Deep Sea Aquatics 225 Show 225 Gallons saltwater aquarium measuring 72'' x 27'' x 27'' has been running for 1 year, 6 months.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Cad Lights Custom 112g 112 Gallons saltwater aquarium measuring 48'' x 30'' x 18'' has been running for 6 years, 2 months.
My Personal Experience
For as long as I can remember I've loved aquariums. My first aquarium was a 10 gallon freshwater tank that I setup in Junior High. I followed the hobby into high school where I also found myself working at a local fish store. It was during this time that I decided to make the jump from fresh to salt water. I would eventually grow my passion for the hobby into an aquarium maintenance business that helped to supplement my income through college. After graduating, I left the business and hobby while I worked to establish a family and career. I remained inactive from the hobby for the next 14 years but would never pass up the chance to visit a local fish store or sit and stare at a tank at the doctor's office.
Almost 6 years ago my brother called, raving about a tiny reef tank that he had seen at a customer's home. I spent the next 2 months researching nano reefs and the new techniques that had evolved in the 14 years I had been away from the hobby. I decided to reenter the hobby and try my hand at reefing with a 28 gallon Nano Cube. The tank provided me an inexpensive option to determine if my family and work schedule would support the demands of a reef tank. Long story made short, one year later my reef was featured as the Tank of the Month at Nano-Reef.com. In that 16 months that I had been back in the hobby, I realized how much I enjoy the hobby and the creative outlet that reefing provides.
Its been 3 years now since the Nano Cube was taken down and my current 112g Reef went up. I've used the current aquarium to learn and refine new husbandry skills. While I'm happy with the current tank, I do have regrets and anytime you have regrets, you have thoughts about starting a new tank.
A Place for Everything and Everything in it's Place
One of my main goals for this tank was to ensure that the setup was clean and promoted easy maintenance. During the installation, I really took my time to get wiring and plumbing done long before I considered adding water. I've included several photos of the details that went into the setup.
AquaScaping was inspired by The Oregon Reef (http://www.oregonreef.com/) It's worth a look! I'm a big fan of tanks that are large from front to back. I believe that the more room you can get front to back the more realistic of a rock scape you can create. Often times, narrow tanks take on a pile of rock look. While my next tank is just a vague set of thoughts right now, the one thing I do know is that it will be at least 48" from front to back.
- Sump: 30x18x16 Acrylic Sump with a built in ATO Reservoir
- Return Pump: Sicce Syncra 4.0, Rated at 951 GPH
- Skimmer: Bubble King Mini-180
- Circulation Pumps: (2) Vortechs - MP40W ES with Battery Backup
- Media Reactor - Two Little Fishes 150 with BRS GFO
- Media Reactor - Two Little Fishes 150 with BRS ROX Carbon
- Reef Dynamics BPR135 Bio Pellet Reactor with BRS Bio Pellets
My aquarium relies heavily on the large skimmer. In addition to the skimmer, I run GFO and Carbon in a reactor 24x7. The carbon is replaced every 2 weeks and the GFO is replaced every 5 weeks or when phosphates begin to read over .03. I also run Bio Pellets to help with the reduction of nitrates. Filtration is rounded out by weekly water changes that range between 10-15%.
Calcium, Alkalinity and Magnesium
I use a Bubble Magus dosing pump to dose Calcium, Alkalinity and Magnesium into the tank. I mix my own Calcium, Alkalinity and Magnesium solutions using the pre-partitioned packages from Bulk Reef Supply. My daily dosage of Alkalinity is divided by 12 and dosed every two hours (odd hours). The identical daily Calcium dose is also divided by 12 and dosed every 6 hours (even hours). The Magnesium dosage is divided into 4 dosages and dosed on even hours as well.
