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WAMAS Tank of the Month

Thank you for the nomination and the recognition! This tank was about a year in the planning and has been wet for about a year and a half now. I joined WAMAS as soon as I knew I wanted a reef tank and got lots of good advice prior to purchase. I continue to appreciate the helpfulness of the community and leaders here.

My current tank is a 75 gallon Deep Blue Professional rimless tank. It came non-reef ready, so I drilled and installed a BeanAnimal 36 inch homemade overflow box and brought the returns up over the back. The tank is upstairs in my living room with a sump on the utility side of the basement. The drains and returns run through the basement ceiling and down to the sump. I have about 40 gallons of filtration downstairs in the sump, so total volume is around 115 gallons. The tank is four feet wide and Ikea makes a set of Billy shelves that are exactly 4 feet wide to fit around a television. I built them around the tank and it fits well.

I use a Reef Angel Plus controller and went to that in order to have more room to tinker with what I wanted it to do. On the Reef Angel you program everything in Arduino and can make it do whatever you want. I got interested in the internals of the software and ended up contributing a few lighting profiles and pump profiles into the codebase, which the developer has made available for everyone to use. As an example of the type of thing possible, I was tired of doing the math required to adjust alkalinity after testing and finding it was low. I wrote a routine for the Reef Angel that lets me put in the number I measure on the Hanna checker from my cellphone, for instance 141ppm. The Reef Angel does the math and figures out how many minutes to run the alk doser in order to bring the alk up to my desired level of 150ppm and runs it for that amount of time before going back to the pre-programmed schedule.

I currently have 2 Tunze 6095 powerheads facing each other in the back, and 2 Jebao RW4 powerheads facing each other in the front. I can control the speed of each of the four independently with my Reef Angel controller and sometimes run them opposing each other and sometimes synchronized diagonally so that I can get kind of a “gyre” effect going in opposite directions. ReefAngel can run DC-controllable powerheads in ways that mimic the EcoSmart modes of the Vortech pumps as well as any profile you can dream up and convert to numbers, so I have a few custom ones I run throughout the day. At night I run all four powerheads at 40% power on constant.

I have a DIY LED array above the tank. It sits 18 inches above the water surface with 60 degree lenses on all LEDs. There are six 405nm, six 430nm, 30 Cree XTE Royal Blues, 15 Cree XTE 4500k whites, 12 Cree XPE Blues, nine Cyan 495nm, and nine Deep Red 660nm emitters. They are driven by 7 MeanWell LDD-H drivers with a 48V power supply. The LDDs use PWM dimming, which the Reef Angel supplies with 4096 levels of dimming. The violets, royal blues, blues, and whites all ramp up from 0% at 7am to 100% and back down to 0% at 9pm using a Sigmoid function shape that I wrote for the Reef Angel (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigmoid_function) that I felt would simulate natural sunrise and sunset. The cyan and deep red follow the same shape, but max at 60% full power.

My sump is in the basement. It’s a 40 gallon breeder on the bottom shelf and a 20 gallon long on the top shelf. The top shelf is mainly a refugium and also holds my Avast CS1 skimmer and the outputs from my reactors. The main sump has a d120 grow-light LED array which shines on some plastic canvas for a kind of turf scrubber, and a bucket on the side with a clamp-on 2700k CFL to grow chaetomorpha (built from a Decadence design). I occasionally run GFO to reduce phosphate and also occasionally run BRS Rox 0.8 carbon in an Avast MR5 reactor with some filter floss to hold it in place when I notice the water getting discolored. I do water changes of 2.5 gallons per day with Reef Crystals when I go downstairs each morning. Each morning I switch out a mesh filter sock on my main drain and clean it and hang it to dry. I also turn over the chaeto that grows in a bucket next to my sump (it doesn’t spin). All of the water flow through the skimmer, the reactors, and the chaeto-growing bucket comes from a manifold off my return pump: a Reeflo Blackfin 3600.

