My name is Manoj Patnala. I live in Troy, Michigan. I have been in this hobby for a little more than 2 years and being voted TOTM makes me very happy. I would like to thank everybody who nominated my tank for the TOTM and also I would like to thank Captive Reefs for giving me this opportunity. I have always been interested in a mixed reef and I have been slowly working on my little piece of ocean over the past two years.
After seeing a reef tank setup at a show, I knew I had to have one. Coincidentally, I discovered a colleague at my office was also into reefkeeping and he showed me where and how to get all the information I needed. I started the hobby with modest infrastructure and quickly learned what was needed to be successful.
During my first six months in the hobby I learned how expensive this hobby can be and soon took steps to control the expense. I invested in good equipment and healthy corals even if it took me little extra time to save up. Also I did a lot of reading and discussions with fellow hobbyists who had more experience than me. I have concluded over these years that it's best to keep the system natural and simple.
I started with a 40 breeder with an external overflow, DIY T5 light and canopy, 10gallon refugium, coralife skimmer, phosphate reactor and UV reactor. After a year into the hobby I had to move to a new place and this was my opportunity to upgrade. I upgraded to a 65gallon tank with a 30gallon refugium. The tank has an inbuilt low profile glass holes overflow box. The primary pump that runs the whole system is an Ehiem 1260. The power heads that provide the water flow in the tank are two Tunze 6045. The Ehiem 1260 also feeds into my external DNW150 reef octopus skimmer and phosphate reactor. Also the salinity is maintained by replenishing the evaporated water by Tunze Osmolator.
The water from the display tank goes into the glass holes overflow box and to the sump. There the water interacts with carbon and then goes into the mid chamber of the refugium. The mid section has a 3 inch sand bed, 25 lbs of rock and grape calupra. The water flows rather slowly in this section. From there on it gets filtered by a sponge and goes into the last chamber where it gets pumped back into the display. As the water is pumped into the display it's also pumped into the skimmer and phosphate reactor.
I initially had a lot of liverock in the tank. However, I realized I preferred an aquascape with two "islands". I think this aquascape looks balanced, enables better flow, and provides more spots to place corals.
Display: 36 inches x 18 inches x 24 inches
Refugium: 30 inches x 12 inches x 16 inches
Overflow system: 700gph glass holes overflow
Water Movement: Two 6045 Tunze pumps
Skimmer: DNW150 Reef Octopus external recirculating skimmer
Lights: 5 High Output T5 bulbs with SLR's run by workhorse ballasts
Bulb Configuration: Front to Back: ATI Blue+, ATI aqua blue, ATI blue+, ATI aqua blue, ATI blue+
Auto Top Off : Tunze Osmolator
I choose the two part dosing method as I was able to understand the method better and it required less equipment and less space. I use two BRS dosing pumps and dose two times in 24 hrs to maintain the calcium and alkalinity levels. I hand dose magnesium once every two to three weeks.
Nothing happens fast in your tank. Everything takes time to grow so sometimes its best to keep your hand out of the tank and let everything grow. Check parameters at least once every week and make sure to buy a good test kit and testing equipment. The last thing you want is to make changes in your chemistry based on results from a bad test kit or equipment. Things that work for other reefers does not have to work for your setup so always do lots of reading and ask as many questions as you can. Invest in good equipment as the last thing you want is an equipment failure when you are gone. Try to buy corals from a reputable source, all it takes is one bug and it can wipe the entire system.
I would like to thank my wife who has contributed to my reefs success and my family for supporting my efforts. Also I would like to thank the reefers community who provided me with all the information and support when needed.