40g ADA move and upgrade

Discussion in 'Tank Journals' started by Chromis, Nov 26, 2016.

  1. Chromis

    Chromis Supporting Member

    It was tempting to sell off my livestock before moving because it's such a pain to transport everything, and I had a fantasy of a "total do-over" where I would start with painted dry rock and never introduce bubble algae... but it took two years for the coraline algae to really get to critical mass and the corals to overgrow their plugs onto the rocks and I wasn't sure I wanted to start over.

    So, I motivated myself by using the opportunity to upgrade the tank to an internal overflow and overcoming "old tank syndrome" with a 100% water change.

    I thought I would upgrade the tank by plumbing it from the family room through the garage wall, but the best placement of the tank ended up being where that was not possible, so I settled with adding an internal overflow.

    Part I: Setting up a staging tank in the garage of the new place

    I originally decided to house everything in a garage holding tank so that I could drill a hole in my 40g 75-P ADA aquarium for an internal overflow. This turned out to be a good move because it took pressure off us to get the reef tank set up while we were also trying to move and unpack our other stuff ("where are the plates and bath towels?!"), also we didn't know when the contractors would actually finish the work in our house. True to reputation, our contractors strung out the work that was promised to complete in 2 weeks to 6, and the fish are still in the garage.

    The holding tank is a 40-breeder on a cheap wrought iron stand, with only a protein skimmer, heater, power head, and Kessil LED lighting running. I was really amazed how well everything is doing without the sump hooked up. I didn't lose any critters (except the last emerald crab, who had been killing anemones, and I was finally able to catch and get rid of).

    Here is the old tank, emptied and sump removed:

    On the day of the move, I filled the holding tank with 20g of saltwater, figuring I'd make up the rest with old water from the buckets that the livestock would be brought in with.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2016
  2. Chromis

    Chromis Supporting Member

    Part II: Drilling the old tank

    I was really frustrated with my LifeReef slim overflow. Even though the box behind the tank is low profile, there is about 2" between the internal/external boxes (connected by a u-shaped siphon tube) which just wastes space inside a rimless aquarium. So, the internal box jutted out too far into the aquarium, and the boxes seemed unnecessarily large, plus the slim size doesn't fit any kind of damper system so it was extremely noisy. Also, the siphon tube would break anytime I forgot to add top up water because bubbleds from my return pump would build up in the siphon tube. Luckly my custom sump is designed with a tiny return pump chamber, so it was never able to return enough water to cause a flood when the drain siphon broke. Part of this was probably my fault for buying an oversized box, but it seems like LifeReef designs are still living in the pre-rimless aquarium era.
    I saw a really cool looking Synergy reef overflow in a tank at Neptune's, but Neptune's doesn't sell them and BulkReefSupply wanted $200 for their smallest 16" model, which is probably too big and too expensive for a 40g reef. I ended up buying Eshopps Eclipse S (S=small size) internal overflow box for $100, which comes with the diamond glass drill bit you need to make the hole in your tank and a stencil to put the hole in the right place.
    Drilling the tank: First, I checked that ADA aquariums are NOT made with tempered glass (so might be less likely to shatter when you try to drill them). I put my aquarium on its side and traced the stencil with a permanent marker (permanent marker wipes right off glass). Then, I made a guide using two pieces of wood clamped into a "v" shape. The idea is you rest the drill bit in the "v" so it doesn't slide around while you are trying to make the initial grooves. This worked pretty well with my lovely assistant (husband) spraying water from the hose while I tried to hold the drill straight while applying no pressure. I kept the drill on high speed and occasionally (because I was getting tired - it must have taken 10 minutes to drill all the way through the 8mm glass) lifted the drill bit and rinsed the groove with more water. Also, we sprayed canola oil on the area every minute. Not sure if that helped, but everything went well, and nothing broke. The important part is not to apply any pressure because a the end, there will be a small area of the drilling circle that you haven't gone all the way through yet, and that glass will be very thin, so it can shear off and leave a broken edge if you put put pressure on it. In fact, some small divets on one side of the hole seem to be inevitable, but if you keep them small they can be covered by the bulkhead gasket so water won't leak through.

