Frag Tank

Aquarium APEX Controller

The easiest way to maintain an aquarium is with some type of controller. Nowadays, you want it web-ready, providing information up to the minute, and it should text you as soon as something is out of range.

For the last decade, I've been using Neptune System's Aquacontroller.  First I had the AC II, then later upgraded to the AC 3.  Near the end of 2011, I gifted myself the Apex controller, the latest available version at that time.  The Apex has been around for a couple of years, and many of my friends swear by it.  

The controller turns the lights on and off, as well as the heaters and fans (or chiller, if you have one).  If the tank runs too hot, the controller can shut off the lights to stop adding further heat to the water.  And if it has been set up with a battery backup, it can notify you via text or email if the power goes out.  

Water Testing

The benefit of water tests is that you know specifically when something is out of range. Try to avoid the tendency to not test because you might not like the results. Instead, use those test kits frequently, and track the data to watch how the water trends over time. If a kit can be used 50 times, that means it will last you a year. The expiration date is a clue that it won't last forever.

Water tests are performed often. Specific key areas may be checked or tested daily or every few days, but the full battery of tests are done once or twice a month. When those are completed, that is when I update my spreadsheet and post it on the site.

For more information about testing and maintaining stable water parameters, refer to this article:

Below are the basic parameters within acceptable range limits, but a tighter swing within the high and low range is best.  For example, if pH measures 8.1 to 8.3 daily, that would be better than 7.9 to 8.4 daily.  The more consistent with limited variation, the better.

Frag Tank

The reason I set up a frag tank was because I had the perfect spot for it and it's a very handy place to feed the suncorals. I have it set up on the top of the power station, and it is tied into the 400g's sump. Heating, cooling, skimming, biopellets, carbon and a calcium reactor maintain water quality, and an Vortech MP10 provides the flow.

My frag tank is 22" x 13" x 8" with a 1" Durso drain in a 5" x 5" corner overflow. The locline feeding into the frag tank is adorable, I've never seen such tiny locline before. It's got a 1/4" outlet. The tank holds just under 10g of water.

Using sliced Marco Rock, I decorated the tank with a solid surface to place corals in the bottom and siliconed a few pieces to the back and right wall to hide what would otherwise be seen through the clear 3/8" acrylic. The tank is being lit with Reefkoi's Evolution LED fixture, Generation 3 I believe. With the whites and blues on, it's in the 14,000K range.

This tank is situated at the end of the 400g tank under the external overflow. Water is being pumped into it from a manifold off the sump, so all of its filtration & dosing needs are cared for. All I do is feed it and enjoy.


The frags I keep in the frag tank are usually new arrivals, but may also include some corals from my reef for a future frag swap event.

Unlike a traditional frag tank filled with corals to grow out and sell, mine is really a place to putter or enjoy new corals more readily.  The tank is arranged with a variety of items, some easy to see, but there are some elusive critters that come out of hiding occasionally.

Current livestock:

Suncorals (standard Tubastrea)

Branching Dark Green Tubastrea

Dendrophyllia polyps

Acanthastrea frags

Acropora sp. frags

Pom Pom Crab

Emerald Crabs

Nassarius snails

Red (Temperate converted to Tropical) Sea Anemone from the Long Island Aquarium

The Power Station

Providing power for everything the reef needs takes some consideration. Timers, switches, plenty of plugs, and a way to keep it tidy, that's the difference between a safe set up and a fire hazard.

I knew I'd be using the American DJ switches again, as they are very handy for turning on and off specific plugs even if your hands are wet. But where to put them where they'd stay dry and be easily accessible was the question.  It wasn't long before I decided that I wanted to place a Frag Tank on top of this power tower, but wanted to do so in a way that would avoid any water damage due to drips and splashes.

A board on the side allowed me to affix various pieces of gear.

Everything stays nice and tidy in the power station.  That's a UPS at the very bottom, which keeps the Apex controller runnning if the power goes out. In this next picture, you can see the CO2 tank and Aquarium Plants regulator used for the calcium reactor.

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