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View Full Version : The 20 gallon sps tank on a budget



mch1984
06-12-2018, 05:27 PM
Thought I would start this thread to get some ideas as I go. My dad likes aquariums but has never really gotten into them for various reasons. I have been trying to help him start a nano but haven't had much luck. He told me one day that its the SPS that he really likes and wants to keep. We discussed it would have to be a much better system to keep them. So I have set off to put together a nano, with on a budget that can support SPS.

I found a used 20 high with a 10 gallon sump that is already drilled for $40 so that is where we start. I have two current marine pros at the house and wanted to find a tank that could take advantage of them since I already have them. My experience with them was not great, but I think a small system will do good with these lights. I also have two the current wave makers so they will be utilized in this system as well. The 10 gallon sump only has two chambers and I want make it a three chamber for a refugium. I was thinking about making a non permanent baffle so we could adjust down the road. Looking for ideas on that front, I had considered using the coarse filter pads in a similar fashion to what BRS did. But I'm open to ideas on that.

We have the tanks, and hope to get them cleaned up and set up so we can take a look at where we are at with them. Looking forward to this build with my dad, I'm sure we will both learn a lot.

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angelcraze2
06-12-2018, 06:59 PM
Nice, how exciting, working with your dad. Will this be a saltwater tank? SPS?

mch1984
06-12-2018, 07:23 PM
Nice, how exciting, working with your dad. Will this be a saltwater tank? SPS?

Yes it will, Small Polyp Stony coral. They tend to require better water quality then other coral.

BluewaterBoof
06-12-2018, 08:41 PM
angelcraze2

To expand on the differentiation between large polyp stony (LPS) and small polyp stony (SPS), here are a pair of photos:

LPS coral. The colony features polyps (each "mouth" with little feeder tentacles is a polyp) that are very large in structure. Depending on the coral, these can be the size of a dime or even the pit of an avacado.

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SPS coral. The colonies of SPS corals are made of incredibly small polyps when compared to those of an LPS. I've seen the polyps on SPS range from about the size of a small pea down to just a few millimeters across.

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The "stony" part of the two names comes from the fact that the corals are colonies of fleshy polyps that all share a calcified (stony) skeleton. Here are some examples of the different skeletal structures formed by various species of corals:

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BluewaterBoof
06-12-2018, 09:04 PM
The 10 gallon sump only has two chambers and I want make it a three chamber for a refugium. I was thinking about making a non permanent baffle so we could adjust down the road. Looking for ideas on that front, I had considered using the coarse filter pads in a similar fashion to what BRS did. But I'm open to ideas on that.

Interesting idea. I haven't looked at what BRS did; I'll have to check it out. My knee-jerk reaction to the idea is that there could be potential problems to flow rates through the fuge, but then I guess you could always cut out slits or something in the pad. I'm gonna go hunt down what they had to say about it.

mch1984
06-12-2018, 09:48 PM
Interesting idea. I haven't looked at what BRS did; I'll have to check it out. My knee-jerk reaction to the idea is that there could be potential problems to flow rates through the fuge, but then I guess you could always cut out slits or something in the pad. I'm gonna go hunt down what they had to say about it.

it was in there ULM builds they did, I don't remember what episode. I was kicking the idea around with somebody else and they had a good thought. I may do egg crate with foam around the edges. The foam would hold it in place and the egg crate would allow for tons of flow through the fuge. I just know with a small sump I don't want to restrict my space in any direction other than the already in place baffles.

BluewaterBoof
06-12-2018, 10:57 PM
I like the idea of egg crate a lot more.

I know the conventional design is to have the thin-spaced bubble traps prior to the return pump, but I went a different route with mine. I made the space bigger so that I could add additional media bags and Poly-fil in there. The Poly-fil prevents the micro bubbles from making their way to the return pump, but my main concern with a fuge sump is the stories I've heard of the macro algae releasing spores which then travel up into the display. I have both chaeto and caulerpa in my fuge, and I'm hoping that packing all the Poly-fil between those two baffles will prevent the spores from reaching the display. Only time will tell. I have no idea how small those spores are, so I'm not sure how effective the floss will be.

mch1984
06-13-2018, 12:26 AM
Well this one already has the bubble traps before the return, but the rest is just an open chamber. Iíll get a better pic next time Iím over there. I am wanting to add a baffle between inlet and what will be my fuge.

