Featured Aquarium: The Aquarium of Tony Huff

I would like to thank the staff
of Advanced Aquarist and Reefs.Org for selecting my reef tank as
a Featured Aquarium.


I began in the aquarium hobby around 1991. Actually it was my
father who got the ball rolling. I lived at home at the time and
we had a 58 gallon Oceanic aquarium. It was basically a salt
water fish tank with decorator corals in it. Later, I ended up
with that same tank in my apartment along with 4 others, one of
them would become my first reef tank. It was an old 55 gallon
aquarium on a wrought iron stand, no sump, no top, a cheap strip
light, and a protein skimmer siliconed on one end of the tank.
This was my first crack at reef keeping. Since then, things
improved. I went out and bought a brand new 55 gallon system. I
had this tank running for over 5 years. It contained mostly large
polyp and soft corals. During those 5 years I bought a house, got
married, and had a child (not in that particular order but
who’s keeping score). Since I was now settled down I could
set up my dream tank. I always wanted to run metal halides
because I loved the way they look and I wanted to try other
corals that demanded more light. My main concern was heat. I had
a friend who was an AC technician. We talked about doing a split
chiller system. He assured me that we could do it. In August of
2002 I began setting up this 180 gallon reef tank. The plan was
to transfer everything from my 55 gallon to the new tank and add
new things over time. I decided I was going to set this tank up
right, no cutting corners like I had done so many times
previously. I designed and built the stand and canopy to my
specifications. I built the stand 3 feet tall so the tank would
set at eye level. The canopy would contain 1390 watts of metal
halide and fluorescent lighting. I then had a custom 75 gallon
acrylic sump with filter bags made. For a skimmer, I chose a
Euroreef CS12-2. I run an Ampmaster 3000 as my main pump. This is
fed to four 1″ returns, two of which are Sea Swirls. I had a
20 gallon acrylic tank made to fit under my stand for my
refugium. I also bought a Mag-Drive 12 to feed my refugium and
chiller. For my chiller I used a 6000 BTU window unit air
conditioner outside that would feed refrigerant to a 1/2 ton
titanium heat exchanger. My heaters and chiller are both
controlled by a Ranco ETC. I ran the tank this way for about a
year. In about July of 2003 I decided I wanted a bigger refugium.
I built a stand behind the adjacent wall to hold the new 40g
refugium and the old 20 gallon one. The 20 gallon would now be
used as a kalk top-off system. This is connected to a float valve
in the sump.



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The entire system would now consist of about 250 gallons of
water and 200lbs. of live rock with many caves and ledges. Since
day one, I had been removing all my soft and large polyp corals
and replacing them with SPS corals. Yes, this was the beginning
of my REAL addiction. As these corals began growing, it became
very hard to keep my calcium levels up. In the later part of 2003
I bought a 6″ X 18″ Geo reactor to hopefully eliminate
this problem. It is filled with 90% CaribSea crushed coral and
10% Grotech Magnesium Pro. This reactor is controlled by a
Milwaukee pH controller. I run the same model controller on the
main tank to monitor my pH there as well. After doing some
reading I decided to use xenia in my refugium instead of macros
as a nutrient export. I also built egg crate shelves in there to
hold frags. It’s more of frag tank now than a refugium.
I’ve tried many different things for more water flow like
power heads and closed loop systems. In April 2004 I added
external powerheads in each front corner of the tank. They sit in
acrylic brackets that are screwed inside the canopy. They each
produce 1109 GPH and are running on a Natural Wave Timer.

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Today, 2 ½ years into it, the tank is doing great. Corals need
to be fragged on a regular basis. I change roughly 50 gallons
each month using water produced by a 150gpd Spectrapure RO/DI
system. I use Peladow calcium chloride (ice melter) for raising
my calcium and Epsom Salt to raise the magnesium levels. I also
use pickling lime for making kalkwasser and baking soda as
buffer. I test calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium religiously
(once a week, if not more). I normally feed about 1 teaspoon of
PE mysis mixed with Cyclop-Eeze each day. Other foods include
frozen brine, zooplankton, Angel & Butterfly cubes, Selco,
Golden Pearls, and Garlic Extreme.

