Eric's 400g Marineland Reef Tank Build


Premium Member
I will start by saying that this build all started end of February 2013! I was too busy working on this in the little bit of spare time that I had to take pictures and document the entire build. Some of you might recognize this tank as the one Marc (melev) sold when he had a leak and Marineland built the tank backwards ( which happens to be perfect for what I needed. I decided to get back into owning a tank after having a 100g reef setup for almost 7 years. I parted out that setup back in 2010 when I bought a house and realized I was going to be too poor for a while to deal with a tank. I had always wanted a bigger tank and got lucky when I ran across this 400g while doing my first random search for a used aquarium to buy! It made the situation a lot better once I realized who was selling it and had even met Marc back when I was a DFWMAS member.

I gathered up 9 of my friends and trailer and went to pick it up. I didn't have anywhere to put it, so it sat in storage for a few months before the construction on my home started. My wife wasn't totally on board once she realized it meant tearing up the house and it didn't get any better when she saw how big it was! I had a friend of mine that does home remodeling do all of the work on the house. He was able to do most of it while we were on vacation which saved me from having to deal with an upset wife on a daily basis. I am telling you all of this because it will come into play later on, so just bare with me.

Here are the photos of install:

First thing that we noticed was that the stand wouldn't fit through the door.

So the trim of wood around the door frame needed to be removable. It took a lot of sanding and planing to get it down smooth before the new boards could be installed.

Here is the area where the tank will go once the divider wall is removed.
The wall being removed.

This is the board that will sit under the tank and on the stand. It needs to be painted so that the water doesn't destroy it.

The wall is down, and now he needed to remove the floor where the tank will sit so that it can sit on concrete. The tape was marking to 2 possible places we were going to put the tank. We opted for center with the support post.
The engineered hardwood cut and pulled from their glue. He said this part was super hard to do because they did a good job gluing down the planks.

The pink paper was put down to cover all the super sticky glue. We needed to get the stand out of the garage and make sure it was a good fit.

This side of the tank needed to be as tall as the stand, so that water would be able to make its way out the drain (picture further down).
He did a great job on this box. I wanted to be able to access it from both sides and the top.

This shows how un-level the stand was. I had to paint those metal pieces so that they wouldn't get eaten up by the salt water.

He redid the electrical that ran through the wall so that I would have a place to plug in equipment.
Here is where the drain was going to go.

We decided to use a P-trap style drain so that it could hold some water to keep a seal and hopefully keep out the rodents and insects. This got covered with dirt and empties just to the right of this picture into a concrete drainage ditch between my house and the neighbor.

Here is some trim work starting to come and the tank has made it's way onto the stand from storage. It took another 9 friends to get this moved again. I almost got a fine from my HOA from having it sit in the driveway on a trailer for a few days!
Both panels are removable and held in place by rare Earth magnets. They also slide under the trim pieces to give a nice look.

The other side is also removable!

Luckily I got back from our vacation 2 weeks before my wife, so I was able to help get this install finished. The wife was not so happy with all the space that this took up, but I thought it looked great! I had to get it painted quickly once we got back from our trip because we were having our birthday party at the house. I threw a quick coat of paint on it for the time being.
Sadly, I didn't take many photos of the rest of my install because I was always in a hurry. I started to order all the equipment and I had to keep it all hidden from the wife. If she saw anything related to the hobby, she would give me crap about all the money I was "wasting." It was hard for her to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was bad enough that she had to see this on a daily basis, but I tried not to make things worse for myself. I worked on this for maybe an hour a day and on weekdays only. This was the time I had when I got home from work before the wife got home. She caught me a few times putting stuff up or she noticed a change in the look of the aquarium and would complain to me about how much she hated this aquarium. It was a tough year and a half!

I eventually got all the plumbing and wiring done. I got the lights hung and the sump all set up. I will try and find some better pictures for part 2 of this setup, but for now I will leave you with the picture I snapped moments after I flipped on the return pump. I was happy to see that I didn't have any leaks!

Next was to add the rest of the rocks and equipment and get it cycling. I will say that the wife was once again not happy about the noise and added light to the room! It was really loud before the slime built up in the overflow.

