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WAMAS Tank of the Month

Brad S. (jstlsn)

Congratulations Brad, on being selected tank of the month.


  • Display: 75 G All-Glass Reef Ready (48" x 18" x 20")
  • Sump: DIY Custom
  • Skimmer: Bubble King Mini 160
  • Lighting: 4x ATI Blue Plus T-5, 1x ATI Purple Plus T-5, 1x Korallen Zucht New Generation 14000K
  • Controller: AquaController III w/ DC8, DC4HD, PX1000, AquaSurf
  • Return Pump: Eheim 1262
  • Circulation: 2x Tunze Turbelle Nanostream 6055
  • Reactors: Geo's Reef CR612 Calcium Reactor, Grey Seas Aquatics Kalk Stirrer
  • ATO: SpectruPure Ultra-Precise
  • Temperature Control: 2x Eheim Jager 150W, 2x 2" IceCap Fans

In the ever-changing hobby of saltwater aquariums, there is one thing that has remained consistent: WAMAS is the best investment you can make. I have been a WAMAS member for almost 6 years and have learned so much. So, let me start with a simple THANK YOU! I am very excited to have this opportunity to share my aquarium with the people that have helped make it possible.

My first experience with saltwater aquariums was as a kid when I was twelve. A family friend had an aquarium that was fully stocked directly from the ocean. I distinctly remember snorkeling around the reef, armed only with zip lock bags, attempting to catch fish for his aquarium. It was at that time I knew I would have a saltwater aquarium of my own. Fourteen years later I had the opportunity to visit a coworkers house and view his three aquariums. This only reinforced my desire to build one of my own. Shortly there after, I took the plunge.

Current Tank

My first and only aquarium was purchased in 2003. It is an All-Glass 75-gallon reef ready aquarium with an internal overflow. At the time I thought this thing was huge. Little did I know, but an aquarium can fill up very quickly.

Once the aquarium was purchased, it would be a long time before it would see water. It took more than three years and two new houses before I decided it was finally time. In November of 2006, I started mixing salt water for the first time.

Aquarium Setup

The aquarium sits in the kitchen on the second level of my house. Unfortunately my house does not have space for a fish room. Everything had to be located in or around the stand. My first attempt at a sump was a 20L aquarium. The lack of baffles prevented my skimmer from functioning properly. So, I was on a mission to build my own sump. My custom sump was designed with three sections. The left side contains the skimmer, the right side is a refugium, and the center contains the return pump and heaters.

The stand itself is a very simple aquarium stand. It was purchased at the same time as the aquarium. The stand has been completely refinished. I sanded off all of the original stain, applied a new stain, and sealed it with spar urethane. I also added some additional bracing and caulked the entire thing. The hood was custom built and originally designed to house Metal Halides, but was modified when I decided to go with T-5's. The lighting ballasts and wiring is all hidden in the top of the hood and is only accessible from the back. The hood also has two four inch fans that blow cool air across the top of the water when the aquarium needs to be cooled.

Water Movement

A pair of Tunze Turbelle Nanostream 6055 power heads provides the majority of the flow in the aquarium. The two power heads are controlled with an AquaController III through an AquaSurf. The AquaSurf provides independent variable speed control to each power head. Finally, the return pump feed to the display is split into two utilizing Loc-Line Modular Hose System.


Lighting Schedule
  • 1300 - 2x Blue + ON
  • 1400 - Blue + & Purple + ON
  • 1500 - KZ NG 14000K & Blue + ON
  • 2200 - KZ NG 14000K & Blue + OFF
  • 2300 - 2x Blue + OFF
  • 2400 - Blue + & Purple + OFF

The lighting system utilizes of an all T-5 configuration. I did not want to use a chiller so metal halides were out of the question. An Icecap 430 Electronic Fluorescent Ballast over drives two of the bulbs and two generic ballasts drive the other four bulbs. For about four years the bulb combination consisted of one General Electric 6500K Day Light, one UV Lighting AquaSun 10000K, one UV Lighting Super Actinic, and three ATI Blue Plus. Recently, the bulb combination was changed to include one Korallen Zucht New Generation 14000K, one ATI Purple Plus, and four ATI Blue Plus. The refugium is lit by a TCP P38 flood-light. This bulb allows the chaetomorpha macro algae to grow like a weed. The refugium lighting is on at night when the rest of the aquarium is asleep under a pair of Current USA white LED moonlights.


