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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    90 gallon experiment

    90 gallon tank experiment
    This is a long one; do not read if you are in a hurry!
    It may have to go into several posts, I’ll see how it loads.
    If anyone can tell me how to get my pictures in, it will look a lot better.

    Thought I would share with you the exploits of the latest tank I acquired a while back (thanks Mike). The story takes place over a couple of months and is still in progress. I really needed this tank like in needed a hole in the head, but that is the trouble with this hobby, in that no matter what you buy/make, even dream about, there is always something more intriguing and wonderful out there to pursue. I think it is very much like golf, (I am addicted there too), there is no perfect game, style or score, it could always be better.

    Anyway, so much for my addictions and on to the details. Came across a bargain I could not resist, so one day I came home with a 90 gallon tank. My wife’s reaction though is a totally separate story. She did not know I was actually getting the whole setup. It was supposed to be just live rock!

    Since I already have a 72, 65 and 50 gallon tank and a 900 square foot home, one of them has to go. By default, it will be the 50 gallon “frag” tank. Most would not call it a frag tank, but I do. So now, I will have a 90 gallon “frag” tank!!
    The tank was originally running with a HOB siphon overflow system, first thing to do was get a hole drilled into the tank. No way was I going to flood the basement with more water than when I forget to turn off the RO/DI (has anyone else done that?). I’ve gotten way to many sarcastic remarks about that! That’s what caused all the trouble. A 90 gallon tank is hard to get around. It’s very heavy, it does not fit into my car. I don’t have a truck. I don’t have a 2.5” drill and I don’t want to pay someone to come to my house to drill it. The local glass shop, while relatively inexpensive to get the tank drilled, only has a 2” drill bit. If I put 2, 1” drains in, that would still not handle the same amount of water as a 1.5” drain. I like the overflow box system that you see in Marinescape and that is what I have in the 65 gal. tank. So my mind was made up to go with a 1.5” drain. How can I get a hole in the back of my tank? Well I read a thread that Ivan made a comment on and put a link into, ( and that’s what got the wheels really turning. (this story will make sense if you read at least some of this thread)

    Since I already had this RotoZip bit I got for fragging and a dremel, I thought that I could put this hole in myself with no trouble at all. Of course all is fine and dandy reading about it and all, but when it comes down to actually doing it on something that has a bit of value to it, that’s a different story. Since I got this tank for very little, and my wife was not all that thrilled about me getting it in the first place, I thought what the heck, if I break the tank, so what. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right!

    So I practiced on a scrap piece of ¼” glass that I had and low and behold, it worked just fine, just takes a bit of time. I happened to do it, just as I was making some water and I used the waste water to do the flushing over the laundry tub.

    The next test was the tank itself, it has 3/8” glass, but it should be the same thing, right? Had to get a neighbor to help carry it outside, since my wife could not lift her end of the tank while maneuvering around the 2 flights of stairs (it may have “accidentally” got dropped, “wink, wink”) She was still a little cold about the new addition from the ocean.
    I laid out the location, hooked up the hose and got right into it. About 25 minutes later, the job was done and the bulkhead fit snug as a bug. I used the same bit to cut the hole into the overflow box and added some teeth to the box as well. The tank was not broken, I had that great feeling of accomplishment and my wife was one degree warmer!
    Feeling quite pleased with myself, I called the neighbor again to help bring it back down to the basement and work on some other tasks. I should have left it outside because I decided I was done with it and that the back glass would need a coat of paint. For those following along, your wife will not like the smell of a spray bomb used to paint the back of a tank with, not to mention the fine black overspray that I cannot even notice!

    So, I figure I am done and start thinking about when would I get around to the additional plumbing, setup and all the rest of the things involved with taking down one tank and putting it into another. So much going on in the brain that it decides to say “forget that idea, why not go all out and do what that guy in the thread did, put in a coast to coast overflow!!”
    I had always wanted a tank that would pull that top layer of scum off the water. They are reputed to be the most effective way of getting all that gunk into your sump where the skimmer will just eat it up. And, when you put it on the outside of the tank, you don’t lose any valuable real-estate so there is more room for auqua-scaping and corals.

