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WAMAS Tank of the Month

Dan Castro (zoozilla)

Congratulations Dan, on being selected tank of the month.

About the Tank

Experience in hobby

  • Desjardini Sailfin Tang
  • Yellow Tang
  • Orange Shoulder Tang
  • Tomini Tang
  • Yellow Belly Tang
  • One Spot Foxface
  • Mystery Wrasse
  • Yellow Coris
  • Sebae Clownfish
  • Blue-Green Chromis

How long have you been doing this?

Off and on since the Summer 1994. It started out as a casual upgrade from rift lake cichlids: a standard 20 gallon Perfecto tank / incandescent bulb combo, wrought iron stand, Skilter hang-on Skimmer, silica sand, and a Tomato Clownfish. Which, moving forward several years, has really turned into a full blown multi-tank obsession for me.

Who got you into the hobby?


Who in the hobby most influences you?

If I had to choose, it would have to be Sanjay Joshi (lighting performance and spectral analysis) and Randy Holmes Farley (Reef Chemistry). Both have contributed much usable knowledge and guidance to the reefing community and to reef hobbyists around the world. Without them, I would probably not be able to keep the healthy and thriving aquarium that I have today.

Tank setup and equipment

The planning phase for this tank began when we settled into our new home around September 2008. The actual build out started a month later at the end of October. It was finally up and running by Thanksgiving '08.

My tank is a mixed reef biased towards SPS and LPS. It has a shallow sand bed composed of 80 lbs of Caribsea Special Grade Reef Sand and roughly 110 lbs of Marco Fiji Rock. The rock work I featured in my display is a basic 3-pillar design using live framing (Acrylic Rods and Paverstone base frabricted by a local reefer named Trockafella). The reason I chose pillars over other conventional rock work styles is because it gave me a more open look, fish can easily navigate through the rocks, and water could flow more easily around rocks with less pumps/powerheads needed.

The entire system, with displacement, is approximately 310 ~ 320 gallons. It consists of a 150 gallon display tank, a 100 gallon sump, a 50 gallon frag tub, and a 40 gallon refugium/fish holding tank. The display is a glass tank from AGA which I bought lightly used from a local reefer (Thanks Trockafella). Its dimensions are 48" x 24" x 30". The tank is set in-wall with the front-side viewable from my office and the two sides viewable from tank room. The back pane was painted black to help contrast the colorful corals and fish. The tank is currently not drilled but instead uses a CPR CS 102 overflow fitted with dual Stockman standpipes for noise reduction. Both the sump and frag tanks are Rubbermaid stock tubs. While the refugium/fish holding tank is a standard AGA 40 breeder.

Notable supporting equipment used in this setup: Aquacontroller III, Reeflo 250 Skimmer, GEO 624 CaRx, Austin Oceans Kalk Rx 400, GSA Media Reactor, Kangaroo Medical Doser, 2 x Vortech MP40W, 2 x Lumenmax Elite, PFO 250W Dual Ballast, TEK T5 Fixture, AquaMedic OceanLight, JBJ ATO, ½ HP Tradewinds Chiller, Reeflo Barracuda, AWI Typhoon 3 RO Unit, Several Aqualifter pumps.

What is your maintenance schedule like?

•Scrape the glass 1x every 2 weeks. Sooner, if expecting guests or TOTM photographer.
•30 gallon water change every 15 days or so.
•Check and vinegar soak pumps 1x each month.
•Clean skimmer cup, neck, and Venturi as needed.

How much time do you spend weekly?

I use to spend 12 hours weekly. Now, only 5-6 hours. With Sundays off.

  • SPS:
  • Leishman's Red Table Acro
  • Bendalat's Green Efflo
  • Copp's Lime Mimic Pink Lemonade Acro
  • OUsnakebyte's Unknown A. formosa
  • Tabling Acroporas
  • A. millepora
  • Ecrusting Montiporas
  • LPS:
  • Acans
  • Favia
  • Chalices

Where do you keep your water parameters?

On average: Temperature - 76 deg, Salinity -1.026, pH - 8.20, dKH - 10, Ca - 410 ppm, Mg- 1250 ppm, Phosphate - near 0 ppm, Ammonia - 0 ppm, Nitrite - 0 ppm, Nitrate - < 1 ppm.

What brand salt do you use?