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  • Ampmaster 3000
  • Mag-Drive 12 (Chiller and Refugium)
  • (2) Top External Powerheads (1109gph)
  • H.O.T. Magnum (carbon)
  • Euro-Reef CS12-2 Protein Skimmer
  • (2) Ebo-Jager Heaters (250w)
  • ½ Ton Split Chiller System w/Ranco ETC
  • (2) Milwaukee PH Controllers
  • 6″ X 18″ Geo Calcium Reactor w/Eheim Pump
    (Maxi-Jet 400 feed pump)
  • Phosban Reactor (Maxi-Jet 1200 feed pump)
  • (2) 1″ Sea Swirls
  • Lifegard Temp Alert Thermometer
  • 20g Kalk Top-Off with Kent Float Valve

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  • (3) 250w Hamilton 14K Metal Halides (10 hours)
  • (4) 160w URI Actinic VHO’s (12 hours)
  • (2) IceCap 660 Ballasts
  • (3) 250w IceCap Metal Halide Ballasts
  • (8) 1w Coralife Aqualight Moon Lights (2 hours)
  • (2) 175w Hamilton 55k Metal Halides (7 hours on
  • (2) 40w URI actinics (9 hours on refugium)
  • GE Electronic & ESU Ballasts (refugium)
  • (4) 4″ Fans in Canopy – (2) 4″ Fans on Refugium




  • Pair of Pearly Jawfish
  • Pair of Bangaii Cardinals
  • Pair of Blue Eye Cardinals
  • Pair of Orange Skunk Clowns
  • Pair of Bar Gobies
  • Pair of Yellow Wrasses


  • Spotted Leopard Wrasse (M. meleagris)
  • Splendid Leopard Wrasse (M. bipartitus)
  • Black Leopard Wrasse (M. negrosensis)
  • Kole Tang
  • Orange Spot Blenny
  • Spotted Mandarin Goby
  • Flame Hawkfish

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  • (2) Cleaner Shrimp
  • (2) Sea Cucumbers
  • (100) Nassarius Snails
  • (75) Astrea Snails
  • (5) Mexican Turbo Snails
  • (1) Tuxedo Urchin
  • (50) Scarlet Hermit Crabs
  • (15) Various Hermit Crabs
  • (2) Sand Sifting Starfish
  • 12″ Derasa Clam
  • Gold Teardrop Maxima Clam
  • Blue Maxima Clam
  • (3) Blue Crocea Clams
  • Purple Crocea
  • Rose Bubble-Tip Anemone



  • Approximately 75 different SPS corals
  • Orange Plate Coral
  • Yellow & Purple Plate Coral
  • Red Lobophyllia Brain
  • Various Zoanthids
  • Various Ricordia
  • 3 Species of Xenia
  • Green Star Polyps
  • Green Button Polyps
  • Brown Button Polyps
  • Cinnamon Polyps
  • Tube Polyps
  • Red & Green Blastomussa
  • Yellow Scroll Coral



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  • High random water flow
  • 1″-2″ shallow sand bed
  • Test calcium, alkalinity, magnesium religiously
  • Siphon or turkey baste sand and rock religiously
  • Run filter bags/socks for collecting sediment
  • Run Poly Filters
  • Run phosphate remover in a reactor
  • Run carbon in a canister or reactor
  • Dose kalk 24/7
  • Use a calcium reactor

This past year I battled red bugs. I have hopefully rid my
tank of them for good thanks to Dustin Dorton at ORA. The latest
problem I am having is with Montipora eating nudibranchs. I just
found out this month that I have them. Fortunately for me, I have
only found a few. I will search all the montis each night and
manually remove any nudibranchs until they are gone, I give up,
or Dustin finds a cure “hint, hint”. It’s a never
ending battle. I think that’s what makes this hobby so
interesting and entertaining. For more information about my tank,
please visit

  Advanced Aquarist

 Advanced Aquarist

  (103 articles)

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