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My Odyssey- Building a 100G Tank into my Living Room Wall

Postby CITADELGRAD87 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:49 pm

I have been keeping Africans for about 8 years, always in a 50G acrylic with an Emperor 400 and an Eheim classic canister. To my, that was a perfect sized tank. In the office, I ran an Artica chiller because of no AC during summer Sundays and the 95 degree air temp.
Recently, when repiping our house after a plumbing issue, I decided to open a false wall and build in my 50g. For about 5 seconds, then I looked at the wall, and instantly decided to put a 5 foot tank in the wall, visible in the living room. The great thing for me is that the space inside the wall is so large (approximately 4 feet by 5.5 feet) , I will have a fish room, with water supply, a drain, and room for all my stuff to be together, food, chemicals, etc.
Even though I have run several threads on minor parts of this, now that we are getting serious, I thought it might be better for anyone who cares to use this as a reference to have it together in a properly titled thread.

Here's an establishing shot of the living room wall, this spot has been covered by the TV for years, the TV is going up on the opposite side of the fireplace.
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So I started haunting Craig's List, I was at a bit of disadvantage, because I have just over 5 feet of wall space, and I did not want a 46 inch tank. I scored this ex saltwater tank, 100G Visio glass with a single overflow box, a stand which I have been using to work out plumbing issues, and will later sell, a small SW sump with a Mag 12, a skimmer that I am not sure if it works, and a ton of salt crust and general saltwater nastiness and stank. I plan to sell the stand, the sump, and the skimmer on CL when I get a chance. It cleaned up WAY better than I thought it would.
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I decided early on to use a sump, and in cleaning up this one, even though it was smaller than I wanted at 24 gallons, I hooked it up and gave it a try. The problem I was having is that with the Mag 12, I needed to keep the pump totally submerged to keep it from sucking air, then, when I unplugged it, to check what would happen for a power outage, it came to within about an inch of the tank rim, too close for comfort, especially coming off some non fish tank water damage to our floor. During this phase, my wife came to look at it in the garage an immediately mentioned that the rushing whitewater noise was far too loud, so I built a Durso standpipe with about $5 worth of plumbing parts. It works as advertised, my only contribution to that system is the ability to tell you if you need to offset it, 2 45 degree elbows do not affect operation.

Back to Craigs list, where I found a 60G acrylic that was only $40, so I picked that up. I briefly flirted with a bucket setup, but for a variety of reasons abandoned that in favor of a built in bio ball chamber, my first work with acrylic. I made a single wall to hold the bio balls in, and added ¼ acrylic rod to hold up the egg crate and drip tray, and I made a top plate to attach the hose to the top of the sump, and filled it all with 10G bio balls, which sources tell me is good for 300G or so of water.
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With the batting on the top of the drip tray, I get a nice, quite sprinkle of water over the entire bio chamber.
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CITADELGRAD87
 
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2003 10:28 pm
Location: ORANGE COUNTY, CA

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Postby CITADELGRAD87 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:58 pm

With the IN to the sump completed, I moved on to using the sump return to power USJs, I have used them in my 50 from day one, and while I am not one who can report that I no longer have to vacuum, with some better jet placement in the 100, I hope to reduce maintenance somewhat. I also want to have no equipment visible inside the tank, if possible. Using the return to power the jets helps with this.

Initially, I used the Mag 12 as it came, which was ¾ flex hose feeding into a ¾ bulkhead and into a ½ exit bulkhead at the top of the box. Flow rate was pathetic, really no flow was detectable on several jets.
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I opened the ½ to ¾, and ran 1 inch flex to the tank bottom, then ¾ to the jets, flow still very low. Because of the 4 foot head height and the pipe diameter restrictions, I felt I needed more pump. I was able to pick up a Mag 24 locally from a guy who was blowing out inventory after he closed a fish store, great prices, so I grabbed a finnex heater and controller and a little time and temp, too.

