Feature Aquarium: The Aquarium of Francis Cheah

It is a great honour to be chosen as the Featured Aquarium by Advanced Aquarist. It gives me great pleasure to present my tank to you.


How it all Started

The tank was started in September 2003, in fact as a result of the Finding Nemo movie. What was meant to be a casual discussion with my daughter, after watching the movie, evolved into a marine tank, after some mild objection from my wife and many marine aquaria books. Needless to say, Nemo and Dory were stars of the tank; it was after all due to their influence.

The tank initially started as a mainly fish, softies and LPS tank. The initial setup was done by a local LFS here (Marine Life Hobbielist) as even after lots of research and countless books, I was not confident enough to do the first setup on my own.

As my tank matured, and as fishes come and go; I was attracted by the excellent looking tanks posted in various forums and bulletin boards, especially those with SPS in them. I started planning for the next level and embark on SPS in January 2004. I started upgrading equipment, lights, protein skimmer, calcium reactor and chiller. Before I know it, I was stocking frags and finally some colonies.

At the end of a hard day’s work, it is extremely relaxing and satisfying for me to see growth and colouration of my SPS (much to the dismay of my wife). I was also very glad I shared this hobby with my children.tank4.JPGtank3.JPGtank7.JPGtank2.JPG



Aquarium Profile

  • Tank dimension : 3.5 ft by 2 ft by 2 ft
  • Sump with refugium : 2.5 ft by 1.5 ft by 1.5 fttank9.JPGtank8.JPGtank5.JPGtank1.JPG
  • Tank and Sump volume : 100 gallons


I started with an Azoo MH with 2 x 150W and 2 Blue PL. When I started on SPS, I upgraded the lights to the following configuration,  placed 7 inches above the water.Equipment_Lights.JPG


  • Metal Halide Aqualight with 3 x 250W 10,000K BLV DE
  • T5 DIY 2 sets of 4 x 54 W tubes each. Each set consists of 3 Aqualight Coralblue and 1 Aquaz actinics.
Light Duration
1st set of T5 0830 to 2200 hrs
2nd set of T5 1000 to 2400 hrs
1 x 250W 10,000K MH 1230 to 2130 hrs
2 x 250 W 10,000K MH 1300 to 2100 hrs


Water Circulation and Return

Water circulation, which is essential for SPS, is done using the following :

Water Circulation & Return
Equipment Output
2 sets of tunze Stream 6000 2 x 7000 lit/hr
1st return pump Eheim 1262 (from sump to
chiller to tank)
3400 lit/hr
2nd return pump Eheim 1262 (sump to tank) 3400 lit/hr
5 nos Maxijet 1200 5 x 1100 lit/hr



Main filtration is through a DIY Single Beckett Protein Skimmer run by an Iwaki MD 55 pump. Chamber diameter is 8 inches and height of the chamber is 30 inches. I use small quantities of Rowaphos in a bag for Phosphate removal and changed monthly. GAC is used in small quantities placed in a bag and changed weekly. I have a Shallow Sand Bed in the main tank and Deep Sand Bed in one of the sump compartments.

Calcium and Alkalinity Supplement

Calcium and alkalinity supplement is done using a DIY Dual Chamber Calcium Reactor. Even with my high occupancy of SPS colonies in my tank, the Calcium Reactor is sufficient to fully support the tank and I rarely need to dose any additional supplement.




Daeil Sun Cool � hp chiller run by the return pump Eheim 1262. The chiller is connected with 20mm PVC pipes from the pump in the sump and to the return into the tank. Temperature is set at 27 C. I run a second standby chiller Daeil Fish-Cooler � hp as backup to the main chiller set at a slightly higher temperature. This standby chiller is run using a separate loop (Eheim 1250) to cater for possible pump failure to the main chiller.


Maintenance and Husbandry

I do 5% water change every week using distilled water and Tropic Marine Pro-Reef salts. The skimmer collection cup is cleaned every week. The tank glass is cleaned daily with cleaning magnets. I do water test every week using Salifert Test Kits. All top up water using distilled water is dripped with Kalkwasser every 2 to 3 days. I stopped dosing additional supplements for 5 months but recently started dosing again.Acro_Purple_hoeksemai.JPGAcro_Blue_Millepora.JPGAcro_Pink_loripes.JPG

Dosage / Feedings
Tropic Marine Lugol’s Solution 1 drop daily
Salifert Amino Acids 5 ml daily
Seachem Strontium 1 tsp daily
Fishes Mysis shrimp and pellets Once @ 2 days
Water Parameters
Ammonia and Nitrite Undetectable
Nitrate Undetectable
Phosphate Undetectable
Calcium 400 ppm
Magnesium 1400 ppm
Alkalinity 10 dKH
pH 7.9 to 8.4
Specific Gravity 1.025
Tank temperature 26.6 – 27.4oC







  • Over 40 colonies and frags, including various acropora, montipora, seriatopora, stylophora and pocillopora.Monti_Monti_digitata.JPGMonti_Enc_monti2.JPGMonti_Enc_monti1.JPGAcro_Yellow_tenuis.JPG


  • Frogspawn
  • blastomussa
  • acanthastrea
  • micromussa
  • lobophylliaPink_stylo.JPGMonti_Plating_monti1.JPGMonti_Plating_monti2.JPGMonti_Purple_digi.JPGPink_pocci.JPG
  • cynarina
  • trachyphyllia



  • Yellow tang
  • Blue tang
  • flame angel
  • Potter’s angel
  • multicolour angel
  • rusty angel
  • leopard wrasse
  • yellow wrassePhotoPhotoPhotoPhoto
  • wheeler’s goby
  • 2 nos. orchid dottyback
  • mandarin goby
  • 2 nos. true percula clown
  • 5 nos. blue chromis


    • fire shrimpsZoanthid2.JPGZoanthid3.JPGZoanthid1.JPG
    • boxer shrimp
    • coco worm
    • numerous tube worms
    • assorted snails
    • maxima clams
    • crocea clams



Growth Sequence




Growth Sequence






Growth Sequence






Growth Sequence


I would especially thank my wife, Serina, for all her patience to put up with this hobby of mine; as well as my 2 kids, Megan and Tristan, who constantly amaze me with their newfound knowledge on marine aquaria. They are the ones who started me on the hobby, which has since evolved into a daily conversation topic on the dinner table.

Many thanks also to the fellow reefers in Singapore who have helped in one way or another to make this a truly fascinating hobby for me. You are a great bunch of guys.

  Advanced Aquarist

 Advanced Aquarist

  (101 articles)

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