Hi my name is Kris and I am an addict. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, at least, so I am told.
I must say, I love the hobby. I am the type of personality that I always have to be in the middle of a project. I never really finish anything and this is why saltwater is a perfect fit for me. My tank is and always will be, a work in progress.
I also love a challenge. This is probably why I have a SPS dominant system. Not only do I love colorful sticks but I also love the challenge in keeping them. With SPS you cant even look at them funny without something going wrong. Heck things go wrong for no apparent reason at all! I must say though, when things are going right it is a very gratifying feeling. However, when things are going bad I sure do want to throw in the towel sometimes, especially when I don't know what is wrong. Needless to say I stick with it and things typically work themselves out. I just wish I haven't flushed so many Benjamin's down the toilet! Sheesh this hobby is expensive!!!
I have been using for over 20 years and I can't put down the bucket. It all started when i walked into my local store and bought freshwater fish. I had that system setup for a couple months and decided I needed something stronger, better. I setup my first Saltwater tank (55 gallon) at the age of 14 (I am now 35).
At age 16 I worked for a couple years at a high end saltwater fish store in the Denver metro area called Rocky Mountain Reef.
For the last 3 years I have been (and still currently) work for Premier Fish and Reef doing saltwater aquarium design, installation and maintenance. I have a couple of systems I maintain on a weekly basis and I also help design and install systems for new clients.
My filtration consists of a large sump with a oversized skimmer, large refugium, GFO, Carbon, Vinegar dosing and sponges. The whole system is controlled by my Neptune Apex. Pretty much everything is automated except for the water changes (which used to be automated on my previous 125 gallon).
My previous system was lit by AI SOL Blues only. When I upgraded from my 125 to this 225 I wanted to go back to the good ol tried and true T5 Halide Combo. I currently run eight 36" T5's for 10 hours a day and three 250watt Radium Metal Halides 7 hours a day. This is all controlled through my Neptune Apex.
My reef structure is very open, especially near the top of the system. This allows my 2 MP40's to sufficiently provide flow throughout the tank. They are run on Reef Crest Mode at 100%. Every hour for a hour the slave pump changes from sync to anti sync to help randomize the flow.
Livestock mostly consists of SPS. I have slowly but surely been removing LPS and gorgonians as I acquire more SPS. I had a full blown mixed reef in my prior 125 and I really like the look of SPS dominated systems (my wife would disagree though, she loves long flowing corals).
I also have quite a bit of fish. I really like an active looking tank. I wanted to have a couple show fish, a couple schools of fish and of course my fish "CUC" which consist of a couple halichoeres wrasse's.
My all time favorite fish is the Moorish Idol. I had one in my previous 125 which I took out after about a year since it started to treat my reef like a buffet. When I setup this 225 I decided to try another Idol. Same thing, after about a year it decided to buffet on my reef.
Alkalinity between 7-8. Anything higher I started to get burnt tips on my SPS.
Calcium between 420-440
magnesium 1300-1400. I tend to keep it on the higher side when algae starts to become a problem. Higher levels seem to help slow its growth.
Phosphate I try to keep around .02-.04, anything higher and I fight algae and lose color in my SPS.
Nitrate I also try to keep under 1 to help combat nuisance algae and cyano.
Salinity I keep at 1.025 to leave room for evaporation.
Potassium is maintained around 399 to match NSW levels. I do start to notice paling in my corals when it gets lower.
I have heard a lot of great things about Acropower by Two Little Fishies. I recently picked up a bottle and threw it on my auto doser. I hope to see increased PE and more vivid colors soon!
I also dose Vinegar to help keep my NO3 down. I like to stay below 1ppm and I couldn't do this with over 40 fish and a refugium alone.
Auto dosing of buffer and calcium is done through a litermeter 3, which doses every 5 minutes for a total of 170ml per day roughly. Magnesium is dosed through my Marine Magic at roughly 25ml per day.
Feeding See more
NLS thera A Pellets (3 Times daily) ·
PE Mysis (2 Cubes Daily) ·
Green Nori (1/2 sheet Daily) ·
Cyclop-eeze (1/2 cube Daily) ·
Selcon (1ml Daily) ·
Hikari Mysis Shrimp (2 Cubes Daily)
The livestock is fed 3 times a day a pinch of NLS pellets through a auto feeder. I also feed a half sheet of Nori for the herbivores. When I get off of work I feed 2 cubes of PE Mysis and before I go to bed a feed 2 more cubes of mysis, this time though its Hikari. I also feed Frozen Cyclopeeze on occasion.
A proper maintenance schedule is probably the most important aspect of having a successful aquarium from my experience. Like anything we do in life, we get out of it what we put in it.
Every weekend (either on Saturday or Sunday) I clean my skimmer, sponges, blow off the rocks, clean MP40's, scrape all sides of my glass and refill my 2 part containers.
Due to my high fish load I also change 30 gallons of water weekly to help keep DOC down.
Inspiration & Goals
I hope to have my system stocked to the brim with corals, mainly SPS. I see many systems on Reef Central with beautiful, massive colonies. Another goal of mine was to have a large system teaming with various fish including schools, pairs and show fish. This is a goal I have actually obtained already!
Words of Wisdom
Be patient and don't overreact. I know this is beaten like a dead horse but there is a lot of truth to it. I think a lot of people dont wait long enough for changes to take effect and I also think a lot of times people overreact to a problem. More often than not it is just nature reacting to its environment and all you have to do is give your system time to adjust.
Disasters & Regrets
First regret, Frankenstein. Frankenstein is my green wrasse. I picked up Franky when he was a wee lass. My co-worker said "he won't stay cute for long!" Boy was he right, the wrasse is a ugly green and fat. Of course it is the one fish who will not go into my trap! Next tank move the wrasse is gone!
Second regret, trying too hard to combat cyano. I have just come to the fact that cyano is natural and is a part of just about any system, especially those with medium to high bioloads (like my system). I did a couple of 3 days lights out periods and it would kill the cyano for a couple months then just show back up again. The worst part though was the damage it did to some of my corals. I lost a couple of really nice SPS colonies and Chalices after a lights out. I wouldn't lose them right away but after about a week they just kept having worse and worse tissue loss. Not only that but trying to adjust for alkalinity after the lights out was really challenging. Now I just blow off my rocks once a week and siphon out what I can.
I would like to thank Reef Central for providing a vast amount of knowledge. I want to thank our local forums, MASC. It is a great community with knowledgeable people, great vendors and good friends. I want to thank Martin Moe for giving me my first glimpse of knowledge into keeping marine organisms - The Marine Aquarium Reference: Systems and Invertebrates (great book!). I want to thank Premier fish and Reef for giving me the opportunity to work in the industry I love! Also want to thank Dmitry for providing us addicts such a great way to Journal our systems!
Most importantly I want to thank my wife for putting up with my addiction!