Then I got serious, I decided to see what would happen if I ran 1 ½ inch return line, because that's what Danner uses to rate their pumps. I ran hard PVC just to see what would happen if I went from 1 ½ at the pump head all the way inside the tank, over the back violating my no equipment rule, and reduced to ¾ at the start of the jets.
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NOW WE'RE COOKING. I hooked up the 24 and it rocked, so much so that I am going to put a T fitting inside the sump area, and have the ability to valve off the main return and divert flow back into the sump through another line. I will use this to polish water by running a sock type diatom filter. For water changes, I plan to close the main return, shoot the sump water using the diverted line into a nearby drain, then refill using a hose bib inside my fish room, treat and heat the water, and then turn back on the main line. For the cautious ones, yes, I know I need to put some (multiple) siphon drain holes in that line, and will do so. Part of the advantage of having a magnum powered pump is I will not miss that puny leakage.

Since I am now married to the over the back return, I am purchasing a tank background from a source I found through a member of these forums, I have no artist in me, which is a bad combo with my anal retentive perfectionist issue, so I am going to have someone else make the perfect background. It will cover that return line and disguise the overflow box, too. Right now I like the cobblestone, a multi colored background with a variety of sizes and thickness of projections, I want to keep the maximum amount of water in the tank. For giggles, I set the Mag 12 up using the 1 ½ line, but there isn't enough in that pump to do what I need.

Now for the good stuff. I put some blue tape up on the wall to show where the tank will be, and opened up a witness hole to check out the space.

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Here you can see the parallel project, the TV is getting a built in treatment as well, I got the boards off and exposed the back of the other fireplace, which is unfortunately offset, limiting the TV side depth, I need to get creative on that side to have room for all the components.
That's where I ran out of daylight yesterday.
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I plan to document this whole build, from decision what to do, through construction, fishless cycle, and stocking. Stick with me, it should be a ride. If you see anything or have any tips, please weigh in.
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Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2003 10:28 pm
Location: ORANGE COUNTY, CA

Postby Steve C » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:04 pm

No tips, but I just gotta say...that's gonna be a very cool spot to have the tank built in. I'm looking forward to seeing how it comes out 8)
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Postby bearrock » Tue Oct 18, 2011 4:12 pm

LOOKING GOOD!!!!! I will be following along!
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Postby The King Crabb » Tue Oct 18, 2011 6:30 pm

Loving it so far! Should be awesome :thumb:
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Postby chptunes » Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:01 am

Cool project.. keep up the good work. :)
75g: Pseudotropheus Saulosi and Placidochromis sp. "Phenochilus Tanzania"
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Postby Clink51 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:01 pm

will everything be okay once the fireplace gets lit? i mean those are fireplace bricks, but they must get hot to some degree right?
10G - EMPTY
10G - EMPTY
29G - x8 Zebra Danios, Multi Colony (15 -/+ 2)
75G - x13 Cyp. Leptosoma (Utinta), x3 Alto. Comp, x6 Neo. Leleupi (Orange), x4 Tanganicodus Irsacae, x1 Albino Bristlenose
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Postby CITADELGRAD87 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:24 pm

The fireplace that is exposed on the left side is a gas one that we have never lit in 7 years, but the bricks you can see in the photos are approximately 2 feet thick measuring from the closest part of the inside of the fireplace to the point where I am mounting the TV and components, and there is free air space, not a lot, but air space, between that back wall of the fireplace and the back of the TV cabinet. Before we took the boards covering the bricks down, there was about 4-6 inches of free air space minimum all the way around the bricks that you can see.

On the fish tank side, the right side, we do use that fireplace on occasion, but the tank is about 6-12 inches from the closest external bricks.

