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WAMAS Tank of the Month

I would like to thank those that nominated me for the honor of being selected as August’s Tank of the Month. I think it’s funny that after 14 years of being in this club and having what I think were perfect coral displays in the past, I finally win tank of the month with a FOWLR. I started in the saltwater side of the hobby in 1992 while I was stationed at Guam and learning to SCUBA dive. Over the years I have kept many different systems from species dedicated tanks, geographically dedicated tanks, anemone farm tanks, and SPS dominated systems. My wife and daughter are also big SCUBA fans and we all love the ocean, so having the tank appeals to the whole family. Several of the pictures hanging up in our basement around our tank were taken during our dive trips. It’s nice having two hobbies that go together so well. There were two main reasons for my move from years of keeping SPS tanks to a FOWLR. One was to simplify, so I could enjoy the saltwater hobby yet still have time for my other hobby: restoring old steam and gas engines. The second was we needed a larger tank for our vlamingii tang that had outgrown the 210g tank, and going with FOWLR allows us to have the larger system without going broke. Here's a video of my tank on YouTube.

The 600g display tank measures 8’x4’x30” and is made of ¾” thick acrylic. It’s been running since 2012 when I took down my 210g and four 40g breeders. The tank is located in my garage and is viewable from the basement den. All the equipment is located in the garage with the tank, and that helps keep spills, noise, and smells out of the house. The stand is made of oak 4”x 4” and 4”x 6” with the top of the stand at 34” tall. Besides the rock and fine sand I also have a bunch of fake corals and sponges in the tank. These add color to the tank and provide additional hiding places for the smaller fish.

A Reeflo Dart pump provides the only flow in the tank, through a 1 ½” return in the back corner. No closed loops, MPs, or power heads. The tank then drains to the sump via two 2” bulkheads on the opposite side from the 1 ½” return.

I use an LED light rig that I built out of Unistrut. The frame holds six 19w Ecoxotic Panarama Pro modules; three are white, and three are actinic. I also have two exterior security light fixtures with the motion sensors removed. They are 28w each at 5,200 kelvin. The total wattage of the fixture is 170w. The six 19w modules are on from noon to 9pm and the two 28w fixtures are on from 4pm to 8pm. There is also a 4w light over the tank that comes on at night since not all of my fish fully sleep.

A 250g sump holds an ASM G6X skimmer, rated for 1,200 gallons, and two 7” x 16” filter socks. There’s about 400lbs of rock and 300lbs of sand in the display tank.

I do not dose any additives since it is a FOWLR and there is nothing to really consume the calcium or other trace elements. I do a 100g water change every month using Instant Ocean salt, which keeps the pH and alkalinity levels where they should be. Every quarter I do a dose cycle of Kent Marine’s Tank Clarifier which knocks out diatoms and other algae films. It keeps the sand and decorations algae free.

The 13” Vlamingii is the family’s beloved fish and it has been with us for six years. The Royal Grammas were kind of an experiment as I had read that only one should be kept at a time because they were territorial. The five in my tank have never shown any aggression towards each other and normally are seen hovering around the rocks right next to each other. I added the fusiliers because it was a fish I had never seen before in a home aquarium and wanted to give them a try. The fusiliers are always active and school nicely with my green chromis and anthias.

I feed the tank twice a day during the week and on weekends they normally get three times a day if I’m around. I normally drop in a full sheet of nori as soon as I get home in the afternoon. A couple hours later I feed thawed JEMCO Mysis and Brine shrimp.

Humidity is the biggest challenge with so much surface area from the tank and sump. It is normally only an issue in the winter time as it condenses on the then cooler windows, garage doors, and walls. I have added a dehumidifier in my garage which helps to control the issue. Another challenge is maintenance since everything has to be done from a ladder and it is impossible to reach anything on the tank’s bottom with your hands. I use long handled tongs to move things around and my large leaf net from our swimming pool to catch fish.

I know FOWLR tanks are considered ugly by many in the club and some people hate my fake corals, but I am more into the fish right now and this system has freed up a lot of time for me. Of all the tanks I have had, this is the easiest one to take care of. Since there are no corals, I don't need dosers, reactors, DI resin, additives, additional water flow, and strong lighting to name a few. With the lower light levels, I can go a month or more between glass cleanings. For those thinking of leaving the hobby because you need extra time for that newborn baby, family, work, or another hobby, think about going with a simple FOWLR first. I think you’ll find a back-to-basics FOWLR frees up a good bit of time and money but still allows you to enjoy the hobby. Thanks again to those who nominated and voted for me. This club is great and I’ve really enjoyed being a part of this community for the last 14 years.

  • Salinity: 1.021
  • Temperature: 82°F
  • Alkalinity: 9.0 dkH
  • Nitrate: 40 ppm

  • Display: Acrylic 600g
  • Sump: 250g sump
  • Skimmer: ASM G6X
  • Lighting: 6 x 19w Ecoxotic Panoramic Pros
  • Return Pump: ReeFlo Dart

  • Dispar Anthias (17)
  • Green Chromis (8)
  • Royal Gramma (5)
  • Blue and Yellowback Fusilier (5)
  • Blue Sided Fairy Wrasse (11)
  • Lubbock's Fairy Wrasse (5)
  • Solon Fairy Wrasse (2)
  • Purple Headed Wrasse
  • Yellow Coris Wrasse
  • Pink Margin Fairy Wrasse
  • Longfin Fairy Wrasse
  • Cleaner Wrasse
  • Queen Angelfish
  • Blue Faced Angelfish
  • Vlamingii Tang
  • Yellow Tang
  • Scopas Tang
  • Gold-Rimmed Tang
  • Hippo Tang
  • Sailfin Blenny
  • Ocellaris Clownfish (2)
  • Magnicient Foxface
  • Blue Throat Triggerfish