TM01's Fabulous Reef
My aquarium hobby started with a 120-gallon tank that housed African Cichlids in January 1996. I kept the cichlids for five years and decided to get into reefkeeping. After doing months of research I had the tank drilled for a closed loop and installed a internal overflow box. The tank was moved into the dining room and filled with live rock, sand and saltwater. I added 150-watt metal Halide and lighting and started testing my system waiting for it to cycle. After a few weeks it was finally ready to add a few corals.
I enjoy the beauty of all corals. I started the hobby with easy LPS
type corals, colt coral, a Yellow Fiji Leather, and some Green Star Polyps along with a few snails and crabs. As time went on I started purchasing Acropora and my obsession began taking off which are now my favorite corals. I enjoy the challenge of keeping an SPS
I ran the 120-gallon tank for five years and learned a lot about reef keeping during that time.I enjoy reading internet articles, joining websites and talking with lots of great hobbyists for information. My system evolved based on my experience and seeing what other's had done. One major change was building a basement sump room. I upgraded the sump to a 100-gallon Rubbermaid and added on a 100-gallon Rubbermaid refugium with a deep sand bed. I also added a 50-gallon frag tank increasing my water volume to almost 300-gallon total. The entire system is powered by a Reeflo Barricuda pump.
The basement sump room offers a lot of freedom and storage. I added 3 new GFI circuits to the room along with a sink and countertops. I also installed a water change drain directly to my main house drain and a large freshwater reservoir was added along with a saltwater mixing barrel. Plumbing was routed to the sump to accommodate. All sumps are elevated to avoid heat loss from the cold floor. To control humidity I first went out and purchased a large humidifier but found that by adding a large bathroom vent fan I was able to save on electricity. The vent fan operates continuously. All tank related equipment was relocated as well. Setting up the basement sump room and larger system was all part of a plan to eventually upgrade to the tank I have now.
In Aug 2008, I purchased a new 220-gallon tank, stand and canopy from Preuss Pets. I really loved the size and height of this tank. Everything from the prior 120-gallon was removed and placed in large containers with pumps and air stones and the 220-gallon was moved into place (with lots of help) 6hrs later the tank changeover was completed and the new tank was up and running. Basically the tank went through a water change and the sand bed was replaced nothing was added with the exception of 100-gallon of extra water volume. The large sump and refugium in the basement had been running for over a year which benefited the new tank when the system started back up.
There have been several changes with the tank since 2008...both good and bad. One of the most significant was a kalkwasser overdose that happened last fall. I lost softball size SPS
colonies as a result of the overfeed. Luckily all fish and most LPS
made it and I was able to keep some of the frags alive. A month later the tank was torn down and the sand bed was removed because it had turned into a block of cement after the kalk overdose. Of course, this meant that everything had to be removed and resulted in a new aquascape. I have also since removed the refugium from the system to save electrical costs.
Today the tank is doing well. Many of the corals could still use some color but time and patience will eventually lead to that. The fish are fat and happy and the corals are growing. At this point that's all I can ask for.
Equipment & Maintenance Aquarium Profile:
Main display is a 220-gallon Perfecto glass tank with 1/2-inch thick walls and floor. It measures 60"x24"x30" and stands on a solid oak cabinet and has a matching canopy. It has two 2-inch drains and two 3/4-inch returns that are both fed from a single 1.5-inch line coming from my basement sump. The tank contains 120-pounds of CarbiSea Special Grade Reef Sand and about 300-pounds of live rock. The back is covered in solid black.
I also have a 70-gallon glass frag tank with black egg crate shelving which is plumbed into the main system. Water Parameters:
Specific Gravity: 1.026
Salt: Reef Crystals Lighting:
Three 250-watt Galaxy single ballasts along with LumenMax3 Double Ended Reflectors running 14k Pheniox bulbs.
Four 36-inch T5's ran by a Workhorse 7 ballast. The two T5's at the rear of the tank are Blue-Plus bulbs and the two at the front of the tank are KZ Fiji Purple bulbs. I really enjoy viewing the tank with just actinics on late in the evening. This combo really provides a spectacular view of the fluorescing colors of some of the corals.
The frag tank lighting is a DIY made from a black acrylic tank top. A Icecap 660 Ballast and four bulb retro kit mounted directly inside. Two 4-inch fans are installed to move air across the bulbs. Water:
Incoming water is provided by the Lansing Board of Water and Light. Typical incoming TDS readings are approximately 260-ppm. Incoming water is ran using 3/8" line into a 5 micron pre filter. Water then enters a Booster pump set at 60lbs where it enters a 90-gpd
Spectrapure MaxCap RODI unit . TDS after RO measures 6-ppm and 0-ppm after DI. Float Valves are installed on both the 25-gallon freshwater reservoir and 55-gallon salt mixing barrel. On/off valves are used to turn water supply on and off. Circulation:
A Reeflo Barricuda provides the return water 14-feet directly up to my main display. Return flow is split into two outlets, one on each end of the tank. Lockline is used to direct flow. The return pump is plumbed in with 1.5-inch PVC. A tee was added just above the pump that leads to my main house drain so that at a turn of a valve water can be pumped out of the system for easy water changes. The return piping was also fitted with ball valves to control the flow of water back up to the main tank.
The display is equipped with a Tunze 6212 Wavebox. The Wavebox provides huge amount of gentle water movement that the corals and fish love. I've had it since 2011 and it has worked well It's a wonderful product and I would highly recommend it to anyone considering one. There are no dead spots in the tank. The wavebox produces about a 2-inch wave from end to end of the tank which constantly keeps water flowing through the SPS
and between the rocks.