I've dosed a lot of different products over the years but the ones that have stood the test of time for me are the following:
KZ Bacteria - Dosed 2x per week per bottle instructions
KZ Pohl's Xtra Special - Dosed daily per bottle instructions
KZ Coral Vitalizer - Dosed daily per bottle instructions
KZ Amino Acid - Dosed daily per bottle instructions
- Lighting: 48'' Geisemann Infinity : 2x250Watt Metal Halides and 4x54Watt T5s
- Metal Halides -- XM 20K Double Ended
- T5 Bulbs include - 1 KZ Fiji Purple, 1 KZ Super Blue and 2 KZ New Generation
-11am - 2 T5 bulbs turn on
-12pm - 2 more T5 bulbs turn on
-1pm - Metal Halides turn on
-5pm - T5s turn off
-9pm - T5s turn back on, MHs turn off
-10pm - 2 T5s go off
-11pm - Last 2 T5s go off
When I purchased my light fixture, LEDs were just really taking off. Of all the equipment decisions, I made this was the most difficult one. To this day, I have no regrets. I'm very happy with the look and performance of the light. I read a lot of threads about LED users going back to their old fixtures, these help me to validate my decision. I'm still looking for a good 4 bulb T5 combo, I replace bulbs every 9-12 months and I've yet to use the same combo twice. My favorite way to view the aquarium is with my MH's only. I love the color and shimmer provided by the MHs.
Flow Equipment Details
- Return Pump : Sicce Syncra 4.0 , Rated at 951 GPH
- Circulation Pumps : (2) Vortechs - MP40W ES with Battery Backup
- Apex Controller with WMX controller for the Vortechs
I run my Vortechs on Reef Crest at 100% 18 out of 24 hours each day. I run the pumps on Nutrient Transport Mode for 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours at night also at 100%.
Flow is something I will do differntly in my next samarium. I plan to run a closed loop which will provide light flow inside of my rock work. I also plan to run MP40s on the sides and MP10s on the back but dial them down to the 50% range. I think this will provide more overall flow without the harsh blast that can be created by the MP40s at 100%.
- Inspect and feed live stock
- Clean glass if needed
- Lightly rake gravel if needed
- 10% to 15% water change
- I about 1/3 of my gravel with each water change and on the 4th water change I vacuum the sump and overflow.
- Clean skimmer cup
Every 2 weeks
- Replace Carbon
Every 5 weeks
- Replace GFO
Every 3 months
- Clean and maintenance pumps (Skimmer, Reactors and Returns)
- Vinegar soak MP40 Wetsides and Return Nozzle
Every 6 months
- Take Sump offline and clean
Every 9 months
- Replace bulbs
Every 12 months
- Replace probes, dosing pump wheels and heater
- Target is 8.0 with an allowable range of 7.5 to 8.5
- I test alkalinity weekly and as long as my test comes back in the acceptable range, no actions are taken. If my Alkalinity reads below 7.5, I will dose the aquarium back to 8.0 and adjust my daily dosage to retarget the tank to 8.0. I find that I have to make an adjustment about once every 3 months.
- Target is 440 with an allowable range of 410 to 470
- Same testing applies to Calcium as I apply to Alkalinity, however, I let the Alkalinity dictate the daily dose and match calcium to the alkalinity dosage. I think one of the biggest issues people have in dosing 2 part is trying to dose a different value for alk and cal. My advice is to pick an alk target, figure out what you need to dose to hold that and match cal. This may result in a bit lower or higher cal number than you were after but learn to live with that.
- Target is 1320 with an allowable range of 1280 to 1360.
- Target is 1 with an acceptable range of 8.
- My opinion on nitrates has changed over the last year or so. I use to be crazy about keeping nitrates to zero but a few things have changed my opinion on that. First and foremost, I believe if your Nitrates are 0, you are missing an opportunity to nourish the corals. For that reason, if I can keep my tests coming back at 1ppm, I know that the Nitrates are low and that I'm feeding at my upper limit. The other thing that changed my opinion on Nitrates is the look of my corals. While my color drifts from good to great, I think it looks best when there is a touch of nitrates in the water column. Combine these two items with the fact, that I struggle to keep Nitrates below 2 or 3, I've learned to accept this value.
- Target 0 with an allowable range of .03
- I don't feel the same way about Phosphates as I do Nitrates. I have two corals in my tank that will tell me when my Phosphates are high. One is a Pavona, the other is my X-Factor Monti Cap. Both go from bright green to a pale green when phosphates get elevated. I test phosphates weekly and change my GFO at either the 5 week mark of when I get a reading above .03.
Target is 1.025
I keep my tank between 79.5 and 80 degrees. Optimally, I would prefer to keep my tank about 78 however the summer temperatures in Arizona don't really allow that. In the summer, we keep our house AC on 78, this combined with a celing fan maxes the tank out 80 degrees at the peak of my lighting period. For this reason, I keep the tank at 80 year round.