From my understanding is thatís why cheato is so popular. It doesnít release the spores like that. I know there are some kinds that do but I pretty it doesnít.

mch1984
06-18-2018, 12:28 PM
Well my plan was to at least get this tank plumbed on Sunday, but I didn't make it very far. We got the spot cleaned up its going to go and then realized the overflow box is coming loose and needs to be redone. Plus I'm going to have to cut off the current bulk heads to replumb the tank. So parts are ordered and should be here next week. Work will resume then.

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BluewaterBoof
06-18-2018, 04:14 PM
Oh that's a crappy turn of luck. Sorry to hear you have to do all that extra work and wait for parts.

mch1984
06-18-2018, 04:52 PM
Oh that's a crappy turn of luck. Sorry to hear you have to do all that extra work and wait for parts.

Thanks, but its all good. We weren't at all in a hurry but my 12 gallon nano is currently housing his clown fish. Now that I have plans in motion to convert that into my planted on my other build, I'm getting anxious lol. I still have to buy the light and some more plants for it but I could at least play around with the scape and stuff. But if we are going to do this tank for my dad we might as well be patient and do it right.

mch1984
06-25-2018, 12:50 AM
Well after two trips to Loweís we still have to go back. For some reason I ordered a thread by thread gate valve. Weíll go tomorrow and hopefully have this plumbed tomorrow night.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180625/54c8ccab94bd1fe8b1b3819de5246450.heic

mch1984
06-26-2018, 01:19 AM
This tank is going to be my demise and have me premonitly scared on plumbing. I didnít realize how tight the spaces were that I would be working in. I got the drain plumbing all cut, not glued. Went to start the return line and figure out I need one more piece. But at least there is some progress.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180626/c5003b4067772d6572fa464658cce43a.heic

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180626/0afb1bf9e54a70d302e010af021fd169.heic

BluewaterBoof
06-26-2018, 04:01 PM
Plumbing the overflow definitely intimidated me a bit. I also decided to use silicone for all the joint seals as opposed to PVC cement so that it wouldn't require cutting up the pipes if I needed to make adjustments in the future.

I had the same gate valve (slip not threaded, though), but in the end I returned it because I wasn't sure if I wanted the hassle of fixing it if it ever decided to leak. I ended up with a lot of gurgling and splashing in the sump, but I almost eliminated all noise by just adding two 90* elbows at the bottom. I'm thinking of splicing in a wye down there and doing a reverse dorso to see if that further silences the drain. My wife claims she doesn't notice the overflow, but it's one of those things that is always nagging me haha

BluewaterBoof
06-26-2018, 04:02 PM
I’m not the best artist but here is what I did at the end of the drain.

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EDIT: I forgot I had posted a clip of my sump when I first got it going. You can see how I turned up and tilted the pipe in the clip. Post link (http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/aquariumforum/showthread.php?t=127147&p=1491481#post1491481)

mch1984
06-26-2018, 04:37 PM
If I have problems with it being noisy I may try that. Iím hoping with the gate valve I wonít need to do anything special. There is no filter sock right now so Iím going to add a union in the lower section so I can add one later.

mch1984
06-27-2018, 02:36 AM
The plumbing is done, we still have a lot to do but this part is done.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180627/02ec96b89aecb0fcc091383141cb464f.heic

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180627/edd922bea29345bc6aef614555cc05b7.heic

BluewaterBoof
06-27-2018, 03:51 PM
Getting closer!

What pump are you using for your return?

mch1984
06-27-2018, 08:20 PM
The set up came with an aquiam (I think thatís how you spell it) that still works. We will eventually change him over to a jaebo pump so we can control the flow more.

mch1984
07-05-2018, 04:32 AM
We have water! I normally donít do water than rock but this was a little different. We are using rock from two established tanks. But they are both plagued with hair algae. So we will spend a day just treating and scrubbing rock. We wanted to go ahead and get the thing pumping and check for leak.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180705/ad5d78c3da175ce3be20c63d31ff0fdf.jpg


https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180705/3027882d4ee7f3126f9bd6eba5814ce5.jpg

angelcraze2
07-05-2018, 04:08 PM
I had some lava rock covered in BBA. I let it die, but it was still stuck into the rocks really well. So I left the rocks in the sun for a week or so, then rinsed and scrubbed with a brush and it came right off. I'll boil them just to make sure they are safe since they came from a tank with internal worms and cyanobacteria.

