WAMAS Tank of the Month
Thank you so much to the TOTM Committee for the hard work they put into this, and to WAMAS for this honor. I have learned so much from the WAMAS community, so it's really because of you all that this tank looks like it does. For those that don't know, I'm a student at Virginia Tech so my mom maintains this tank while I'm away from home. So huge thanks to my mom who has, incredibly, put up with holes in the wall, floods, sick fish, and all the other malady's of the hobby yet still pays attention to even the most minute details of the tank and has kept it so beautiful. Finally, thanks to Phil at Reef eScape, who has taught me tons while keeping me employed the last few summers.
Tank is a Deep Blue Reef Ready 57g Rimless on a Deep Blue Stand. The Deep Blue overflow box is much larger than it needs to be so I removed it and cut it down to size. The tank is a mixed reef but mainly geared to SPS and some LPS.
Two Vortech MP10's provide water movement. They're not synced with each other and are both on separate programs, which works for me. My return pump is an eheim 1250 which moves very little water through the sump and only moves about 50 gallons per hour at this point.
ATI Sunpower Dimmable 6*39 Watt T5's. Bulbs are 2* ATI Aquablue Special, 2*ATI Blue Plus, GE 6500K, and ATI Purple plus. I have messed around with a lot of LEDs, and it was kind of a step back to go to T5s, but I love the way they look in and over this tank, and the new dimmable features.
Filtration has been constantly changing on this tank. For a long time I had no skimmer or mechanical filtration of any kind, but with our recent increased fish load, I got the skimmer working again. It's a SWC Xtreme 150 and works pretty well. The refugium has a simple two bulb T5 fixture over it but has never done too well, I think mainly due to a build up of algae due to low flow. The skimmer, refugium, heater, reefkeeper lite, etc, are all contained in a 20G sump. Aside from that there's about 30-40 pounds of LS and 40-50 pounds of LR in the display.
A couple of tanks ago I became a huge fan of permanent aquascapes (no loose rocks or anything to move around) and minimal rock on the sand bed (helps keep the tank clean and free of detritis). This also allows you to make some pretty cool and creative scapes. I created my scape using a pvc pipe base that is attached to a vertical fiber glass rod. The rocks were dry marco rocks that I drilled and stacked how I liked.
Mainly SPS and LPS but also a lot of zoas on one side. My favorite fish is the White Tail Tang and my mom's favorite is the orange spot blenny.
Feeding is about once a day with either LRS Reef Blend or Marine Cuisine and occasional dry food in addition.
The biggest challenges with this tank were to make it quiet, as it's in the living room. This was solved with low flow through the refugium and a Bean Animal overflow (I LOVE it). Another challenge was to make the tank as easy to maintain, and as safe as possible. To overcome this, I used a DJ board, with everything labeled, a Reefkeeper Lite which is hooked up to float valves to constantly check water level and shut off the ATO/return pump as necessary, and a water change system which involves simply siphoning water out of the back door, and then filling back up by hitting a button on the DJ board to pump water up from the basement.
My biggest suggestion for others is to plan very far into the future for your tank, and then build accordingly. As you start building, if you notice something that bothers you a little, fix it right away, it will become harder to fix and will bother you more in the future. I would like to make a more permanent way of draining the tank as opposed to having to roll out a hose and start a siphon (yes, I'm lazy, and I like making things easy). I also hate the Deep Blue stand and would like to build my own to replace it. That's a big job though. This is an incredible hobby and I encourage aquarists to explore the many different aspects it entails rather than just the coral and fish. That includes travel, photography, woodworking, welding, scuba, breeding, conservation, etc. I am young, but I think it's had a huge impact on my life and my world views.
Once again thank you so much to my mom for all of her help and support (she took/put together these pictures by the way!) and the WAMAS community. Also can't wait to see you all at MACNA 2015!