My pH ranges from 7.9 to 8.4 depending on the time of year. When the weather is nice here in Arizona, we keep the house opened up and the pH is on the high end. During the summer, when we have to keep the house shut, it will hover on the lower end. I use to worry about pH quite a bit and take measures to raise it. I've since determined that it's not needed.
- Blue Tang
- Chevron Tang
- Blue Chromis (x4)
- Bartlett's Anthias (x2)
- Melanurus Wrasse
- Black Cap Basslet
- Sailfin Blenny
- Candy Stripped Hogfish
- Scooter Blenny
- Percula Clownfish (x2)
- LeMark Angels (x2)
The tank is mostly SPS with a few LPS and a couple soft corals. When I first started the tank, I had hoped to keep SPS and Acans. To my disappointment, I can not keep Acans in this tank. The LeMark Angels nip at them all day long and they will never open. Rather than list all of the corals here, I will post photographs showing some of my favorite pieces.
I feed my fish at least 2 times per day. A typical feeding day includes one feeding of a mixed pellets and a second feeding of either frozen or nori. I like to feed Nori about 2x per week and frozen on the other days.
My favorite pellets are Spectrum and Dainihci. I have a large jar that I combine liked sizes of pellets in and just feed a good mix once per day.
For frozen foods, I feed Mysis Shrimp, Brine Shrimp, Plankton, Reef Caviar, Cyclopeeze and Nutramar Ova. When I get new frozen food, I cut the cubes into 1/4 size cubes and rebag the smaller pieces. When I go to feed, I chose 4 of the smaller cubes which is the amount that goes in the tank. This allows me to feed a better variety without having to use full cubes.
Every 3rd day, I feed Reef Roids per the instructions on the container. I'm a big believer in Reef Roids. I think of all the additives that goes into the tank, this as the biggest impact on my coral coloration. On the days that Reef Roids goes in the tank, I do not dose the KZ products that are listed in the Additive section.
Don't Be Afraid To Fail
At the end of the day, we really are running one big science experiment. There is bound to be some failure that come. The goal should be to limit the failure and make them as small as possible.
Do Regular Quick Maintenance Often vs. Longer Less Frequent Maintenance
I find that it's much easier to run the magnet cleaner over my glass every 2 days instead of scraping coral-line algae off once a month. Under that same thought process it's much easier to keep phosphates down with regular water changes and GFO changes instead of dealing with nuisance algae. If you see an issue with the tank, take care of it now. Don't let things linger.
Make Notes During the Week and Address with Water Change
When I watch the tank during the week, I always see little things that I want to change or adjust. As I find these things, I make a quick note that I then address when I complete my water change. In theory, this limits the amount I go into the tank. As an example, I may see a small circle of algae growing on the glass or a piece of bubble algae or perhaps a coral that is growing into another and needs fragged. I will note all of these as I see them, then at the end of the week, I have a list of items that I want to address with my water change.
Thankfully I have not had any disasters (Knock on Wood). With that said, I've had my share of painful learnings along with the unexplained STN on corals.
Regrets, I have many, I will list several of them here:
1) Adding Zoas to the aquarium. In a brief moment of weakness I accepted some free Zoas to add to the aquarium. They have since spread the crazy and grown over the top of and killed several pieces of SPS. Combine this with the fact that they are not that nice of colors, I really regret doing this.
2) Adding Clove Polps to the aquarium. I wanted to add some softness to the rear portion of the center trench. I founds some nice clove polyps that were on a rock that was about 2"x2". I mounted the rock towards the back of the trench. Over the next 2-3 months, they migrated to the top of the right island where they have continued to grow strong. Like the zoas, these have also grown over the top of several sps and are now taking up precious real estate where SPS could be. I list these as the 2nd regret because, they add more beauty to the tank than the zoas.
3) Adding encrusting Montipora to the aquarium. Two of the first corals I added to the tank were a Pokerstar Monti and a Superman Monti. Both of these corals are still very beautiful but like the zoas and polyps, they aggressively grow over the top of anything that gets in their way.
4) LeMark Angels - This is a difficult thing to write because, I really do like the Angels. They add a lot to the aquarium but limit my ability to keep Acans. In my next tank, I plan to keep nothing but premium SPS and Acans. This will mean, no more Angels.
