Buddy's180 Reef Upgrade


SPS Addict
So its that time; finally have the ball rolling with the 180 gallon upgrade. I planned on having a custom tank made for this build but the budget was capped by the lady less than a custom tank would have cost. So I searched craigslist as well as local forums for weeks in search of the perfect tank. Late one night, I stumbled across a brand new marineland 180 perfecto still in packaging for what I thought was a hell of a bargain. A few days later rolled home with this monster.


Plans for this tank: Will be an SPS dominated reef with shoaling fish. It will be stocked mostly with anthias as well as 3 or 4 tangs. I will also stock a few different wrasse, a lot of chromis (for more movement in the tank), and maybe some firefish for extra color. Not sure yet; the previous tank inhabitants will be transfered into this tank as well but the damsels and coral beauty will be finding a new home. They get along great in my 75 but I know how the coral beauty was towards the last chromis I tried so he has to go.

2x Mp40 vortechs running anti-sync in TSM mode
1x Apex reef keeper system: full
2x 500watt heaters
1x Geo 618 calcium reactor with a 20lb canister
1x Aqua medic 1000 kalk stirrer
120 LED DIY fixture on dimmable drivers.
Dual GFO/carbon canisters
1x Vertex in-280 protein skimmer
1x reeflo snapper return pump
1x 75gallon custom sump with fuge
and lastly I will be tying in a custom gravity fed frag tank to this system

This tank will be housed in my Living room and we're going with a furniture look to it. Unfortunately, I would like to do an in wall build but we lack a wall with vacant space behind it. No way in hell could I convince the lady to let me have some of her walk-in closet :shock: We planned to have an entertainment center look to it but after seeing d2minis cabinetry for his tank; we have changed our mind and will aim for something like his which will match our crown molding and shelves around our fireplace.

I have already started building the stand/cabinet. Here is a description and some photos of my progress:

Stand frame is built mainly out of 2x4's purchased from a local hardware store. They are rough cut at a saw mill @ 1.5x3.5 so technically not 2x4. These rough cuts are also not exactly square which will cause your stand to be unlevel and is bad considering 1800lbs of water will be held on it. I used a table saw and planed 1/4" off of each side reducing it down to 1.5"x3" planks. I also cut about an inch off the ends to ensure they were cut square as well. The tank is 72 1/2" long so here you can see where I cut four of the side pieces for the top and bottom frame. It is also 24&3/8" wide so the frame braces were cut to 21&3/8" since the side supports are 1.5" thick; two of them make 3" so we subtracted that from 24&3/8".

I then drilled pocket holes in my braces to fasten everything together. You can do this with a Kreg Jig available at any hardware store. The pocket holes are stronger than drilling into the butt ends of the boards and will help prevent a board from splitting when fastening it with screws.

Directions state to have a 1&1/4" space between the edge based on the material thickness so to speed the process up; I cut a small block to use as a spacer instead of measuring every time.


Spaced out evenly on the floor to mark stud placement

In addition to the pocket screws, I also added wood glue to the ends for extra strength (fun fact: wood glue bonds stronger than the wood itself)

Make sure to pull your joints square when assembling otherwise the stand will never be level once the glue sets.

Finished Frame

Rinse and repeat for bottom
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next I assembled the legs, the tank will sit 40" so I have plenty of room to house equipment and work under it.

I cut 4x boards exactly 40" which will act as a king stud to help transfer the load to the ground itself. I also cut 8x boards at 34 inches (subtracting the width of top frame and bottom) These will act as jack studs to transfer the load of the top frame to the bottom frame

Attaching the jack studs: I used 2 blocks and a clamp to hold it flush with the frame: Its attached via pocket screws and wood glue; repeat process on all 4 posts and make sure its square; very important.

I then attached the other 34" pieces to the corners and secured it with wood glue. I also added screws drilled from the side; make sure to counter sink these as you wouldn't want to split a board this far into your build



I then secured the top frame to these studs and pulled it square.