mch1984
07-05-2018, 04:16 PM
The plan is to pull the rock out and spray the algae with peroxide and let it sit for a bot 5 min. Then we will scrub the rock and then rinse it in clean water and put it in the tank. I've never tried this method but I've heard it works well.

angelcraze2
07-05-2018, 04:52 PM
It should work. The peroxide will kill the BBA, you could let it sit in the peroxide for longer though, try 0.5 hrs. Once it's killed, it should scrub off easily, if you still have trouble, let it dry first, then scrub.

BluewaterBoof
07-05-2018, 05:35 PM
Sounds fun! I love how peroxide bubbles like crazy when attacking algae haha

mch1984
07-05-2018, 05:38 PM
It should work. The peroxide will kill the BBA, you could let it sit in the peroxide for longer though, try 0.5 hrs. Once it's killed, it should scrub off easily, if you still have trouble, let it dry first, then scrub.

Well we are trying to do it without killing all the bacteria in the rock. I want to keep as much alive as possible. Iím hoping this tank wonít have to cycle. Thatís the biggest reason we are doing it fast like that.

mch1984
07-05-2018, 05:38 PM
Sounds fun! I love how peroxide bubbles like crazy when attacking algae haha

Ha, never seen it but it should be fun.

showmebutterfly
07-05-2018, 05:49 PM
That sounds like it deserves a video! But I'm easily entertained. lol


Sounds fun! I love how peroxide bubbles like crazy when attacking algae haha

mch1984
07-05-2018, 06:39 PM
Haha, I bet I can do some video action for you.

angelcraze2
07-05-2018, 07:02 PM
Well we are trying to do it without killing all the bacteria in the rock. I want to keep as much alive as possible. Iím hoping this tank wonít have to cycle. Thatís the biggest reason we are doing it fast like that.

Oh :doh: I get it now. Well I hope you get rid of it, but it might take some time to leave completely. Is this live rock? Maybe another dumb question, I probably missed info. I really don't know much about SW live rock lol.

angelcraze2
07-05-2018, 07:07 PM
The plan is to pull the rock out and spray the algae with peroxide and let it sit for a bot 5 min. Then we will scrub the rock and then rinse it in clean water and put it in the tank. I've never tried this method but I've heard it works well.

The peroxide is best done in water where the magic happens. Unless you dip the algae side in a bowl of peroxide and water solution for 5 mins. I think that would be more effective if you can retain BB by not letting peroxide touch algae free parts of the rock. Do it in the light as well, preferably a transparent container.

mch1984
07-05-2018, 07:10 PM
I could try that method, I was going to do a spray bottle and just spray it down where itís at. Worst case I could do a black out for a few days after to help get rid of the last of it.

angelcraze2
07-05-2018, 07:32 PM
I could be wrong, I'm trying to figure out where I came out with that lol, about the peroxide method not working by spraying plants above the water line, but can't find it.

But at least with the bowl method, you are keeping the rest of the rock peroxide-free because you're holding it upside down.

mch1984
07-05-2018, 07:34 PM
I could be wrong, I'm trying to figure out where I came out with that lol, about the peroxide method not working by spraying plants above the water line, but can't find it.

But at least with the bowl method, you are keeping the rest of the rock peroxide-free because you're holding it upside down.

Thatís a good point, I may have to try that method as well.

angelcraze2
07-05-2018, 07:43 PM
A bath in full strength (3%) H2O2 will kill and for most part remove algae from plants, but should not exceed 1 to 2 minutes of submersion.

A 3% H2O2 dose of 3ml H2O2 added per 60 liters tank water (15.9 gallons) can be safely used without any threat to your beneficial bacteria bed, fish, frogs, or invertebrates. Only in extreme cases should the dose of 3% H2O2 be increased to a max of 6ml to 60 liters, however some threat to bacteria bed and inverts will be there.

Some info on H202 but it's geared toward treating parasites.

