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WAMAS Tank of the Month

I would like to thank the WAMAS community for all of the help and support over the years. I have learned so much from so many. I also wanted to thank the TOTM committee for selecting my tank for September 2014 and for all of the hard work they do to pull the page together. I know how much work it takes. I have been in the reef hobby since June 2006 when I started a 30 gallon tank. It went fairly well for about 2 years, so I bumped up to a 90 gallon. That tank was up for about 3 years before it caught fire and I lost it all. I cleaned up the mess and rebuilt into a 120. After 3 months, the bottom panel of the 120 cracked and I lost everything again. I started over for a third time with the 150. It was up for about 2 years and was being overrun by purple shrooms. I tore it all apart in November 2013. I pressure washed every rock in the system and re-stacked. So the current tank has been up about 9 months at the time of this TOTM. You would think that after this many tank crashes my wife would have strung me up. Lets just say she has been very, very patient.

My mixed reef is in a 150 gallon tank (48w x 30h x 24d) with a 20 gallon refugium. It sits in the home office and has beach music playing from behind it 24 hours a day. It makes for a very soothing work environment. My focus is primarily on SPS, but I also have some LPS in the tank. Oh, I also have some fish in there.

I have a Blue Line 55HD external pump (1,100 GPH) that returns water from the sump to the display. A Mag 9.5 (950 GPH) drives a closed loop, and there are a couple of Tunze 6065 power heads mounted to 1/2" Sea Swirls (DIY) that swing back and forth across the corals.

My main lighting is two 250watt SE MH Radium 20,000K bulbs in Lumen Bright 3 Metal Halide Reflectors (Large 19.5" x 19.5" x 9") driven by Reeflex Cube magnetic ballasts. I supplement with two 54watt ATI AB+ T5 bulbs running on an Icecap 660 ballast. I also have a 5,500K compact florescent located in the center of the tank that adds a little yellow to the mix.

The water if filtered by three primary means. I have an ASM G-3 Counter Current skimmer with a Sedra 5000 pump, a 20 gallon refugium filled with Chaetomorpha macro algae, and I do 10% water changes every week. I farm out a softball size wad of chaeto every Saturday morning to keep the stuff growing fast. I believe the real winner here is the macro. I also run carbon and a small amount of ferric oxide 24/7 in a couple of small reactors.

I keep my alkalinity, calcium, and magnesium parameters at the proper levels using a combination of kalkwasser and a calcium reactor. I am very happy with this solution so I will give a little bit of detail on how I do this. I knew I wanted to provide as much of the three elements as possible through kalkwasser addition (lots of reasons for this). In order to add kalkwasser (it can only be mixed with fresh water) you have to evaporate water out of the tank. I added 2 fans over the display (they also help keep the tank cool) and one fan over the refugium. I then stopped adding any water to my tank for a few days. This allowed me to determine that I evaporate about 3 gallons a day. I then use a dosing pump to add 2.5 gallons of RO/DI water into an overflow style kalkwasser reactor that drips into the system each day. The other half gallon is added by means of a float valve fed by an RO/DI filter. With this setup, I never have to worry about a kalk overdose or having to add water to the system. I ran this setup for a couple of weeks and measured the parameters regularly to determine how much each was dropping per day. I added the calcium reactor with a dosing pump and then adjusted the dosing pump until my parameters are exactly where I want them. In order to adjust the parameters up or down, I just go turn the knob on the calcium reactor dosing pump. This setup is very stable and easy to maintain. I rarely touch it and it has been running this way for years. I have to add a cup of kalk once a week to the reactor and I add some media to the calcium reactor every 6 months or so. One thing I will say is, buy good dosing pumps that have adjustable flow rates. Other than these two reactors, the only thing I dose is some Randy Holmes Farley recipe magnesium as needed.

I keep a mixed reef so there are corals and fish from all over the place. As far as corals go, SPS are my favorite for some reason. Maybe it is the challenge, maybe the colors? I start all of my corals from small frags and grow them out. My favorite SPS (if you could not tell from my avatar) is the Purple Monster coral. I have a few LPS corals and I would say my favorite is the frogspawn. Again, color is what draws me to this coral. As far as fish go, I would have to say my favorite is my Desjardini tang. This guy is the only fish to survive all of my tank crashes and has been with me since 2006. He is a trooper and has many scars from all of the stress. He is also a super peaceful fish that just seems to keep all the fish mellow. I also have a large Mystery Wrasse who has been with me for years that loves to get in my face at the glass and dance.

I feed 2 large pinches of Ocean Nutrition Formula Two or Prime Reef flakes once a day. I also add 3 frozen cubes of Piscine Energetics Frozen Freshwater Mysis Shrimp. Twice a week I put in a good size sheet of algae in a clip.

Coral color has always been my biggest challenge. To this day, I am trying to get better color out of my SPS. I have tried everything from lighting to water parameters to feeding and I still have not figured it out.

I am thinking about raising my lights another few inches to reduce the stress on the corals a bit. I am hoping to get a little richer color as well. I plan to do a little work on the frag tank to improve flow as well as add a fan over the frag tank to reduce temp. Someday way down the road, maybe I will move to LED lighting, but I will keep waiting until the technology is fully mature (and cheaper).

Reef keeping is a heck of a challenge. But it provides me with hours of enjoyment. Whether I am standing at the tank staring at the coral or building some new DIY project to reduce maintenance, I just love being around the tank. It can sometimes cause heavy stress, but most often is a stress reducer. I believe the best way to keep improving your reef is to visit every TOTM (on WAMAS, Reefkeeping.com, or others) and read what other successful aquarists do. I am always amazed at what people come up with to make their tanks pop. What a fun hobby!

  • Salinity: 35ppt
  • Temperature: 80°F
  • Alkalinity: 10 dkH
  • Calcium: 440ppm
  • Magnesium: 1400ppm
  • pH: 8.0

  • Display: Glass 150g
  • Sump: 20g long
  • Skimmer: ASM G3
  • Lighting: 2 250w Radium, 2 54w ATI AB+
  • Return Pump: Blueline 55HD exernal
  • Circulation: Mag 9.5, 2 Tunze 6065s
  • Reactors: Kalk, Calc, Carbon, GFO

  • Desjardini tang
  • Mystery wrasse
  • Regal angel
  • Ocellaris clownfish
  • Leopard wrasse
  • Chalk basslet
  • Yellowstriped cardinalfish
  • Gold Spotted rabbitfish
  • Spotbreast angelfish

  • Purple Monster
  • Tyree Bali Tri-color
  • Pink Birds Nest
  • Purple Slimer
  • Green Slimer
  • Echinata
  • Undata
  • Highlighter Stag
  • Maroon Stylophora
  • Oregon Blue Tort

  • Kalk stirrer
  • Refugium
  • Power head rotators
  • Automated RO/DI reservoir
  • Lighting fixture
  • Skimmer full auto shut off