I would like to thank the committee for this honor. My love of saltwater aquariums started when I was born in Southern California within a mile from the ocean. I grew up less than a block away. My father first took me diving when I was 10, I got my first aquarium shortly there after. My first beginnings in saltwater was 30, well lets just say "some" years ago.
My humble 55-gallon with dead coral, turned into today what could conservatively be called an obsession. Not satisfied with the difficulties of SPS my I have moved into the world of Azoox corals. My system has been sculpted to keep the beauty of SPS on the top and the color and majesty of the Azoox corals on the bottom, all along trying my best to make it look like a natural reef. I am as you can see a bit crazy about keeping it natural looking, every attempt is made to hide every wire and pump. The rockwork is four pillars with a central face rock. The sides of the tank are incorporated into the design as additional rockwork. The system is a 150-gallon custom tank that is 33-inches high 24-inches deep and 48-inches wide. It is built into a closet in the garage so all that shows in the house is a perfect window into the ocean. The plumbing runs from the garage down into the basement to my filter room.
My filtration system has become a little obsessive also. With two deepwater 55-gallon drums then an old trickle filter that has been modified into a cooling tower then into a 150-gallon sump and several refugiums.
The system is fed three times a day a mixture of various pellets and every hour a mix of several phytoplankton and various Fauna Marin foods. This is accomplished using a Super Feeder, peristaltic pumps and a Neptune Jr.
Equipment & Maintenance
Several sumps, but a total 300 gallons. The water flows through two 55 gallon drums as settling stations then an old trickle filter, then a 30 gallon fuge and finally a 100 gallon sump. I have two fuges, one that houses Cheato and another that houses a deep sand bed, reef lobster and various macro algae. The cool thing is the drums have become environments unto themselves. The first one is covered with a white sponge and the second one tube worms. Interestingly there are no tube worms in the first one and no sponges in the second one.
Tunze Wavebox 6201
Hydor Koralia 6
Two 400-watt MH with Ushio 20k bulbs.
Two 24-inch HO/T5 with Pure Actinic bulbs.
Five Blue LED spotlights.
Two, Reef Octopus 200 and a Thiel Aqua Tech
A custom DYI cooling tower.
Calcium and Alk
I use the Balling method with peristaltic pumps, controlled by a Neptune Jr.
Everything is controlled by the Neptune Jr.
Vertex Bio Pellets
Weekly 5-percent water changes.
Daily clean front glass.
Monthly clean the back of the display tank.
Additives and Feeding
I feed Frozen Cyclops by themselves, then a mixture of Fauna Marin's Clam Food, Sea Fan food, Ultra Min mixed with Ultra Min S. I follow the directions for Fauna's gorgonian system add several types of Phytoplankton. I mix it up in 200-mL of water and add that throughout the day. The food seems expensive but it last a long, long, long time. I have had my containers for 6 months and I am only half way through. Thank God for Bio Pellets!
I feed the Cyclops in the morning before work or before going to bed but only once a day. The tough part is you have to feed way less then you think but many times. I do a 10 percent water change every week and have no nitrates at all. I do have a large amount of water (400-gallons) in the system and only have animals in the 150-gallon tank.
Target Water Parameters
- Calcium: 420 ppm
- Alkalinity: 8.5 kH
- Nitrite: 0 ppm
- Nitrate: <1 ppm
- Phosphate: Low
- Magnesium: 1500 ppm
- Specific gravity: 1.26
- Temperature: 79 F
- pH: 8.03
In conclusion, I hope you enjoyed my little window into the ocean. My future hope is to continue to explore the world of Black and Azoox Corals. Succeeding in keeping them long term would be the highlight of my life. Then who knows where I go.