    Installed Eshopps internal overflow, side view:

    Installed Eshopps internal overflow, top view:

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
  3. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    Cool, much nicer than the crappyhob overflows, I hate those things!
  4. Calde0920

    Calde0920 Guest

    For future reference tempered glass= never ever ever drill or it will blow up in your hands. The glass that you can drill is annealed glass. So your ada was annealed. It looks great by the way
  5. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    Right, I was going to mention the same thing. Also, it helps if you clamp a piece of wood to the other side of the glass that you're drilling into. As you get close to the end and it gets thinner, it will help to support the glass.
  6. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Wood or some duct tape.
  7. Chromis

    Chromis Supporting Member

    Thanks for the good suggestion - will do that next time!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  8. Chromis

    Chromis Supporting Member

    I corrected a mistype... ADA aquariums are not made with tempered glass.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  9. Chromis

    Chromis Supporting Member

    So what's the best way to plumb between the 2 drainpipes of the external Eshopps Eclipse box (this is a Herbie style 2-pipe drain) and sump? I'm thinking:

    Main Drain - PVC pipe - union - gate valve - PVC pipe - union - flexible drain hose - sump filter sock
    Backup drain - PVC pipe - union valve - flexible hose to wherever in sump
  10. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    If you can plumb it with no flexible hose then there's no risk of kinks. Also, technically the union is not a valve, it's just a fitting. Are you using threaded or slip fittings?
  11. Chromis

    Chromis Supporting Member

    Slip fittings

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  12. Chromis

    Chromis Supporting Member

    The plumbing is done and the tank is ready to fill - looking forward to tinkering over xmas vacation![​IMG][​IMG]

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  13. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    Looks good. Where is the return going to go?

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  14. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    I was thinking the same thing lol. Need one more hole drilled?
  15. Chromis

    Chromis Supporting Member

    It would definitely complete the look to drill a return hole too, but I think I am just going to use a regular over-rim return kit. I mostly wanted to get rid of my bulky HOB overflow. My Kessil lamp will be on a gooseneck clamped to the back rim.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  16. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    it might just be the angle which you took that shot, but is that outside overflow level? It looks tilted in the picture.
  17. Chromis

    Chromis Supporting Member

    Good eye. It's level now - did a final hand-tightening. Bulkheads with gaskets are just supposed to be hand-tight right? I keep hearing horror stories about bulkheads cracking under too much pressure?

    Spent way too much time leveling the tank, we filled it about an inch with water and then measured the depth at the corners until it was even. I didn't have a good level, I guess some people just use their iPhone level app? Here we go![​IMG][​IMG]

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Calde0920 likes this.
  18. Julius Chen

    Julius Chen Supporting Member

    Re drilling glass, since my tank is 24" wide, I was able to put drill inside tank to drill outward. This will give me a perfect surface on the inside glass surface for perfect seal. I was still careful not to put pressure esp when drill reaches outer surface, but some imperfection on outside surface is less problematic than if there were inside tank. I used a drill guide to prevent skipping and layers of painter tape on outside surface to minimize imperfection.

    By the way, I drilled one return. If doing this again, I would drill two returns (my tank is 120g) so that I can use two cheap jebao dc pumps as return and not to worry if one fails on me. Today I put a heater in tank and placed a wavemaker close to surface so if return fails tank is still heated and oxygened.
    Newjack likes this.
  19. BSAJim

    BSAJim Guest

    I did the same on my system, two returns with two pumps. Now i find myself lusting for a DC pump. We're really never satisfied, are we?:D
  20. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Yup just hand tighten, the bulkheads are plastic and are easy to crack if you use a pair of pliers to twist, or you could crack the glass, or you can actually deform the gasket so it doesn't stop water... too many ways to screw things up.

    Hey, that's the old school way to do it, and is probably a bit more accurate, at least this way you'll know that the bottom of the tank is level, and not whether or not the top edge is level (which ideally it should be, but there could be an instance where it's not)

Share This Page