WAMAS Tank of the Month
It kind of feels weird to be on this side of the process. As some of you know I am a TOTM committee member. Every month I get to spend my time looking at beautiful tanks. All the stories and pictures make me always aspire to try that much harder to have a beautiful tank. I absolutely do not feel as if my tank is worth a TOTM yet, maybe a year from now. But how can I preach that TOTM is not always about the best tank, it is about getting to know one another, or hearing about struggles and successes, and yet turn down the nominations and votes. So, I will make this more about my story. Thank you to all those out there who have helped me with my tank and who has helped me develop an ever-growing love for the hobby. It's crazy to think my passion for fish tanks started with a Beta named Zeus that I bought my wife back in 2003. It wasn't until after several fresh water tanks that I found my true passion, by starting my first saltwater set up in 2011. I am very thankful for the friends I have made through WAMAS and look forward to seeing all your tanks grow and change as well.
I am running a 75 gallon Deep Blue Reef Ready Tank. We have it in our sunroom, just off our kitchen.
Most of my water movement is created by RW15 which is controlled by my APEX. I have a Jebao Dc1200 Controllable return pump that feeds the return pipe and an Avast bio-pellet reactor.
A 36" 4 lamp ATI T5 fixture w/Blue+ lamps and a 36" XHO Reef Brite Tech Blue strip controlled by a Reef Brite dimmer controller. I have that tied into my apex for dusk to dawn simulation which runs from 7am – 7pm. The apex controls it from 20% to 80% over the course of two hours in the morning and the opposite takes place in the evening starting at 5pm. My T5s turn on at 10am and off at 5pm. I have always had the best results with T5 but really like the pop from LEDS so here I get the best of both worlds.
Bubble Magus Curve 9 Skimmer
Avast Reactor w/Bio Pellet mod
75ish Pounds of live rock
2 Quarts 1½" Bio Spheres
Filter sock (occasionally)
Starting off with my Curve 9 skimmer I would like to say for the most part this has been a beast. I have my baffle set to 9" which is the minimum they recommended but really has allowed me the ability to dial it in and skim wet or dry depending on my nutrient levels or if I travel I can skim dry and not worry about it overflowing. Who knows if the bio pellets work or not? I have been using them for years so I am now hesitant to take them offline so once a year I add about 200ml into the existing ones in my reactor. I would guess I have about 500ml of bio pellets total but probably every brand know to man is in there. My tank currently has about 75lbs of live rock. I bought it maybe 7 years ago from Reef Cleaners as dry rock. I don't really like how long it takes to cure any type of quarried rock but for cost which is always a factor with me, I didn't have much of a choice. Moving on, I decided I was tired of cleaning my sump out by running a reverse lighting cycle and growing chaetomorpa. Now with two young ones I had to eliminate some of the tedious task and with the shear amount of algae that was growing in my sump I decided to take that offline and add 2 quarts of biospheres in that chamber. Do they work? I do not know, I do not test for nitrates or phosphates. I know I had a nasty algae outbreak for several months in my main tank after the switch as the algae needed somewhere else to grow. Once things leveled out the hair algae died off and now I do not have a sump to scrub once a month. I truly believe that your tank will find balance to how you maintain it. Everyone has different methods and beliefs but figure out what works for you and run with it and never forget, the only thing that happens fast in this hobby is a tank crash, go slow and watch it grow. Try not to change to much, too fast. I also use filter socks occasionally while I am blowing my rocks of with a baster or while I am siphoning my sand bed to catch any suspended particles. After a day or so I will take the sock out and go sockless. I don't want to trap the bugs running around. I almost forgot carbon. When I notice the water yellowing or if I even think I smell my tank I will throw a bag of carbon in the sump. So maybe twice a year I will have carbon in my sump near the return pump. That seems to help clear things up after a week or so, sometimes I just do an extra water change and skip that all together. So, I started dosing Essential Elements once I switched from Reef Crystals to regular Instant Ocean. I was tired of my mixing station turning brown for one, also I was tired of the inconsistence of Reef Crystals. I always pre-mix the bags of salt before I start making saltwater to ensure nothing settled in the bag and sometimes I would have a 9dkh batch of Reef Crystals sometimes it would be 13dkh. To be honest I am no chemist and never figured out if it was PH causing that or if oxygen levels were causing it but I knew the anticoagulants they put in Reef Crystals caused the browning in my mixing station so after a ton of reading I made the switch to Instant Ocean. Since then I have no browning in my mixing station and my dkh is