leaking everywhere and making whatever color I pick a weird shade.
Way back in the day I used to sell automotive paint. We had a camera which would do color matching. I wonder if Sherwin-Williams or PPG would have a similar camera for latex paints? Then you may not have to repaint everything. That is if you aren't interested in changing the color.

Edit: Well this is cool- Paint Color Match System | Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap™ Match
 

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