    I stopped in at the local glass shop to inquire about a price on some glass cut to size so I can silicone a box together. Dimensions are roughly 30” long x 15” high x 6” wide. I would have tried it myself, but I thought the edges should be as square as possible. As soon as he gave me a figure, I said “go ahead, I’ll pick it up in a couple of days”. Now I am really committed.
    So, I get another neighbor (never get the same one to help, keeps it more interesting that way) to help bring the tank outside again. This time, I am going to put the RotoZip bit to the test.
    After a lot of second guessing and layout work, I am ready to go and I begin to cut. Things are going pretty well, but seem to be taking a little longer than I figured, but so far so good. Of course I have to stop to take pictures and check the bit, tighten the bit, adjust the water, etc., etc.

    After a while, my wife says “that tool is making an awful racket, don’t you think you should stop for the night? You must be driving the neighbors crazy” I said “well it’s not even dark yet so there is nothing they can say, besides, it’s no worse than a lawn mower!”
    Even though it did start to rain a bit, there was no turning back now, I had to finish.
    After about 1hr. and 45min. I had my completed slot in the back of the tank. Nothing broken, top edge still holding up just fine. Just a big hole, sure hope that glass box I am planning to put on works, otherwise guess I’ll throw out this tank and stick with the 50.

    It became apparent that the paint on the back of the tank would have to go for now. I could not fasten the glass box on the back with it painted, so a razor blade took it off quite quickly.
    This time I left the tank outside and just covered things up since I knew I would have to bring it out again to attach the box, paint (again!), water test, etc., etc.
    The glass was not ready when expected so that delayed things a bit, but eventually came home with it and began a dry assembly to see if it was cut right. Before it could be siliconed together I had to put 2 more holes in with the RotoZip bit in the bottom piece to accept the 1.5” bulkheads. I was a little worried since the glass was a little thinner (1/8”), how would the bit hold up, are the holes too close together, and is the glass to fragile and so on. Managed to get both holes in with no problem at all.

    Time to assemble the box. Not much to work on except the freeze top, so that’s where I did it. I don’t think I did the best job in the world, but not to bad considering I had little to work with as far as fixturing goes. I wonder if it will hold water?


  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    90 gallon experiment

    Part 2

    With the box siliconed up and dried, it seemed pretty rigid, I began to fasten it onto the back of the tank. I ran a bead of silicone along the edges, pushed it into place and then went up and down inside and out to make a nice seal all the way around. Put a board with a case of Pepsi on top to add weight and let it dry into place.

    I did not want to leave the tank outside all the time so instead of having another neighbor come over, my wife was able to help me slide it in the door so it could proudly sit on the dining room floor for a couple of weeks! No sense taking it all the way down stairs just to bring it up again, besides there are not many neighbors left to bug.
    Going back to my original 2.5” hole for a bulkhead, I get myself a plug to put in there as my return line would be going over the top or so I thought. When I tell my wife of my plan to plug the hole, she says “why not put the return through that hole?” Silly wife, …“It takes 1.5” piping, that’s way to big
    for a return line, I need 1” diameter. It’s also way to low for a return line, when I shut off the return pump, the sump won’t be able to handle all that water as it siphons back!” Well about 5 minutes later, I am saying to myself, that’s why they make various plumbing fittings. I could reduce the size, take it up with a 45º elbow to the right level, put a 90º on the end and viola, return line done! My wife!!, She’s got lots of great ideas, I think she is beginning to see the ocean again!

    I get up the nerve to test just the overflow box to see if it will hold water. I fill it up with water and not a drop comes out! My wife looks at me incredulously and can’t believe that it didn’t just fall right off. I let it sit for a while and it’s not doing anything, perfect, step one completed. I was thinking that I would not glue in the section of standpipe in case I wanted to adjust it later on, but when I went to drain the water out of the overflow, I pulled one of the standpipe’s out and in about 3 seconds, 8 gallons of water came out of a solid column that was 1.5” in diameter!! Foreseeing a time when I may accidentally dislodge one of these standpipes and have it move, I quickly decided that they should be permanently glued in place. Just leave the elbows dry fitted for any adjustments later on.

    I also decided at that time to put 3 glass braces under the overflow, just in case it could add some support, not that the look my wife gave me or the comments about having it fall off had anything to do with it. These I just cut myself and siliconed in place. That silicone is strong stuff, surely it can’t do any harm for them to be there.