5) No Quarantine Tank - I have managed to get Red Bugs in the aquarium on a couple of occasions. Even with dipping, the Red Bugs seem to find a way into the tank. I do wish, I had planned for and had room for a tank where I could keep corals for a few months prior to going into the display.
6) Sump Design - While I love having the built in ATO on my sump, the overall design is poor. The top of my sump is sealed across the baffles making it impossible to clean between the baffles. In addition, the input to the sump is small and makes it very difficult to use filter socks.
First and foremost I want to thank my family. My wife not only deals with but often helps fill buckets of RODI clean spills and everything else that goes with this hobby. My boys, help to maintain the tank on the rare occasions when I go out of town. In general, the family really understands that my reef is the one thing I really do for myself and they seem to embrace it, for that I'm thankful.
I also very much appreciate the knowledge sharing that takes place on the forums. The two I frequent are Reef Central and Nano-Reef. I always try to share what I know because so many have done the same for me.
I would like to also thank Dmitry for creating Aquaticlog. I've very much enjoyed the process of working with Dmitry on the configuration of the site and providing feedback for making the site more and more useful. This site has really grown into a tool for us hobbyist.
Deep Sea Aquatics Custom 200 Gallons saltwater aquarium measuring 84'' x 24'' x 24'' has been running for 4 years, 2 months.
I've been heavy into the saltwater hobby for about 6 years now. Before then, I did what a lot of people do. The decide they want a saltwater tank (I wanted one for yearrrrrs) so they go to their LFS and have the LFS totally set them up. They delivered to my house and setup a 150g tank on black wood stand. We set it up agains the garage wall so the garage could house the return pump and chiller. They set me up with a wet/dry for a sump. I could not afford to add all the live rock at once so I would buy a piece every week or two. That took forever of course. I had a few soft coral but nothing did really well. I tried an anemone once and that died. When i finally pulled it out of the water it sent the worst stench through the entire house that I have ever smelled and could only be described as utter death from the gates of hell. Eventually the tank just proved to be too costly and too much hassle for me at the time so I sold it all off. I wasn't discouraged from the hobby, I just knew I was in over my head. And at the time (early 2000's) I don't think the web presence was there like it is today or at least I wasn't familiar with online forums like I am today, which is a MASSIVE help, as pretty much anyone can attest to.
Fast forward several years and the itch was back. But learning from my mistakes, I decided that this time I was going to do things at a much more manageable size and I was not going to fork out the expense I did last time. So I began with a 46 gallon bow front tank that I found for sale on our local club's forum. It was brand new, won in a raffle, so I got a decent deal on it. The stand I build myself. And good thing, too. While i was beginning the build, hurricane Katrina hit Houston, wiping out our power for 17 days. Luckily I didn't have a running tank to worry about at the time. Patience was already paying off! ;)
I also got my live rock from other people's tanks that were being torn down. This saved me a bundle and I was able to stock this small tank completely and right away. The bad news is this may have been the cause for future severe algae issues that I fought for 6 months before giving up tearing down the tank. But other than that, the tank did well, coral and fish did well, and I learned a lot about how to properly setup and care of a saltwater reef system.
So after about a year or a little more, and having learned quite a bit, I decided it was time to go big again and really build more of a dream system. I found a spot in my house that was currently being used as just a sitting area. I was able to convince my wife that this was just wasted space (I worded it better than that!) and began my planning. My philosophy was changing as I realized that an large aquarium should be designed for the space it's in. The space should dictate the size and style of the aquarium. It is all too common for someone to go out and buy an aquarium and then come home and decide where to put it. I wanted to change that. I decided to do a custom rimless cube build. I had a local tank builder build the tank. I found a local hobbyists who also built furniture build me the stand which I designed myself. This tank was going to be a full walk-around, viewable from all four sides. The house was a modern 60's ranch that had been updated to current modern, clean-lined design and the tank needed to follow this aesthetic. After a lot of research and going back and forth I decided to do a corner overflow and the tank builder came up with this incredible design with a dry dock for Ecotech Vortech pumps. And a pipe for my lighting wires to go down and into the stand below. You can see pics of this setup here on AquaticLog and you will probably recognize it, as it later became the poster child for Ecotech Marine when they introduced their Radion LED lighting.