Next I attached the 40" boards but will not be able to use pocket screws here so I did the same, bonded the seams with wood glue and drilled 5 holes. 2 at the top, 1 in the very mid and 2 at the bottom.


I finished it off with 2x 2x6's planed down to 5" wide since again they're rough cut at 1.5x5.5". These were added in the middle to help reduce the load on the sides and ensure the frame won't bend or twist under all the weight



And quality check: Make sure its level throughout!


To be continued once I get my truck back from the shop. Apparently the beast has to much Horsepower for its own good so I'm having the transfer case rebuilt in it to compensate for the torque in case I want to race some kids :D

I will then go purchase the lumber to skin it (finished birch) and build the side shelving/canopy. When finished, it will all be painted white to match our living room molding and shelves.
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Thanks, Yeah the beamer is the fiance's. Its a 135i, I'll upload a picture of it when I get home from work. Its a fun little car.
Here ya go Grozier, here's the whips.

Thank ya barch, Im excited to continue it. Been anxious to start this build for almost a year now and finally am able to do it.
Ordered the reeflo snapper return pump today; should be in a few days. Also should have my truck back any day as well so I will be able to continue the build and have the stand skinned. In the meantime, here is a photo of the vertex skimmer without the pump attached. Thing is a monster in size!

I have been working on the tank and stand in my spare time and have a lot of photos to upload for an update. Will have those for you this evening when the lady returns home with the camera.

In the meantime, I went to the hardware store to price out hinges and stumbled across some white wash stain. Originally I planned to paint it a gloss white to match our crown molding but I used poplar and birch to skin the frame and build the cabinets. It is a really expensive but pretty wood and thought why cover it with paint? So I thought I would get your opinions on it; which would you do? Stain it in a white finish to show off the grain of the wood or paint it white to match the molding and shelving throughout your livingroom?
I think the stain sounds nice, but I like the look of wood. After you see it in the space, If it doesn't turn out as you'd imagined, you could always paint over it...

I'm excited to see what it looks like once it's complete!!
Okay, so for the update, spent a few days constructing more of the stand/cabinet/canopy. It would have come sooner but took a while to get my vehicle back from the shop but as soon as I did, it was filled with lumber from the hardware store :)

I added 3/4" plywood to the bottom and top of the stand. I used regular pine for this since It wont be seen so it doesnt matter how it looks.

I cut slots in the bottom piece to fit around the posts.

As for the cabinets, I am using finished Birch for a beautiful grain and easy surface to work with. Here is a photo of the sides of the 8ft cabinet that will be made.

I assembled the face plates of the stand and cabinets and will do the same for the canopy tomorrow which are made from Poplar. Pocket screws were used here as well to ensure a snug fit and hidden screws.



I had a friend come over to help me do this next step as I need someone to help hold material as I ran it through the table saw (highly recommended) We cut the shelves and a 3/4" x 1/4" dado along the bottom and top which will add durability to the cabinet. The top piece and bottom piece will slide into this notch. As for measurements, its entirely up to you. I made the cabinet 18 inches x 18 inches. Notice the wood glue, very important!




continued: Here is a photo of the faceplates as I installed them. I used a finishing nail gun for this process so there is no major defects to the front of the cabinet. This makes it easier to fasten and leaves a small hole that is easily filled with wood putty.


Finished cabinets

Finished the front side of the stand

I started the canopy this evening, will have more progress done in the morning. Here is the start of it, I cut the frame out of 2x4 but reduced it down to 1.5x1.5" squared pieces and again used pocket holes to fasten them together.

Will have more for you folks tomorrow ;)
Haha yeah the jeep is my baby. An old man at the hardware store yesterday noticed me loading in lumber and then said to me "thats a fancy work truck you have there" before hopping into his massive dually.

Do it Pysiek, its a fun side hobby and is easy to do providing you have the tools!