A Bubble King Mini 160 in sump protein skimmer is the main source of filtration for the aquarium. I believe keeping your skimmer clean is important to keeping it operating at a highly efficient level, so I try to clean the collection cup every three to four days. The chaetomorpha macro algae in the refugium also acts as a filter by removing waste nutrients from the system.


Calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium are all maintained through the use of a Geo's Reef CR612 Calcium Reactor running with a mixture of CaribSea ARM Reactor Media and Korallen-Zucht ZEOvit ZEOmag Magnesium Granulate. A Grey Seas Aquatics Kalk Stirrer is used to help maintain the pH. Finally, I keep one-gallon jugs of two part calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium on hand just in case I need to make some changes to my water parameters to get them back into an acceptable range.


I keep feeding pretty simple. Every night the fish are given a mixture of Hikari Brine Shrimp and Hikari Spirulina Brine Shrimp. Twice a week I add in some PE Mysis Shrimp and Cyclop-Eeze. I also place a nice piece of Ocean Nutrition Seaweed Selects Green Marine Algae on an algae clip twice a week. Finally, if I am out of town for a day or two I will setup my auto feeder with some Dainichi Marine - Reef Veggie FX pellets.


  • Yellow Tang
  • ORA Ocellaris Clownfish x 2
  • Green Chromis x 2
  • Banggai Cardinalfish x 4
  • Lyretail Anthias x 2
  • Multicolor Lubbock's Fairy Wrasse
  • Whip Fin Fairy Wrasse
  • ORA Spotted Mandarin
  • Yellow Watchman Goby

I guess my aquarium would be considered a mixed reef. It contains a wide variety of SPS corals, LPS corals, soft corals, fish, invertebrates, anemones, and a clam. There are two main things that I consider when adding new livestock to the aquarium: is the new livestock compatible with my current livestock and will I enjoy viewing it in my aquarium.

Over time my preferences in the types of coral that I am interested in adding to my aquarium change. Originally I was very interested in SPS, specifically Acropora and Montipora. Gradually I shifted to LPS. Currently I can't get enough ricordea.

Clownfish were one of the first fish I remember wanting for my aquarium. And what fun are a pair of Ocellaris Clownfish without an anemone for them to host? My clownfish love their Rose Bubble Tip Anemones. And no matter how frustrated I get with the anemones moving around the tank, I can't bring myself to take them away from my clownfish.


This hobby has many challenges. My quarantine tank has been a major challenge. I learned very early that a quarantine tank is 100% necessary. One of the first fish in my aquarium got ick. Every piece of rock had to be removed from the display to catch both fish and move them to quarantine. Once I started using a quarantine tank I ran into the new problem of keeping the water clean. No one likes killing brand new fish.

After much trial and error I have developed a system for maintaining the quarantine tank water quality. The main filtration is a hang on the back filter. I place the filters in my sump for at least a month before they are to be used to allow beneficial bacteria to grow. Next, 25% of the water in the quarantine tank comes from my display. Once the quarantine tank is occupied, I do daily 20% water changes along with squeezing out the filters in the bucket of old water to remove any food that may have been trapped. This system has given me a much higher success rate with new fish.

Future Plans

Water Parameters
  • Salinity: 35 ppt
  • Temperature: 78-79 °F
  • pH: 8.1 - 8.3
  • Alkalinity: 9-11 dKh
  • Calcium: 425 ppm
  • Magnesium: 1350 ppm
  • Phosphate: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: 0 ppm

The most immediate change I will be making to my setup is an upgrade from the AquaController III to an AquaController Apex. The Apex has already been purchased and I am currently testing it out before I switch everything over. The Tunze 6055 powerheads may be the next thing to get upgraded. I have been happy with their flow, but not as happy with their durability. Finally, one day, I would love to get a larger aquarium. I am limited to four feet in width, so a 120-gallon aquarium would do nicely.


I hope everyone has enjoyed reading about my aquarium. It has been an honor sharing my aquarium and my experiences with all of the WAMAS members. I look forward to many more years of being an aquarium owner and a WAMAS member.