29 gal Saltwater Tank Established 9/98, moved twice with no losses. Taken down seven years later when the 280g was set up.
Click here to see my 55 gallon reef tank. (update link)
- Remora Protein Skimmer powered w/ MaxiJet 1200
Closed-loop with Mag 7 and the SCWD wavemaker. It rocks
(3) 55w Power Compact Lights by Hamilton.
2 ballasts supply power for three 50/50 actinic/daylight bulbs. 11 hrs daily - regulated by simple timers.
14.5 gallon Sump/Refugium - because "Dilution is the Solution to Pollution"
Water & Additives
100gpd Melev's Reef 5-stage Reverse Osmosis/DeIonized water
Kent or Oceanic Salt - 1.026 ppm - water changes as needed (~10g per month)
B-Ionic 2-part formula; dosed 20 ml per day, each part
Test Kits: Salifert
pH Pinpoint Monitor - Quickly know pH at a glance any time of day.
ATC Refractometer - extremely accurate way to measure salinity
Digital Thermometer: 79° F (average)
See DIY Extras
Live Biological Filter
Approx. 75 lbs of Fuji Live Rock (some pictures don't reflect all the live rock that has been added)
3" bed of crushed aragonite
2" sugar fine sand bed with Cheatomorpha (Macro Algae) in refugium
I built the stand myself, using 3/4" Birch wood. The front was capped with Ash for a smooth look, routed to round the edges. The stand was built like a bookcase, with a 1/4" birch backpanel recessed into the wood to prevent racking. It was sealed with polyurethane.
The top section was built like a cap for the bookcase. This aquarium was adjacent to my sofa and the stand had to fit the spot, while the tank needed a few extra inches. Knowing water would drip down over time, I expected the cap to take the brunt of the damage, leaving the stand unscathed. I liked the easy access of the shelves to hold related supplies, and didn't want a front door.
Fortuitously the lower section was the perfect size for the sump & refugium. I cut out a hole for the refugium light to shine through. Holes were drilled through the 1/4" back panel to accommodate the plumbing running up to the aquarium.
The canopy was made to match, providing a nice looking piece of furniture at a comfortable height to enjoy the livestock. The stand was 36" tall, the same height as a doorknob. I prefer to stand in front of my aquarium and not have to bend down to see the reeflings.
The base of the stand had adjustable feet. When installed on carpeting, the tack strips that keep the carpet secured near the wall would pitch the stand forward at an angle, but by adjusting the front feet I was able to level the aquarium and improve stability.
I designed and built the stand and top from 3/4" birch. Stained and sealed, it has held up beautifully for years. The canopy was built to allow access to the tank while still providing light during feedings/servicing.
This older picture gives you an idea of the tank. Much has changed, including replacing my 20w fluorescent with 3 x 55w Power Compacts. The lighting made such a striking difference that my creatures showed vast improvement and growth in subsequent weeks.
One of my first inhabitants was a Percula Clownfish. I'd had a pair for years, but sadly one jumped out of the tank. Instead of buying another, I researched bubble tip anemones. I bought a BTA which the Clown loves to co-exist within. View their progress with more photos!
Night or day, the clown is always nearby. Only during feedings will it stray away, allowing me to feed the anemone bits of shrimp or Formula One.
The Blue Damsel is one of the hardiest fish. One of my larger Blue-legged Crabs. This tank contains about 20 or more of them, to munch on the algae and other organisms.
This Cleaner Shrimp has been seen cleaning the Flame Angel. My Coral-Banded Shrimp stakes its territory regularly.
The Clown Goby has entertained us and avoided the jaws of a Lion Fish (who vanished, literally!, after 5 days.) The Goby is resting on one of over 40 red mushrooms that have grown throughout the tank. (Note: We lost the goby, likely to the BTA. Cause of death unknown, no remains found.) A Longnose Hawkfish keeps bristle worms under control.
This very colorful fish (esp. blue!) is a Mandarin. The Golden Wrasse has overcome its shyness.
Here are a few button polyps. I hope they reproduce and spread out. For now, they are simply growing slowly.
My Pulsing Xenias were nearly eradicated by a rock crab. However, a small cluster grew from nothingness, and fought for survival. I purchased a small rock with 3 green-tipped anemones (seen to left), which have grown into 18. See a Majano anemonia split in two. Note: These little colorful guys multiplied like Tribbles, and have since been eliminated.
A couple of months after I installed the Power Compact lighting, the Xenias grew to where I no longer count the blossoms. Three stalks are visible now, but they haven't spread outward yet. The Flame Angel was added on 7/06/02, whose color now makes the Percula Clown look pale by comparison.
Algae eaters: I've got Turbo snails, Margarita snails, Astreas and a couple of Keyhole Limpets that have doubled in size. Hermits help as well.
