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B]Building a 1700 gallon Shark Tank[/B]
by Joe Salvatori

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I let the tank sit for two full weeks before adding water. I didn't want to take the chance of the silicone still being wet since it was so thick in some places. When I finally did begin adding water, it was both a very exciting and nerve wracking experience. I added the water VERY slowly over the course of several days, in 100-200 gallon increments. This allowed me to really keep an eye out for leaks, and I felt better letting the tank/foundation slowly adjust to the weight/pressure. Its worth noting that I left each of the braces in place until the water line reached them.

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Seeing the tank full, without any leaks was an unforgettable feeling of accomplishment. So much so in fact, that I couldn't help taking a swim "just to check on things." To boost my confidence level in the tank, I let it sit full of water for over a month. During this time I started piecing together my circulation/filtration and plumbing. For a sump, I considering using a large used aquarium. Finding one at a decent price, or in decent condition became a problem, so I looked into alternatives. I had heard of people using plastic (Rubbermaid) containers as sumps, so I figured I could do the same on a larger scale. I contacted a local ranch supply store to see what they had. I ended up with a large (8x3x2.5) plastic horse trough. The trough even had a built in threaded drain at one end near the bottom, which would work perfect as a bulkhead. I brought it home, made some baffles out of 1/4" acrylic (4), and installed them using silicone. The baffles were position just like any other sump. The water would have to flow under 2 and over 2. I used 2 5 gallon buckets as chambers for the incoming water. I drilled hundreds of 3/8" holes in the bottom, and cut 1/2" wide slots on a 180 degree portion of the side of the buckets.

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Bio balls, and chemical filtration would be placed in the buckets, water would flow in the top, over the media, out the holes/slots, and into the first chamber of the sump. I then drilled four 3/4" holes in the buckets approx. 5" from the top. The holes were positioned in a matter that would allow me to insert two 36"x3/4" dia plastic rods through the holes, parallel to each other and spaced 10" apart. These rods would support the buckets on the top of the sump, over the first chamber. The buckets were installed on the opposite end of the drain hole (bulkhead) and I used 1/2 round clamps to secure them in place.

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For a protein skimmer, I had decided that I would either build my own, or buy one. I was ready to do either, when I stumbled upon a used 6' skimmer at my lfs. It was one they had used to skim all of their tanks, but was taken out of service due to a broken collection cup. They had also removed the venturi from the skimmer. I jumped at their offer to sell the skimmer for $50, made a new collection cup from pvc, and installed a mazzai venturi.

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For added filtration I purchased 2 40w UV steralizers, and 2 fluidized bed filters (rated at 900 gallons each) from rainbow lifegard. I called aquatic ecosystems and purchased 3 8'x3' rolls of mechanical filtration media, varying in thickness and porosity. I cut these to the size and shape I needed, and installed them in the sump between the baffles. Now came the time to drain the tank, and cut holes for the bulkheads which would act as exits/returns for my filtration.

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I drained the tank slowly, and reinstalled the cross braces to support the window as it drained. Once empty I measured and marked where I would install the bulkheads. I again called Aquatic Ecosystems, and purchased a total of 6- 1 1/2" bulkheads, and 2 4" bulkheads. The two 4" bulkheads were installed on the right hand end of the tank, near the top. These would act as my overflow points for the sump. I purchased two 90 degree street elbows from Home Depot, and inserted them into the 4" bulkheads. The elbows are turned approx. 30 degrees, and the bulkheads were installed lower in the tank to adjust for my water height when full. Two of the 1.5" bulkheads were installed 6" below water line, and would serve as returns from the open loop (sump). They were installed on opposite ends of the tank, one left hand and the other right. I placed the bulkheads on every wall, at various heights to get as much circulation as possible and prevent dead spots. Three of the remaining 1.5" bulkheads were installed 30" below water line. Two on the back wall, and one on the right hand side. The last bulkhead was installed 20" below water line on the back wall. These 4 bulkheads would be on a closed loop. I used one of the bulkheads (30" below water line) as an inlet for the closed loop. The other two at 30" were used for circulation only at max flow rate (no filters on them). The last bulkhead would return filtered water from my fluidized bed filters and UV steralizers.

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I purchased 2- 3/4 hp 5000gph pumps from Rainbow Lifegaurd. One would run the open loop, and the other would run the closed loop. I first installed ball valves on all of he 1 1/2" bulkheads. I also installed check valves with unions on the two bulkheads which would return water from the sump (open loop) to prevent an over flow in the event of a power outage. I plumbed the inlet from one pump to the drain/bulkhead on the sump. I then built a manifold with two outlets and ball valves for the outlet of the open loop pump. Using 1 1/2" flexible PVC tubing I ran lines to the two upper bulkheads with the check valves on them. Next I installed the drains from the two 4" bulkheads/overflows. I used 4" pvc tubing, and ran one line to each of the 5 gallon buckets on the sump.

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Once the open loop was complete, I plumbed one of the lower bulkheads (30") to the inlet of the other pump, with an additional ball valve near the inlet. This pump would run the closed loop. I built another manifold with 4 outlets and ball valves on each one. Two of the outlets were plumbed to the remaining two bulkheads at 30" below water line. One was plumbed to the fluidized bed filters, then through the UV's, and then to the last bulkhead (20" below water line). I used the 1 1/2" flexible PVC tubing on all of the lines. The remaining outlet on the manifold was to be used as a back up, but I later installed a canister filter onto it, which returns water to the top of the tank through a spray bar. To power the protein skimmer, I used a 1200 gph submersible pump. This pump draws water from the sump, through the skimmer, and returns it to the sump.

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I gave the glue on all of the plumbing 24 hours to dry, and refilled the tank. I turned on the closed loop pump first, and used this as a means to mix in the salt. Next began the very time consuming task of rinsing and adding 800lbs of sand. I used a mixture of Carib Sea Aragonite, Aragomax, and Southdown Play Sand. Then I continued filling until water began to over flow into the sump. When the sump was nearly full, I powered up the open loop pump and adjusted the salinity.

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Disclaimer: By building this DIY project you agree not to hold the author or the owners of this Web site responsible for any injury or bodily harm you may cause to yourself or others. Always wear safety glasses when working with tools and keep chemicals and power tools away from children. Read and understand all safety instructions pertaining to equipment prior to use.
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