75 Gallon Build From Rags to Marine Riches


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I wanted to share my tank story, although it is quite young. I was browsing a local app when I saw an ad that someone was giving away a 75 gallon aquarium and stand. I had just bought my house in McKinney and also had been out of the hobby for a year or so due to life changes. I thought why not pick this tank up as it is free and the hobby gave me great peace and satisfaction prior to my leave. To my surprise, when I arrived, in back of an alley in Plano, the tank was sitting outside for the trash with accompanying stand and half full of water from the previous days rain; undesirable yes, unsalvageable no. With a little sweat and effort, I emptied the water and loaded it into my old Dodge Ram Van whom I like to call Judy. Before I even got it home I was excited to see that this was not like my other tanks. This tank was as drilled or what we like to call RR. I had never owned a saltwater tank or a tank that was drilled period but I now knew that when the time came I would be building a reef in this one. After getting the tank to my garage, I set out over the next several days to strip the unsightly blue background off with a gel called CitrusStrip. I sanded the entire stand by hand a piece at a time, applied linseed oil, stained the wood three coats of Mahogany, and mat satin spray polyurethane finishing before reassemble. Then came the time to move it in the house. I put it in the entryway of my new home so that it would be the first thing someone sees when they arrive and the last thing they remember as they leave. I began to tackle the area of plumbing the Ref/Sump which was no light task. I had no prior experience in this area so I was due for some trouble. I used PVC glue on all the parts except where I had thread joints which turned out to be a great mistake although not costly to fix. After filling the tank with water and noticing there were two very slow drip leaks, I decided to do the entire thing over again. I had to use a hack saw to cut the plumbing out at the bulkhead threads because I had glued the other joints making it impossible to remove any other way. After putting twice as much thought into plumbing as before, I decided to incorporate a Ball Valve at the entrance bulkhead and a Check Valve at the return bulkhead so I could mitigate any future possible disasters as well as control or dial in my flow. I used both PVC glue and aquarium silicone on every joint this time and was successful in having no leaks. In my Ref/Sump I piped the water into an algae scrub box, in which I used leftover new filter from a HEPA air unit I have at home. The water would leave this drawer and fall approximately 8" on to live rocks I placed in. Thereafter, I built a damn so that any sand or substrate that might somehow happen to get past the scrub box wouldn't make it to my in-sump skimmer or return pump. I run the skimmer and return in the same area, I will have to see over time if it needs adjusted. I use a Mag 7 return pump, which after the distance and angles of plumbing is probably doing 550 GPH. I purchased a 300w in-tank heater, Jaebo programmable powerhead, which I run on wave motion, 13w UV sterilizer, and 280w full spectrum reef LED lights. This is how my tank has come from Rags literally to Marine Riches. I document every instance of change and carefully consider every living thing I decide to add to it. This is a hobby but let us not forget that our hobby is actually the sustainment of another creatures life. If I can be of any help with advice on new builds or expounding on anything I did more please let me know because I am excited to be a part of this community.View attachment 5129
It looks nice.  One thing you may want to think about: Never trust wet check valves.  Not only will even the dark passages get sponges and other gunk growing in them, they also seem to be a favorite hiding place of snails, hermit crab shells, and anything else you can imagine (along with some things you can't) that will make them stick open.