770 Gallon Monster Setup

aldiaz33

Blue Tier VIP
MFK Member
Jun 19, 2007
2,304
174
296
Bay Area
Sorry, my girlfriend refused to jump in, so you are stuck with me in disguise- haha! Here's the story of my 770 Gallon (120"L x 36"W x 48"H) Warning....lots of pix!!!

DSC06649copy.jpg

photo8888.JPG
I picked up a Tenecor 770G (10’L x 3’W x 4’H) made out of 1.25” thick acrylic off Craiglist a few months ago. It came with a steel stand (2” tube steel @ .125” thick), 150 gallon sump, lids for the display tank (1.25” thick), lids for the sump (.385” thick), 5 2” bulkheads and two awesome (enormous) pieces of driftwood. The original owner ended up moving and was never able to set it up (which was the only reason I ended up going with a used tank…I vowed to never buff scratches out of another acrylic tank again after buying a used 270 and 240). The 770 was in pristine condition, only test filled once or twice. It was exactly the dimensions I was looking for and without a single scratch so I jumped on it.
Moving Day:
The tank weighs over 1,100lbs and the stand weighs around 400lbs. I almost backed out because I was worried I would not be able to safely move it. I ended up hiring a moving company to supply the truck and 6 movers because I was worried some of my friends would flake out on moving day. It was tough to find a company that would allow me to help with the move (a few companies said my friends and I would not be able to touch the tank because of insurance/liability issues…the tank would need to be moved by their employees only). But I found a company that would allow non-employee help which reduced the cost by quite a bit and we ended up moving it with the 6 movers, 6 friends and I (total of 13 people).

If you ever have to move a big tank, make sure you have the manpower and have dollies on hand. Laying plywood down on grass and dirt areas where the dollies wheels would have otherwise sunk was also really helpful. Although I didn’t use them, suction cups would have been very helpful. Lifting the tank from the bottom was a bit awkward and the edges of the tank were surprisingly sharp. I convinced a few of the guys to use forearm forklift moving straps towards the end of the move and they were really helpful/effective. Especially laying the straps in an x configuration under the dollies…this kept the dollies in place really nicely. Also, if you are loading the tank onto a truck, place the tank on pallets or on 4x4s…you don’t want to set it directly on the ground. Someone could lose a finger, you could crack a corner and or it will be impossible to get fingers underneath it to pick it back up (unless someone's finger was still under there, propping it up- lol)


photo4.JPG
photo6.JPG


Setting up tank on an unlevel floor:
My floors where the tank is setup are sloped downward, right to left by 1.125” over the 10 foot length of the tank. To level the stand, I built 9 foot long shims out of Poplar wood. I bought several different thicknesses (1”, .75”, .5” and .25”) and used a low grit sandpaper on a random orbit sander or to create a smooth transition between the various thicknesses). I glued them together and I painted the shims with a high gloss/ moisture resistant paint (glad I did... I have already spilled water on them a few times). I built a stand to place my car's scissor jack on out of 4x4’s in order to safely lift the stand to slide the shims underneath. I carved out a cavity in the 4x4 between the jack and the stand so that the head of the car jack fit snugly into it and I drilled two large bolts to anchor the base of the jack onto the stand I had built; I did this in order to prevent it from sliding out and it worked like a charm.


Jacking up stand to insert shims:
DSC06417.JPG
Stand jacked up + Shims in place = Mission accomplished (and no one got a hernia!)
DSC06421.JPG


Plumbing/Filtration:
The tank has 2” bulkhead fittings in each of the overflow columns. The returns are also 2” bulkheads, but they are on the top of the tank, one on each end. I decided to work with the existing holes, so I am running the return (2” flex PVC) up behind the tank with a “T” at the top of the tank with a ball valve to control flow to each of the returns. I was kinda bummed out that the tank didn’t have external overflows (The towers are 12”L x 8”W x 46”H ~ 16 gallons each), but beggars can’t be choosers. If I were custom ordering the tank new, I definitely would have gotten external overflows…the internal towers take up a ton of space within the tank and from the side, are an eyesore. They also make the tank look a lot narrower when viewed from the sides. I also would have drilled the tank differently, but I didn't have the guts to drill through 1.25" acrylic.


In order to help camouflage the Dursos, I spray painted the PVC with Krylon Fusion High Gloss black. I did not sand the PVC down prior to painting, but believe it would have given the paint more bite…there are a few spots where it has chipped off, but overall it served its purpose of helping to hide the standpipe.


I used a combination of 2” rigid and flex PVC for the plumbing under the tank and I used flex PVC exclusively for the returns. I went with schedule 80 mostly for aesthetics…the gray looked cool and matched the rest of the setup and I didn’t want to have to paint anymore PVC. I learned that 2” true union ball valves are not cheap and neither are schedule 80 fittings at the 2” size. If I were to do it over, I would really considering using vinyl tubing and barbed fittings throughout. It would have been easier to work with (no gluing) and much cheaper.

