99sf's 150-Gallon Upgrade

Discussion in 'Tank Journals' started by 99sf, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. 99sf

    99sf Guest

    My family & friends believe I have finally lost my mind. I am buying a 150 gallon tank, 60" by 24" by 24." It has a really nice maple 30" tall stand and canopy. The tank itself is 3/8 think acrylic and is not drilled. The owner of the tank told me he no longer has the time to maintain it like he used to back in the tank's glory days, and his shoulder injury is compounded by tank maintenance. He is selling the entire tank & its contents to me, furthering my fascination with reefkeeping.

    Attached are some photos of the tank in its current house. I will be moving it on Saturday, January 30, and am seeking to hire helpers for the move. My plan is to set up my 60 gallon tank and use it as a holding tank for the 7 fish & assorted coral, while I clean out & move the main tank & sump.


    Have many questions to pose to the experienced BAR members. Here are the first few...

    1. Is anyone available for such a moving & setup adventure on January 30? The tank will be moved from Fremont to Orinda, and I will be renting a truck with a ramp.

    2. Should I be worried about having two external overflow boxes, instead of internal overflow boxes? The owner said he has never had a problem with the overflows in 4 years, and they certainly make plumbing easy, since they are attached to flexible hoses that run down into the sump. However, I read a couple of horror stories about reverse overflow siphons on ReefCentral.

    2. Should I attempt to keep the fine sandbed undisturbed during the move, by placing the tank on a plywood board and trying not to jostle it too much? Or is it a better idea to scoop out the sand, rinse it in tank water, and then re-use it at my house?

    3. What kind of material should I place underneath the tank at my house? The living room floor is carpet, over a plywood base. I was thinking about having a piece of plywood cut slightly larger than the stand, and placing a rubber mat on top of that. Thoughts?

    4. Is my idea of moving the fish & coral separately, the day before the big move, a good one? My plan was to have the 60 gallon tank running, trying to match the salinity & temperature to the new tank. And I would put some of the new tank's water and live rock inside the small tank for biological filtration (will also have the sump & skimmer running).

    5. How much water should I realistically expect to transport during the move? 50%, using wheeled new trashcans?

    6. How many extra heaters & powerheads should I collect to prepare the water at my house? I don't really have a huge water container, and envision using the wheeled trashcans for this purpose. Was thinking that the 60-gallon holding tank would allow me to heat up the water inside the display tank because the fish & coral will be in another stable environment.

    7. Is it better to remove scratches in the acrylic with the tank completely empty, or can this be done while there is still some water in the tank?
  2. seminolecpa

    seminolecpa Past President

    Are you also planning on keeping the existing livestock etc or are you just buying the tank and equipment? How far is the move?

    Lots depends on how quickly you want and need to get this thing set back up. If you can take your time I think you will be happier with the end product as it will allow you to clean and upgrade some of the existing things like the plumbing. I would suggest cleaning it and removing internal scratches BEFORE setting it back up.

    You want the tank completely empty for the move.

    Ditch the existing sandbed and replace or at a minimum remove it clean it very well (can't give great advice on how to do this) and maybe readd at some point in the future. No telling what is lurking in that sandbed.

    Not exactly an acrylic expert so hopefully someone else will chime in but the potential issue I see with carpet (besides the normal what do I do when water spills on my carpet issue) is getting the tank level. not sure if this is as much of an issue as it is witl a glass tank but I am certain it has at least some bearing.

    Be careful with the trash cans and rollers (especially the big ones). they will support the weight from what I have seen but may have some issues if you actually try to roll them any significant distance if totally full.

    External overflows should be ok as long as they are plumbed correctly.

    I will try to chime in some more tonight.

    EDIT: Almost forgot. Did you make sure that your floor is sufficient to hold the weight of the tank?
  3. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    Great questions to pose Bryan :) especially the load bearing one.
  4. tuberider

    tuberider Guest

    Yes, a very good idea.

    If my stock tub is not in use during the move time you can use it, I need to have a tank repaired around the same time, so we'll see how that goes.
  5. 99sf

    99sf Guest

    Q: Are you also planning on keeping the existing livestock etc or are you just buying the tank and equipment?
    A: I am planning on keeping the livestock, because the tank's owner wants the entire reef tank to be sold together.

    Q: How far is the move?
    A: The move is approximately 30 miles, about a 45 minute drive.

    Q: Did you make sure that your floor is sufficient to hold the weight of the tank?
    A: I don't know any structural engineers, but plan to go under the house with a flashlight, to look at the floor supports. Fortunately, the stand should distribute the weight of the tank over a decent surface area. The wall that I plan to place it next to is an external wall, so I hope the floor is especially supported in that area.

    Thanks for the advice about emptying the sand during the move. For the issue of making sure the tank is level, I will purchase wooden shims, and expect that combining the shims with the plywood base/rubber mat will ensure that everything is level. Will also make sure not to over-fill the transporting trashcans.

