75 Gallon Reef Added to Saltwater System

I wanted a reef tank again and already had my saltwater system running, although I wasn’t doing much with it. I added a light to one of the 10 gallons and got a few frags but it wasn’t enough. I had an extra 75 sitting around (the one that was supposed to be the sump on my 300, but Marineland doesn’t know how to make stands that fit proper sized tanks in them) so I used that.

aquarium articles how to setup saltwater fish tankOriginally the saltwater system consisted of a 40breeder, four 10 gallons, and a 40breeder sump. The skimmer is an AquaC EV-240 spray injection protein skimmer. The refugium light is an LED from eBay for growing ‘indoor plants’ so the color is perfect for photosynthesis and it is very intense.

To prep the 75 I drilled the drains (2x 1″) and return (3/4″), painted the back black, installed the bulkheads, and siliconed in a couple overflows. This is by far my favorite type of overflow. You drill it so it is where you want and the exact size you need. But instead of an ugly strainer or open PVC elbow, you get the nice clean look of a built-in overflow.

aquarium background painted drilled bulkheads

aquarium fish tank overflow box

I built the stand. It includes a rack to hang lights. This design would work perfectly if it needed to house the sump too, I just happened to not need that since it is on the system.

Aquarium fish tank stand homemade diy 2x4

aquarium fish tank light rack

aquarium wood stand diy homemade

build aquarium stand

The paint is an indoor/outdoor latex so it should be relatively durable when exposed to saltwater.

Aquarium stand with light rack

saltwater fish tank setup

Plumbing went almost perfectly. The angled part of the drain is a tad too short so I almost couldn’t get the drain pipe into the sump. I also had to turn the return bulkhead so that the tubing wasn’t pressed up against the drain pipe.

plumbing aquarium fish tank

saltwater aquarium system setup

aquarium setup filtration system

plumb aquarium sump filter

reef refugium sump aquarium

The flow from the sump was actually too strong. The water level in the tank was too high. Fortunately, the Gyre pump is more than enough flow for the entire tank so I was able to cut back the flow from the sump without issues.

I used the same black sand I used on my last reef (Estes Marine Sand), so the black on black look should look really good and help all the fish and corals really stand out.

how to setup aquarium fish tank reef

The good thing is I already had the main saltwater system running and all the live rock, so I was able to start stocking immediately.


  • Gyre XF130
  • Rio 32HF Return Pump
  • Estes Marine Sand
  • MarsAqua LEDs from eBay
  • Aqueon Pro Heaters
  • AquaC EV-240 Spray Injection Protein Skimmer
  • eBay LED “Indoor Plant” Refugium Light

Stock so far:

  • Xenia
  • Green Rhodactis Mushrooms
  • Lavender Birdsnest
  • Green Birdsnest
  • Green on Blue Lillian’s Montipora
  • Derasa Clam
  • Rose Bubble Tip Anemone
  • Yellow Tang
  • 2x Banggai Cardinal
  • 3x Lyretail Anthias
  • 2x Purple Firefish
  • Royal Gramma
  • Fire Shrimp
  • 2x Cleaner Shrimp

aquarium articles how to setup saltwater fish tank

reef tank aquarium fish tank

aquarium reef saltwater fish coral tank

reef coral fish tank clams

More updates to come!