Thank you, WAMAS Tank Of The Month committee members for all your hard work and
for choosing me for WAMAS December 2012 Tank Of The Month.
My sincerest heartfelt thanks go to my fellow WAMAS members for nominating me for
WAMAS Tank of the Month. There is no greater compliment for a reefer than to be chosen
by their peers for Tank Of the Month. I am honored and humbled by your nominations.
I've always been in love with the oceans and fascinated by its many wonders. I was
the kid that didn't miss any of the National Geographic specials about the oceans.
Growing up in New York going to the beaches every summer was a way of life. Be it
the Rockaways, Long Beach or the Hamptons - a summer would not go by without
me finding my way to a beach every weekend from the time they opened and past
As I walked along the shores I was always in awe of the life I'd see. Walking on the
jetties even the barnacles fascinated me. I loved the ocean so much I would drive an
hour sometimes just to clear my mind and sit on the beach waiting for the sun to rise
over the horizon. The best time for me was sitting on the beach at night under a full
moon in August. I can still smell the sweet salty fragrance of life. It's always cathartic
for me. I've been fortunate in that I've been able to recreate that very same fragrance
in my display tank.
In the summer of 1985, I walked into a Petland in Brooklyn New York on
Shore parkway in Sheepshead Bay. They had lots of saltwater fish tanks. I started
asking the gentleman that was caring for them all that I could think of about keeping
saltwater fish. I was like a kid in a candy store. He gave me some live sand and explained
how to start to cycle my tank. After about an hour or so I left with everything I needed
to start cycling a tank.
A month later I added my livestock. I kept 2 tanks from
1986 to about 1992. I had a 55 gallon all fish, a 29 gallon invertebrate tank and a 20
gallon hospital tank. I learned a long time ago the value of QT for observation and
I came back into the hobby because of those same National Geographic specials. This
time it was with my family. One evening, as we were watching a program about the
ocean, I started naming fish. My children asked me how I knew so much about them.
I explained that many years ago I kept some of those fish. My children were very
amazed that I had this hobby. I started doing research and found that keeping saltwater
fish was much easier than it was 20 years ago. I thought it would be really nice
to get into the hobby again. This time I didn't have search for books, which were very
limited my first time around. Everything I need to bring me up to speed was on the Internet.
I was amazed at how easy it was to maintain a saltwater tank compared to 20
years ago. I didn't need an under gravel filter, a hang on back filter and an external
biological filter. All I needed this time was live rock, good lights, good flow, a heater,
some sand for seeding and eventually a skimmer. This time around I could also
keep corals. Corals were limited over 20 years ago. I suspect it was for the advanced
hobbyist that had a background in Marine biology.
I wanted to keep a small tank 20 years ago. Consistently, I was told that it was
impossible. So the challenge for me this time around was keeping a small tank. I
stumbled across Nanoreefs.com and found loads of information about keeping nano
and pico tanks. That was it for me. I was hooked!
My first tank, 20+ years later, was a JBJ 24 gallon nano tank that I purchased on
Craigslist for $250.00. I found live rock on Craigslist too. The person I bought the
LR from also gave me LS to seed my new setup. Within a month my nano was cycled,
stocked up and running.
I posted a request for something related to the hobby on my neighborhood forum
and that's when a neighbor asked me if I knew about WAMAS. He gave me the URL.
I signed up immediately. WAMAS has been the best investment I've ever made in
this hobby. Once I joined WAMAS it opened a whole new world of resources filled
with many knowledgeable and helpful people that bring with them a plethora of
knowledge. The support I got and continue to get from people like Coral Hind &
Origami as well as many others, has been invaluable.
I moved along faster. My systems got bigger. After about a year my nano was packed!
I found a 75 gallon tank with stand and sump and upgraded to that. In no time at all
that set up was packed and established. I thought the 75 gallon was good enough but
then a larger set up came along. It was complete with everything; tank, stand, lights,
skimmer, sump, UV sterilizer, livestock and the list goes on. So in November of 2011.
I purchased my current set up from WAMAS member DWG. I was able to get this set
up because of my WAMAS membership. I could not get it to my home without the
help of Coral Hind, Surf & turf and his son, YiatzOFEden & her husband Justin as well
as my husband. This is WAMAS; members helping members. I merged the contents of
my 75 gallon tank with what I'd gotten from DWG.
I have to give a very special thanks to DWG, because without him, without his set
up I could not be where I am today. Dennis has put together an amazing system.
He designed and hooked up the manifold and all of filtration in my set up. Since
the purchase of my currant set up I've replaced many fish and added a lot more
corals. As I started to write this for Tank of The Month I realized that I've only had
this setup a little over a year. It looks like I've had it for 5 years. This display is a
culmination of livestock that I've collected over the last 4 years. Maintaining it has
been with some knowledge from the past, the majority of its growth and health is
due to the knowledge and help I have gained on WAMAS over the last 4 years. My
sincerest heartfelt thanks go to everyone from WAMAS. My set up is a little bit of all
- Display: 156 Gallon Oceanic Ultimate with Starfire Glass (60.5 x 24.5 x 25)
- Sump: DIY Custom Sump
- Skimmer: ASM G-2 w/sedra 3500 pump
- Lighting: Coralife Aqualight Pro 60-inch
- NextReef MR1 Monster Media Reactor
- JBJ Ocean Pulse - QUADRA Wavemaker
- Heater: 1 Jaeger titanium 300 Watt
- Salinity: 1.026 sg
- Temperature: 79.0 F
- Alkalinity: 9-11 dkH
- Calcium: 450ppm
- Magnesium: 1350ppm
- Phosphate: 0ppm
- Nitrate: 0ppm
My current tank is a 156 gallon Ultimate Oceanic reef ready tank with black silicone, spray-painted black
back w/Starfire front glass and twin overflows.
