My tank is a 180 gallon, all glass (72 long by 24 deep by 24 inches wide, reef ready aquarium. It is my second salt-water aquarium. My first was a fish only aquarium stocked with local fish of Baja, Mexico where I spent most of my life in the sport fishing industry. Moving from San Diego to the East Coast was more than a bit of a culture shock, but I knew having 180 gallons of tropical salt water in my living room would definitely help me make the transition. This 180 is about five and a half years old and has provided countless hours of beauty and entertainment for my whole family.
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Philosophy / Methodology
I can’t say there is any one methodology that is used in this system. Though I did start the system knowing I wanted about a 6 inch DSB, 250 pounds of live rock, and a very diverse community of inhabitants, I was not trying to duplicate any one method. In the last 10 years of owning and being around salt water aquariums, along with reading publications like Advanced Aquarist’s, I have incorporated many different methodologies into this reef tank. I can’t say all have worked, but trial and error is a part of this hobby.
Circulation for this tank is provided by an Iwaki 55 RLT for the return pump, and a velocity T4 on my closed loop system. The closed loop system incorporates two ¾” Sea Swirls on each end of the tank providing plenty of additional current.
To keep the tank at the correct temperature, a Custom Sealife 1/3 hp chiller is part of the closed loop system. I thought this might restrict the flow too much, but it didn’t. I also have PinPoint monitors for PH and salinity.
I have an Aquaspacelite that has been completely rebuilt and modified by Icecap, with their ballasts. The fixture has three 250HQI electronic ballasts burning 3 250HQI lamps, along with IceCaps single ballast burning 4 actinic 24w bulbs. The ballast is now remote, and the fixture has a temperature sensitive fan that cools it. The MH’s are on a 10 hour light cycle and the actinics are on a 12 hour light cycle.
The filtration for the tank is provided by an ETS 800 skimmer driven by an Iwaki 55 RLT pump. The sump is 65 gal with 30 lbs of live rock providing a place for copepods to breed.
Calcium & Additives
I do not use a calcium reactor on this tank. I’m sure calcium reactor’s work great, but I have never used one. I prefer to dose B-Ionic additives with a Spectra liter Meter.
I definitely use plenty of these additives, and cost is a concern, but leaving the tank for days at a time as I do for fishing trips, I would worry about using a reactor.
My Nitrite, Nitrate, orthphosphate levels, at the time I tested for them were not detectable, I don’t test them any more — this is just me, this is not for everyone. I find just looking at the tank tells me if something is a miss. I do test for Calcium and Alkalinity once a week.
Feedings take place once a day in the evening. I feed a combination of Mysis shrimp, Brine shrimp and veggies, along with some flake food to the fish and invertebrates. The corals get fed every three days with a mixture of frozen plankton.
- Cal 420 ppm
- ALK 8-10 dKH
- pH 8.0-8.2
- S.G. 1.025
- Temp 80-83
Maintenance on this tank is very basic. I do a 30 gallon water change every three weeks and test the water every three days. I clean the glass and scrape coralline as needed, usually every four to five days. Unfortunately, this tank is not situated in a location where plumbing is accessible; therefore I have to do the water top off daily. When I leave the tank for a few days or a week I leave the babysitter with plenty of R/O water.
Many of the inhabitants have been around for three to five years in this tank. The fish include a Yellow Tang, Chevron Tang, Sailfin Tang, and Orange Shoulder Tang. I should add that all of these tangs were added as juveniles and seem to get along just fine. Other inhabitants include Chalk Bass, Six Line Wrasse, Square Back Anthious, Marks Angel, Swallow Tail Angel, one Blue Reef Cromis, and a school of Green Reef Cromids, 3 Skunk Clownfish and there rose bubble anemone. There are also cleaner, peppermint and a very cool harlequin shrimp. As far as the SPS in the tank, I won’t list them, but there are more than 40. The tank also has 5-10 LPS corals, 10-12 zooanthids and 5 types of Ricordia spp. You might notice other species in the photos, but for the purposes of this article I’ll limit it to the above.
How/where I Acquired My Species
I am very fortunate to have a fantastic salt water fish store in my town call Reef and Fin. My guess is that at least 90% of what you see in these pictures came from this store. In addition to having an incredibly healthy stock and the variety that I’m looking for, Chris Jessen, the store’s owner has been a source of knowledge and guidance for me over the past five years. The other 10% comes from trading with other reef keepers.
Anything Else Notable About The Tank
I don’t know if this is the most notable thing about my tank, but I have not found the need for a refugium. Not to take anything away from refugiums, but this tank has tunicates, sponges, copepods and a wide variety of organisms thriving throughout.