46" Tall Durso Standpipes- Painted with Krylon Fusion Gloss Black (And yes, after I finished painting all 3, I realized I only had to paint 2 of them since the center durso will not be visible...duh).
DSC06365.JPG
Most of the plumbing (missing two ball valves that are on the returns). About 5 C-notes worth of PVC!
DSC06469.JPG
1 of 3 2" True Union Ball Valves on drains under tank.
DSC06505.JPG
Here you can see the 2" flex PVC return coming up the back side and feeding the 2" bulkheads at each side.
DSC06518.JPG
A closer look at the returns and overflow box.
DSC06594.JPG
DSC06682.JPG
Center Overflow
DSC06596.JPG


The sump was a blank canvass (no holes except for 4 3.25” holes in the sole internal chamber wall). I placed the sump on .75” rigid foam and used black gorilla tape on the sides of the Styrofoam to give it a cleaner look. I used the foam to add a little insulation and perhaps dampen some vibrations from the pump. I decided to have the three 2” overflow drains feed into 7”x14” filter socks for my mechanical filtration. The water would then flow through a few layers of Matala Bio sheets, then past a compartment filled with Seachem Pond Matrix topped off with all of the Bio-Balls I’ve been able to get my hands on. My media is submerged. This is my first attempt at using a sump with no Wet/Dry…I decided against it because it would have complicated things. I don’t think I’ll have any problems with ammonia (especially since I don’t overstock), but if I do, I will probably look into making a Kaldness K1 live media filter bed in the main compartment where the filter socks are located.


I went with a Reeflo Hammerhead Gold for my return pump. The intake and output are 1.5” each, but I wanted to maximize flow, so I drilled a hole in the sump to accommodate a 2” bulkhead. I also expanded the return plumbing to 2” to further reduce any head loss/flow restriction. At 9’ head, I think I am getting around 4,400 GPH. Water flows through the sump like a river. If I close off one of my drains, the pump will overpower the remaining two 2” overflows (it’ll suck my sump dry). This pump is a beast and I think I may actually valve it back a little, just in case one of my overflows gets clogged. Unfortunately the pump arrived damaged (the fan cover was bent). Chris at Reeflo was great about sending me a replacement fan cover.

I hooked it up only to find that the pump leaked at the shaft at the rate of a drop every 3 to 5 seconds. I was getting frustrated pretty quick! I had read about these pumps leaking, but mostly on saltwater setups. I was hoping that most of the leaks I had read about were due to how corrosive saltwater is and the coralline and other gunk that tends to build up, but is typically not an issue with freshwater tanks. In any case, Chris sent me a new pump and this one appears to be running without any problems. I think the beating during shipping that the original pump took may have damaged the shaft or bearings. I went with Reeflo for their customer service and the efficiency of their pumps (4,400GPH at 9’ head using only ~290 watts is awesome!!!). They delivered on the customer service end…the pump being damaged was not their fault. Now time will tell how long before I have to replace the seal.


Rigid Styrofoam in place:
DSC06477.JPG
Sump on Styrofoam:
DSC06480 - Copy.JPG
Reeflo Hammerhead Gold on mousepad to dampen vibration:
DSC06437.JPG
Sump drilled and pump in place.
DSC06496.JPG
3 drains into filter socks.
DSC06618.JPG
Past 9" of Matala pads.
DSC06692.JPG
Seachem Pond Matrix- 20 Liters, "treats" 2,000 gallons (whatever that means).
DSC06608.JPG
Pond Matrix is in. You can kinda see the current/ripples on the surface.
DSC06625.JPG
40 Gallon trash bag full of Bio-Balls submerged in addition to Pond Matrix.
DSC06687.JPG


Lighting:
I went cheap: Lithonia Lighting 2-Light Black Ceiling Shop Light ~$40 each. I only have one now, but I will be running two for a total only 128 watts. I have some skylight over the tank so that should help.
DSC06616.JPG


Maintenance:
I built a monster gravel vacuum: the tubing is 1.5” corrugated sump tubing from ACE Hardware. I wanted to use clear PVC for the rigit portion of the gravel vac, but it’s really expensive so I just used standard 2” sch4 40 PVC. (I also couldn’t find Python’s 48” replacement tube…apparently they have been discontinued?) Anyways, I used an expander on the end (from 2” to 4”) to be able to vacuum more gravel at the intake. I have a ball valve on it because wide open, this thing will suck my gravel right out of my tank. I am a firm believer in vacuuming every time you do a water change…if you have the time, there’s no reason not to.

I picked up a used Magnavore 10 magnetic algae scraper for tanks up to 1.5" thick. The guy selling it was very adamant that I be extremely careful because “these things can really hurt you.” He proceeded to demonstrate how strong the magnets were by putting them on his hand…”wow, those are pretty strong”…and as he was removing them…Whap!...it locked down and smashed his finger. He lost about a quarter of an inch of flesh and was bleeding like no other. These magnets are no joke. Sorry, no pictures of his deformed finger.