The tank sits on a 32-inch Oceanic oak stand that has been spray painted black.
The sump is approximately 55 gallon L-shaped acrylic custom sump. I use a manifold system for returns with valves and additional ports. The drains are reverse Durso.
Inside the tank I have a mixed reef with approximately 100 lbs of live rock and a little crushed coral substrate.
For the return pump I use a Reeflo Gold Super Dart Pump (4300 GPH). I have 2 Hydor Koralia Evolution Circulation Pumsp/Powerheasd (1400 GPH), and 2 TunzeJBJ Ocean Pulse - QUADRA Wavemakers.
- Genicanthus melanospilos 3
- Genicanthus watanabei 1
- Genicanthus bellus 2
- Halichoeres melanurus 1
- Pseudocheilinus hexataenia 1
- Labroides dimidiatus 1
- Synchiropus splendidus male and female
- Gobiodon okinawae 1
- Elacatinus oceanops 4
- Ecsenius midas 1
- Acropora - various
- Montipora - various
- Blastomussa wellsi - various
- Cynarina lacrymalis
- Corallimorphs - various
- Acanthophyllia deshayesiana
- Acanthastrea echinata
- Gorgonias - various
- Duncanopsammia axifuga
- Neopetrolisthes ohshimai
- Lysmata amboinensis (Skunk cleaner shrimp)
- Lysmata debelius (Scarlet cleaner shrimp)
- Lysmata wurdemanni complex(Peppermint shrimp)
- Astropecten polycanthus
- Tamaria sp
- Nassarius distortus
- Nassarius sp
- Astraea tecta,cerith
- Cypraea Isabella
- Entacmaea quadricolor
For lighting I use a Coralife Aqualight Pro 60-inch with 2 x 250 watt 20,000K MH (generic) and
4 x 54 watt T5: 2 fiji purple, and 2 super actinic blues.
For filtration I use an ASM G-2 skimmer with Sedra 3500 pump. I also have an Aqua twist 57 watt UV sterilizer with wiper,
Chaeto, and a NextReef MR1 dual Media Reactor W/GFO.
For alkalinity and calcium, I use B-Ionic 2 part - I dose 2-part every other day as directed.
For magnesium I use Kent Marine Tech M Magnesium - Once a week 60ml to maintain Magnesium at 1350
I also dose Reef biofuel - 20 ml once a week to help keep phosphates at 0
and Brightwells Microbacter 7 - 20 ml once a week after water changes to maintain good
I feed all natural chemical free blends of seafoods that I make myself.
My blends include 4 types of certified organic seaweed; kelp, laver, dulse & Ulva
Wild caught (organic) chemical free shellfish such as shrimp, oysters, scallops, clams
& mussels, 2 types of organic whole fish, astaxanthin, certified organic spirulina,
multi vitamins w/natural preservatives, meal, fresh garlic and more.
I make 5 blends of food - Complete reef blend, Carnivore blend, Herbivore blend,
Omnivore blend, and a Coral blend. I alternate feedings of small portions of my
blends 3 or more times a day. I've been feeding my mixed reef my Complete reef
blend and Herbivore blend since August 2011. A few of my fish spawn often in
my tank. All are healthy, bright and disease free. Believe it is because I feed them
natural whole foods. Foods they can only find in their world, in the oceans.
My challenges at this point are keeping chaeto, for some reason it keeps shrinking
away, and finding more room for more corals.
Setting up my ATO
Adding a Kalk stirrer
Establishing my business making my home made reef food blends.
Switching to Radium bulbs
Reefkeeping is not just a hobby to me, it is a skill. It takes patience, time, knowledge,
determination and resiliency to get to this point. For the new hobbyist I say read, ask
a lot of questions before you dive in. Patience and what you may think is the silliest
question will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Like many, I have had my run ins with disease and losing my entire livestock. I've had
issues where it took more than a month to cycle a tank because of one very large bad
rock. There has been a lot of frustration mainly due to issues out of my control. Don't
give up because from every negative experience you have you gain 10 times more
knowledge to be able to do it better and possibly help someone else the next time
We are at a point on this planet that we are losing large areas of natural resources
including many terrestrial and ocean species. Our reefs are in danger. They are dying
off and diminishing at an alarmingly rapid rate. This is happening mainly because
of our negligence. We have polluted, neglected and ravaged our planet. We've polluted
it so much that we have created a shift in our weather. The heat from global warming is
causing many fish and corals to die off in masses. Whole species are disappearing.
As Marine Aquarist we have a responsibility to the life we take from the oceans.
We have a responsibility to keep them healthy and thriving. Our goal is not just to
maintain what we have, it is to preserve and sustain what is left. Who knows? Maybe
someday all that is obtainable to a Marine Aquarist is what we have in our tanks.
That may be all that is left. Take your role as reef keeper seriously. Take your time.
Be proud that you are making a difference and helping to preserve, maintain and
sustain the wonder and beauty that nature has given us. Have fun and happy reefing,