I also have a Tunze 6080' on each end of the display. A Tunze 6045 & 6025 in my frag tank. And two Tunze 6045's located in my sump. Filtration:
EuroReef 8-3 protein skimmer that uses two Sedra KSP-5000 pumps. A gate valve has been installed to make adjusting easier. This skimmer has handled everything pretty well over the last few years. It's a older skimmer but with two newer pumps I've decided to run it a bit longer. Its still a great skimmer.
Carbon is ran using a BRS reactor and changed once a month.
Water is drained from the DT into a filter sock located in the sump. This also acts as a bubble stop while trapping larger particles, snails, and the occasional fish that decides to go for the roller coaster drain ride. Heating/Cooling:
To aid in cooling the main tank, there are two temperature controlled fans fitted in the cabinet and mounted just below the halide lights blowing across the surface of the water. The system is heated with four 300-watt heaters running on two Ranco controllers. Two heaters are located in the sump and two are in the main tank. One Ranco monitors the main tank and the other monitors the basement sump. A Pinpoint wireless temp reports back to the monitor upstairs.
I also run a 250-watt heater in the frag tank.
The tank stays between 78 to 80-degrees year round with no heat issues. Additives:
This tank gets additives to maintain alkalinity, calcium and magnesium by way of a manual dosing. (testing is done once a week)
Kalkwasser is used as a nightly drip via timers and kalk reactor. Controls:
PH is monitored in the main aquarium.
Tank pumps are controlled using a American DJ Power Unit.
Water lost via evaporation is replaced automatically using a Tunze Osmolator.
Kalkwasser is added via dosing pump and timer during lights out. Feeding:
The fish are fed twice a day by auto feeder and get seaweed at least once a week. They also get hand feedings typically once a day. (I can't help it...they beg)
Frozen foods are spot fed to corals on occasion. (club food, Mysis)
Whole Krill are fed to Anemone weekly.
The system is also fed Phyto every day. Maintenance:
- On a weekly basis, I change 20-percent of the water using Reef Crystals salt mix prepared with RODI water. An automatic water change system has been built in to the system which means that the water changes can be performed by simply turn of a valve and a flip of a switch to refill.
- I manually dose Alk, Calc and Mag on a regular basis and test weekly.
- The skimmer cup is cleaned and the and polyfilter bag is replaced every two to three days.
- n a monthly basis, the coralline algae gets cleaned from the all exposed glass and power heads are cleaned.
- Once every two weeks the filter bags are washed in a commercial washer. A small amount of bleach is used and the socks are allowed to hang for 3 days before being used again.
- The corals are now having to be regularly pruned due to their growth, several colonies have been removed to make more space and a few new ones have gone in over the last few months.
- Kalk paste is used to kill any aptasia or majano that is found.
I use Fresh Water, Interceptor, ReVive, Lugol's for dipping depending on the species of coral. I've had good success but not perfect over the years. I have had red bugs a couple times and those darn asternia starfish seem to make it past me somehow. Having a good magnifying glass is a must for any reefer IMO.
|Mated pair of Twinspot (Hogfish) Wrasses |
|Naso Tang (feeds from my hand)|
|Mated pair of Gold Stripe Marron clowns (laying for the last year)|
|Coral Beauty Angel|
|Orange Shoulder Tang|
|Hippo Tang |
|Acropora Crab |
|Cleaner Shrimp 2x|
|Black Sand Sifting worm|
|Large Brittle Star|
|Sand sifting star 3x|
|Pom Pom Crab|
|Red leg Hermits|
|Conch snails |
|Golden Teardrop Maxima Clam|
|Royal Blue Maxima Clam|
|White Hatian Pinktip Anemone (hosted by clowns)|| |
|Red Dragon |
|ORA Hawkins Blue Echinata|
|ORA Red Planet|
|Ora Pink Lemonade Acropora|
|ORA Pearl Berry|
|ORA Plum Crazy|
|ORA Indo Purple Tip Stag|
|ORA Stuber Stag|
|ORA Pink Tip Acro|
|Yellow Humilis Acro|
|Blue Tenius Acro|
|Blue Polyp Stylophora|
|4-5 wild colony Acros|
|Yellow Fiji Leather|
|Reverse Sunset Montipora|
|Meteor Shower Cyphastrea|
|Dragon Soul Favia |
|Purple Eye Favia|
|Trumpet Coral - 3 types|
|Lobophyllia Brain Coral - 2 types|
|Tyree War Coral|
|Speckled Red Palys|
|Wicked Orange PE|
|Bubblegum Monster Chalice|
|Pink Boobies Chalice|
|Tyree Alien Eye Chalice|
|Pink Lemonade Chalice|
|Rainbow Chalice - 2 types|
|Mummy Eye Chalice|
|Pink Watermellon Chalice - 3 types|
If you're reading this, you know that keeping a reef is a rewarding, and often challenging. The system I've described is much simpler than some of the amazing tanks I've admired over the years. I hope that you'll agree that a basic approach can also result in a successful tank. Acknowledgments:
First, I would like to thank my wife...for her help and for putting up with my obsession.
Preuss Pets and the gang for all the help and understanding over the years.
Mid-Michigan Marine Club for the club activities.
All my friends that have helped me at one time or another with this tank.
Captive Reefs for the wonderful privilege of being Tank of the Month.
And thank you to BeakerBob for taking the awesome photos for my TOTM article.
Added by jimsflies:
Putting together a Tank of the Month article and photos takes a lot of work, and as appreciation for Todd's efforts, he received a $25 gift certificate from Amazon Stingrays. Thanks Todd for sharing your tank with us!