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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Its been a long time coming. This tank has gone through a lot of variations to get here. While planning it was first a 120 gallon Rimless Custom Tank. Then it was a 150 gallon Dart Frog Vivarium, and now its a 78 gallon UNS 120P. That's not even counting all the sub-variations like when it was going to be made out of concrete, or when I was planning for natives only biotope. Its been a ride!

Why all the changes? Well at first I went as big as I thought I could in the planning stages but The Wife was unhappy (too big). Then I switched to dart frogs because of maintenance issues (but the darn DIY tank leaked and I couldn't get it under control without tearing it apart). And then the siren call of a large planted aquascape was too strong, but now I have a stand that would only support a 75 gallon so a UNS 120P instead of the 120 gallon custom I originally planned for. I'm not upset about the downsizing, ultimately I think I will be happier with the smaller tank.

For filtration I'm thinking of using one Fluval FX4 with an inline heater and a rex griggs style reactor. Also using stainless steel lily pipes with a built in skimmer (I actually already own these from my previous 40 Breeder Quarantine Tank). I'd prefer to go with an Oase to get access to the pre-filter but I am not convinced even their 850 is strong enough and that puppy is almost twice as much as a FX4 and inline heater combined. My biggest concern is noise level, I'd like to keep this tank quiet. I briefly considered a sump with a hang on the back overflow but ditched the idea due to watching videos of those critters and noticing just how noisey they were.

Why not just drill the tank? Photography mostly. I would like the option of entering this tank into the AGA Contest and that means I need the back of the tank free of holes, overflow boxes, etc.

Substrate will be aquasoil capped with sand. I plan to build up the substrate a LOT with bags of lava rock. Possibly something in the neighborhood of 20 bags of lava rock... Yeah I plan for the substrate to reach 3/4 of the way to the top of the tank in places.

Fertilizer will either be dry ferts mixed and added once a week or it will be Thrive added once a week. I already own a bunch of dry ferts for PPS-Pro method for when I was running my 40 Breeder tank, but that tank failed so spectacularly I'm not sure I want to try to shoehorn that into a once a week dosing regimen.

Lighting is DIY...ish. I've had the idea of using conduit and regular screw in light bulbs to create tank lighting for a long time now. I previously was interested in BLASTING as high a light as possible and to that end I tested a bunch of bulbs. But after operating my High Tech Newt Tank for a few months using the upper ranges of low light, I really got to enjoy the slower pace and much easier maintenance of a low light tank. So for this tank I'm thinking of aiming squarely at medium light. Since I already owned the pendant fixtures for this endevour I just needed to buy some steel plumbing pipes and walla, tank lighting all figured out:



The bulbs are currently 31 inches from the concrete stand top. At that range I am getting about 28 ppfd in the 'corners' of where the tank will be, and 60 ppfd in the dead center. That said, I will probably be changing out at least one of the current bulbs and replacing it with a smart bulb. Currently I'm running two 10w Sansi bulbs, and one (likely 20w but listed as 100w) Grow Bulb. The SANSI bulbs I am pretty happy with but the Grow Bulb is a bit too bright for what I'm aiming for and will likely replace that one. I'm hoping to hit 30 to 45 ppfd throughout at substrate level.

The tank itself??? Backordered... le sigh.

I have ordered it from one of the online folks who informed me they expect the tank in the next 5 weeks. So hopefully by early March I will be starting to setup the hardscape.

Speaking of tank interiors... my vision so far is an amazon tank with mostly (all?) plants native to the region but not a 'true biotope'. I am thinking I want angel fish and corydoras (though the wife saw a picture of a discus and started making googly eyes.... was not thinking that would happen... we will see!
 

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I'm excited to see what you do with this! I'm also working on a build in these dimensions, but you're probably a couple months ahead of me, so I'll be following along with great interest.
 

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I am using an Oase Biomaster Thermo 650 on my Waterbox 4820/120p and it seems to be plenty. I have a spare 250 that I was going to use also but do not feel the need for it. I think that you will be happy with the 850. You will get much more noise from the Griggs than the Oase. I had a Griggs briefly and went back to an inline atomizer/diffusor.
 

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I am excited to see how this turns out. I plan to do a build with this size too but it will be much later in the year. I know there is a shortage on tanks so I hope I will be able to get one when I am ready.
 

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I have a similar build going on and likely endpoint with discus, and waterbox came through for me greatly. Said 6-8 weeks when I ordered but ended up being less than two weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm excited to see what you do with this! I'm also working on a build in these dimensions, but you're probably a couple months ahead of me, so I'll be following along with great interest.
Thank you! I've been waiting years for this tank to come to fuitition, I'm really excited about it, and since this is going right in the middle of my living room, really hoping the tank comes together in a way that looks good.

I am using an Oase Biomaster Thermo 650 on my Waterbox 4820/120p and it seems to be plenty. I have a spare 250 that I was going to use also but do not feel the need for it. I think that you will be happy with the 850. You will get much more noise from the Griggs than the Oase. I had a Griggs briefly and went back to an inline atomizer/diffusor.
You tempt me! I'm sooo hesitent to bite the bullet on the 850 because I don't want to a) need to buy another filter in addition to the 850, and b) am worried about the on paper calculations. I will be following your journal with great interest, if your tank were 6+ months further along and still working well I'd probably just go for it.