    Time passes and I do some plumbing here and there. Why is it you can never get everything you need in one spot? Why sell 1.5” plumbing and 1” plumbing, but nothing to link it together? Anyway, got things sorted out, settled on my plan for the sump location, return line locations, etc. I glue one piece one day, another piece a few days later.
    Finally, I am ready to set it up for final plumbing with the stand and sump. My wife see’s me struggling up the stairs with things and she helps me bring the sump and stand outside for the water test, alas, she cannot lift the now even bigger tank with the overflow on the backside, up onto the stand. Did I mention how great she is, I don’t think I am in her bad books anymore!
    No worries, I tell my golfing buddy at the course over the weekend and he volunteers to come over to help lift it up into place with me.

    After a couple days of looking things over and thinking about things one last time there is just the final gluing of the 1” flexible return line, no changes allowed now. I wait a couple of days just to be sure everything is dry and I begin to fill the tank with the garden hose. Before long, the tank is full, the overflow is full and the sump is full. I take out the hose and turn on the return pump and it works like a charm.

    I am quite surprised by the depth of water passing over the edge. I thought it would be about 3/8” - ½” in depth, but it is only about 1/8” The pump puts out about 550 GPH over the head height. That should be perfect for getting that top layer of film off the water. It is very quiet. I adjusted the positioning of the return line to get it up higher and drill a hole in the elbow to break the siphon when the pump is off.
    I am undecided whether or not to put any kind of teeth, egg crate or similar material across the overflow. Right now the answer is no. The overflow area will be another refuge so if critters get in there, they will also be able to get out. I will actually put snails in there to clean up the algae. You ask, what about something getting stuck in the pipe? Well I fixed that by cutting a bit of egg crate and putting it up inside the elbow. Nice and neat. If somebody that small goes down there, they won’t cause any harm. Besides, egg crate would be my first choice to go across the opening anyway. If they get through it, there is no reason they wouldn’t go down the overflow standpipes as well.

    Looking at the sump refuge area wall, I think I will try the RotoZip bit again to put some teeth on that piece of glass. I probably made that section to tall. Some notches may make a more uniform water fall and bring the water level down a bit.

    I have changed my mind on the paint as well. I am going with the blue instead of black all across the back and will leave the one end of the overflow clear so I can see what is going on inside. The tank is actually going to be in a corner. You will get a glimpse into the overflow area from the front of the tank as well. It will get covered with rock auqua-scaping and coralline algae anyway in the coming months. Should be kind of like looking through a window into a secret back room.

    So far the tank has been running for about 24 hours. It is very quiet; it is really only the hum of the pump that you hear. I think that once in place and a bit of slime builds up on the lines, it will be extremely quiet. I took this picture after I drained the water out.

    That’s it for now, if you have any comments or questions, it’s too late to incorporate most suggestions, but I could certainly answer any questions you may have.
    And yes, I know that my wife is absolutely terrific, she puts up with all my obsessions with so much support. It’s her fault anyway since I got her the first tank for a birthday present 4 years ago. My how things change!

  3. #3
    Former Moderator a4twenty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    wow, long post :b13:

    we should be able to help you post some pics, do you have an online host?? if not you can upload them directly to the site using the photopost section right off the main menu on the front page. then on the right you'll see a button to upload pics, pretty easy after that.

    did you say the overflow is made from 1/8" glass? not sure if i would trust that, i would have suggested 1/4" min. for safety.

    120S RR tank with 60G basement sump / fuge

    Return Pump: Little Giant 4-MDQX SC
    Water Movement: MP40W, Seio 1500, (2) Hydor K4's
    Lighting: 400W SE MH with 10K Venture
    Skimmer: Euro-Reef RS250 with gate valve
    Other: RODI, RDSB, PO4/AC reactor

    My Gallery

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Saw yout overflow box with the two durso pipes, just as a suggestion you may want to take one durso out and have the drain underwater and have it valved off so it takes 90-95% of all the water down and the rest would flow silently through the durso. I have started out with the same concept as you did but ended up with one overflow submerged and a completely silent overflow system.
    75G Starphire 24X30x24 Coast to Coast Overflow

    Return Pump: T4 Velocity (1255 Gph)
    Water Movement: 2 x Tunze 1045’s on a wave function from my reefkeeper 2
    Lighting: Giesemann Infinity 250w HQI 14k + 4x24w T5 Actinics
    Skimmer: Bubble King 180 Mini
    Calcium: Dual Chamber reactor with dosing pimp and Milwakee PH control

    Ozone: Red Sea Aquazone plus 100mg
    Cooling: 1/10hp Pacific Coast Chiller
    Other: ATO, RODI, Phosban

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