Reef nutrition

Bruce went "Overboard" Tank Journal

Bruce Spiegelman

Supporting Member
I'm going to do things a little different for this tank journal. Instead of starting with specs, equipment, etc I'm going to walk through the whole process from the day I decided on a new tank to the day it's up and fully running. The thought is it might help someone to follow the entire process and steps from designing to ordering to receiving and then, finally set-up.

Day 1: I set out knowing I would regret this whole process. It's always a good idea to recognize this fact early one and then forgive yourself and move-on with your life.

Day 2: Once I knew I was moving into a new house, and realizing that moving three tanks was going to be a pain in the ass, I decided I'd be better off work-wise now, and then in the future, downsizing the number of tanks to one, while up-sizing the size to "way too big" to be sane. Once I got my head around that I forgave myself again and moved a head with a clean slate.

Day 3 -20: I gave a lot of thought to what I liked best in all my previous tanks, and decided the first thing I really liked was a shorter tank (lagoon style) that's easy to work on and keep clean. So I knew I wanted 20-22" max height. The next thing I love is a wide tank. Twenty four inches wide (the "standard") has always seemed to really limit creative aquascaping. I also like to use a lot of shelf rock since it's easy to grow good size SPS colonies on them. So I decided I wanted to go 36" front-to-back. That gave me a full foot longer to scape with. And of course a bit tank has to be at least 6' long. My original plan was actually to go 7'.

At this point it was obvious this couldn't be a store bought off-the-shelf tank with those dimensions. Even if I could find one it wouldn't have the glass or strength I wanted in a top of the line tank. If you're going to have a custom tank made there's no better place on the West Coast to have one built than CDA, plus I had an already established relationship with Trenton. So I called him up and got a quote on the tank I wanted. 7' X 36" x 20". For those following in my footsteps no one builds a better tank, but he can be a pain-in-the-ass to work with at times regarding deadlines, etc. He always gets the job done, but plan on being a bit frustrated during the design phase with communication, and then again when the tank is 1-3 months late shipping. However, and I can't stress this enough, it's worth it. I guess he's an artist....

When he called me back with my quote I began regretting this whole decision again. Maybe I'm not so good at forgiving my self and my stupid decisions after-all. Damn -- that first quote was expensive! It was in the 5K range for the tank. Now this is important -- that first quote is meaningless. There's always a way.....

I next asked what he had in stock -- just in case. In-stock tanks with him almost always mean someone didn't pay for theirs, or he made a mistake on design and built an extra one. Sure enough -- he had one coming back hat was 6' X 36" by 24". Customer wanted it bottom -drilled and he'd drilled the back (stupid customer.) He quoted me half of what the seven footer was going to be, and I told him I'd take it. A few days later, the customers friend decided he's take that one, and thus it wouldn't have to be shipped back. Bummer. I didn't regret my decision this time -- just that the customer had friends.

A week or so later, Trenton decided that those dimensions were so cool that he wanted to do a small production run as a test. Usually he just build to order, but he could drastically reduce costs if he could do multiples at a time. He decided to do six at a time to try it out and I committed to buy the first one.

Day 20-30: So now that the tank was set there were a lot of other decisions to be made with a custom tank. What kind and size of overflow. I opted for a 30" Modular Marine Overflow. Good build quality, low profile and the 3000 GPH was right for this tank.

Other decisions about the aquarium were easy, but you still have options. I went three sides Starphire 1/2" glass. Black Starboard bottom and back. Black silicon.

Next decision was the stand. Lot's of options there. Wood or Aluminum was the first choice. Aluminum frames add at least 50-100% to the cost of the stand, but will last forever. Plus they are easy to level with feet. However, I chose a wood style that like from CDA and went with all wood. If the tank had been any larger I would have gone metal frame, but at 20" high it's still a "small" enough tank that would will be safe and Trenton builds great stands.

Then I customized the stand. White glossy finish. A black acrylic pan in the bottom to catch water. A built in side electrical door on both sides. High gloss white interior -- because what the hell. Why have regrets later, right?

Last decision -- how to have it delivered. Three options here. Trenton could deliver it when he came through town on his monthly (or so) run to AC, Neptunes, etc. However, from experience I knew that was highly flexible and could add even another month to delivery. The other options are to have it trucked to your door or to a loading dock facility. Sending it to the shipping companies dock saves about $200.00, but then you have to have a truck to pick it up and lots of hands to help load it. I decided to have it sent right to the house. I think the delivery fee was $400.00.

So, at this point, I had all the tank and stand decisions made and it was just a waiting game. Trenton said he's have it out around the 15th of July, but I knew that was bullshit. I figured I'd get it the 15th of August and I'd be okay with that.

And then it got frustrating. Numerous starts and stops. The key is not to be a pest, but to keep checking in. The stand wasn't built right at first. The first tank was too tall. It will go out next week.... and then the week after that.... and then it's going out tomorrow... which turned into one more week while touch up was done. Again -- frustrating, but these tanks are worth is.