I've had griggs that were noisy and ones that were quiet. The difference being the amount of gas I was trying to pump into it. I think if they are too loud you just need to slow down the gas, the darn things are too efficient so if all the gas hasn't dissolved it will make noise. Or at least that is how I am explaining why my newt tank is dead quiet with the griggs at 1 bubble every 4 seconds while my quarantine was very loud with 4 bubbles per second.

I am excited to see how this turns out. I plan to do a build with this size too but it will be much later in the year. I know there is a shortage on tanks so I hope I will be able to get one when I am ready.
Yeah the tank shortage is very real. Waterbox has been doing a bang up business as their source of tanks seems to be less affected. But UNS, ADA, those guys are taking months between restocking and the demand is easily exceeding the supply.

I have a similar build going on and likely endpoint with discus, and waterbox came through for me greatly. Said 6-8 weeks when I ordered but ended up being less than two weeks.
Question for you and also @mourip, How did you guys move your tanks onto your stands? This is something I am dreading. My tank will (I assume) come in a crate. I have a handtruck and my plan was to move it into my house (on or off the crate depending on whether it would fit through my door) and then...... My wife is not much help at this point and during the pandemic my choice is either figure out how to do it by myself or hire some guys to come pick it up and put it on the stand.

Thanks for any advice.
 

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Two of us, neither in great shape with a Minnesota salty heavy slanted drive way, into the basement. If your stand had a wood top I'd detail how I got a 180 onto a stand by myself but without a plastic rim and the concrete i'd say there is no way it's a one man job.
 

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...and waterbox came through for me greatly. Said 6-8 weeks when I ordered but ended up being less than two weeks.
That is great. I thought that it would be a couple of weeks and it took two months. 48" rimless thanks are in short supply these days.
 

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How did you guys move your tanks onto your stands? This is something I am dreading. My tank will (I assume) come in a crate.
Piece of cake. Use Task Rabbit! :)

My Waterbox came on a palette in a huge Styrofoam lined box. I unpacked the tank in the garage and my wife and I were able to move the stand into place in our basement ourselves.

The tank is 140 pounds of glass with no bracing. Two strong, young, cheery careful guys moved the tank from the garage down a flight of stairs to the basement for $70 plus I gave them a good tip. Be sure to have them point the correct side out if your tank has engraved badging and you do not want it to show.

It was money well spent and a drop in the bucket after I added up how much I have spent to get the 120P up and stocked.
 

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Can't wait to see the end results. I like the light setup you have going. I may steal that idea for the basement fishroom.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Update!

The tank is..... still backordered... le sigh. This was to be expected though, if the original timeline remains then sometime in the next 2 weeks it will actually ship to me.

Meanwhile I have not been idle. Probably the biggest change is to the stand. I had a poured concrete top on it that I did myself and frankly liked quite a bit. BUT, I had previously been planning a plywood vivarium on it, not a rimless aquarium. That top was not dead flat, and worse, it bulged upward slightly in the middle. How much exactly? Around .5 to 1 mm in the center compared to the edges. Would this have been a tank shattering experience? I don't know. These tanks comes with a 'leveling' mat for a reason but I decided my peace of mind couldn't handle the situation so I needed to replace the top. Rather then try to pour another concrete top I opted for a more professional route.

I called around to several granite supply companies and got quotes. Those quotes ranged from 250 to 500 dollars for a granite top 22 inches x 51 inches. I went with the cheapest option at 250. The folks I bought it form loaded it into my car and I used a hand truck to get it out of my car and onto the stand itself. Actually tilting it onto the stand was a bit of a hairy moment but it found its way there safely enough. Here is how it looks now:



I still like the look of the concrete top but I feel much happier with the stand as an aquarium stand with the granite top.

Next up was work on the engine room. This tank needed a reactor, a heater, a temperature probe, and I decided, a dosing pump, and all of it needed to be done inline.......... Because .. aesthetics.

Granted this is all just my aesthetics but I have decided the only equipment in the tank will be a stainless steel lily pipe inflow with built in skimmer and a stainless steel lily pipe return. Nothing else.

The easiest I did first, the reactor. I have built at this point 5 different reactors, this one is my 6th. When I first built reactors I tried to be ...clever... and made weird reactors. I'm kind of over that phase of my life ;P I realize now that reactors should be kept simple not because my weird reactors didn't work, but because dissolving co2 into water is simple and my reactors were needlessly complicated, costly (by comparison) and overly large.

So this is what I built for my 6th reactor:



Next up was the regulator. I actually had purchased a 2 stage regulator about 2 years ago but lost it at one point only to rediscover it in time for this build. I bought a post body kit from @Bettatail and one evening put it all together. As an aside, Bettatail did an awesome job packing this post body kit up. Here is how the post body kit looked when I opened the box with everything individually wrapped:



My parts all laid out:



Everything back together:



I was told by folks on this forum (years ago) that my regulator is for relatively low pressure (I think 15? psi from memory) but that's fine for my purposes. For a reactor setup I doubt I will need more than that.