Sadly, after this tank had been running for a couple years, our family had grown by one with the arrival of our daughter. Kids change everything and we decided it was time to move to a larger house and neighborhood better suited to raising children. The cube was torn down and plans for the next tank began...
We found a new neighborhood and house plans that had a dining room that backed up to a 3 car garage. This gave me a great spot for the tank, and I could go back to having equipment in the garage? this time a full fledged "fish room". Of course I had to follow my tank design philosophy. The new house was going to be a bit more traditional. As such, this tank build would follow suit in appearance. I decided that the max size this room could handle and still be a functional dining room was about 200 gallons. The tank was purchased/custom ordered through my LFS to my specs with a coast-to-coast overflow and drilled for bean animal fail-safe plumbing. All sumps, frag tank, refugium are located in the garage. The only thing under the tank is the power supplies for my lighting and vortech pumps. I love having this space to work and not having to worry about water spills. After the tank was installed and running, sitting on a support stand build by the tank manufacturer, I had a custom cabinet builder come in and build white cabinetry around the tank, giving it a "built-in" look. I gave him my ideas and we went back and forth a bit before settling on the final design. I am thrilled with how it turned out. My goal all along was to make it look like the room was originally designed to have this aquarium in it and we succeeded.
Really all i want is to have a healthy, thriving tank that also looks like it was part of the house.
Currently (things are always changing in this hobby!) I have a large 150 gallon Rubbermaid sump which houses a lot of live rock and my 30" LifeReef skimmer. I also now have a display refugium with different types of macro algae and a little more live rock. The display tank itself has a large amount of live rock as well. So other than the skimmer, I rely mostly on biological filtration and daily automated water changes. In early January of this year I also removed the GFO from my system as I felt it was stripping the tank of too many nutrients. I do run carbon on and off (more on than off), and I also run some ozone to help break down organics.
Currently I dose liquid two-part via a Profilux Doser but will soon be switching to a calcium reactor. Cheaper in the long run and it will also add some minor trace elements not found in two-part mixes. I have also started experimenting with AcroPower from Two Little Fishies.
The display tank currently runs 4 Radion Pros and my lighting schedule can be found in my profile. I have an older generation one Radion over the frag tank and a 200w full spectrum daylight grow lamp over the refugium. I will soon try replacing the grow lamp with the gen 1 radion, and put a newer radion over the frag tank.
I have a Reeflo Barracuda Gold and I utilize a BeanAnimal drain system. This provides quite a bit of flow for the tank. Inside the tank I have two Ecotech Vortech MP60's and two MP40's. These are controlled via my GHL Profilux controller and run multiple programs throughout the day.
1) The skimmer cup gets emptied as needed, usually every few days.
2) The tank gets a ~3 gallon water change twice per day, every day via an Automatic Water Change setup run by my GHL Profilux controller.
3) I clean the glass every few days with an Algae Free magnet cleaner.
I mainly feed once per day. The bulk of my food is Larry's Reef Frenzy. It's super fresh and clean and provides food for most of the tank in fell swoop. I also try to supplement that with some Oyster Feast and/or Reef Chili for the coral and other filter feeders in the tank. The tangs also get some algae sheets on a magnetic algae clip almost daily, although they do spend a lot of time foresting amongst the live rock in the tank.
Nothing good comes fast in this hobby
Really try to think things through before proceeding. Do lots and lots of research. Search the internet for build threads and try to learn and mimic from those who have come before you.
If you don't succeed the first time, don't get discouraged? most of us have failed. Learn from it and move on.
Marineland Corner-Flo 90 Gallons saltwater aquarium measuring 48'' x 18'' x 24'' has been running for 4 years, 4 months.
I love this hobby because of the challenges it poses. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to what works for one might or might not work for another tank. Dealing with environmental influences, dedication, husbandry, and a hunger to learn and then a willingness to apply the knowledge are all requirements to become successful. Being humble enough to admit your shortcomings and to bend enough to make changes are paramount to attain your goals.
In December 2016 I started up my present system is a peninsula configuration consisting of a 90 gallon Marineland Corner-Flo main display on an oak cabinet with a cherry finish on one side and white on the other. My husband and I heavily customized it to fit our needs. The system also includes a Trigger Systems Crystal 30 gallon sump. It's actually my first plumbed set-up. (I'm a slow mover.) lol :) It's a mixed reef including several fish, a wide variety of corals & frags, including softies, LPS, a Carpet Anemone, shrimp, snails, crabs, a Derasa Clam and I'm slowly learning how to house my 1st SPS's and sticks.