consistently at 9 in every batch. This leads to why I started adding Essential Elements. I didn't have the cash to buy a bunch of test kits and buy a bunch of different additives to offset what I was missing switching from Reef Crystals to Instant Ocean so I did a bit of reading and decided on my own to try a small dosing regimen of Essential Elements. Maybe its snake oil but the corals seem to be happy and respond well once a week when I add 15ml of it. Lastly, I dose Calcium and Alkalinity using BRS dosing pumps and they get controlled through my apex. I dose about 30ml of both at alternating times every 30 minutes. Alk at the top of the hour, Cal 30 minutes later. My Acans really suck the calcium out of the water column once they get growing. I have gone up to about 60ml a day which may not be much to some of you stick heads but it seems a lot to me for Acans. My last tank crash happened when I cut up all my acans and did not think to adjust my alk. All the frags were moved to my frag tank (completely separate system) and while being complacent I waited another week to test my water parameters. I woke up one morning everything seemed a little off so I tested my water. In 6 days the dkh went from 10 to 16!! I turned my dosing pumps off did a small water change to not change the dkh too fast and allowed the rest of the dkh to drop slowly on its own. I don't know if that was the best move or not but I had some sweet sps at the time which most died. I had several zoas melt and even once things leveled out I lost a few easier sps sticks. Nothing grew at all for a couple months after which made me realize even more how important more frequent testing was... I am a huge fan of Wrasses. I had a few other Fairy and Flasher wrasses all have which jumped the tank during water changes. I have caught several and put them back in the tank but some slipped through unnoticed until it was too late. I have a real tight screen so that's the only way they have made it out. My son came running to me last year, this looks like a fish, this looks like a fish!! Yep, that was the last flasher wrasse which must have jumped out the day before during a water change :/ Now that the fish I currently have are grown, it is probably better this way for nutrient levels. I am also personally more in this hobby for the corals although the fish do add some personality to the tank. I have a mixed reef tank. It consists of SPS, LPS, Euphyllia, and Softies. I was originally drawn to Zoanthids and to this day they are still my favorite. Two years ago, I had about 90 different species. I experienced a tank crash during a staph infection where I could not touch my tank for a couple months. I was stuck in a bed for several weeks and lost just about everything. Luckily, I had made several friends in this Club and also was able to do some trading so I am back up to over 50 species now. I am not a knowledgeable sps guy but I have 6 different sticks. A purple slimmer, Garf bonsai, Cali Tort, and a few other unknowns. As far as LPS go I have 13 acans which have some cool, unique patterns, and two different Favias. I also like Euphyllia a lot. I have a real nice Rainbow Wall Hammer, Rainbow Torch, and Golden Branching Hammer, Gold Torch, a sweet Blue Torch which never grows, Teal Hammer, Blue Green Sympodium, Pipe Organ, and I am sure a few more I have forgot or overlooked. LRS Reef Frenzy is what I mainly feed my fish and corals daily. My acans also get fed Fauna Marin LPS pellets around midnight once a week. The fish will eat whatever I spot feed the acans when lights are on so I stopped that. Time. Time has always been the challenge. Finding time when life seems to continue to throw my family curve balls is a never-ending struggle. Over the past four years I have had health issues, I lost my Mom, an older brother, gained two beautiful boys, we've gone down to a single income and now we have alternating working schedules which leaves little time to focus on tank maintenance. Finding balance in our schedule and time to dedicate to my tanks have by far been the hardest challenges. Thankfully, I am blessed with a supportive wife and children who are just as in awe of these tanks as I am. It helps keep that passion alive. I would absolutely love to have an In-Wall tank in my basement. 150 gallons or so nothing too crazy but something I can go sit in front of in a lazy boy and just relax. I would also like to continue to help this community out to some capacity whether it's just through the TOTM or doing other things. Time is always an issue so for now I will just keep doing what I am doing. I will say I would not be where I am in this hobby without this club so thank you to everyone who has been a part of that!! Go slow and watch it grow. Nothing happens fast in this hobby, except a tank crash! Figure out what works for you and make it about you! I see a lot of people adapting their tank to mimic what they see in other tanks just because they think it is the way that it "should be." I think this takes something away from the hobby. Personalization is what makes this so much fun to me. Everyone's system should be different and customized to the owner's preference.