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Custom AIO 40 Breeder

Discussion in 'Tank Builds' started by NDaquarist, Jan 25, 2020.

  1. NDaquarist

    NDaquarist Copepod

    Hi All, well after a brief hiatus from reef keeping while attending graduate school I've found myself once again drawn back into the aquarium world. I thought I would chronicle and share my build with all of you!

    A Short History:
    As I'm new to the Colorado reef keeping community I thought I would give a short introduction about how I got where I am today in the reef keeping world. My interest in aquariums started at a young age, like most I enjoyed my first freshwater aquarium but always had the itch to attempt the elusive saltwater "reef" aquarium. After convincing my parents that this was attainable I tore down our 75 gallon cichlid aquarium and converted it to a suitable reef aquarium back in 2008. From there my interest in aquariums and how different ocean ecosystems function only intensified. I was a dedicated member of the Marine Depot forums (for those of you who remember those days) where Eric Borneman, Ron Shimek, Anthony Calfo, and many others were active members helping disseminate accurate scientific information on how coral reef ecosystems worked and how to translate that into good aquarium practices. In the years since then I've been in and out of the saltwater aquarium trade in different capacities, everything from running aquarium stores to attending graduate school (studying Condylactis gigantea). I've helped set up, improve, and care for aquariums from 180-600 gallons and truly enjoy monster tank builds. However living in an apartment in Denver is not conducive to monster aquarium builds so I find myself looking at creating a humble custom made all in one (AIO) 40 breeder.

    The Build:
    With the limitations of living in an apartment, moving, and the fear of leaking water I decided the best course of action would be a moderately sized all in one aquarium that allows me to keep spilled water to a minimum while also enjoying a few small fish and anthozoans along the way. I've always enjoyed the dimensions of a 40 breeder and decided that his would be the best route for me. I've partitioned this aquarium into 3 chambers, the refugium (seagrass bed), return area (with space for skimmer/carbon if needed), and the main display.


    With the aquarium being located in a living room space I wanted to be able to block out the light so that guests, roommates, or myself can watch TV or enjoy time with others without the refugium light being a nuisance. To do this I thought I would add Velcro to a few pieces of acrylic to create a shade for the refugium that can be added when needed.


    125W jager heater
    Sicce 1.0 return pump
    2 x AI Prime HD
    2 x 24" T5
    2 x Tunze 6055
    Apex Classic Controller
    Breakout box (for ATO system)
    Power line Adapter set (to hard wire Apex to internet)
    AquaKnight A029 (refugium LED)

    I know most of this will be overkill for such a small aquarium, but knowing myself there will be an upgrade build within 2-2.5 years. With that in mind I figured I might as well go all in and buy for the upgrade of the future while I'm at it :grin:.

    The canopy will house the lighting for the display section (T5s and AI Prime HDs)


    I've learned over the years that there are many ways to keep reef aquariums and no one way is the "best way" as long as all the organisms are being kept healthy and happy. I prefer to use a more ecological approach by building up smaller flora and fauna and using them to "filter" the aquarium water. In sticking with that thought process I will have a seagrass bed as my dedicated form of nutrient export. This may not work as swimmingly as I hope so I left space in the return section of the sump for a small skimmer or carbon reactor as needed.


    Finally, the progress thus far....


    I'm working this weekend to finish skinning the stand with 1/4" laminated plywood, and hope to have acrylic cut by someone in the metro area to install later next week.

    As always please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas! I'm always open to hearing others experiences and constructive criticisms on a project. If you have any questions on my thought processes please feel free to ask. Happy reefing!
  2. NDaquarist

    NDaquarist Copepod

    Hmmm....I clearly did not upload the pictures correctly, and I'm not sure how to edit posts :sweatsmile:. I'll try again here, each will be numbered to correspond to the correct order in the previous post.


    2. [​IMG]

    3. [​IMG]

    4. [​IMG]

    5. [​IMG]

    Attached Files:

  3. Andrew_bram

    Andrew_bram Kraken M.A.S.C Club Member

    You can have a monster in an apartment. I kept a 220 on the second floor of my apartment back in the day.

    Sent from my SM-G973U1 using Tapatalk
  4. NDaquarist

    NDaquarist Copepod

    Functionaly, absolutely, but for me the though of moving a 210 in a year or so is something out of a nightmare haha.
  5. MuralReef

    MuralReef Shark Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. MASC Vice-President

    Looks cool so far!
  6. SkyShark

    SkyShark Tuna Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. B.O.D. Member-at-Large

    Following along. Great start!

    Sent from my iPhone using MASC - Marine Aquarium Society of Colorado
  7. Dr.DiSilicate

    Dr.DiSilicate Kraken Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. B.O.D. Member-at-Large

    40 breeder is the perfect shape of a smaller tank. IMHO. Has the proportions of a larger tank.

    Are you going to have a sump underneath or just the all in one approach?

    Sent from my iPhone using MASC mobile app
  8. NDaquarist

    NDaquarist Copepod

    Dr.DiSillicate I agree, I think the 40 breeders and other aquariums with the same footprint are perfect smaller aquariums. They give you enough depth to vary your aquascape and make the tank feel more like a small ocean vs aquariums that are thin and tall. Unfortunately I plan to stick with the all in one approach. I'm paranoid about water spills in the apartment and having to deal with issues that could arise from that while moving out. It's probably not something I should worry about but my roommate was much more open to the idea of it all being kept in one closed system :(.
  9. NDaquarist

    NDaquarist Copepod

    Well it stinks to be gone almost all week for work, but it's a nice when you get home and you have multiple boxes to open for equipment!

