Tank Journal : Converting Fresh water to a Saltwater Tank

Discussion in 'Tank Journals' started by fishy408, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. fishy408

    fishy408 Supporting Member

    HI Guys,

    A couple of years back I decided I wanted a fish tank and I started off with a freshwater setup. The wifey said the fish tank had to match the decor of the house. Every fish tank I selected failed the eye test so the search continued and the prices kept going up. Eventually, I ended up with the Reefer 425 XL which i'm happy with. Fast forward 2 years later, keeping a freshwater tank was definitely a challenge and a lot of learning. I think it was a good idea as a learning curve to start with freshwater than slowly moving into saltwater.

    The plan: (start with changes that can be made while still keeping the freshwater inhabitants)
    • RODI setup
    • Build A manifold for the return
    • Do more research and lurk the forums
    • Start collecting Pieces of equipment that I think I will need, (Lights, Protein Skimmer,etc..)
    RODI Setup

    I went ahead and purchased the 5 Stage RODI system at BRS. It was a simple setup, but mounting was pretty tough. For some reason I can never find a stud, even with one of those fancy stud finding devices. It took about 5 hours to produce about 40 gallons of RODI water, awesome! I'm super excited!

    Water change day:
      • Siphoned out about 40 gallons using Python.
      • Put a pump into my Brute Rodi Storage - and powered it on.
    Problem #1:

    I never thought about the pump being to weak to push water RODI storage to the Fish Tank. I ended up filling the display tank using a home depot bucket, 5 gallons at a time :(


    I've seen a few submersible pumps on Amazon for fairly cheap rating at 1000gph, Would this be sufficient to pump water back to the display tank (50ft). What do you think or have any advice?

    thanks in advance!


    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  2. Apon

    Apon Supporting Member

    Is the freshwater all gone already? so i am guessing you plan to fill it with RODI first and then add salt directly to mix in the tank? How big is the sump in the aquarium?

    FYI - Some salt mixes will leave a residue on the side of any container you mix in. You maybe better to make small batches in 5 gallon buckets to fill the tank, that would be my recommendation. Or do it from a 30g brute trash can (new) on wheels. I Mag5 pump will push it into the sump easily enough.
    fishy408 likes this.
  3. fishy408

    fishy408 Supporting Member

    Hi Apon,

    Sorry if I was being unclear. The 90 gallon tank currently has freshwater and have freshwater fish in it. I'm testing out my water changing system which I'll apply once the fish tank has been converted. Just wanted to make sure I won't run into these problems when saltwater is running.

    The plan is to fill a Brute basket up to about 40 gallons. Transfer the 40 gallons into another brute basket where I can mix salt, and adjust the temperature. But for now, I'm trying to pump the RODI water back to the display tank.

    I'm not sure how big the sump is, I believe it's 30 gallons.

    Mag5, do you happen to know the manufacturer? I googled but couldn't find it. The one that I found was a Danner Mag 5, is that it?

    Thanks again!
  4. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Supporting Member

    You mentioned pumping back to the tank (50’); the length isn’t as crucial as the height that it needs to pump it. If you’re pumping it back into the dt then measure the height from where the pump will be to the highest point and that is your head height. Make sure the pump can handle that height.
    fishy408 likes this.
  5. fishy408

    fishy408 Supporting Member


    I just learned about head height, never really knew what it was before. From my garage to my display tank is 4 steps (8inches a step) + 56 inches display tank height, in total about 7.3ft. Which means I should look for a pump with a head height of 7.3 ft.

    thank you! I'll look for one.

  6. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer Past President

    I believe the length of Tube adds some to head pressure, as well as turns in the tube.
    fishy408 likes this.
  7. Kim Pattison

    Kim Pattison Sponsor

    It was great meeting you at the farmers market. Enjoyed speaking with you.
    fishy408 likes this.
  8. fishy408

    fishy408 Supporting Member

    It was nice meeting you also Kim.!

    Beautiful clowns on your Facebook Page :)
  9. Apon

    Apon Supporting Member

    Yes its a danner mag 5 i was referring too. Thanks for dropping by the booth yesterday.
    fishy408 likes this.
  10. fishy408

    fishy408 Supporting Member

    It seems like my RODI is setup. I decided to get the Various 6 for my return pump, and use my old Tunze to pump water whenever needed.

    I was able to find all my freshwater fish homes this weekend, so now my tank is empty with just running water.

    Next Step, building a manifold.

    Built this yesterday, was trying to get 3 gateway valves but the 19 inches of space didn't allow it, so I went with a 2 valve. Both ends will be connected to flex tubing for return and to the return pump. What do you guys think?


    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    scuba71 likes this.
  11. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Supporting Member

    Is it glued yet?
  12. fishy408

    fishy408 Supporting Member

    Yeah.. it's all glued. :)

    Probably should have asked before applying the glue, but if there is something functionally wrong with it, I would totally rebuild it.


    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  13. xcaret

    xcaret Supporting Member

    It can be undone but is a pain in the butt.
    There's a drill-bit to remove pvc pipe from unions, I believe it's named Rambit and is sold in assorted sizes, from 1/2" pipe diameter; of course gets pricey as the size gets bigger but if you have expensive fittings, might be worth the investment.
    I've removed pvc pipe from fittings using a heat gun, hacksaw, pliers and lots of patience.
    coral4me and fishy408 like this.
  14. xcaret

    xcaret Supporting Member

  15. ashburn2k

    ashburn2k Webmaster

    Good to know

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
  16. fishy408

    fishy408 Supporting Member

    @xcaret, I'm such a bad handyman, and those things seems a little out of my league. I think as long as the manfiold works, I'm good. The wifey on the other hand thinks I can build manifolds and sell them as a side business because it looks pretty. :)
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  17. fishy408

    fishy408 Supporting Member


    This is the part of the project that I think requires some artistic talent. I've seen so many nice designs on the tank journal threads and was just amazed with the results. I think I will spend quite a bit of time working on this part.

    What I imagine would be something open, not too many rocks piled on each other. Maybe one big structure slanting downwards and a mini structure at the end.

    In the garage, I have 50lbs of Marco rocks which I used in my freshwater tank. After laying down the rocks and trying to make a design, I feel that I might need more.

    The white paper represents the tank dimensions, and the brown cardboard behind the rocks is the height.

    Somehow the designs I've tried still looks like pile of rocks .

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
  18. fishy408

    fishy408 Supporting Member

    I found an image of a design that gave me inspiration for what I'm looking for. I think it's simple, clean, and amazing. Would I be able to do something like that with my current rocks? I'm not so sure.


    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    tankguy likes this.
  19. Fish Boss

    Fish Boss Guest

    Personally, I like to have a big island center/off center, with an island on each side. My favorite structure is my "smaller" island on the right. There are 3 smallish rocks slightly spread out to act as a base, with a big oval-ish rocked slightly tilted, on top of the 3 rocks. Looks cool IMO, creates a small cave, and is pretty structurally strong
    fishy408 likes this.
  20. Fish Boss

    Fish Boss Guest

    If you wanted to recreate this I would reccomend e Marco cement and shelf rock
    fishy408 likes this.

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