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WAMAS Tank of the Month

John Hess (madmax7774)

Congratulations to you John, on being selected tank of the month.

About the Tank

  • 1 Yellow Tang
  • 1 Desjardin Tang
  • 3 Clowns
  • 1 Lyretail Anthias
  • 1 Chrysurus Angel
  • 1 Bengai Cardinal
  • 1 Potters Angel

Experience in hobby

How long have you been doing this?

A little over two years. I started in 2005. Somehow, I got into a deal where I traded my IPOD for a 75g acrylic reef ready tank, no stand, nothing else. There was a steep learning curve after that realizing that I needed lights, and skimmer, and everything else.

Who got you into the hobby?

That IPOD trade with some guy from Craig's List. I've learned a lot from guys like Dan Lichens and John Bianchi at BRK. Bruce York has taught me a lot.

Who in the hobby most influences you?

John Bianchi is the biggest influence, and Bruce York is a close second. Bruce has spectacular results with homemade equipment everywhere he can. I was really impressed with what he does.

Tank setup and equipment

I built the shelf unit around an all glass reef ready 110g Tall which is 48" wide, 18" deep, and 30" height. Grey Seas Aquatics Sump with a built in refugium, Grey Seas Aquatics Kalk Stirrer, Deltec AP851 Skimmer, RO/DI and a 1/3 hp chiller. 120lbs live rock, Southdown sand seeded with sand from old tank and a jar of sand from Puerto Rico. All the equipment is controlled by an Aquacontroller III.

  • Frogspawn
  • Bubble Coral

  • Various Digitatas
  • Various Capricornis
  • Green Pocillopora
  • Green Hydnophora
  • Pink Pocillopora
  • Rose Millipora
  • Blue Tort
  • Green Birdsnest
  • Bottlebrush

  • Purple Mushrooms
  • Leather Umbrella
  • Green Sinularia

What is your maintenance schedule like?

I clean the glass frequently. I empty the skimmer every week. I am very faithful about doing water changes. I do 15 gallons every two weeks. You have to do water changes, or it just doesn't work. I change the carbon about every month or two. I take the skimmer out and clean it every 6 months.

What brand salt do you use?

I started with Reef Crystals. But I'm switching to regular Instant Ocean. I thought RC would be better, but I don't think it has made a difference. So, I'm going to try regular IO.

What do you feed your fish and or corals?

Lot's of frozen food. Mysis shrimp, Rod's Reef food, Frozen cubes, Cyclopeze, Phytoplankton, and whole mussels. Sheets of Nori and Dinichi pellets. I mix it up and feed them probably every other day. I try to feed every day, but I don't always get to it.

How do you maintain calcium/alkalinity?

I have a Grey Seas Aquatics Kalk Stirrer to maintain Calcium. Bruce York introduced me to the Randy Holmes-Farley 2-part (recipe #2) so I use the alkalinity component, and the magnesium component to keep my levels stable.

Do you dose anything? If so, how much, how often?

I dose the RHF 2 part (recipe #2) alkalinity component with my AC3 and an aquamedic sp3000 pump for consistency. I also dose the RHF 2 part (recipe #2) magnesium component on an as needed basis by hand.

Do you use vitamins or amino acids?

Selcon and Brightwell Aquatics Coral Amino Acids I got from John at BRK. Since I've started using the Coral Amino Acids, several corals have just burst with color. It's amazing…

What type of lighting do you have and what schedule do you have them on?

It's a DYI setup with Ushio 10K 250w MH bulbs w/ARO ballasts. There are also 2 VHO 110w actinic bulbs with ARO ballast. It's all controlled by the AquaController III. The actinics come on around 10:00am. The Metal Halides come on about an 45 minutes later. The MHs turn off around 8:00pm and the actinics turn off around an hour after that. It's a total of about 11 hours.

Where do you keep your water parameters?

Temp: 79-80, Salinity: 1.026, Magnesium: 1400, Alkalinity: 10 (dKh), Calcium: 400+

Do you have any tricks or methods to keep your water parameters where you have them?

Consistent water changes, the refugium, and over skimming. I'm a huge fan of over skimmer. And water changes are so important. The 1/3 hp chiller and titanium heater keep the temperature consistent.

What kind of water flow do you have? How do you accomplish it?

I think I have a lot of water flow. There are two (2) Tunze 6045 Streams, and three (3) MaxiJet 1200s, one with a sure grip 1600 mod, and the gen-x 6000 return pump. The 3 MaxiJets are controlled by a red seas Wavemaker for random flow.

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

Only to add more automated systems for things like dosing additives to reduce maintenance. This is the perfect tank for this house, especially the way the custom shelves have been built around it.

What makes your setup special or unique?

The 2 most unique things about my tank setup are the whole custom built stand/shelf system around it, and the fact that I added live sand that I got from a reef off the coast of Puerto Rico while on vacation. I will be adding more live sand from off the coast of South Carolina shortly when a friend of mine returns from vacation.

If you had to start from scratch, would you do anything different?

Get a bigger, deeper, 8' tank with a full length wier style overflow, and setup a closed loop. I would also have everything plumbed externally to the tank and sump, because getting that skimmer in and out is a massive project. I literally have to take everything out of the sump and then take the skimmer apart while still in the sump.


What are your other hobbies?

Computers, target/skeet shooting, and Flying. I love airplanes.

What kind of music are you into right now?

I'm a Pink Floyd guy.

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

I'd like to have a beer with Chuck Yeager and ask him about his flying exploits and breaking the sound barrier.

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

Egypt, I would like to see the Pyramids.

Why did you choose the screen name you did?

I have a long and colorful driving history. I was a really bad driver when I was younger. Mad Max comes from the movie. When I needed a screen name for a website, I tried MadMax, but it was taken, so I added by PIN number to the end.

What is the last book you read?

It was a science fiction book. I can't remember the name, but it was cool.

Football or basketball?

Football, definitely football.

  • Blue Linkia Starfish
  • Black Spiny Urchin
  • Red Button Tip Anemone

Scotch or burbon?

Amaretto Sour!

Do you have any advice for those folks whom are new to the hobby.

1. Do a lot of reading. Read as much as you can before you start.
2. Frequent and consistent water changes. Water changes can fix most of your problems.

Things I wish I knew 6 years ago:

I wish I knew that Deltec skimmers were worth the extra money, because they are stupidly expensive. I started with cheap skimmers. I have purchased many skimmers along the way. I kept upgrading until I got this Deltec. I could have purchased two Deltecs with the money that I have spent on all the other Skimmers.