I will take pictures of it tonight since I can't seem to find all the pictures from my old phone. Next to come will be about all the equipment!
Thanks guys! I took more pictures last night and hopefully I will have time to post them before my trip tomorrow morning.
Some equipment details:

400g Marineland end overflow with Starfire end and living room side glass (84"x36"x30")
Melev's Reef 125g sump
2 x American DJ Pc-100A Rack Mount Power Switcher
16 x Tropic Eden Reefflakes Aragonite Sand - 30lb
2 x Tropic Eden Live Reeflakes Sand 20lb
350 lbs of KB-Rock Premium Reef Rock
2 x Reeflo Snapper/Dart Super Gold Pumps (one for return and other for accessories/backup)
2 x Vortech MP60s w/ battery backup
3 x Jager 300W heaters
Reef Octopus 5000INT skimmer
NextReef SMR1XL NP Biopellet Reactor
NextReef MR1XL Media Reactor
Aqua Euro 1hp Max Chiller
Coralife Turbo Twist 12x UV Sterilizer
Geo's Reef CR624 Calcium Reactor w/internal Mag (5 or 7, I forget)
20lb CO2 tank
AquariumPlants Carbon Doser Electronic CO2 Regulator
6 x Radion XR30w Gen3 Pro LED lights (recently reduced to 3 with 2 added Hamilton Aruba Sun T5 kit fixtures with LEDs and Giesemann bulbs)
48" Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlights for sump
2 x 55g Brute trash cans for storing and mixing water
20g Brute trash can for ATO
Aqua Lifter pump for ATO (Apex Controlled)
2 x 1/4" solenoids to flush and fill ATO and storage water via RO/DI (Apex controlled)
APEX controller w/
3 x Energy Bar 8s
WXM module for controlling Radion's and Vortech's
PM2 for additional CO2 PH monitoring
ALD with 2 leak detectors
Breakout Box for 2 floats for ATO

I think that just about does it! More pictures to come after my trip which should be middle of next week.

Before I go, here is what the tank looked like before Christmas last year.

This was taken last night with the access panels open.
Back from vacation, so back to the details... Here you can see the switches, Brute containers and some equipment storage area. I wanted a way to be able to hide the switches, but at the same time be able to get to them quickly. This panel doesn't have to come all the way off to reach the main switches on the right. Since I have the Apex controlling almost everything, I rarely even need to toggle these. The Aqualifter provides top off water to the tank and gets automatically refilled from the RO/DI 3 times a week. There are 2 1/4" solenoids to flush the line and then fill via DI resin. I haven't found a mounting location for the Apex DOS yet. I wanted to make sure it was going to work as an auto water changer before I made it more permanent. It has worked well thus far changing out 8000ml per day. I would like to automate the detection of empty, so I know when to switch to the other container. Currently I have a valve on each line going to each container. I have it set to not pull out the last drop of water, so the circulation pumps don't run dry. The tops stay on all the containers at all times, so there is very little evaporation. I added some floats to the tubing in each container so that it always circulates from the bottom to the top even as the water level drops.

Here are the Reeflo pumps with one driving the return and another for accessories with a valve between them in case a pump goes down. I got most of my setup designs from how Marc had this tank (and his current tank) setup. I have already had to use the valve between them when the shaft on the accessory pump started to leak a few month ago. It was as easy as closing one valve, opening another, screwing a cap on the intake line, and disconnecting the pump. I have the pumps sitting on some temporary pieces of wood to ensure that they are above the flooded water line of the overflow drain. I need to find a more permanent stand for the pumps, but the wood is working for now. There is also a drop off from where the back of the pump sits over into the storage box area. The pumps had to sit away from the sump a bit more so that I had the ability to bend the spa flex down to the bulkhead fittings. The pumps don't sit much higher, but there is some bend there. You can see the 20lb CO2 tank in the back as well. The acrylic tube is for the ATO water to trickle down so that the line doesn't siphon all the ATO water out once the pump turns off. This was also a trick I got from Marc! It also helps to not hear dripping water when the ATO is on.

This is the accessory manifold feeding the calcium reactor, carbon reactor, UV sterilizer, and chiller. I currently have the bio pellet reactor offline after dealing with too many bacteria blooms and slime algae blooms. It was doing too good of a job and I didn't have enough waste to feed it at the time. It will get plumbed back in one my load increases and Nitrates start to climb. I really like the skimmer swabbie from Avast! I almost never have to clean the skimmer. Just empty the skimmate locker when it indicates that it is full! Funny story, I killed the Pan World pump that came with the calcium reactor by putting under water. It looked sealed to me and I thought it was in internal reactor. Started to see bubbles coming up from the pump and quickly turned it off and pulled it out. I cleaned and dried the pump, and it would have probably been ok, but I dry ran it for a few seconds to see if it was going to work and it went poof! I got a Mag to replace it and all is good.

