Ugh! Who can afford a second hobby?!
My first tank was a 55g marine fish only with U/G filter and hang on powerfilter. A year later I
started a 55g "Berlin style" reef with N.O. fluorescents and a DIY airstone skimmer. I had
those tanks until about 1997. I came back into the hobby in 2002 with a 30g hex reef. It was
quite successful until 2006 when it crashed during a power failure/equipment malfunction
while, you guessed it, I was on vacation. This current tank has been up since August 2006,
though the tank itself and equipment have been a year and a half long
designing/purchasing project in the making.
I don't think there is any special secret to reef keeping. I try to understand as best I can
what is going on in my tank (from water chemistry to biological processes to social
interactions) and care for the system accordingly. I research and question as much as I can.
Sometimes I have to learn things the hard way…through personal experience. After the
loss of my previous tank, I think quality equipment is invaluable,
115 gallon (48" wide x 31" tall x 18" deep) with center overflow. Eurobraced. Low iron front
panel. Half inch thick glass. Tank, stand, and canopy are all from Glasscages.
Custom acrylic sump (thanks SDA619) with fuge compartent. The whole thing only measures
24" wide x 16" tall x 10" deep. The fuge holds about 4g, and is fed from a tee off the main
return, and on a reverse light cycle. Tumbling chaeto is all I keep in there.
Although I prefer deeper tanks, considering cost per square foot in San Diego, I opted for a
tall, shallow tank instead. I do not have an equipment room, so I had to fit enough
equipment for a 115g reef under a tank with a 60g footprint. Hence the small sump. I
basically purchased all the equipment I knew I wanted or was going to need, and then
designed a sump to fit in the remaining space. Marine fish are what I started with in this
hobby, and they are still my focus. I therefore also had to design my system knowing it
would have a very high fish load, with anthias being my favorite reef fish. Two tanks were
not an option. Invert wise, the tank was set up to be able to keep anything from mushrooms
to acropora, and everything in between.
100lbs of Fiji. Half from OG, and half direct from Walt Smith. All rock is threaded onto acrylic
rods for stability.
The tank is barebottom. I was planning on sand, but have since decided against it, at least
for the time being.
I try not to gamble too much anymore. That is, I try to have redundancies where I can: A
backup second drain in the overflow. A waste collector with shutoff on the skimmer. My
return simply ends 1/4" below the surface, so no dependency on a siphon break hole. Just
peace of mind.
There isn't much to say here. After many years in this hobby and a few previous tanks, I had
a preconceived notion as to what I wanted, and have pretty much stayed true to form. The
live rock was purchased at one time, and threaded onto acrylic rods in one weekend. After
a small amount of cycling, and a few algal blooms, I began buying corals. Originally I wanted
to wait on buying fish until most of my corals were purchased and settled in. I found this to
be a lofty goal, and had fish in the tank not two months after filling it with water. My
shopaholic tendencies filled the tank in mere months. I've lost a frag here and there, and
went through a miserable run with dispar anthias, but beyond that, casualties have been
minor. A successful redbug erradication was my most recent venture. I feel airing both the
good and the bad can be helpful to my fellow reefers.
Two 250W DE 14K Phoenix in PFO pendants on IceCap ballasts.
A single 1W PFO LED moonlight. The fuge is lit by a single PAR38 Reflector 16 Watt /
The halides are on from noon until 8pm. The moonlight is on from 8pm until 9am.
The fuge light is on from 8pm until noon the next day.
The tank pretty much depends on flow and skimming. Phosban and carbon, and water
changes do the rest. Due to the small sump size, only about 300-400gph flows through it. I
believe this helps with skimmer efficiency.
An AquaController Jr. controls all
lights, cooling fans, the dosing pump,
and the CO2 solenoid.
Korallin C-1502. M3 regulator. ARM media. 10lb CO2 tank (hidden in the closet). The reactor
No heater. A 1/4HP JBJ Artica chiller runs on
warmer, summer days. I have no A/C.
Holds phosban and hydrocarbon. Only gets changed when the phosban needs it, not the
A closed loop (thanks David M for drilling the tank)
powered by a ReefFlo Hammerhead supplies all of
the tank's flow. Ten 3/4" outlets are equally spaced
around the top perimeter of the tank. These can
be adjusted as need. Two have shutoff valves.
All topoff water is saturated kalk water dosed
throughout the day with a dosing pump.
Daily, I feed the fish and check the AC Jr. for temp and pH. Every 3 days or so I have to
mix up 5g of kalk saturated topoff water. I'll also check the calcium reactor effluent drip
rate and pH. Once a week I will empty and clean the skimmer cup/waste collector, and
usually test tank and reactor effluent alkalinity. I will also brush clean the overflow teeth
on the fuge. About once a month I test all water parameters, check reactor bubble and
drip rates, and do a 30g water change. The sump return pump (Pan World) and skimmer
pump get taken apart and cleaned every 6 months. Halide bulbs will be replaced once a
year, maybe more often. Haven't decided.
ESV Magnesium as needed. Kalk in topoff water.
I get all my fresh water from my lab at work (RO/DI). I use Instant Ocean salt and supplement
it with Turbo Calcium.
Since the tank is relatively young, I have not decided on some of the long term
maintenance issues, such as complete skimmer removal and cleaning, Hammerhead pump
cleaning, pH probe replacement, sump cleaning…the list goes on.
Just wanted to say thanks for all the kind words I have received about my tank. As I become
more involved on SDreefs and get to meet/know more of you, it means a lot to have my tank
complimented on by my fellow reefers.
My Reef Creations MR2. Dual injectors on a GenX PCX-55. Waste collector with emergency
shutoff when full was an invaluable additional purchase.
During fish additions I run a 15W (undersized) UV that I have from a previous tank.