I think it should be OK.
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Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2003 10:28 pm
Location: ORANGE COUNTY, CA

Postby Clink51 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:41 pm

i wish i had a fireplace, let alone two... lucky man

anyways, i would put in some kind of vent space somewhere just in case of smoke, access heat or chemicals that leak and dont get mixed with the tank itself.

ps... any way i can subscribe to this post? im really anxious to see how awesome this turns out :drooling: .. best of luck dude and i cant wait for the next picture show :thumb:
10G - EMPTY
10G - EMPTY
29G - x8 Zebra Danios, Multi Colony (15 -/+ 2)
75G - x13 Cyp. Leptosoma (Utinta), x3 Alto. Comp, x6 Neo. Leleupi (Orange), x4 Tanganicodus Irsacae, x1 Albino Bristlenose
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Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:55 pm
Location: Queens, NY

Postby CITADELGRAD87 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:12 pm

There is an option you can check when you reply so it will send you an emial whenever someone posts on the thread. At the "Post a reply" screen, the fourth option down, the bottom one, is "Notify me when a reply is posted." It's a great way to track interesting threads, like I hope this one will be.

Thanks for the kind words and advice, I always like to look at things from as many differnet angles as possible, especially when they involve cutting large holes in my house!
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Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2003 10:28 pm
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Postby Vadimshevchuk » Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:21 pm

Very nice build so far :thumb: What kind of controller did you get?
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Postby CITADELGRAD87 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:37 pm

Vadimshevchuk wrote:Very nice build so far :thumb: What kind of controller did you get?


For the heater? It's a Finnex non digital one, I think I paid like $30 for the heater and controller, both new in box, it was so cheap I decided to grab it. It has a dial for temperature and a remote temperature sensor that I can put anywhere in the sump. I found some reviews that are pretty good, but our own products section is silent on Finnex products. I haven't plugged it in yet.
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Location: ORANGE COUNTY, CA

Postby CITADELGRAD87 » Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:25 pm

Baby steps. In all honesty, I am concentrating on getting my TV up into the wall before I turn to the tank full time. I am going to try to make big progress tonight on that aspect of the project.

In the fish department, I have received my 1.5 inch hose and 1.5 threaded nipples from a forum sponsor, I cut the styrofoam pad to go under the Mag 24 pump, I put a 1 inch street el on the mag so I can run a bit of a downtube for water changes.

I have totally abandoned the overflow box as a way to get water back IN to the tank, so I pulled the fittings on the return side and blocked the bulkheads with threaded plugs.

The semi final design will have the overflow box feeding a 1.5 inch drain to the 60G acrylic sump, through filter floss, trickle plate, 10G bio balls, into the main chamber.

The return will be into the Mag 24, 20% (approx) bleeding off at a T fitting into a 1" soft line that simply goes back into the sump after passing through a micron filter sock. 80% back into the tank via a 1.5 inch soft tube, transitioning into PVC at the tank edge, behind a background, exiting as 3/4 PVC feeding 9 or 10 USJs spinning the water generally countercockwise into the overflow box. The USJs are 90%+ completed, but I need to move a couple jets when I finalize the background. All of the PVC fittings are purchased but will not be glued for some time, as that is obviously a one shot deal.

For water changes, the main return will be shut off, diverting all water into the 1 inch soft line, that will go into a nearby drain and the sump will be emptied. The nearby hose bib will then re fill the sump with tap water, which will be treated and heated using the 1 inch line for circulation. When the temp is correct, I will re open the main return line and the jets will fire back up.

I finalized my order for a custom background today, spoke with the owner and I am very excited. The background will cover the downtube, and the overflow box, meaning that my dream of a show tank with NO visible equipment should be a reality within a couple of weeks.

I also have my 5 foot Aquaticlife T5HO fixture with moonlight LEDs sitting in my office as I type this. I have not even opened the box for that yet, it's huge.

More as soon as I can.
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Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2003 10:28 pm
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Postby The King Crabb » Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:33 pm

Sounds like you're making some awesome progress! I'm really excited to see this tank without visible equipment whatsoever! I've never been let of the leash enough to try that venture out :lol:
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Postby CITADELGRAD87 » Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:59 pm

Well, as I was typing that, I realized that you will be able to see the tips of the undersand jets, so, I will not reach the goal with this tank, but nothing at ALL visible on the back, like pipes, HOBS, nothing. Only some stubs of PVC making a nice poo current. :D
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