I dose BRS 2-part with Ca and alk on BRS 1.1ml/min dosers. I don’t dose Mg at the moment because my 2.5 gal/day water changes seem to keep the level fairly steady. I test Mg about once per month and add it manually at that time if needed. I try to keep Ca at 425ppm, alk at 3.0meq/L, and Mg at 1425. In addition to the 2-part, since I grow so much chaetomorpha, I decided to dose iron. I am currently dosing 4ml/day of Kent Marine Iron and Manganese Plant Supplement per day. I buy the pint size bottles, dilute it to 1 gallon and run it from a 1.1ml/min doser. This supplement adds iron, but also adds a lot of potassium, so I have had to occasionally test potassium to make sure it isn’t going too high. I feel that the chaeto growth really accelerated when I added the iron supplement and my nitrate and phosphate has been in a nice low range since using it. I haven’t noticed it affecting coral color at all.

One-spot foxface, flame angel, 2 ocellaris clownfish in a green bubbletip anemone, 2 Banggai cardinals, 2 blue-green chromis, royal gramma, scarlet cleaner shrimp, banded pistol shrimp, astrea snails, blue-legged hermit crabs, and three tiger-tail cucumbers. I started out with one cucumber, but they’ve split twice, and I now have three of them. In addition to fish and inverts I have various zoanthid colonies, none very valuable, a large trachyphyllia, small frogspawn and hammer, a single chalice coral, a birdsnest island with six types of birdsnest corals (two different pink ones, one green, one rainbow, Ponape, and bird of paridise), many acroporas and montiporas, two pocilloporas, one stylophora, and some a. milleporas that I don’t have a lot of luck with. The livestock has representatives from almost all of our LFS club sponsors: Quantum Reefs, Incredible Corals, BRK, King of Corals, ERC, Marine Scene as well as lots of frags from WAMAS members.

I thaw a ¾” cube of LRS Reef Frenzy each morning and feed it split between the morning, 5pm, and around 8pm. On the weekends I also put in some Sustainable Aquatics 0.5mm pellets just because it seems to make the clownfish and royal gramma happy.

I acquired some montipora-eating nudibranchs at some point and have been fighting with them for about three months. The damage from them comes and goes. They destroyed my montipora stellata (my previous favorite) and spongodes (my second favorite) except for a small frag of spongodes I have managed to keep and which I use as a “canary” to see when they’re making another appearance. Since then I just look around in the tank with a flashlight and use a turkey baster to blow them off corals and suck them out of the water column. Things are being damaged, but some will begin to recover after the nudibranchs leave. I decided early on not to try to go “scorched earth” on them and remove all montipora and dip and quarantine. Either I’ll win or they’ll win, and I’ll wait to see eventually who does. One other challenge is that I have trouble keeping millepora corals thriving. Some have great luck with them. I don’t. I’d love to have a tank full of them, as they’re my favorite corals, but I can’t seem to manage it.

I am looking at adding two of the new Maxspect Gyre pumps when I learn more about how they can be controlled. I am also looking to add some blue T5 lighting as a supplement for a few hours per day to try to get better color in some of my corals. Down the road I’d like to move to a 180 gallon tank in the same location.

I love reef tanks as a hobby. I enjoy the fact that it’s something you get better at with time and that you can see the results of experience in the tank. It’s not something you can learn from a book or class and be good at. I like the community and the shared language we can speak and love for the animals we keep. I find corals to be deeply weird and very cool. They’re a combination of an animal, a plant, a rock, a colony, and an individual. They seem like alien creatures to me, and I’m very excited to have some small success growing them and look forward to many years of getting better at this.

  • Display: Deep Blue Pro 75g
  • Sump: 40g & 20g
  • Skimmer: Avast CS1
  • Lighting: DIY LED
  • Return Pump: Reeflo Blackfin 3600
  • Circulation: Tunze 6095 x2, Jebao RW4 x2
  • Dosing: BRS dosers