    So it sounds like moving the livestock separately into the holding tank is a good idea?
  6. Orion

    Orion Guest

    I am in the construction trade and the subfloor should be able to hold the dead load.
    Subfloor joist are usually 2x8 (minimum) at 16" on center.
    It is a great idea to go under the house to double check that there is not any kind of structural damage in that area, signs of termite, etc.
    If any, I would suggest to repair it before hand.
  7. 99sf

    99sf Guest

    Gus, thanks for sharing your knowledge about housing construction. I went under another part of the house and looked up at the floor joists (still trying to figure out how to get underneath the exact location of the tank). The joists appear to be 2 by 12 boards, spaced about 16 inches apart. My part of the house is the lower level (basically, a finished basement), and the floor level appears to be in the middle of the concrete foundation. Because the tank will be next to an exterior wall, it sounds like everything will be OK if the 2x12 supports are not rotting, right?
  8. seminolecpa

    seminolecpa Past President

    How sold are you on trying to move and re set up in the same day? As I said before you will likely be much happier in the long run if you get that sucker if nothing else cleaned but if possible buffed out to remove the scratches inside the tank.

    Do you some extra room to house the stuff from the original tank? You can probably get away with storing them in a garbage can or some sort of tub for a couple of days with a few heaters and powerheads.

    Let me qualify the below by saying it is by no means complete, but the best I could come up with off the top of my head.

    Preliminary list of things to have on hand:

    -Plastic sheeting (used to seperate livestock within the holding containers for the move)
    -10-15 gallons (possibly more) of white distilled vinegar (you can by it pretty cheaply at costco) to clean the tank and other pumps etc.
    -Trash cans and/or water containers (to hold the water and livestock from the old tank) I will check what Ihave laying around but i probably have at least 1 usable 32 gallon trash can (possibly more) and about 8 5G containers
    -Blankets or some other sort of covers to prevent scratching of the tank
    -Several powerheads and heaters (for use in warming water and circulating water in holding containers while you re-set up tank)
    -Empty salt buckets- for use in storing old sand and perhaps some livestock (ones with sealable lids are preferred.
    -30-40 gallons of premixed salt water

    If I were trying to do this in a single day here are some steps I would take:
    Phase 1-Pick up old tank and break down.

    Remove all livestock from tank and put in holding containers (use plastic to seperate as necessary)
    Remove as much water from the old tank as you can and save in containers [trash cans etc]
    Disconnect all plumbing and equipment
    Hose out (if possible) old tank on site
    Load everything up

    Phase 2- Set up tank at new location

    -Choose area where you want the tank to ultimately go [will be a major PITA if you change you mind later]
    -Place tank, stand etc and rough out the plumbing to ensure it will fit where you want it. [go to Home Depot to get plumbing parts as needed}
    -Thouroughly clean tank out with vinegar to remove corraline etc [buff out tank as possible]
    -Plumb tank with as many newer and more efficient parts as you can [ the pictures from how it was set up before look like the plumbing could use an overhaul]
    -Add water back to tank (you want it at least say 60-70% full before you start re adding anything)
    -Hook up pumps and heaters in the tank as you will eventually want them
    -Add in your liverock and aquascape [ try to keep in mind where you might want to put bigger pieces that you are sure you want to keep and get rid of other pieces that don't work or may be problamatic i.e. pieces covered in green star polyp]
    -Continue to add water to tank until tank is completely full and circulating from sump
    -Check bulkheads and plumbing for leaks
    -Add in livestock and corals
    -Set up lighting etc
    -Drink lots and lots of beer (very important)

    Again I would say that doing this in a day may not be the best idea in the long run but I realize that this may be the only option.
    If you have the time and funds, I would encourage you to take the tank somewhere to have it buffed out completely, as this will be the only opportunity you have to do it (unless you are willing to empty the tank out at some point in the future).
  9. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    I do better work drunk, and faster. Too bad I can;t drink at work :(
  10. Apon

    Apon Volunteer

    Drink beer after it is done......during you get a bunch drunk BAR members that may make mistakes or at the very least slow down the work alittle. : )

    then they can stay for a few hours to sober up before the drive home while watching the tank water clearing up again.
  11. 99sf

    99sf Guest

    I forgot to mention my experience in this hobby/obsession. I started almost 3 years ago with a 29 gallon tank in my office. It was a freshwater kit, a birthday present. It had a stable group of 4 black-skirt tetras and a few neon tetras, as well as medium gravel and plants that the basic kit light didn't sustain very well. Of course, this led me to want to try saltwater, because I got my SCUBA certification at the age of 14, and have been a competitive aquatics person since age 6.