I started in this hobby before I even started going to school when a little orange fellow named Jerome came into my life. With a single, lucky ping-pong ball landing in that small, but magical fish bowl at the local carnival, and taking Jerome home with me, I was bitten by the bug. I've gone through the various routes of freshwater tropicals, planted tanks, african cichlids, a mated pair of Oscars which broke my heart when I was unsuccessful at curing the female's hole-in-the-head disease and when I lost her, the male absolutely refused to eat. Watching him waste away was what almost forced me out of the hobby.
Living in a rural locale, there are no reef clubs, local saltwater fish stores, or for that matter, anyone I know that has a reef tank or has any knowledge on saltwater aquariums. Then I started reading, observing, asking questions at the closest fish store (which is an hour from home) and eventually joined forums and Facebook groups to see if salt water might be a more suitable fit for me. So, 20 years ago I started my first 30 gallon salt water tank and I believe I made every rookie mistake there was to be made.
First and foremost I want to be able to answer the hobby's newbies' questions and rest assured that I am helping someone avoid the same traps, mistakes and pitfalls that I've experienced. I love the beauty and grace of a sparkling aquarium that's well-lit, has plenty of flow and houses a variety of healthy, well cared for inhabitants. I take great pride in my accomplishment and fully appreciate all the cost, time, energy and work I've poured into it.
Really, I only use a very simple filtration system that consists of a corner overflow from the 90 gallon display tank. It's controlled by a 1 1/4" adjustable bulkhead/gate valve and rigid PVC plumbing. This empties into a 30 gallon Trigger Systems Crystal 30 sump which houses in the 1st chamber, a felt filter sock and the system's LCD thermometer probe as well as the heater. I also placed some small reef rocks and rubble as well as a couple thousand amphipods and copepods in there a few times in order to help seed the system with live food. In the 2nd chamber there's an Octopus Classic 150SSS space saving protein skimmer. From there, the water leads through a two level, narrow channel that can have a variety of uses such as holding filter bags, bubble destroying sponges, probes, etc. I use it for charcoal filter bags, a bag of Seachem SeaGel and a grounding probe to help eliminate stray electrical current in the entire system. In the final chamber is where the (super quiet) Sicce Syncra 3.0 - 714 gph return pump is located. I have that attached to a very flexible, soft silicone hose and another easily adjustable 3/4" gate valve (which we attached to the inside wall of the cabinet to offer it some stability) leading through rigid PVC plumbing/bulkhead and back into the tank with a 'Y' that are independently directionally adjustable to point in almost any configuration I might want.
I use the Jebao Auto Dosing Pump DP-4 to dose Calcium and Alkalinity. In recent weeks I've started adding NO3:PO4-X daily to try to get a handle on the Nitrates and Phosphates that have been plaguing me for weeks and steadily climbing to levels that are genuinely alarming to me. When I do my regular water changes I use API Buffer 8.2 to bring my newly mixed water pH up to acceptable levels and it really helps to hold it up until the next water change, weeks down the line. At the same time, I add Instant Ocean Calcium Booster in order to bring the Calcium up to where it should be prior to adding it to the tank. I also add Seachem Prime to aid in the biological filtration when I change water.
The lights I have are the one area I want to make improvements on. What I have are filling the bill, but just don't seem to be giving me the 'pop of color' I've seen in photos of others' set-ups. Currently I have a Coralife Aqualight HO T5 Dual Lamp set-up along with a Current USA LED system with a controller and remote. I really enjoy the different options available with the LED's. It's the color of the T5 bulbs I believe I'm going to play around with some when it comes time to replace them. I wish I had the option to have more than 2 tubes in the fixture, but I'll put up with it until come up with the funds for a new lighting system.
For flow and circulation I use 2 Hydor Koralia 3G Third Generation 1950 gph Circulation & Wave pumps and controller system. The only thing I wish I'd have done different is to go with the 2450 gph models for a little extra movement, but what I have is sufficient. I also added a Hydor Koralia EVO 750 pump independently simpy to hit a dead spot that the other two pumps couldn't reach. I have the wave pumps positioned at opposite ends of the tank, one aimed toward the upper front of the tank, the other shooting toward a lower area of the front, bouncing the current off the front glass. The independent pump is low on the back side aimed high toward the overflow.
