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WAMAS Tank of the Month


I started in the hobby years in the 80's when undergravel filters were popular and lighting consisted of a single white fluorescent bulb. I got out if the hobby around college but always wanted to return; never finding the right combination of time, money, and space. When we were looking to buy a new house in 2006, we found the perfect place and it even had a 6' in-wall reef tank included! My wife wasn't sure if I was more excited about the new house or the tank.

I maintained the tank, slowly relearning the hobby. One night I came across WAMAS and as a result, the hobby changed dramatically for me. The vast amount of resources, support and camaraderie on WAMAS makes me feel connected to something much larger. It's almost like a fish swimming in an aquarium vs. being able to be part of the ocean as a whole. I can whole heartedly say that without WAMAS, I probably would have gotten bored, tired (and broke) with the hobby and stopped many years ago. Because of this, it is an honor for me to share my tank this month and hopefully inspire some of the newer members.

My main tank is a 210 gallon custom built hybrid tank from Acrylic Glass Exhibits in Texas that replaces a previous acrylic tank. The tank has Starphire glass on three sides and a PVC bottom. The system is built into a wall above a bar and occupies the HVAC closet of my home. Growing up as a kid and having tanks (at one point I counted 17 tanks of various sizes in my parent's basement) I always wanted my home to have an in-wall tank with a fish room.

In addition to the display tank and sump, the fish room has a 30 gallon frag tank, a 30 gallon isolation tank, 30 and 50 gallon tanks for RO/DI and mixed saltwater respectively, shelves for 5 10 gallon tanks as a QT/grow out system, a dedicated Ethernet drop and enough dedicated power for most apartments. All crammed into a 4'x11' closet! The fish closet is also tied into the home's 27KW standby generator in case of a power outage.

I currently use the Reeflo Dart line of pumps. The main Dart provides the return from my sump as well as splits off to my frag tank and Isolation tank. I have a closed loop Dart which feeds into two Oceans Motions 4-ways. This provides fairly random water movement. There is option to add another Dart for my closed loop (3 Darts total) if I needed more circulation. One of my design principles was to use the exact same pump everywhere so that the standby unit, spare parts and maintenance process are all the same. This reduces costs, storage, and complexity of things. All my Darts have the exact same union fittings so swapping them around takes less than 5 minutes and doesn't require any adjustments.

I am currently using 1 LED fixture I made myself and 2 Evergrow LED fixtures. The frag tank runs on T5's. I used to use 3 400W MH Radium lights on the display and I think coral growth was better with them. But everything in life is a compromise and the heat/power savings with LEDs is currently winning that debate. Someday I may go back, we'll see.

I use an ASM G3 skimmer as my primary filtration. That is the only thing left over from the initial system I inherited with the house. I have a moderate amount of live rock and a shallow sand bed for looks. I used to use filter socks but stopped since the holder was awkward and I wasn't swapping them out frequently enough. I'd like to use socks again as it does make a difference in detritus build up but I'll need to change how the holder works to make it easier.

I currently only use a Calcium reactor. I used to also top off with Kalk but after a bad crash from a Kalk overdose, I'm actively avoiding it. Once in a while I may check my Mg levels and dose to adjust.

I don't stock fish very heavily. I really enjoy the corals and the fish are more for movement and the non-hobbyist to notice. The fish I do have are intended to be low maintenance- both in keeping them and also in helping out with the tank. This all being said, I'm happy with my current inhabitants of a Magnificent Foxface, Yellow Tang, Radiant Wrasse, a couple of clowns, Orchid Dottyback, Lemon Chromis, Black Ocellaris, Green Capet with resident Anemone Crab (my favorite)

I feed various frozen foods but predominately Mysis shrimp. I try to feed once a day but would say it's more like 5 times a week. There is a decent amount of algae and other things for the fish to graze on between feedings. Once there is an automated frozen food feeder, I would get that and consider getting other fish that required more diligent feedings.

I've had my share of challenges in this hobby! The first was a tank crash that occurred two days after I got the tank. A chiller failed and caused the tank to overheat to 96 degrees. It was quite a disappointment as I never even got to enjoy the tank while moving in.

Another challenge I had was dealing with ongoing maintenance of an acrylic in-wall tank with my SPS tastes. While Acrylic is great for many tanks, with no front access and high intensity SPS lighting in mine, keeping the coralline off the viewing pane became a huge burden. I knew that eventually this would wear me down and frustrate me, causing me to quit. Deciding to spend big money to replace a perfectly good tank and ripping everything out to essentially start over was quite stressful. But in the end it was an investment that has paid off as all the custom work also got me a great fish room! It has also made my maintenance much easier therefore increasing the enjoyment time.

I'm currently taking on a breeding project. I have a trio of Lemon Chromis that are laying eggs and I'm working on reading the larvae. Results to be announced soon!

My parting thought goes back to the topic of challenges. I think we often need to be reminded that this should be a hobby and not a job! You want to ensure you are doing things which maximize your enjoyment not your workload. When getting into the hobby, it's so easy to get excited, get in over your head (in terms of responsibility), get overwhelmed, and then quit. It's important to take a step back and think about whether that next purchase or upgrade you want will make things easier or harder for you. Many times harder is worth it to do/have that next cool thing but once the novelty wears off, will it still be? If you want walk away for a couple of days or take a vacation for fear something will go wrong, than you should see what you can do to change that.

  • 15:30 Middle LED blue channels ramp up
  • 16:00 Side LED blue channels turn on
  • 16:00 Middle LED white channel ramps up
  • 16:30 Side LED white channels turn on
  • 00:00 Middle LED white channel ramps down
  • 00:30 Side LED white channels turn off
  • 00:30 Middle LED blue channels ramp down
  • 01:00 Side LED blue channels turn off
  • Salinity: 35 ppt
  • Temperature: 79 - 80.5°F
  • Alkalinity: 8 dkH
  • Calcium: Enough for coralline
  • Magnesium: 1100 ppm
  • Phosphate: ??
  • Nitrate: ??
    Not saying that I have them, but my favorites are
  • Morish Idol
  • Copperband Butterfly
  • Borbonius Anthias
  • Acropora & Zoas
  • Red Dragon
  • Crayola Plana
  • Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
  • Fire Shrimp
  • Green Haddoni w/ Anemone Crab
  • Various Bubble Tip Anemones
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