7/16/02: Colt Coral (Claudiella sp. or Alcyonium) - this soft coral gently moves with the current
September 27-29, 2002: MACNA met here in Ft Worth, Texas. At the show, corals were available for purchase, and I couldn't resist giving them a home!
9/27/02: This 1.5" frag is Pocillopora, with a soft pink hue.
9/29/02: I got lucky, and grabbed up this 5" Acropora. It is yellow, and has two small crabs in its branches.
9/29/02: Light green in color, with yellow tips, this 2½" acropora extends its polyps fully after lights out.
9/27/02: The first day, I had to buy a clam. My intention was to buy a derasa, but all those specimens were huge, and my tank simply didn't have the real estate to hold it. I talked it over with Joy of Harbor Aquatics, and along with the input from others, decided my PC lighting could feed this 2½" Maxima adequately. It is purple from the side view, but if you look down from above, it is aqua-blue! It is 4" from the surface of the tank to give it the best lighting intensity.
On the same day I added these new corals, I decided to remove all the anemonio mejanos from my tank. I originally purchased a rock with 3, but like tribbles (star trek reference), they were multiplying exponentially. Over 40 of them were on my upper rocks, with no end in sight. Working for a few hours, I weeded them all out until the live rock was clean of them.
11/27/02 - Updated pictures show growth
This little colony of Pom-Pom Pulsing Xenias is new, completely on its own from the original parent colony.
If you scroll up a little to compare this picture from the one two months ago, the growth is amazing.
I can't tell if this green Acropora has grown, but it hasn't receded either. The Maxima moved on its own from the upper rock to the crushed coral substrate, and continues to display vivid blue coloring.
Look closely, and you can see the polyps extended within the center of the branches
12/04/02 - News
I have some hair algae problems I've been dealing with, so today I decided to take a small piece of LR that had a small Colt Coral attached, and put it in the 55 gallon tank to see #1) what the tangs would do, and #2) to see how the colt would respond to the water conditions. Well, in less than 30 minutes, the tangs ate every wisp of the algae, and the colt looked just as happy as it was in the 29 gallon tank.
This tiny "frag" of zoanthids was given to me by a member of DFWMAS. I simply glued it on to a smallish rock with super glue gel, and put it in the tank. Within a day, it looked like this!
9/03 - A Change Occured
My prized Acropora sp. doubled in size in the one year I owned it. However, the red mushrooms in my tank grew even faster, and encroached on one coral after another. The Colt coral has looked compressed and unhappy for over two months, the Caulastrea (Trumpet Coral) was stung and killed, and the Acropora sp. began to show signs of distress at its lower branches. I decided to remove the rock with the heaviest population, to protect the livestock.
However, once that was removed, I couldn't balance the Acro in its former spot. So I placed it about 4 or 5" lower than it was used to, and faced it toward the viewer. Within days, parts of it were lighter green, which I assumed were signs of adjustment. Within two weeks, the coral's coloration had shifted to this state -- over 85% of its branches! The coral was consumed by a 'boring' algae that gets into the skeleton, and died. This is my first SPS loss, and I'm very sad to see such a beautiful creature succumb so quickly, especially since I was trying to protect its interests in the first place. This is the last good shot of my Acropora sp. Click here to see "A Total Loss".
On 9/21/03 I picked up these two new pieces for my tank, Porites and Psammacora:
5/19/04: - Over the past 8 months, a lot has happened in this tank. To summarize, the BTA split twice and is currently still not done. The baby clone (BTA) grows daily and looks like it will soon open up in a nice spot in the front corner of the tank where the previous BTA was for almost two years. Chiquita, the Lemon Meringue Wrasse died after 18 months, and has not been replaced. Various corals have been introduced in the tank to replace a few others, and a baby Ocellaris was added to be a buddy for the 6-year-old True Percula Clownfish.
If you are looking for news, be sure to read my Reef Log for thoughts and updates. Another good page to look at on my site is this one because I link many webpages by category. I hope this proves useful, along with the Search feature available via the navigation bar.
The biggest obstacle I suffered from for years was high nitrates. No matter what I did, I couldn't seem to resolve it permanently. I'd tried Nitrate Sponge, to absorb the excess. I'd added nitrate reducing chemicals. I tried to cut back on the volume of feedings. Finally, my local fish store (LFS) suggested I make much larger water changes until my readings were better. So I changed 10 gallons of water every 2 days for a week. Suddenly the problem was solved. And that was 9 months ago. Also, during my last move, I removed my undergravel filter. The water has remained consistently stable ever since. Lesson learned: Change the water until the nitrate reaches the optimum level. Anything else will not work, because you have to reach the lowest level possible to maintain a lower level. Learn more.