I bought a 50” grabber to reach stuff at the bottom of the tank. Obviously with the heavier stuff (moving large stones or driftwood) I would have to dive in, but I don’t plan to do that too often.
DSC06680.JPG


Heating:
This was my one major oversight…I had not considered how expensive it was going to be to heat 800G+ of water to 78F. I don’t have a gas line or water line going to this room either, so plumbing a heat exchanger would be larger project than I want to take on at this point. I am not sure I want to see a PG&E utility bill if I have to run 2,000W+ heaters on this tank in the winter time. The room it’s in is not heated and although I am in a moderate climate with no snow (Bay Area, CA) it rarely, but sometimes does get down into the 30s on cold winter nights. I have no idea how often the heaters would kick on to maintain 78F, but at $0.40Kwh the cost may be prohibitive even if it’s only for a few hours each day. This is frustrating because I don't think I would even need a heater at all for most of the year (water temp has been at 78F since I filled it up two weeks ago, dropping down only one degree (to 77) at night.

Décor:
The setup came with two huge pieces of driftwood. Unfortunately they were bone dry and floating like corks, so I soaked them in my hot tub (the only place these would fit) for 2+ months. I bought 350lbs of Mexican black pebble (3/8” to ½”) from a local landscape supply shop. The sample gravel they showed me ws all jet black, but I was a little disappointed when I opened the bags to see there were an assortment of colors from whites, greys, tans, browns and a few that were what I really wanted...jet black. I am going to live with it for now. I had considered sand, but I do not want to run the risk of it getting stuck between my algae scraper and scratching up the tank. It will be a lot tougher for that to happen with gravel. I am ordering some large plastic plants today to add a little greenery.


Dry Driftwood (50"+)
DSC06347.JPG
Driftwood chillin in the hot tub.
DSC06466.JPG
Driftwood finally in tank...still slightly bouyant after 2 months in hot tub, but they each weigh well over 75lbs. I will weigh them down with some little boulders.
DSC06670.JPG

Tank is currently cycling. Turns out the driftwood had quite a bit of algae growth on it and the decomposing algae is generating ammonia. I seeded my filter with media from a 70 gallon tank I have running, so I should have a relatively short cycle.


Future Plans:
I might add a UV sterilizer and a canister filter for more polishing. Down the road I will most likely upgrade my lighting. I will eventually skin the stand and make a canopy to give it a cleaner (finished) look. I would also like to add large bubble discs at the base of each tower to carry detritus up towards the overflow teeth…at least that’s my hope. I will probably get a Medo la-45b air pump…I have heard these are the best out there for high volume or deep applications.

Stock (If I am able to heat the tank in the winter without going into debt):
Originally I wanted the following:
8 – Black bar silver dollars
8- Bala Sharks
12- XL clown loaches
8 – Pink Tail Chalceus
1-Green Terror
1-Oscar
1-Jack Dempsey
1-Fire Eel


I’m not into collecting “rare” or super expensive fish…it’s just not my thing. I also don't like the idea of cramming huge fish into small tanks. Just because I got a relatively large tank, doesn't mean I should go out and buy the biggest fish I can find. I won't be getting a Pima or a redtail cat because they will outgrow this tank (that's right, if you have a retail or pima in a tank smaller than mine and you don't have long term accomodations for it, you are being irresponsible. I will step down from my soapbox now. :) I just might be forced to go with the most common fish of all time, unless I can find a way to heat my tank on the cheap…that’s right, this beast may be dedicated to keeping goldfish. Let the flaming begin. haha.

One last pic for scale- I'm 71" tall (5'11"). Top of the tank is 86" (7'2").
DSC06636.JPG


DSC06649copy.jpg

photo4.JPG

photo6.JPG

DSC06417.JPG

DSC06421.JPG

DSC06518.JPG

DSC06682.JPG

DSC06469.JPG

DSC06596.JPG

DSC06594.JPG

DSC06505.JPG

DSC06365.JPG

DSC06477.JPG

DSC06480 - Copy.JPG

DSC06496.JPG

DSC06496.JPG

DSC06437.JPG

DSC06608.JPG

DSC06625.JPG

DSC06618.JPG

DSC06692.JPG

DSC06687.JPG

DSC06616.JPG

DSC06680.JPG

DSC06347.JPG

DSC06466.JPG

DSC06670.JPG

DSC06636.JPG

photo8888.JPG
 

klutch

Gambusia
MFK Member
Apr 28, 2011
117
0
16
gonzales, Louisiana
I am.... Jealous... If u put goldfish In there I want videos... Lmao
 

Egon

Bronze Tier VIP
MFK Member
Jul 4, 2007
6,162
771
824
54
Tempe AZ
zoomed.com
hikariusa.com
aqaimports.com
Store