Copps’ New Beast

by | Jan 27, 2014 | Corals, Equipment, Eye Candy, Fish, Tanks | 0 comments


Copps’ New Beast

John Coppolino, better known as “Copps” or the angelfish guru to reef geeks, is in the midst of setting up and absolute dream system to house his prized collection of fish and corals. A behemoth of a home aquarium system, this build is absolutely mind boggling to watch. Oh, did I mention that there was a new house built around this aquarium system to boot? The main display comes in at a whopping ~1,300 US gallons (~5,000 liters), with the mesmerizing dimensions of 8.5 feet long x 6 feet wide x 42 inches tall (~2.6 m x 1.8 m x 1 m tall) and weighs in at 1,300 pounds, while empty.


Copps’ RC TOTM January 2011

Knowing John and his previous accomplishments of RC TOTM twice, September 2004 and January 2011, this aquarium is sure to be a show stopper. So far the system has been running about three months, and John is just starting to lightly stock the system. There are three display tanks in John’s new home, two of them plumbed into the main system; the aforementioned 1,300 gallon display along with a 240 gallon anemone display. The third aquarium is a replacement for his current ‘kitchen FOWLR’, which is chock full of gorgeous large angelfish among many other fishes, coming in at 350 gallons this FOWLR aquarium is ran on a separate system.


350 gallon FOWLR display.


240 gallon anemone display connected to main system.


John standing on Fibergrate deck that allows easy access to main display aquarium.


Backside of main display.

The main display structure is fiberglass, which on this size tank is the way to go to ensure longevity. Two large viewing panels provide crystal clear viewing into this true piece of the ocean. Lighting is currently provided by six 400 watt Ushio metal halides and six VHO actinics, soon to be complemented by adding three radion Gen3 Pros. The 1,300 gallon water vessel utilizes six Ecotech MP60s for internal flow, and employs a massive 300 watt Emperor Aquatics commercial UV system for protection of prized fishes. At the heart of the main system is the largest skimmer Avast Marine has ever built.


Main display lighting system.


John holding the 300 watt Emperor Aquatics commercial UV system.


You know you’re a reef geek when your Avast Marine skimmer is taller than your daughter!


Epoxied sand seen here underneath rock structures.

Biological filtration is provided through the use of 900 pounds of Marco Rock and a shallow sand bed of CaribSea Special Grade Reef Sand. Wait, what? Yep, one of the most well known keepers of gorgeous bare bottom aquariums now has a SSB. But who can blame him, it looks awesome! Here’s what John had to say regarding the decision, “I like the barebottom theory but in every dive I’ve done around the world you never see a sorry glass or plastic bottom on the reefs! So, I thought up a solution to keep beautiful reef sand in only the viewable area of the system, so that I could get to them with a gravel vacuum. Having such a huge rock structure built up on sand would cause long term problems with detritus. So, I used acrylic sheet sections about 2′ x 2′ or 3′ to cover the bottom of the tank. I glued small 1/2″ acrylic rod in sections of this to act a rebar. I then took the special grade reef sand and mixed it with epoxy and packed it on the acrylic base where I knew rocks would sit on top.”


Main water change system and coral QT area.


Fish QT, filter sock washing machine, dehumidifier and QT water change reservoir.

The fish room is worthy of an article in itself, consisting of around two hundred gallons of fish quarantine, one hundred gallons of coral quarantine, RO holding reservoir, saltwater holding reservoir, dedicated QT saltwater holding reservoir and dedicated washing machine for filter socks to keep the wife happy. A 105 pint per day humidifier along with a one and a half ton minisplit AC/heater keeps the temperature stable and humidity at bay in the fish room. Seventeen 20 amp circuits adorn the walls bringing all the equipment to life. The arrangement of RO holding reservoirs and saltwater holding reservoirs allows John to perform water changes on the main system with only the twist of a couple valves.

We are anxious to see more updates of this prodigious aquarium system build, and wish John continued success moving forward with this system. Be sure to keep an eye out for the next installment with updates of “Copps’ New Beast”.

  • Austin Lefevre

    Austin Lefevre founded and owns Aqua Box, a group of passionate professionals who bring unique aquarium systems to fruition worldwide and offer fully quarantined and conditioned fishes to the US retail market. Austin has been a bonafide fish nerd for his entire life. When the kids in elementary school were reading Dr. Seuss, Austin was reading Jacques Cousteau. He's been in the aquarium industry since 2002 working in local fish stores, coral farms, and headed up a fish breeding program. He's been an avid SCUBA diver since the age of 12 and consistently seeks new aquatic adventures.


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