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WAMAS Tank of the Month


Tank Of The Month

July 2007

Craig Kuhn

Craig, congratulations on being selected TOTM for July.

About the Tank



Tank Specs
  • 215 g Oceanic Reef Ready (Main)
  • 70 g stock tank (Frag/Refugium)
  • Deltec AP 702 protein skimmer
  • 40 watt Current USA UV light
  • Geo calcium reactor
  • Deltec Kalk stirrer KM 500
  • 2 x Tunze 6100's
  • Sequence Dart pump on closed loop
  • Oceans Motions 4-way
  • 2 x 3/4" Sea-swirls
  • 3 x 400 w 14 k Ushio bulbs
    - IceCap Inc. ballasts
  • 2 x 160 w VHO actinics
    - Ice Cap ballasts
  • 150 w 20 Radium bulb (Stock Tank)
  • Neptune AquaController III

How long have you been doing this?

I set up my first saltwater tank in October of 2000. I grew up with a fresh water tank in the house and probably from around age 14 on, I was in charge of cleaning the tank.

Who got you into the hobby?

I got myself into the hobby. During my law school years up in Lansing, Michigan, I set up a 29 gallon fresh water tank in my apartment. One of the local shops in Lansing that I purchased fish from had a saltwater section. Every time I would go to that store I would spend 30 or more minutes looking at all the fish and corals. I always said some day when I have a job, I'll get into keeping saltwater fish.

When I moved to the DC area and got a job, I looked in the phone book and saw that Marine Scene was only 5 minutes from my house. I went over there and started talking to Tom, the shop owner. In his guidance for me as a new person to saltwater, he recommended I read John Tullock's “Natural Reef Aquarium" book before I buy anything. Looking back, I would say that was some of the best advice I got as a newbie. Although the book is a little dated compared to today's new improvements in lighting and filtration technology, I still think it's one of the bedrock foundation books all hobbyists should read.

A few months after getting the book and repeatedly reading it, I finally bought a 125 gallon tank with the initial thought to do a real basic fish only with live rock tank. From there I slowly progressed into the hobby, by that I mean I first started out with shrooms and other LPS and leather corals.

How did you get involved in WAMAS

In early 2001 I started searching the internet for coral reef information and came across reefs.org website. After a few months of being a reef.org member, I read a post about a WAMAS meeting at one of the local stores. I went to that meeting at the Reef Tank and there was maybe 20 other people there. At the meeting I met Michael Gerdes, Tom Sasala, and Glenn Rosenbluth, the founders of WAMAS. I had a lot of energy and wanted to promote the club and the people running the club at the time asked if I wanted to take care of the membership duties. I was glad to help.

Who in the hobby most influences you?

    Large and dwarf angels
  • 1 Euxiphipops Navarchus Blue Girdled / Majestic Angelfish
  • 1 Pomacanthus Imperator Imperator / Emperor Angelfish
  • 1 Centropyge Loriculus Flame Angelfish
  • 1 Centropyge Potteri Potter's Pygmy Angelfish

  • 1 Pseudocheilinus ocellatus Mystery Wrasse
  • 1 Cirrhilabrus rhomboidalis Rhomboid Golden Fairy Wrasse
  • 1 Macropharyngodon geoffroyi Potter's Wrasse

  • 3 Pseudanthias Squamipinnis Lyretail Anthias / Scalefin Anthias
  • 3 Pseudanthias Bimaculatus Bimaculatus Anthias / Twospot or Twinspot Anthias

  • 1 Zanclus Canescens Moorish Idol

  • 1 Acanthurus Coeruleus Atlantic Blue Tang
  • 1 Zebrasoma Xanthurum Purple Tang
  • 3 Zebrasoma Flavescens Yellow Hawaiian Tang
  • 1 Paracanthurus Hepatus Regal Tang
  • 1 Acanthurus japonicus Powder Brown Tang 1

  • 2 Amphiprion Ocellaris Ocellaris Clownfish / False Percula Clownfish
  • 1 Nemateleotris Decora Purple Firefish
  • 2 Synchiropus Splendidus Green Mandarin (mated pair)
  • 1 Pseudochromis fridmani Fridmani Pseudochromis / Orchid Dottyback
  • 1 Chrysiptera Parasema Yellowtail Damsel
  • 2 Apogon leptacanthus Glass Cardinal/Bluestreak Cardinal

For me it is Bruce Carlson hands down. He is one of the pioneers of modern reef keeping. It was a great joy to actually have him at my house in the past. He taught me how to sex yellow tangs (look for yellow whiskers right in front of their white barb/sabre). I only wish I would have had the smarts to take a picture of him next to my tank. On the non-professional side, it's John Coppolino aka "Copps." There are few people in the hobby who are more passionate than John. John has taught me a lot about corals and fish and thanks to this club, I was able to meet him and many other great people who share a similar passion about corals and fish.

Tank setup and equipment:

The tank is a 215 gallon Oceanic reef ready tank with a starphire glass front. The overflows flow through the wall to a sump in the back room. I also have a 70 gallon rubbermaid stock tank hooked into the system which serves as a frag tank and refugium. The tank is protected by a Deltec AP 702 protein skimmer and a 40 watt Current USA UV light. For calcium addition, I have a Geo calcium reactor and a Deltec Kalk stirrer KM 500 for the Nielsen reactor. Circulation is provided by two Tunze 6100's and a Sequence Dart pump is connected to a closed loop which includes an Oceans Motions 4-way water flow device. In addition, the sump returns through two 3/4 inch Sea-swirls.

