Featured Aquarium: The Aquarium of Joe Kelley

by | Apr 15, 2002 | 0 comments

The 180 was setup august 1998 and included the contents of a 60 gallon system I started March 1997. The 230-gallon refugium was added in May 1999.Photo1.jpg

System General Information

  • 180-gallon Lee Mar Glass Aquarium
  • 80 Gallon custom DYI acrylic sump
  • 230 gallon Ocean Clear refugium
  • Total System Gallons, approximately 350 US Gallons


My goal was to create a model of a reef environment where reef building corals were at their peek growth and heath and reef fish could feel quite at home In a natural setting.. The refugium was added to increase the total water volume and accommodate possible food sources.


Water circulation

One RK2 Systems 1/8 Horse power putting out 3600 gallons per hour returns water from t he sump to the main tank to a 1″ Sea Swirl rotating device and other 1/2″ returns. It also powers the skimmer. A Hagen 802 that puts out roughly 400 gallons per hour feeds the refugium. One tunze 2002 Turbelle moves water inside that tank. (note, as corals have grown, water circulation has diminished inside the main tank dramatically.



I have tried many lighting schemes for the 180-gallon tank. The first was 3 Radium blue 400 bulbs with 4 VHO actinic, Next 3 Iwasaki 400 watt bulbs with 3 VHO actinic and one 50/50 VHO. Now I use 2 Ushio 10K with 3 VHO actinic and 1 aquasun VHO. There is one Spider light reflector and one champion reflector. The entire hood inside is lined with 1/8-mirrored acrylic.

Metal halide lighting periods range from 7 hours to 10 hours, VHO 13 hours.

The refugium is lighted at night from 9pm to 10am (RDP). There are 4 24″ normal output fluorescents run on one home depot electronic ballast. There is mirrored acrylic above those bulbs.




Additional equipment

  • 1/3hp Aquanetics Chiller rarely turned on but plumbed into system.
  • One enclosed fan for drawing out air off hood. and one 4″ muffin fan. One
  • 8″ $6 clip-on fan positioned to blow across the tanks water surface and out doors.

Calcium and Additives


Feeding Regimen

I have fed a variety of foods. Flake, pellet, home made prepared food from Sanjays recipe., algal pastes and many more. I have fed heavily during periods and lightly during others. This tank does well with one light feeding per day and one heavy feeding per week. I have found no exact requirement for this topic. Times with no feeding at all the tank looked as good or better than with heavy feeding. I feed and leave the debate for the experts.


Maintenance Regimenphoto7.jpg

  • 100 gallons of water is changed every 3 months or so using Instant ocean or Tropic Marine salt mix. Skimmer is cleaned every 2 weeks. Glass is cleaned once a week.
  • All equipment and tank inspected daily. All top-off water is RO/DI dosed 24/7
  • Test DKH weekly. Display tank is enjoyed daily.


Current Inhabitants:


Many colonies of Acropora, Montipora, pocillopora, Stylophora.,Seriatopora Turbinaria, Merulina, Echinophillia, Echinopora, Favities, and many more.



Zebrasoma rostratum, Psydochromis friedmani, Centropyge loriculus, Calloplesiops altivelis and one black molly blennie.



One 6″ T.derasa, one 4″ T,derasa, one 2″T. squamosa and one 2″T, Maxima



Coralline, Lobophorum, Dictyota, Bryopsis, Derbesia.



Zostera marina Syringodium filiforme


Where/How you acquired your tank’s inhabitants

Most of the full-grown corals are from fragments I bought or traded with hobbyists or stores. There are a few that were bought as Solomons disks that are now large colonies. Some corals come from other hobbyist that had them for many years growing and fragmenting them for

There has been no wild coral addition in well over one year. The corals are propagated when ever possible and sold or traded to support the systems expenses and to further spread them to other hobbyists tanks.



  • DKH 12
  • Salinity 35ppt
  • PH 8.0-8.3
  • Temperature 77f – 80f winter, 80f-84 summer
  • Other tests are rarely performed.