My routine maintenance is kind of spread out, a little done each day so it's not so overwhelming to do all at once. Daily I swipe the magnetic glass cleaner along all 4 sides to prevent any coralline algae from forming on the glass. While I'm at it, I remove the protein skimmer cup, empty the scum out of it and clean the inside before placing it back on the skimmer. I track the water temperature at least once a day. It's a habit that I developed years ago on a freshwater tank when I had a heater 'stick' and almost boiled the water before I realized it had happened. So, after having been 'burned' once, I have become a bit OCD when it comes to keeping an eye on the temp. I guess a temperature monitor might be in store yet. While I'm doing water changes I spend all day processing RO/DI water into recycled juice, tea or milk jugs. Not having an auto top-off system means I always have to have on hand the top-off water and enough water to do a water change in case of an emergency. The TDS meter is used every week when I process RO/DI water. A mesh bag of SeaGel gets changed every 6 weeks to 2 months, dependant upon results of water parameter tests. I use a 200 micron felt filter sock in the sump that the overflow empties into. It helps polish the water considerably. Lately I've been changing it twice/week. My nitrates have been running on the high side, even after doing a water change, so getting to the root of the nitrate factory has been my mission of late. I use charcoal in a couple filter bags placed in the sump. Those get replaced every month. Every Thursday I remove the glass canopies and clean them in the kitchen sink with hot water. This is when I wipe off the lenses of the lights. Every 3 months I remove the power heads, their vented covers and impellers and soak everything in bowls of vinegar. It really helps extend the life of the pumps by removing the buildup of coralline algae from them and the impellers. And it allows you the opportunity to examine any wear that might be present on the impellers. And lastly I take an afternoon each week to run a thorough set of water parameter tests and then make adjustments according to the results of the tests.
I try to tune my water parameters within limits rather than to pinpoint each and every one to a specific number. Salinity, temperature & pH are the 3 I attempt to keep consistent. Naturally, Ammonia & Nitrites should be at zero and TDS & Phosphates should be held as low as possible in most circumstances. Alkalinity, Nitrates and Calcium are held within limits and dosed accordingly.
The fish I house are a mated pair of Snowflake Clownfish, a red Firefish, 2 spotted Cardinalfish (PJ Cardinals), a Bangai Cardinal, a Flame Hawkfish, a Neon Dottyback, a Red Parrot Fairy Wrasse, a Yellow Tang, a Starry Blenny, a Coral Beauty Angelfish and a Potter's Angelfish.
Corals I presently have collected and attempting to grow are as follows: 5 various Acroporas, a Multicolored Symphyllia, a couple chalices, a tiny piece of a green Birdsnest, a Blasto Merletti, various Mushrooms, Blue Sympodium, a Red Tree Sponge, a green Branching Hammer as well as a green Wall Hammer, a Cabbage Leather, Toadstool Leather, Devil's Hand Leather, a long polyp Leather, Spaghetti Leather, Clove Polyps, Cinnamon Paly Grandis, a red Cluster Duster, a Crater Coral, a Green Bubble, a Dome Open Brain, a Duncan, a small Elegance, a pink as well as a tan Feather Duster, Branched Frogspawn, Green Aussie Litho, Green Alveopora, Green Candy Cane, Green Goniopora, Green Grande Paly, Metallic Green Aussie Open Brain, a red and a green Monti, Green Porites, Green Star Polyps, various Palys & Zoas, Acans, Micromussas, Neon Green Favia, Neon Maze, Galaxea, Orange Psammocora, an orange Scoly, green Pagoda Cup, Pavona, Pineapple Brain, Pipe Organs, Pulsing Xenia, Red Tooth, Red War, Orange Rainbow Ricordia, Brown Snake Polyps, Various Torches, Ultra Aussie Lobo, Yellow Polyps, Lightning-tip Leptastrea, Jason Fox Copperhead Cyphastrea, Favias, Miami Hurricane Chalice, UC Super Bright Rainbow Echinata, Orange eye Green Psammocora, etc.
