Last month, I wrote that I wanted to start a reef tank. Here is an update on what has been happening since then.
- Structural engineer reported that the floor in my office cannot support a tank more than 125kg in weight.
- For a couple of weeks, I decided to give up on the project altogether and was pretty bummed out.
- I have now found a way to turn a nano tank (76 litres) into a pretty cool project (I think).
- The new tank arrives on Monday and I decided to drill through it to install a sump.
Structural engineer (let’s call him Steve), did his inspection at the end of last month (February 2021). I had several questions to ask him and he spend approximately an hour inspecting the house, especially the joists which are still exposed in 2 of the 3 cellar chambers. After taking notes in measurements, he did express doubts about being able to put a 300L tank on this floor. But he said he’d get back to me.
The fact is that my house is quite old and every room used to have a chimney. Without going into too much details, joists around the old chimney breasts are quite weak and bouncy, and, guess what, that’s exactly where I want to put my tank.
At the time, I had my eye set on a Red Sea Reefer XL 300. I had seen it at my local fish store and liked the glass quality and the space available in the cabinet. I also though the cabinet’s modern finish would go well in my office. When Steve expressed his doubts, I started to scale down a little bit and considered the Reefer 170 from Red Sea again or a Waterbox Marine X 35.1. The project was still doable but I would have less room for fish and corals. Smaller tanks are also a lot more susceptible to variations of water parameters such as temperature and salinity. My objective of a low-maintenance fish tank was fading away.
Steve called back a few weeks later and the news dropped: 125 Kg was the maximum weight I could in my study without adding support underneath. The news dropped hard. I have recently completed converting the cellar chamber directly underneath my office and I was not prepared to rip it all up to add support beams and joists. I was also not prepared to consider other locations in my house. I work from home and spend a considerable amount of time in my office. That’s where I want my tank.
I considered what was within my 125 kg limit. My only options were to get an all-In-One saltwater tank (AIO) or go for a freshwater tank.
An AIO tank does not have a sump. It has a compartment at the back or on the side with just enough room to put the minimal amount of equipment required for a basic saltwater tank. I didn’t like the idea. I started reading that the popular AIO models are noisy and can only accommodate for 1 or 2 fish before requiring regular water changes. Also, because the filters are “within” the tank, heaters and skimmers are mostly visible and it would look crap. The idea was shifting away from being a “Project”.
That’s when I completely gave up on the idea. I even went as far as unsubscribing from the Reef Tank Subreddit! Imagine that!
After a couple of weeks, I resolved myself that an AIO tank would be better than nothing and could be a start. So I bought a Waterbox Peninsula Mini 25. At 90L, I guessed it would be as good as it could get. After looking into the additional kit I would need, already it seemed like I had to choose between a decent light and a mini-skimmer since both share the same filter chamber at the back of the tank. Not great.
Then I discovered that fish tanks can be drilled. What if I bought a a nice looking AIO tank and installed sump myself by drilling into the overflow system …
This could be an interesting “Project”.
And that’s where I am at now. I have purchased 2 Diamond hole saws (28mm for the return pipe and 35mm for the drain pipes) and LOTS of PVC tubes, fittings and accessories. The plan is to fit a TMC Reef Sump S into the cabinet of a Waterbox Cube 20G. It will void my warranty but I don’t really care about that. I may shatter the tank when I attempt to drill it, but that’s a risk I’m prepared to take.
I was notified yesterday that the tank has been dispatched and is expected for delivery on Monday. I am collecting the hole saws today and will buy a cheap tank or two from my local fish store to practice drilling glass.
I will probably post updates and picture on Mastodon.
Wish me luck.