BluewaterBoof
07-05-2018, 07:45 PM
That sounds like it deserves a video! But I'm easily entertained. lol

I had posted a vid a while back of me squirting some h2o2 into a tank that had a bunch of algae growing on the substrate. It was a very fun process to watch. I've been digging around in my old journals and can't seem to find it :(

angelcraze2
07-05-2018, 07:54 PM
I remember it!!!!^^ Would it be on your YouTube channel?

As soon as h202 makes contact with organic matter, it starts to bubble in the water. I've had to spot-treat the whole front pane of my glass in between the substrate and glass where some cyanobacteria was growing. I have since fixed the problem, but it does look really cool. All the fish poop and lighter organics lift up and float to the surface with the oxygen bubbles.

angelcraze2
07-05-2018, 08:03 PM
Do it in the light as well, preferably a transparent container.
Ummm, that might be the opposite, treat in a dark area. I can't think right now in this heat! All I know for sure is that h202 degrades in light.

mch1984
07-05-2018, 08:04 PM
Well we are in no hurry either way. So we can experiment a little with different methods.

angelcraze2
07-05-2018, 08:13 PM
http://titanwaters.com/facts-hydrogen-peroxide-well-water-systems.html
Another good read regarding anaerobic bacteria and h202

BluewaterBoof
07-05-2018, 08:47 PM
I remember it!!!!^^ Would it be on your YouTube channel?

I looked there, as well, and no luck. I cleaned out some vids earlier this year and that may have been one that was deleted.

mch1984
07-08-2018, 11:44 PM
Got the rock work done and the tank going. Still have to do a bunch of wire management.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180708/1fe22f530b74de981d477b8ad05c0c67.jpg

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180708/30fb07ef6a4f87aff6a97230785e11cb.jpg

showmebutterfly
07-09-2018, 12:26 AM
It looks good. How long did it take you to get the rocks the way you wanted them?

mch1984
07-09-2018, 12:27 AM
Not very long, I didnít really take my time on this one. This was good well established rock, so I didnít want it want it out of the water long.

showmebutterfly
07-09-2018, 12:33 AM
That's understandable. I'm not looking forward to transferring my live rock.

mch1984
07-09-2018, 12:58 AM
Yeah with my 90 I had the luxury of dry rock. A friend and me spent about 3 weeks building that scape, with cement.

showmebutterfly
07-09-2018, 02:44 PM
Wow. Do you have a journal on that build or pics to share?


Yeah with my 90 I had the luxury of dry rock. A friend and me spent about 3 weeks building that scape, with cement.

mch1984
07-09-2018, 02:46 PM
Wow. Do you have a journal on that build or pics to share?

Yes ma'am, here is the journal.

http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/aquariumforum/showthread.php?t=127377

showmebutterfly
07-09-2018, 02:47 PM
Thank you! Oops. Duhr... I'm following that one too. It's Monday morning. I'll blame it on that. lol

mch1984
07-09-2018, 04:26 PM
No big deal, Mondayís are never fun lol.

BluewaterBoof
07-09-2018, 04:48 PM
Looks good, Matt!


Still have to do a bunch of wire management.

I'm almost finished with my homemade cabinet that I'm building for my wires and controllers. I built, sanded, primed, and stained the main cabinet and have everything mounted inside so far. I've been procrastinating and putting off making the door for it.


That's understandable. I'm not looking forward to transferring my live rock.

My wife followed me around with a bucket underneath my rocks as I carried them from my old tank to the new one. It was a bit stressful as there were all sorts of crabs and whatnot on them. Transporting the live rock was definitely the most intense part of the move.

mch1984
07-09-2018, 04:50 PM
Looks good, Matt!



I'm almost finished with my homemade cabinet that I'm building for my wires and controllers. I built, sanded, primed, and stained the main cabinet and have everything mounted inside so far. I've been procrastinating and putting off making the door for it.



My wife followed me around with a bucket underneath my rocks as I carried them from my old tank to the new one. It was a bit stressful as there were all sorts of crabs and whatnot on them. Transporting the live rock was definitely the most intense part of the move.