Currently a few of the Invertebrates are a Derasa Clam, Coral Banded Shrimp (with one claw), Camel Shrimp, Peppermint Shrimp, a carpet anemone, a variety of crabs & snails and a pink and a tan feather duster.
I'm in the midst of fighting an uphill battle against high nitrates, so the feeding plan is on the light side these days. Every other day they get Omega One First Flakes or Fluval Multi Protein Flakes.
On the other days they get a combination of Mysis & Brine Shrimp, and one of the following: Phyto-Plankton, Spirulina, Cyclops, Plankton, Squid, Reef Blend or Marine A Pellets.
The Carpet Anemone and Banded Shrimp each get a couple large frozen Krill.
Once a week I add in one of these: Coral Frenzy, PhytoChrom, Micro-Vert, Reef Bugs or Phyto Feast. It depends on the mood of the day and a flip of a coin sometimes.
If there is a single theme throughout this hobby it would be to encourage anyone just starting out to have patience and really think through the project or process thoroughly ahead of time to avoid pitfalls and possible disasters. You should learn as much as you can by any means available. Testing your water parameters and tracking them can help to fend off problems and to realize trends.
Paramount to success = Sit back and Enjoy your hard work, time & money well spent and energy applied.
You can do this! Have faith.
The main disaster I wish I could have avoided was when I set up a 50 gallon aquarium on my bar in the kitchen. It wasn't plumbed. It had a hang-on back overflow system that emptied into the sump below. I swear over the many years I had it, I had more water on my floor than I ever care to talk about. The tank overflowed time & time & time again.
But, long story short, I guess it really turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The entire kitchen floor had to be replaced. It was completely ruined after the years of repeated water damage. So my husband & I decided that if we were going to the trouble of tearing up the floor and replacing the plywood that the entire kitchen was getting a make-over. It had taken a lot of wear & tear over the 40 years that we've been here.
I wanted a new and larger aquarium & stand to set up as a peninsula with a new kitchen cabinet with a drawer beside the stand to house equipment and to serve as an electrical center to run all my cords to. I figured that way the water and electrical end of things would be in different environments. The peninsula/kitchen cabinet would divide the kitchen from the living room since the bar that was currently dividing the rooms was getting torn out as well. And, while we're at it, why not enlarge the size of the kitchen (shrinking the living room a tad) and get a new clawfoot kitchen table & chairs! Yes, we went for the entire ball of wax for the project.
So, October 2016 we ordered all new kitchen cupboards, new flooring, countertops, dishwasher, sink, faucet, lighting, paint and wall tiles. while we awaited delivery of the cabinets, we replaced the floor and rewired the electricity and installed new receptacles. We did a lot of homework as to the different dimensions & footprints of differing aquariums/stands and took a lot of measurements which basically determined all on its own what size tank we'd wind up with. I ordered the 90 gallon pre-drilled corner-flo tank and oak aquarium stand through a local pet shop I've dealt with for a long time. He always orders me what I ask for and only adds 5% on top of his cost. He also ordered the glass canopies and T-5 HO Dual Lamp fixture. (In retrospect I wish now that I had bought the 4 bulb system. Oh well, next time). Once we got all that we commenced on the customization of the stand by adding doors to the backside which had been originally designed to be totally open. Then we added wood trim and painted it white to match the kitchen cabinets. The other side (front side) that faced the living room was finished in cherry which matched the end tables perfectly. Then we installed the kitchen cabinet that the aquarium stand would butt up against, drilled holes in the adjoining ends to pass electrical cords through and then ran the aquarium plumbing and installed the sump.
December 13 we started to fill the tank and away we went. The rest as they say, "Is History!"
First & foremost I have to thank my husband for allowing me the freedom to do this my way and to call it mine. Without you this would be nothing more than a pipe dream. Oh, and for paying for the majority of it too. Haha, how could I forget that part!?
Forums like Reef2Reef and Reef Central,
Facebook groups like High Tide Coral Auctions,
Q&A, DIY, for the NEW and Seasoned Saltwater/Reef Hobbyist,
Saltwater Aquarium & Reefkeepers
Coral Reef Guide for Noobs to Experts
great suppliers like Bulk Reef Supply,
That Fish Place,
Drs. Foster & Smith,
Aquarium Water Filters,
Steckley's Pet Center,
I couldn't have done any of this without all the above. And the story lives on...