So I've been meaning to start this thread for a while but haven't gotten to it yet, mostly because I've been busy actually building out my new tank ... but since I promised several folks I would post this, here goes! Why I decided to start a new tank... When I first joined BAR I had a brand shiny new RSM250 Max. Like most folks, I was attracted to the "all-in-one-ness" and the clean lines of the tank. But over the years working with that tank, I became painfully aware of the shortcomings of the tank design. In talking with many of you, I learned mods to the tank to make it better and make my corals happier. However, the more mods I made, the less "all-in-one-ness" the RSM became. Eventually, as I began to experiment with refugiums, sumps, scrubbers, reactors and growing macro algae, my nice RSM 250 began to spread out over the available space in the room. As I learned about lighting, I lost the pretty canopy. As I learned about temperature control, I gained nice ugly pipes hanging over the side of the tank that went to a chiller (yes, you actually do need a chiller during the summer if you live in downtown SF... who knew!). As I learned about protein skimmers, the RSM built in skimmer got replaced with an HOB. Needless to say after a couple years I'd accumulated more "parts" than I actually used. And I spent more money on the RSM than I would have starting with a bare tank. Sigh... live and learn. So last year I reached a point where I decided my tank had to go. But "what" to replace it with. I did a lot of shopping around. I looked at plexi tanks and glass tanks, talked to every store owner in the bay area, talked to members of BAR and still... there was just a dizzying amount of information and opinions on what worked best. I decided to actually have something custom built. My thinking around what I wanted: * While, all-in-one was a great idea, in practicality, it's not so hot - so I'd need to keep a refugium/sump and a main tank * I *love* my refugium as much as my main tank... the macro algae, the inverts, the microfauna - the "fuge" had to be just as viewable as the main tank * I have a lot of live rock. Most of it has become encrusted with acros, chalice, softies and purple algae... not an option to ditch it - and I want room to grow... so I wanted both to maximize the surface area and tank bottom space (this ruled out funky shapes like cylinders, corners, etc) * I really like the clarity of the low-e glass. I hate the scratch-ability of plexi. * I hate salt creep... the rims on most tanks suck. The have nice little crevices that are difficult to clean, so a clean edge eurobrace seems like a good idea. * These tanks are in my living room. They're show pieces, they need to maximize viewing space. * I don't have vertical room for a stand with a sump under it... hmmm... back to the all-in-one idea, but has to be extensible, more friendly to off-the-shelf equipment and I don't want tubes hanging off the back. * I'm paranoid. Tanks leak eventually. I don't trust bulkheads... so the minimum amount of bulkheads and drilling possible. * I'm a control freak. Automate everything... ok... almost everything. That was the basic idea. The stand I had built for my RSM was a custom piece of furniture. Basically a completely 42" square - 18" tall table. I had it constructed to hold about 3000# (that's another story, furniture manufacturers hate those kind of requests). It fits the decor of the room and I did not want to replace it. So given all of my thoughts and my coffee table... the path forward seemed clear. A custom built cube, with an all-in-one style overflow in the back. It should occupy surface of the table and leave a bit of space around... so 38" cube! Viola'! This will be my tank thread for how this tank evolves. Since I've already started on the tank I'll catch you up over the next few days with pictures of where I'm at. Here's some pics of my old RSM 250. This is what I started with. Sorry not so great a picture taking (yet). And below are pics of my "fuge" is at the start of this project. The refugium actually sits above the water line of my RSM 250 and water siphons out of the RSM to a pump, where it is pumped up to the refugium, and then overflows back into the RSM. Effectively, making the refugium a sump and a display the way I have it set up. You can see it's definitely badly overgrown in these pics, but this setup is extremely productive (and my RSM is extremely crowded) with lots of nutrients to grow the macro algae. On average I throw away about 2-2.5 pounds of macro algae every 2-3 weeks from my old setup. Since the refugium is visibly on a shelf behind my couch, I keeps some critters in it to look at (though its hard to tell from the pics. Anyways, will continue the story tomorrow!