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WAMAS Tank of the Month

Almon Packard (Almon)

Congratulations Almon, on being selected tank of the month.

About the Tank

  • Purple Gorgonian
  • Umbrella Leather
  • Various Zoanthids
  • Various Montipora Capricorns
  • Heliopora (Blue Ridge)
  • Hydnophora
  • Red Pocillopora
  • Pink Pocillopora
  • Green Millepora
  • Blue Millepora
  • Cephastria Decadia
  • Teal Sarmentosa
  • Green Tort
  • Blue Tort
  • Purple Bonzai

Experience in hobby

How long have you been doing this?

I started a 55g freshwater tank in 1986. I graduated to a 55g saltwater in 1990 and began my first reef (220g) in 1999.

Who got you into the hobby?

A friend was moving in 1986 and didn't have room for his 55g. He asked me to "Hold on" to it until he had time for it again. That's when I started my first freshwater tank.

Who in the hobby most influences you?

In the past two years, it's been the WAMAS membership. Before that, I was on my own…

Tank setup and equipment

This is a Mixed Reef, 220 gallons (72"x24"x30") All-Glass aquarium, not drilled. This is my first reef tank started in 1999 and it's now almost 10 years old without any major incidents. I've had the Blue Tang since 1995; the large Clarkii Clownfish since 1997; and I've had the Yellow Eye Kole Tang since the start of the reef in 1999.

• 220g tank w/sump
• Auto top-off GSA Kalk Stirrer
• EuroReef RS-180 Skimmer
• Little Giant return pump w/Batter Backup UPS
• A few additional power heads
• Blueline Ballasts w/3 x 250w XM 10K metal halides
• Icap 430 Ballast w/2 x 96w 460nm Actinic power compacts
• 3 Stage RO/DI Filter

Many of the corals I've had for quite a while like the Hydnophora, Umbrella Leather, Gorgonian, and Orange Monti Cap. I still have a few frags of a Heliopora that I grew from a 1" frag to an enormous size castle-like colony that has been donated to the National Aquarium in Washington D.C. I have added many new corals SPS in the past two years. I keep a simple system without complex equipment; just lights, pumps, a skimmer, and an auto top-off Kalk stirrer using RO/DI filtered water.

  • Blue Hippo Tang
  • Yellow Eye Kole Tang
  • Tennenti Tang
  • Copperband Butterfly
  • Clarkii Clownfish (2)
  • Arabian Dottyback
  • Lawnmower Blenny
  • Flame Hawk

What is your maintenance schedule like?

• I add fresh Kalk twice a week
• I perform 50g water changes every 2 or 3 weeks.
• I change the lights every 12-18 months
• I vacuum some of the gravel every few years
• I constantly clean the glass… ugghhh!
• I empty the skimmer cup 2 or 3 times a week, clean the skimmer cup every week or two using a high pressure water hose, and clean the entire skimmer twice a year

What brand salt do you use??

Instant Ocean

What do you feed your fish and or corals?

I normally provide two feedings a day. I feed the fish mostly frozen foods like Mysis shrimp, Brine shrimp, and homemade food containing a wide variety of seafoods. Sometimes I feed the frozen cubes and I also add Julian Sprung's Sea Veggies for the tangs. These fish are fat and happy. I do not feed the corals.

How do you maintain calcium/alkalinity?

A Kalk stirrer is used to replace all evaporated water using auto top-off. I also add Seachem Reef Builder and Seachem Reef Calcium as needed. Magnesium is supplemented by a recipe I use from Phil (grav). It is a diluted version of RHF's third part.

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

No, that's it. Nothing else…

Do you use vitamins or amino acids?

No. I've never used anything like that.

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

I have a Hamilton hood, but I have replaced the ballasts with Blueline and IceCap. The hood contains 3 x 250w XM 10K Metal Halide bulbs and two 96w 460nm actinic compact fluorescents. I have a very long photo period.
• Actinic bulbs 6:30am - 9:30pm (15 hours)
• Metal Halide bulbs 8:00am - 8:00pm (12 hours)

Where do you keep your water parameters?

I regularly test only for Calcium and Alkalinity; and of course specific gravity during water changes.
• SG: 1.024 - 1.025
• Ca: above 400
• Alk: above 8

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

Water changes of sufficient size and frequency. I adjust the specific gravity during water changes if necessary, but the auto top-off keeps that fairly consistent. I test for Ca and Alk and add supplements as needed to keep their levels up.

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

I would consider it to be medium to mild flow. The return pump (Little Giant) from the sump is pushing approximately 1000gph into the tank and I have a few other power heads inside the tank. I do not have random flow. The flow is constant and unchanging. It flows in the same direction circulating in a clockwise manner inside the tank.

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

I don't have any plans to upgrade. I would love to have a larger tank, like a few thousand gallons, but that's not practical as a hobbyist. I may purchase a UV filter and/or a Calcium reactor, but I don't consdider them to be necessities.

What makes your setup special or unique?

I have 4 glass tanks (380 gallons) connected together on the same system and I use one (1) pump to provide the circulation to all of them. It's unique in that each tank will use a gravity siphon overflow to feed another tank. This is accomplished by having each tank at a different height. The single pump pushes water from the sump into the main 220g display. A gravity siphon pulls water from the 220g display into a 55g tank (a pair of Ocellaris Clowns and a pair of Purple Firefish), which overflows into a 55g refugium, which overflows into a 40g frag tank, which in turn overflows back to the sump.

The main display tank experiences the full strength of the return pump for circulation inside the main display, and gravity is used to move water through the other tanks and then back to the sump. This single pump is on a battery backup UPS which will last up to two (2) hours in the event of a power outage. This is all possible by having the water levels of each tank at different heights so gravity can be used to move the water from one to another.

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

I would put live rock in a large sump and have much less rock in the main display to make more room for the corals and fish. Having pre-drilled or reef ready tanks would be nice. I would also like to have 100% of the water returning to the sump going through the skimmer.


What are your other hobbies?

Scuba diving, making beer, and learning the basics of photography.

What kind of music are you into right now?

Blues, Reggae, and R&B styles

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

I would rather go diving and see new corals and fish.

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

The Great Barrier Reef

Why did you choose the screen name you did?

It's my first name and easy for me to remember. I have way too many usernames to remember…

What is the last book you read?

Eric Clapton's Autobiography

Football or basketball?


Scotch or burbon?

Dos Cervezas por favor

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

Keep it Simple. Very successful tanks can be kept without setting up complicated and expensive equipment. A complex setup results in a higher probability of something failing. Keep it simple!

Also, I strongly encourage people to try and acquire you animals, fish, corals, and inverts from other reefers, or as tank raised or Aqua cultured. Minimize your impact on the world's reefs.

Things I wish I knew 6 years ago:

I've leaned the importance of maintaining Calcium and Alkalinity in order to keep corals healthy and growing.