More to come later...
I choose to mount the UV sterilizer and all of the Apex modules to the board that the tank sits on. This was mostly because my space was limited and I didn't want to have to extend a bunch of cables. I tried my best to have good cable management, but it could use a little work in a few places. I tried to find the plastic light shield in black, but it was all they had at Home Depot. Just another thing on the to do list! I ended up getting the UV sterilizer to help battle the blooms I had when I was running the bio pellet reactor. It worked the clear up the tank over night, but it only made them stronger. I had to take it offline for now, but would like to add it back once I get more life in the tank.

Here you can see where I mounted the Vortech controllers. These are controlled by the Apex, so I really don't need them to be as accessible. You can see my finger pointing to where the display for the Apex is supposed to hang. I was adding a new wire for leak detection and I accidentally cut the display cable instead of a zip tie! I soldered them back together and all is good now. There are 4 drains with 3 in a bubble tower (sometimes I pull out 2 to run socks) and 1 for the refugium. I used the 5th drain hole to plumb my return through.

I had trouble with the first check valve that I bought. It would close too quickly and cause a lot of water to drain into the sump because the spring was too tight and I couldn't adjust it. I got this adjustable one from Home Depot and painted it black. I ended up just completely removing the spring and it works GREAT! You can just make out the penductors under the surface. These things are awesome!

Yes, still more to come later...
Thanks Marc! I couldn't have done it without your help and all of your videos and blogs! I'm trying to give you all the credit I can. It really helped me leading up to my build to go WAY back into your blogs on ReefAddicts. A lot has changed since I last had a tank setup and it was fun to see your progression from back when I got out to today. I feel like we are lucky to have you in our club!
When I was in the buying stage of setting this tank up, I contacted Ecotech to see what they recommended for lighting. They told me to do 6 Radions mounted with the short rail kit side by side and to swap in the TIR lenses and mount 9" above the water. I did just that. They looked great and I liked the light coming out of them, but soon realized I had WAY more light than I needed. It was like my tank had bleach in it! I finally got them turned down to the point it looked like they were about to go out, but I started to see life again from the frags I had. I decided that I wanted to switch to 3 mounted end to end with long rails and then add 2 x 2 T5 fixtures (one on each side). I was able to accomplish this with all the railing that I already had. I am going to try to work with a friend this weekend to get a canopy built around this. I just need something to shield all the light from leaking into the living room and kitchen. I don't have them on in these pics bc they are too bright and I didn't have anything living in the tank (Why, you ask? Keep reading...).

This is the refugium section of the sump. It is being fed by one of the drains from the overflow box. It actually gets a lot of water through it and I want to add something to help it not to bubble so much. I end up with a lot of salt creep because of it. When I started the tank, I got a handful of macro algae from a LFS and was upset when I ended up with aiptasia and cotton candy algae! It was the first thing I added to my nice clean tank. I was able to control the aiptasia with peppermint shrimp and the algae seemed to not like the DT and stayed in the sump. I hand pull a bunch of it every now and then. I had a bunch of cheato in there, but it seemed to attract more of the cotton candy algae so I pulled it. I wasn't able to really make it tumble and it would start to die on top. The 2 tubes to the right are for my mixing bins which is the next picture.

I try and keep one filled with fresh water and the other with salt water. The one with salt is used with the DOS to do auto water changes at 8000ml per day. When it is almost empty, salt is added to the other so that it can be switched over with a valve. Then the empty container can have RO/DI water added to fill it back up. If I just turn the valve on, it will get filled as part of the ATO top off which happens 3 times a week. I have some valves in place to override this and manually fill it if I need to. I need to make a better funnel for added salt to the cans, but the one on the ground gets the job done. The water is in circulation mode right now and the bigger valves can divert the water to the sump for larger water movements. I think I mentioned this before, but I added floats to the ends of the tubing inside the bins so that they always mix from the bottom to the top.

I got about 2 posts left!!! More later...