    I've got just about all of the equipment needed. I'm still trying to get someone who can cnc or laser cut some acrylic for me (it's been more difficult than I thought it would be). However I did find a killer deal on amazon for the Salifert test kits ($70) for all 6 of these!? I thought maybe they would be expired but all the dates are 2022 and later.


    I spent some time getting the apex hooked up as well, now to program outlets for , and getting the breakout box set up.
    MuralReef likes this.
  10. MuralReef

    MuralReef Shark Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. MASC Vice-President

    To get acrylic cut go to Plasticare near Murrman’s Reef at Santa Fe and Oxford. They also have a good scrap bin that you can usually find what you need and it’s sold by the pound.
  11. MuralReef

    MuralReef Shark Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. MASC Vice-President

    They only have hours M-F though.
  12. NDaquarist

    NDaquarist Copepod

    Hey Mural, thanks for the heads up. I reached out and I'm working with them on getting the correct files for their laser cuter or CNC.

    Well, I was able to spend sometime this weekend getting further on the aquarium!

    I got the stand skinned, "floating" canopy installed, and mounted the apex display module. The module faces the door, as you walk into the apartment you see the right side of the aquarium first. The right side will have the display refugium, and return section, which will allow for better viewing when sitting on the couch and at the table.




    I installed the canopy with a picture hanging bracket that was rated up to 100lbs, should be more than enough to keep it in place. The pieces of wood and velcro are bump outs so that the canopy stays level, you aren't able to see them once the canopy is hung up.


    .....and of course lights!!! This is with both of the AI PrimeHD's on, I'll also be installing 2 x 24" T5s for an extra boost and to be sure that no spots are missed in regards to PAR (although I feel it may be overkill now).

    SynDen likes this.
  13. NDaquarist

    NDaquarist Copepod

    This weekend has been productive so far. I got the custom acrylic cut by plasticare and it turned out beautifully.I would highly recommend them for any custom acrylic jobs you have. Tomorrow will be a full and aquascaping day but so far I'm happy with it!

    PS small aquarium plumbing is insanely easy, took me 2 minutes to do this. So much better than being scrunched up under an aquarium trying to fit an elbow in an impossible position haha.

    I'll clean up the silicon seam here and place a 1.5-2"p of black acrylic over it so you won't be able to see it.






    And with lights!!



  14. MuralReef

    MuralReef Shark Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. MASC Vice-President

    Acrylic is looking good!
  15. Andrew_bram

    Andrew_bram Kraken M.A.S.C Club Member

    Let's see rock scape lol.

    Sent from my SM-G973U1 using Tapatalk
  16. halmus

    halmus Sardine Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. M.A.S.C Secretary

    Great progress! I love the 40B’s. Good size. What’s next?
  17. NDaquarist

    NDaquarist Copepod

    Thanks everyone! Today was finalizing the set up....



    My thought process on the rock work was to be minimalistic with room for corals to mature. I may add a few pieces to fill it out but for now I'm happy with it. I wanted to give corals the chance to grow into actual colonies instead of just larger frags (which I typically see people do in smaller aquariums).

    Shout out to Andrew_bram for the live rock!

    The right side wall will be utilized for plating corals (acropora, turbinaria,etc .). All of the rocks are glued together so nothing will fall over in the aquarium.

    The middle open sand portion will be for a clam(s?) and hopefully a nice fungia.

    The remaining island and column are yet to be determined, possible a nicer euphyllia piece and a small assortment of other Stony corals (stylophora, acropora, millipora, platygyra, favia, etc.)

    I also made sure to create a base for the liverock with smaller pieces of rubble so any tunneling or burrowing species of fish/invertebrates won't bring any pieces tumbling down.

    And now we wait!

    The clamps are holding small aqueon filters to the overflow teeth so that they can filter out the excess particulate and scrub the water of any leftovers from the silicone/super glue that was used. Don't worry, the clamps have rubber tips so that the metal isn't directly touching the water .
    halmus likes this.
  18. NDaquarist

    NDaquarist Copepod

    Well after some waiting....


    And more waiting.....


    Things are finally looking good!

    I'm using stability to help cycle the tank. Not my first choice however; I attempted to get water from a local fish stores display tank but was told bacteria were like a mat and grew on live rock so I was better using bacteria in a bottle....in a liquid....like aquarium water... (facepalm).
    Well at least I got some stability and a chuckle out of it.

    Tonight I got the ATO programmed and added black acrylic over the silicone seams. It really makes the tank looked finished in my opinion.



    Now to wait until the cycle is finished and start adding some of the little guys (phytoplankton, copepods, amphipods, and bristle worms) along with aquarium cultured seagrass!
    SynDen likes this.
  19. Dr.DiSilicate

    Dr.DiSilicate Kraken Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. B.O.D. Member-at-Large

    If you want a scoop of sand to help with the bacteria diversity let me know. That rock is great, Andrews tank settled in pretty quickly. Love the display fuge.

    Sent from my iPhone using MASC mobile app
  20. SkyShark

    SkyShark Tuna Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. B.O.D. Member-at-Large

    The rock layout is great! I think the piece by the divider will look really cool when coral starts growing.

    Sent from my iPhone using MASC - Marine Aquarium Society of Colorado

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