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Muttley000

Muttley000's 270 Gallon plywood Sump

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I wanted to make a thread on my large sump build to share. The inside dimensions are 72" x 36" x 26" which really makes it like 290 I think, but it will only really run with around 200 gallons in it. The size was dictated by what I could get in my basement, and it was tight! The 38" outside dimension required me to remove door trim, and with only 6 foot ceilings in my basement and a 90 degree turn at the bottom of the stairs...I'm sure you get the idea. It is constructed of 3/4" birch plywood and epoxy using the pour method. I have provisions for three 2" bulkheads, although I will only be starting with one in use providing the intake for a reeflo hammerhead. Once this is running I will bring on a 40 breeder, a 50 long, and a 30 gallon. I have a currently running 65 gallon that will be plumbed in shortly after along with a 47, 37, two 20's, and 29 that are unused at this time. The reason for all the small tanks is I enjoy oddball species tanks. I have a 100 gallon Rubbermaid trough that will become a cryptic fuge that will get plumbed next in line. The reason for the extra large sump is the plan calls for 2 large plywood tanks to be built in the 500 gallon vicinity and added to the system, hopefully I can do the first in 2016. These will fill my desire to keep tangs and larger fish. I do plan on reef quality water parameters in the system so I can have different corals in the different tanks depending on lighting. Here is a picture of the glue up getting started.

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I have a well equipped shop so this part didn't worry me much. I screwed every 2 inches and glued.

Here is another picture showing the completed glue up.

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Any questions on this build method ask away, I researched dozens of these builds before getting started!

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I chose the U.S. composites epoxy system based on my research.

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I poured each surface in 3 layers, going for 1/4" thick total. I used the 2:1 hardener, which worked out for me to be able to pour each day if my schedule allowed. Here is a picture showing my first pour on the top rim.

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I used clear on the first layer, and then tinted the epoxy white on the second and third. I would mix the epoxy with a stir stick trying not to induce bubbles, pour it, and then spread with a bond spreader to as even a layer as possible. It stays pretty runny so I had to keep my work level to get an even layer. Any bubbles that came up were easily popped by blowing on them with a piece of rigid air line tubing. I believe it is the CO2 that makes the bubbles pop. Here is a picture of one of the pours going on a flat side.

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Successful ply tank builders I talked to did not feel I needed to worry about fiberglass in the corners of this size build, but that I pour fillets of epoxy. This means setting the thing at a 45 degree angle.

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The fillets are about 1.5" wide, I poured these in 1 pour each.

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After a coat of exterior primer and 2 coats of exterior oil gloss paint for the outside the next step was a water test. No problems with leaks, and less than a quarter inch of deflection, which I was pretty happy about. This was done late last fall. I left it in the driveway in case it failed catastrophically for a few days and all looked good.

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So the hardest part was getting the thing in place (see first post!) but once that was done I worked at plumbing the initial tanks and return pump. I used 3 baffles to separate the incoming and exit sections of the sump and provide a bubble trap. I siliconed these in with Momentive RTV-102 white silicone since my side walls were white. I also put in 3" strips of 1/4" thick glass as euro bracing.

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These are not so much to brace the sump as I won't get as much deflection 2/3 full as I did when completely full, but are the result of some feedback to reduce salt creep. You can also see my Pex loop I will use to heat the system with my hot water heater, but I will do a separate thread for that project! Happily my RODI is filling this now, and I hope to have water circulating this weekend so I can finally get this salty!

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This is cool! ill be checking in.

Thanks for following!

Out of curiosity how is the cost vs. glass on a build like this? I know the wood is cheap but what about the epoxy?

I would guess you could do glass a little bit cheaper to be honest if you are just talking buying glass and silicone. In my case I could never have successfully got a glass one down the stairway, and my siliconing skills would not let me trust building my own that way either. I also wanted a test run for the future tanks I will be building. The silicone was a little over $400 bucks, and shipping can be a killer! I have this crazy idea that when this is perfected I could make furniture grade aquariums that had the tank completely integrated into them. Furniture building is my other hobby.

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Awesome, also for future reference, a hair dryer will instantaneously pop all the air bubbles in the epoxy after its laid out.

Or, if you have the means a vacuum chamber... Haha (I work with composites)

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wow this is really cool I had no idea that you could actually do something like this

It's easier than I thought it would be actually. It was a fun project, it's about half full of water right now, don't think I'm going to get it filled by the weekend unfortunately.

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Awesome, also for future reference, a hair dryer will instantaneously pop all the air bubbles in the epoxy after its laid out.

Or, if you have the means a vacuum chamber... Haha (I work with composites)

Interesting, do you think a heat gun would work too on low or would it be too hot? I will definitely try this the next time, thanks for the tip.

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Well, didn't quite get it filled. Still need about 30 gallons in the sump, and I have a 40 breeder and a 30 gallon that I still have to fill. I also did 25 gallons worth of water changes today, so getting new saltwater mixed in my brute takes priority over finishing the fill. Did put a couple air lines in to start driving the CO2 out of the RODI water though, so even though it's a really small step, I'm still getting closer

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This is impressive muttley!

Thank you! Filling is done finally! Flipped the reeflo on to circulate it a little while and decided I am going to add a few fittings to direct the water towards the socks. The way I had it the water was forced over the edge of my sock holder instead of down the socks. I'll bring those fittings home tomorrow and glue that up, and Friday night I'll add salt.

Question for you guys... I am using reef crystals, how long should I let the water mix cold before turning the heat on to avoid the brown sludge problem? My mixing brute had a coating in it when I always mixed warm, and it has stopped now that I mix cold and warm it up the next day. That is only 30 gallons at a time, I'm wanting to make sure I don't need to do something different with a little over 300 at once.

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