Day 90 -- Received the tank on August 23rd, 2019. I paid for the tank on June 11th. So really not too bad. No regrets. Tanks and stand together with all the upgrades cost $4000.00.

Day 91 -- Moving day. I realized the day before that there's a problem with a 36" tank that's this long. A standard front door is 36" wide. The stand is 37" Oops. I regretted not thinking of this sooner. I wandered the house for about an hour wondering how the heck to get it inside. There was only one way. I had to have a Glass company come out to remove a front picture window so we could hand the stand through. It could have been a disaster, but that's to an overwhelming response from members of the 916 club I had eight sets of hands ready so the glass company could remove the window and pout it back quickly once all was inside.

Pics to follow of these first steps on the path to --- OVERBOARD!


Bruce Spiegelman

Supporting Member
Initial equipment list including notes at the end of the list on why I made some of the choices in case it helps someone debating their own choices down the road..

72L X 36W X 20H CDA Custom Made ½” Starphire Glass. With 30” Ghost Return.

(4) Orphek Atlantik Gen 2 v4 (RMS Track Kit to Mount Lights)
(2) Maxspect Gyres XF350
(1) Maxspect XF330’s
(1) Ecotech L2
(1) Ecotech M1
(1) Bashea 48” Smart Sump
(1) CW200 Algae Scrubber
(1) 80W Pentair UV Sterilizer
(1) 40W Pentair UV Sterilizer
(1) Reef Octopus Regal 250Int Skimmer

(1) Apex 2016 Base Unit
(1) Apex Trident
(6) DOS Heads
(2) EB832
(2) EB8’s
(2) DDR Sets
(1) Ipad monitor
(1) FMM, PM2, WXM, PM1, LD1, 1” Flow Sensor, 2” Flow sensor

(1) Tunze Autotop off and 20 Gallon Bashea Reservoir
(1) ¼” Artica Chiller run inline
(2) Jager 300W Heaters

(3) Cases of Real Reef Rock 2.0 Shelf Rock
(1) Case Real Reef Rock 2.0 Regular Rock
(140#) Bimini Pink Live Sand
(2) 4” Marine Pure Bricks
(3) Boxes Marine Pure Balls and Chunks

(A) I went with (4) Orpheks simply because of their reputation for growing SPS, and my own experience with them on an SPS frag tank. I used four of them because I'll be hanging them with the long side going front-to-back since the tank is 36" wide.

(B) Gyres simply because of the width of the flow. I think they are a must in a big tank.

(C) Two return pumps so theirs a back-up if either fails.

(D) Algae Scrubber because I'll be running the Triton Method (no water changes). I find an algae scrubber is easier to run than a large fuge, and it gives me more room in the sump.

(E) Two separate UV sterilizer. The 80w will be run at "Protozoa" speed and the 40w at a faster rate to handle algae. This decision was based on the most recent testing by BRS.

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Bruce Spiegelman

Supporting Member
Jester6 does his thing. Final product looks much better in person than these pics. We ended up using 170 pounds of Shelf Real Reef Rock and another 60 pounds of Real Reef Rock Base Rock.There are dozens of wide and deep shelves, and a double 24" Overhang that doesn't show well in the pics.

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Coral reefer

Staff member
That’s a sexy tank. I feel you’re cheating on us with another club even though you moved.
None of them offered to plumb it up for you though?


Staff member
As I was reading that I was thinking to myself "Wait? Didn't you get some special run of 'standard' sized tanks with him? Why the change? what happened to that?" Then realized, oh that's what still happened. Looks good.

Although I have to laugh when you say "No better place to have built" yet apparently he screwed up on sizes on the stand, the tank, holes in it (for another customer) which kind of sounds the opposite of that.


Staff member
Very nice of so many local Reefers to help you out as a newbie to their club! I bet the baby wasn’t very useful for lifting though.


Supporting Member
Good read Bruce. Always like the humor to put into them. Looking forward to what’s to come


I feel if one had to choose to move to an area where nice reefers live and are almost as cool as BAR, would be MARS area


Supporting Member
The new tank and house look great! The side electrical panels are a great idea. Looking forward to the aquascape - lots of possibilities with such a deep tank.

Bruce Spiegelman

Supporting Member
More to come. Saturday Jester6 will be here for the rockwork. I am trying something new here. We will be using shelf rock as the base of the build. This will leave just enough spaces in between for some sand to accommodate wrasses, etc, but still make cleaning easy, and allowing lots of good base to grow encrusting corals and Chalices. From there we will build tiers of more shelf maximizing space for SPS colonies.


Supporting Member
Ok but be careful with the shelf ideas, I regret putting acros on flat shelf because they all want to encrust 6” of space and are stinging and growing over each other. I’m toying with the idea of reaquascaping to a branching scape.