This is the first time I will be using a regulator with a bubble counter attached and check valve built in. My current regulator has a bubble counter inline and seperate check valve. Do folks install another check valve closer to the reactor? I'd hate to need to wait for the co2 to fill the whole line past the bubble counter, plus check valves fail etc.


Meanwhile I went to work on my various inline pieces. The heater I ordered from amazon is 300watt Ista inline heater. My research showed only 3 different brands for inline heaters. There is Hydor who is kind of the name brand but uses a spiny wheel dial for controls. There is Ista, and there is a random chinese brand that sells under different names the most popular of which is Datoo. Anyway I got the Ista because it had the least number of horrible reviews. Unfortunately the heater I got was either deliberately mislabeled or Ista changed their design because my 5/8" 16/22mm heater has an outside barbed diameter of 5/8" and an inside diameter that at most could be 1/2". This.. will probably be a problem. I'm going to just suck it up and go with it for now since I already own it, but I will likely replace it when/if it fails to produce the desired results.

For the temperature probe I drilled a hole in a pvc plug just large enough for the probe to squeeze through, then backfilled it with silicone. The plug then got screwed into a pvc Tee.

Of everything though my weakest link will be the fertilizer dosing. I searched through old posts on this forum for people dosing ferts inlinine and found a handful of threads on the subject. It seems that folks have made this work before... but there weren't many people claiming to have done it long term. It seems the biggest weakness are the check valves. They can clog so ferts can't make it through. My plan for dealing with this is to 1) over dilute my ferts to hopefully cut down clogs, 2) mix in a little excel with my micros and macros to stop clogs and mold, and 3) use better check valves. Specifically I will be using Harsh Chemical rated check valves I bought from www.mcmaster.com. I tested them with my dosing pump and it is powerful enough to push open the valve so I 'should' be ok there. Time will tell whether it works or not :p

Anyway I am as of now planning to go with pps-pro method of ferts. It failed for me once before but I'm hoping a much better attention to detail will get me in a better place this time.

On the cool techie side of things, at least one of my light bulbs is a smart bulb, my power strip is a smart power strip, and my temperature controller is wifi enabled as well (so it will create push notifications to my phone if it detects temperature irregularities). Not bad for off the shelf stuff and someone who doesn't code with a darn ;P

Anyway I spent a few days trying to figure out how I could fit all this stuff NEATLY in the stand. I started with the idea of using a free standing bit of 3/4" melamine and then attaching everything to that. I moved things around on this for a few days until I ended up with this:



It still needs the line leaving the fertilizer manifold and going into the tank but otherwise it's not..uh..horrible. It is not nearly as tidy as I envisioned it either but space became an issue and I didn't want to hard plumb everything together with lots of 90 degree pvc elbows.

As for filtration, well I already own a Polar Aurau (rebadged Sunsun 704b) which is rated for 525gph. On paper its likely not enough power but I already own it, so I'm going to at least hook it up and see how it goes. If its not giving me enough flow (or ends up being too noisy) I will switch it out for either an FX4 or a Sunsun HW-3000. Speaking of which, anyone have any experience with either of those two filters? Specifically interested in how noisey they might be?

And that brings me to current. HOPEFULLY, my next update includes how I used two sets of these gripper things to move a UNS 120P onto that stand.
 

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Great progress! Things are looking great underneath there too. Can't wait to see the tank all decked out.
 

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I'm 100% stealing that heater probe idea. Looking like this will be just as awesome as your newt tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I'm 100% stealing that heater probe idea. Looking like this will be just as awesome as your newt tank.
Thank you! I can't claim the probe holder as an original idea. I saw someone (can't remember who) do this before. Hopefully it works for both of us!
 

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I love the style of the stand @minorhero! :) ...Too bad it won't hold your original dream tank of 120gal.
How come you chose to go with a canister filter now? I saw in your original posts you were still considering sump and K1 media?
Your "engine" set-up looks great!! I may need to poke you with some questions about fertilizers / reactor etc. when I get to that stage of planning! BTW, thanks for helping me think through my own 300g tank planning and sump design! :) (y)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I love the style of the stand @minorhero! :) ...Too bad it won't hold your original dream tank of 120gal.
How come you chose to go with a canister filter now? I saw in your original posts you were still considering sump and K1 media?
Your "engine" set-up looks great!! I may need to poke you with some questions about fertilizers / reactor etc. when I get to that stage of planning! BTW, thanks for helping me think through my own 300g tank planning and sump design! :) (y)
I sadly had to abandon the idea of using a sump for the 75 gallon for the simple reason of photography. I want to be able to enter this tank into the big aquascaping competitions which meant I needed clean sides without an overflow (similar to your desires with your 300g tank - but for a 75 gallon a canister filter is a much easier to implement option). I wasn't really concerned about this when doing the planning on the 120.
 
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