Instant Ocean

What do you feed your fish and or corals?

•From a fish feeder, 3 x daily: New Life Spectrum sinking mini pellets.
•Nightly: 1 sheet of Nori
•Once a week: PE Mysis, Brine Shrimp, and Coral Frenzy

How do you maintain calcium/alkalinity?

•Austin Oceans Kalkwasser Reactor for all RO Top Off.
•GEO Calcium reactor
•Kangaroo Medical Doser for Magnesium additions.

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

I've found that regular H2O changes provide most of what my tank needs but I do find myself adding the following 1x to 2x weekly:

•VSV (Vinegar-Sugar-Vodka)

What type of lighting do you have?

For the display:
•2 x 250W Phoenix 14K HQI housed in Lumenmax Elites.
•2 x 110W UVL Super Actinics
•2 x LED for moonlight effect

For the frag tub:
•48" - 6 x 64 Watt TEK Light fixture

For the refugium:
•24" - 1 x 250W HQI and 2 x 24W T5 AquaMedic OceanLight

What schedule do you have the lights on?

Thanks to the ACIII:
If Time > 00:00 Then MOO ON (Moonlight Display)
If Time > 04:00 Then MOO OFF (Moonlight Display)
If Time > 17:00 Then ACT ON (Actinics Display)
If Time > 01:30 Then ACT OFF (Actinics Display)
If Time > 18:00 Then MH1 ON (Halides Display)
If Time > 23:30 Then MH1 OFF (Halides Display)
If Time > 18:30 Then MH2 ON (Halides Display)
If Time > 00:00 Then MH2 OFF (Halides Display)
If Time > 17:00 Then T5B ON (Actinics Frag)
If Time > 22:30 Then T5B OFF (Actinics Frag)
If Time > 18:00 Then T5W ON (Daylight Frag)
If Time > 22:30 Then T5W OFF (Daylight Frag)

The Refugium is on a separate timer which set on a reverse lighting schedule as the Halides.

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

Main water flow to all tanks is handled by a single Reeflo Barracuda. I've found that it's very quiet, transfers little heat back to the tank, and provides ample flow. I have plans to purchase another Barracuda as a back up. In the display tank, water circulation is provided by 2x Vortech MP40W (I love these things). The frag and refugium tanks are fitted with Maxi-Jets.

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

Hmmm… No real big plans at the moment. I may incorporate an Ozone Generator in the next few months to help with water clarity, sterilization, and increasing my ORP. Probably, I'll swap out the existing (5) Maxijets in the frag tank for (2) Vortech MP10s.

What makes your setup special or unique?

There's really nothing special or unique about my setup. I've basically researched other tank set ups and picked out what I thought worked out best and implemented it on my set up.

There is one thing though:

I realize it's a big No…No, but I typically don't change out my Halide bulbs at the recommended intervals. I usually keep them running for at least 4 - 5 months past their prime expiration. To date, I have not experienced any issues with my corals or unwanted algae growth in the display. I simply lower the halide fixtures towards the top of the tank to offset any losses in PAR. When I do change out the bulbs, I am very careful in re-acclimating corals by slowly ramping up on photoperiods and using the multi-layered screen method. Which reminds me; it's time to order new halide bulbs.

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

I would probably go slightly bigger on the display tank; specifically, going to a 3' depth front to back. Also, I would provide better spacing between coral frags and colonies.

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

Read, research, seek the wisdom of seasoned reefers, and most importantly, go slow. There are really no shortcuts in this hobby. Rushing typically equates to death, losses, and several hundreds or thousands of dollars down the drain. Purchase a dehumidifier.


What are your other hobbies?

FMA (Filipino Martial Arts), Online gaming, and Photography.

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

Whoever invents the "Flux Capacitor" for past / future travel.

Why did you choose the screen name you did?

Early on in this hobby, I chose "Zoozilla" as my screen name because of my passion for collecting Zoanthids and Palythoas.

What is the last book you read?

Eskrido - The Integration of Eskrima, Jiu-Jitsu, and Judo

Scotch or burbon?

Grey Goose. Scotch, only if it comes from Chip (Flowerseller's) private reserve J

Things I wish I knew 6 years ago:

•Wearing gloves when handling corals.
•That you could use Krazy Glue to attach corals to liverock.