    So almost two years ago, I bought a 60-gallon setup from a member of SDMAS in San Diego, who was kind enough to help me transport it and set it up. The tank is 4 feet long, made of glass, and has a nice, hand-built oak stand and canopy. It came with two 96-watt PC lights, a 29-gallon sump and a Quiet One return pump. I first bought a used Urchin skimmer, then upgraded to the ASM Mini-G. I upgraded the lights to a 4 by 54 watt T-5 Icecap 660 retrofit. Was sustaining five fish, lots of great LPS coral and some favia. Then, I moved to the bay area (giving away the fish), and could not part with the 60 gallon tank. Unfortunately, due to multiple moves in the past year, the tank is still wrapped in moving blankets.

    Less than two years ago, I converted my 29 gallon tank into a reef by having a reef friend drill a hole into the back, painting the back dark blue, and buying a divided 10-gallon sump, with a small Quiet One return pump and a 150-watt MH Sunpod. That tank is now set up in my office and, with a shorter photoperiod, is doing really well.
  12. saltwatersig

    saltwatersig Volunteer


    I will also be able to assist you on Saturday, Probably somewhere near the move date you should figure how many of us are avail and if we all need to meet in Freemont or if you split up the crew ( incase some of us can't entire all day ) ...maybe some meet up at your place to help with unloading and such.
    What I have that you can use if needed for a temporary holding tank/container..... 250wt heater , in sump skimmer rated for 150-200 gal , a mogul 175 mh w/reflector and ballast .

  13. 99sf

    99sf Guest

    I'm so glad you will be available to help! Thank you. Great idea to coordinate schedules near the end of the month... will be setting up a plan. I could definitely use your heater and skimmer during the move/setup.

    Does anyone happen to have a buffer that I could borrow in order to remove scratches after emptying the tank? I heard that the Novus compounds work pretty well on surface scratches.
  14. 99sf

    99sf Guest

    I also cleaned the 60 gallon tank & sump, after Benjamin helped me re-set the glass tank on top of the stand. Unfortunately, I have a small leak in the bulkhead. :(( I have been trying to tighten it, but there is very little room to work, as shown in the photos below. Even propping the tank up to allow more access to the bottom side of the bulkhead --with a pipe wrench-- can't stop a small leak. I believe it might be caused by sand getting underneath the rubber on the inside of the bulkhead. But I can't reach that part of the tank... the overflow box is too small.
  15. yardartist

    yardartist Guest

    If there are any corals you do not plan to keep in your set up long term, you could use the days before the move to find homes for them so there is less to deal with on moving day. I have given to the Steinhart in SF and it was not only good for me to get them out but I get the see the corals when I visit.
  16. seminolecpa

    seminolecpa Past President

    Ok I am totally confused now.

    Assuming Benjamin is the person you are buying the tank from?

    Are these (the 60G and the 100G tanks) holding tanks that you plan to set up temporarily to house the stuff from the "new" tank?

    I am guessing because you borrowed a buffer you are going to attempt to buff out the "new" tank before setting up?

    Do you have someone that will buff the tank out for you?

    Are the stairs at your current place or at the place you are moving the tank from (assuming the latter)?

    Just trying to figure out the overall plan and timeframe we are talking about. I realize that it is going to be impossible to totally stick to it as things happen but posting up the general plan might be a good idea so people can shoot holes in it if necessary if certain expectations are unrealistic.

    For example:

    Arrive at sellers house and breakdown old tank (3 hours)
    Clean and buff out tank (3 hours)
    Setup and replumb new tank (3 hours)
    Stack liverock and fill tank with water (2 hrs)
    Readd livestock etc
    etc etc
  17. iani

    iani Guest

    Depending on the tank condition, buffing can take much longer than 3 hours. 3 of us took all day to buff out a 120g tank with wet sand paper and Novus on a power buffer.
  18. tuberider

    tuberider Guest

    3-8 hours buffing sounds about right to me :D depends on how deep the scratches are, it's a process you cannot rush or you'll screw up the acrylic and cause crazing if you overheat the bonnet/buffer on the acrylic.
  19. seminolecpa

    seminolecpa Past President

    Was just an example. I know nor do I want to know :) anything about acrylic tanks.
  20. 99sf

    99sf Guest

    Bryan, I am not buying the 150 gallon tank from Benjamin. I am just borrowing his 100 gallon holding tank. You're correct... the tanks you see in the recent photos are the temporary holding tanks.

    Borrowed the buffer so that I could try to polish the tank during the weekend of the move. But after reading Ian's post, that seems unrealistic. Ian, was the 120 gallon tank that took all weekend to polish badly scratched? If I took the tank to a shop to have it polished, I don't think I could complete the move in a weekend. Maybe someone here can recommend an experienced acrylic polisher to hire?

    The house where the tank currently lives does not have a staircase. The stairs in the photo are leading down to my in-law unit, which is basically the downstairs part of a house.

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