Ha I can picture that scene in my head lol. We did some scrubbing on the rocks for algae so our move wasn't that stressful. But we tried to eliminate out of water time as much as possible.

mch1984
07-13-2018, 02:13 AM
Got the screen top made for the tank, and the new fuge light in. The other one would have probably worked but this one is 50w and a better spectrum. Plus it was only $18

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180713/70132c917a83e1f7ee1c5fd0abe9f1c6.jpg

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180713/50ec2a3be11fc1722f98658051acbeb1.jpg

BluewaterBoof
07-13-2018, 04:47 AM
Nice! What kind of critters do I see down on the sand bed?

mch1984
07-13-2018, 12:42 PM
I've been saving up some frags I've picked up here and there. Hes got a couple Zoanthids, an Acan, Bi color hammer, a chalice, and a monti on the back glass.

BluewaterBoof
07-13-2018, 05:46 PM
What kind of kH are you planning on keeping it at?

mch1984
07-13-2018, 06:22 PM
I keep my 90 at about 8.3 or try to. I'm still learning the dosing stuff but I'm getting there. I hope soon i can drop the money and set up my dosing equipment. I figure for now I can maintain his with kalkwasser once we see a need for it.

Spardas
09-08-2018, 09:50 PM
My wife followed me around with a bucket underneath my rocks as I carried them from my old tank to the new one. It was a bit stressful as there were all sorts of crabs and whatnot on them. Transporting the live rock was definitely the most intense part of the move.

And Boof Jr was following making sure nothing fell on the floor, lol. A true team effort.

mch1984
09-21-2018, 11:54 PM
Forgot to post these the other day, glass was a little dirty but some updated shots on my dads tank.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180921/c324c4540e83b0df068a22001e8b99ca.jpg

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180921/c6370a492fc590f1e94b2b7b63f38b0b.jpg

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180921/82960cda5ffd31ca42d94291227c2cb6.jpg

showmebutterfly
09-22-2018, 01:07 AM
His tank looks great!
Forgot to post these the other day, glass was a little dirty but some updated shots on my dads tank.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180921/c324c4540e83b0df068a22001e8b99ca.jpg

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180921/c6370a492fc590f1e94b2b7b63f38b0b.jpg

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180921/82960cda5ffd31ca42d94291227c2cb6.jpg

Jwfish13
09-22-2018, 01:20 AM
oh cool, its good to see the same tank I'm gonna do already up and running!

How many pounds of rock do you have in there?

mch1984
09-22-2018, 01:45 AM
oh cool, its good to see the same tank I'm gonna do already up and running!

How many pounds of rock do you have in there?

Just a wild guess, around 20 lbs

Jwfish13
09-22-2018, 02:33 AM
that looks about right, going by the ole standard of the pound a gallon thinking.

mch1984
09-22-2018, 02:57 AM
Yeah the rock came from two different established tanks. Thought I was going to have way too much but used it all. I like to have had more time to scape but we were trying to keep the rock as wet as possible. Spent a couple of weeks doing my 90 and about 45 min doing this one.

mch1984
02-04-2019, 07:27 PM
So it's been a while since I've updated this thread, this tank as been kind of a hot mess. Had some really bad hair algae problems and just really couldn't control nutrients. Figured out I really needed to redesign the sump. I was getting ready for an overhaul when I saw an amazing deal on facebook. Local guy was selling this tank, I'm pretty sure it's a custom job but he's not the original owner. It's a 24" x 24" x 16" 40 gallon cube with a stand and a very nice sump to go with it. I had to jump on it for my dad, it was too good to let go of.

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mch1984
02-04-2019, 07:31 PM
So picked the tank up Saturday and then Sunday we went through and cleaned the tank and sump. It cleaned up nicely and looks even better than I thought. This tank is overbuilt, I'm pretty sure the glass is as thick as my 180 gallon. My dad ordered a new light, going Chinese black box, viperspectra. It's the perfect light and will cover this tank nicely. Also go some new bulk head and a gate valve. The guy also though in an RODI and some rock. So we cleaned the rock and dad ordered filters/resin for the RODI system. Going to get the plumbing dry fitted this weekend, maybe more but we'll see how far we've made it and decide.

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showmebutterfly
02-04-2019, 07:45 PM
Wow! That's a nice upgrade. I'm glad you found such a great deal for your dad. How tempted were you to keep it for yourself? lol It really did clean up very well.

mch1984
02-04-2019, 07:51 PM
A little bit, mostly because it would have been perfect for an office tank. But the last thing I need is another tank, and this is the perfect size and upgrade for his. I was happy for his and he's pretty excited.