I would first like to thank WAMAS and the TOTM committee for this honor. I would also like to thank WAMAS members Eric (Epleeds), Issac (YHSublime), Matt (Mattiejay6), and Marcos (Monkiboy) for all the help over the years with corals, equipment, fish and general support. I got into this hobby roughly 4 years ago after many years of keeping planted freshwater aquariums and quickly realized how much I loved it. My first tank was a 120g aquarium and 30g sump I bought used from a guy on craigslist. I kept that tank for almost 3 years while living in a small condo in Oakton, VA. When we moved to Warrenton, VA the tank started to leak and I decided to upgrade. I bought my current tank from Issac when he decided to move it out of his apartment and added the sump and refugium to the system. My current tank has been set up for 1.5 years at the time of this TOTM.
My reef tank is a DSA 105 gallon DT (48”x24”x22”) that sits in our family room on a metal frame stand. It has a 30 gallon acrylic sump and a 150 gallon refugium that sit in our utility room on the opposite side of the wall from the display tank. Zoas and LPS make up the majority of the coral in the tank, with a few easy to keep monti caps mixed in.
Two Vortech MP40QD pumps controlled by my Apex are the primary water movers with an Eheim 1262 as my return pump.
My main lighting unit is an 8x54w 48” ATI SunPower with 2 ATI Actinic bulbs, 4 ATI Blue+ bulbs, and 2 ATI Coral+ bulbs. I added a Reefbrite 48” XHO blue LED light for supplemental lighting. Over the years I’ve had metal halides, LEDs, and now T5s. I personally think the best balance of growth and color for the corals I keep comes from T5s with LED supplemental lighting. I like to run a lot of blue color and very little red because the corals I keep are generally collected from a water depth that filters out the red color spectrum and allows the blue end of the spectrum through.
My filtration starts with a 30g acrylic sump that holds my skimmer, Marinepure ceramic plate media, and my Apex probes. I do not use filter socks at all. This sump overflows into a 150g Rubbermaid stock tank. This stock tank is bare bottom and holds my heaters, return pump, and ATO float switch. The primary purpose of the stock tank is as a refugium and is full of macro algae. I find that I don’t need to run my GFO very often if at all with this setup, and at night my PH only drops from 8.28 to 8.21.
I do not currently add any supplements to the tank. In the past I have supplemented with kalkwasser mixed in my ATO.
Zoas and euphyllias make up the bulk of the coral in my tank. I love my two Aussie elegance corals, and along with my hammer corals these form the center of my tank. The rockwork is slowly being covered by zoas and I continue to add new zoas to the ever-growing garden. My Gold Nugget Maroon x Super Gold Rush Maroon clownfish pair with their hosted RBTA are my favorite things in the entire tank. I find myself watching them for long periods of time while sitting in front of my tank. The hope was that the maroons would host the red carpet anemone, but they refused so I added the RBTA which they host vigorously. The wrasses, yellow tang, flame angel, and Burgessi add a lot of movement and color to the tank and are a joy to watch.
I feed once a day, alternating between frozen food and dry food. I like to mix LRS Reef Frenzy with PE Mysis on the days I feed frozen food and Ocean Nutrition Formula Two with Nori on days in between.
The biggest challenge I have faced over the years is my lack of patience. Skipping quarantine on a new fish or making big changes to the system without thinking it out first has always gotten me into trouble and has cost me a lot of time and money over the years.
My future plans for this tank include an upgrade to the system’s plumbing to make the overall system more efficient, and to build a wood cover to hide the metal stand.
There is always something new to learn or see in reef keeping. Always a new challenge and always a few difficulties. Life always seems to get in the way of the things we really love to do. The goal is to find that sweet spot so you can continue to do and enjoy the things you love, while still facing the challenges life throws at you.
- Display: 105 DSA Rimless
- Sump: 30g acrylic sump
- Refugium: & 150g stock tank
- Skimmer: RO Regal 200-Int
- Lighting: 8x54w ATI & 48” Blue Reefbrite XHO
- Return Pump: Eheim 1262
- Circulation: 2x Vortech MP40QD
- Controller: Apex
- Reactor: GFO
- Salinity: 1.024
- Temperature: 77°F
- Alkalinity: 9 dkH
- pH: 8.3
- 0700 - Actinic On
- 0900 - Main On
- 1730 - Reefbrite On
- 1900 - Main Off
- 2000 - Actinic & Reefbrite Off
- Gold nugget maroon x super gold rush maroon pair
- Burgessi butterfly
- Flame angel
- Yellow tang
- Yellow coris wrasse
- Yellow dottyback
- Flame hawk
- Pair of Hoeven’s wrasses
- Lawnmower blenny
- Blue/green chromis
- Aussie elegance corals
- WWC golden eye chalice colony
- Green bubble coral
- Aussie gold hammer
- Jedi mind trick monti cap colony
- Blue ridge coral colony
- Duncan colony
- Various mushrooms
- Various monti caps
- Many zoas and palys