Lighting is provided by three 400 watt 14 k Ushio bulbs on IceCap electronic ballasts supplemented by two 160 watt VHO actinics run on IceCap ballasts on the display. On the stock tank there is a 150 watt 20 Radium bulb.

I recently added a Neptune AquaController III to my system which controls lights, chiller, pumps and numerous other devices in addition to its ability to chart PH, ORP and Temp.

What is your maintenance schedule like?

I try to do a 32 gallon water change every 7-10 days. On a good day it can be done in about 20 minutes. My method involves using a Mag 24 pump to pump out most of water in sump. Then I use a python syphon hose to suck out the detritus from the sump. After that I pump in new water and turn pumps back on.

Daily maintenance involves checking all pumps and parameters the aqua controller monitors. Some days I add B-Ionic to supplement calcium usage by the corals.

Feeding - at 7:00 AM when the LED moonlights are on, I toss in some Dainichi pellet food. In the evening I feed frozen mysis and brine shrimp and add two sheets of dried nori. Some nights I also feed flake food, but that is a random event.
Testing - I try to test the water every week to ten days. My main focus is Alkalinity. You can tell a lot about your tank just knowing your alkalinity. PH is monitored constatly by the aqua controller

What are your future plans for improvement/upgrade of the tank?

Add a few more rare sps that I can either trade for or buy from some of the local members. Outside of that, just try to keep things stable and healthy.

What makes your setup special or unique?

I have a hard time answering this. There are so many things in my tank that I find cool or special. If I have to say one thing, it would have to be the idol. It's one of those fish that few people have been able to keep for more than 6 months for what ever reason. I've had mine since January of 2006.

Do you feel you have too many fish?

By the books, I would say yes, I probably have to many fish. However, the tank has been running pretty much that way since last March and I really haven't seen any signs of stress in the fish. I'm not saying everyone should go out and stock their tank to this level. I do consider myself more advanced than the average hobbyist and take grate pride and care to provide the best for my fish. I also firmly believe I couldn't have this success if I wasn't running a great skimmer like the Deltec I have, or running a UV light 24/7.

What have enjoyed most about being President of wamas? Least?

The thing I enjoy most about being WAMAS President is that I get to be one of the main leaders of the club in setting the agenda and path the club takes for it's community work. Granted the other officers contribute a tremendous amount to the club and the club wouldn't be as great as it is if I or any president didn't have great people volunteering their time to get the work done. Hopefully when we all look back in a year or two, the membership will be happy with my idea to have the club sponsor a tank at the National Aquarium in DC.

The least enjoyable time for me as President is having to deal with membership disputes on our online discussion forums.

  • Tridacna squamosa
  • Tridacna gigas
  • Tridacna maxima
  • Hermit crabs
  • Astrea & Trochus snails
  • Conchs & Sea Cucumbers
  • Urchins
  • Bubble Tip Anemone
  • Brittle Starfish
  • Cleaner Shrimp

What would you have done differently with the tank if you could change?

I wish I would have kept the pair of black percula clownfish I had instead of listening to my wife and keeping the false percula pair.  But on the other hand, the pair we decided to keep were the original clowns I got in 2001 so it balanced out in the end. Other than that I'm really happy with the tank.

What are your other hobbies?

I have some electric train sets that I play with on occasion. I also play Ultima Online computer game. WAMAS activities take up a large portion of my time daily and doesn't leave much time to do other things except catch a few episodes of American Chopper or Deadliest Catch when I'm not doing fun family things.

What kind of music are you into right now?

Mostly country. Still have the rock days when I'll listen to some classic rock.

Who would you most like to meet past present or future?

Brett Farve. There are a lot of people in the public eye that I look up to or admire what they do in life. For me, watching Brett is inspirational. Granted I only played division III football, but I think I have a sense of what it takes to compete on a high level, especially since I won a national title while at Allegheny. Seeing Brett go out there year after year is something special and meeting him would be way cool.

If you could go one place on earth where would it be?

Fiji. After watching the Coral Reef Adventure movie a few times, it sure looks like it would be a great place to go visit - as long as I get certified to dive before I go.

Why did you choose the screen name you did?

I went to Allegheny College in Meadville, PA. Our school mascot was the Gators. During a visit to Florida in my college years I saw a T shirt that had a Gatortailale logo on it and I bought it. When I joined the forums, I thought it would be better to pick an user name that would be unique. If I had to do it over, I probably would just go with Kuhndog.

What is the last book you read?

Outside the reef & hobby books I have read, it would have to be “The Effective Executive."

Football or basketball?

You have to ask - Football of course.

Scotch or burbon?


In closing, I just want to say thank you to my wife Kim and my daughter Haley.  I'm very grateful to my wife and daughter for putting up with me and my hobby and tolerating all the time I spend with the tank.  It's rewarding to see their excitement when they spot something new or when my daughter helps me feed the fish.  

Thanks for showing all of us your setup and again congratulations on being chosen TOTM.