Featured Aquarium: Jim Curry’s 180-gallon Mixed Reef

by | Nov 15, 2006 | 0 comments

FTShot_3.jpgI would like to thank Advanced Aquarist for this opportunity to be the featured tank for the month of November – I would have never thought that after 16 months of receiving animals that my tank would be mature enough to glean that honor. Special thanks to all the reefers who have supported me at www.manhattanreefs.com and to Randy Donowitz for having the confidence in my system to submit the entry. Photos were taken by Jonathan Hale.

My 180g mixed reef was set up in May 2005 and received animals from my 92g corner bow front in July 2005. Since then, the system hasn’t changed much from its original design with the exception of my lighting and skimmer. My initial calculations put me 75 gallons short on my skimmer capacity and with the lighting, so I went from 3-250w XM 10k SE Halides supplemented with 7’ URI VHO super actinic over to 4-250w DE Reef Optix III Pendants with 14k Phoenix bulbs and NO supplementation – the fixture hanging above the tank with the SE’s was too cumbersome to allow ready access to the tank for maintenance and livestock additions or adjustments or fragging.FTS_LightPLan.jpg



  • Display – 4-250w DE Reef Optix III Pendants with 14k Pheonix bulbs – NO Actinic supplementation
  • Refugium – Home Depot Spot light with 65w bulb
  • Frag Tank – DE 250w Hamilton Pendant with 14k Phoenix bulb




65g custom Life Reef 3/8” acrylic with dual filter sock drains and baffles. All the mechanical equipment including auto top off float switch, PH and Temp probes, heater, circulation pumps for refuge, frag tank, Phosban reactor and calcium reactor are housed here. I also have 25’ of RO tubing that goes in between the sump baffles to heat up the feed to the RO/DI unit – higher output for $2 of RO tubing.



For mechanical filtration I have (2) 7”x16” filter socks and skim with a Life Reef VS3-24 in-sump skimmer powered by a Sedra 12000.



My refugium is an AGA Standard 29g tank that gravity feeds the display tank. This was done purposefully because I wanted all organisms to live when going from the fuge to the display. The refuge houses my deep sand bed – I designed it with a remote DSB so that in the event of a crash, I could take it offline in a second and replace it (DSB) without complication. There is also about 50lbs of live rock, rubble and acres of Chaetomorpha.



Calcium Reactor

  • MRC CR6 – Dual Chamber (6” and 4”)
  • ARM reactor media
  • Milwaukee regulator



GenX PCX-55 (1100g per hour pressure rated) – There are two returns that get regulated by ball valves – one of the returns is again split into two ¾ penductors. The second return has an Ocean Motions 4 way on it with lock line to direct the flow. The OM alternates to opposite outlets so there is a front to back wave effect. The in tank circulation is powered by:

  • tunze 6000 on a single controller with photocell
  • Eco Tech vortech Pump


I have about 400lbs of live rock with some of them show piece size at 50-65lbs each. The rest was base rock when it was added in May 2005.4way.jpgTopOff_WC.jpg



Hard (SPS)

My tank is an SPS heaven with the majority of the real estate being occupied by MontiporaFTS_4.jpgFTS_2.jpgFTS_1.jpg


  • Digitata – purple, orange and green
  • Undata
  • Hispida
  • Capricornus – one of my green with purple rim caps is 18” wide and 10” deep. Caps include Leng Sy, Tyree LE Grape, pink with white polyps, highlighter green capblue, pinks and greensFTS_3.jpg


    • Tortosa
    • Nana
    • Subulata
    • ChesterfieldensisGreenTable_1.jpg
    • Green Slimer
    • Granulosa (purple monster)
    • Humulis
    • Purple Bonsai
    • Green Table
    • Tri color
    • Sarmentosa (green with pink tips)




  • Blue with PinkTubsBN_2.jpg
  • Red
  • Green


  • Pink


  • Blue tip and body


Soft (LPS)ORABN_1.jpg

  • Acanastrea Lorowensis – War paint, Orange Crush, Reds and Alien Eyes
  • Candy Canes – neon Green with white stripes
  • Blastomosa – Merleti and Wellsi
  • Green Pipe Organ

Zoos and other

  • Eagle EyesredAcans_Close_2.jpg
  • Mean Greens
  • Pink Palythoas
  • Baby Blue Palythoas
  • Green Palythoas
  • Mushroom Anemone
  • Yellow Polyps
  • Kenya Tree
  • Blue Mushrooms
  • Atlantis Triple Reds
  • Black spongeOrangeZoos.jpgLMB SHot_2.jpgOrangeCrushAcans.jpgCandyCanes_Close_1.jpg
  • Blue Mushrooms
  • Capnella Tree


    • Hippo Tang – Palacanthurus hepatusBlackSponge.jpgGreenZoos_1.jpgLMB SHot_1.jpgHoevans_1.jpg
    • Orange Shoulder – Acanthurus olivaceous
    • Yellow Tang – Zebromosa flavescens
    • Desjardin Tang – Zebromosa dejardinii
    • Bartlett Anthias (3) – Pseudoanthias bartlettorum
    • Swallowtail Angel (female) — Genecanthus melanospilos
    • Hoevens Wrasse – Halichoeres melanurusSailfin.jpg
    • Leapord Wrasse – Macropharyngodon meleagris
    • Six Line Wrasse – Pseudocheilinus hexataenia
    • Watchman Gobie – Cryptocentrus cinctus
    • Algae Blenny – Salarias fasciatus
    • Blue reef chromis – Chromis cyaneus


  • Crabs – blue leg hermits, scarlet reef hermits, zebra hermits and a Sally LightfootAnthias_5.jpgAnthias_1.jpg
  • Snails – Astrea, Nassarius Vibex, Nerite, Tiger Cowrie and Ceriths
  • Clams – Blue Spot Squamosa (7”) blue Crocea (6”)
  • Starsfish (2) – black serpent star (14”)


Maintenance schedule

I do weekly water changes of 15g with the 4th week of the month doing a 30g change. After the water change, I dose up B-Ionic 2-part and Magnesium to bring my levels up to:




  • Temp ranges from 78.7 – 79.2
  • Ca – 480
  • Alk – 10.6
  • Mg – 1300
  • PH – High 8.34 – Low 8.01
  • Salinity – .025 – measured with a Sybon refractometerAcroCRab_1.jpg


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