Michael Redic (MEDRED) Solana XL 60g Masterpiece



History     

I've had a wet thumb since the early age of 6. No matter what, I cannot seem to cure the aquarium itch. I moved to California in early 2010 which caused me to break down my previous reef tank. By late 2010, I knew that I had to have a new tank. My goals were a minimalist setup with a very diverse group of corals, inverts, and fish.

I started this tank in the fall of 2010. I loved my 34 gallon Current Solana and lusted after the 60 Solana XL as soon as it was announced (I adore cubes!). The 60 Solana offered a sump and more water volume to help keep parameters stable, yet was small enough to be manageable. I also wanted a little more room to have a decent sized scape while allowing enough clearance between the scape and the glass to mag float easily.

I'd been keeping up with the latest lighting trends and thought LED's sounded like the best thing since sliced bread! They would allow me to keep a lid on my tank to prevent jumping fish and evaporation, use less electricity, forgo yearly bulb replacements, keep the tank cooler, and allow fully controllable lighting with minimal wiring. At the time, Aqua Illumination Sol Blues seemed to have the best PAR, build quality, and I loved their modular nature.

My aquascape was born out of a desire for a large aerobic surface area for coral placement and biological filtration while having the least amount of rock necessary. I wanted to minimize areas that could collect unseen detritus. I attended an aquarium conference in 2009 where one of the speakers showed laboratory results that related the importance of SPS coral growth to flow. I wanted to have as much unobstructed flow as possible. I racked my brain trying to settle on my many ideas for a scape. They all went out the window after receiving my dry rock. The rocks spoke to me and a scape began to take shape within a few hours of drilling the rocks and sticking them together with fiberglass rods and epoxy.

I had already planned most of my fish for this build, so I knew I could create an environment that would keep everyone happy. I added my first coral December 2010 and my first fish in January 2011. My tank was fully stocked with fish by April 2011. As with my last tank, I knew I wanted a very diverse array of corals. I decided to keep to the same stratification and zoning arrangement as my previous tank.. For the most part I have SPS up high, LPS, in the middle, softies down low, and NPS in the dark areas. Zoas, Acans, Favias, and Chalices, all have their specific rocks.

Part of the history of the tank was the upgrades I made. The first one was to remove the textured overflow and replace it with a smooth one. This allowed me to easily scrape coralline and keep the clean look. StevieT from InTank provided me with the custom overflow.

As I added more corals and things started to grow/settle in, I realized I wasn't a reliable source of calcium and alk dosing. One of the best upgrades to this tank was adding an auto doser.

I had been dealing with micro bubbles off and on with the original Solana sump. I finally decided to upgrade to a larger custom sump. This made a world of difference in more ways than just micro bubbles! I had a lot more room to organize my sump equipment and it was also a lot easier to access the heaters and pumps.

Another upgrade to the cabinet area was adding a light. Originally I added a fluorescent light strip to the back right corner of the cabinet. It worked well but I finally got tired of kneeling and reaching into the back of the cabinet to turn the light on and off. I upgraded the light to chainable LEDs with a small controller at the front of the cabinet. Having them illuminate from the top down instead of the back corner greatly reduced glare when looking into the sump. The front mounted controller was also a big plus.


Tank Specs

Display: Current Solana XL 60 Gal 24" x 24" x 24"
Lighting Fixture: Giesemann Infiniti
Light Bulbs: 1x250w 14,000K Phoenix HQI w/ ATI T5 (3xBlue+ and 1xPurple+)
Sump: Advance Acrylics Custom Sump 24" x 11" x 16"
Powerheads: Vortech MP10w ES x 2
Return Pump: Eheim 1262 w/ Two Little Fishies Ball Valve
Bioreactor: NextReef SMR1 w/ 250ml Warner Marine ecoBak & Mag-Drive 3 pump
Dosing: Bubble Magus BM-T01 Dosing Pump w/ 3 x Bubble Magus 1.5l reservoirs
Skimmer: SWC Cone 160
ATO: Tunze Osmolator
Salt: Seachem aquavitro Salinity
Heaters: 2 x 150w Ebo Jagers
Rock: Reefcleaners.org Florida Reef Rock (dry)
Substrate: 20-25 lbs Caribsea Aragamax Select Dry Aragonite #00025 (very shallow)

Established October, 2010


Water Parameters

  • Salinity: 1.026
  • Temp: 78°-80°
  • pH: 8.0
  • Calcium: 440 460 ppm
  • Alkalinity: 7 dKh
  • Magnesium: 1600 ppm

Maintenance Routine

Daily I feed Instant Ocean Marine Pellets and use a Mag Float to scrap the glass.
Twice weekly I feed Oyster Feast, PhytoFeast, and aquavitro fuel.
The night before a water change I feed frozen mysis and cyclopeeze to the dendros, acans, and candy canes.
Weekly I change 5-10 gallons of water, fill the automatic top off reservoir, and change my filter sock.
Monthly I change out my Purigen and Chemipure Elite.
Biannually I clean the skimmer, pumps, and bioreactors.
As needed I scrape the overflow clean of coralline. I also remove the Vortech wetsides and return nozzles and soak them in vinegar to kill the coralline. I also fill the auto doser reservoirs as they run low.

Filtration

I have about half an inch of sand and somewhere around  25 lbs of rock. I’m of firm belief that  a tanks bio filtration capability is less about lbs of rock and more about the exposed surface area.  I run a filter sock as mechanical filtration. I also run about 250ml of bio pellets in a reactor that outflows into the skimmer.  I use Chemipure Elite and Purigen to help polish the water.

 

Lighting

I upgraded from Aqua Illumination Sol Blues after a year to Ecotech XR30w Radions and finally to a Giesemann Infiniti HQI and T5 fixture after 5 months. Each successive upgrade brought better color coloration, growth, and viewing aesthetic. I've been most happy with the Giesemann Infiniti

I personally don't feel that LED's are a complete alternative to traditional forms of lighting. LED's offer a cooler running, lower power consuming, highly controllable alternative to T5'sand metal halides, but I feel that the lighting aesthetic and coral coloration are not as good under LED's as with other forms of lighting.

Lighting Schedule

Time: 7:00 am | On: Rear T5 2x Blue+|Off: Center Phoenix Halide| Off: Front T5 1x Blue+/1x Purple+
Time: 9:00 am | On: Rear T5 2x Blue+|Off: Center Phoenix Halide| On: Front T5 1x Blue+/1x Purple+
Time: 10:00 am | On: Rear T5 2x Blue+|On: Center Phoenix Halide| On: Front T5 1x Blue+/1x Purple+
Time: 18:00 pm | On: Rear T5 2x Blue+|Off: Center Phoenix Halide| On: Front T5 1x Blue+/1x Purple+
Time: 19:00 pm | On: Rear T5 2x Blue+|Off: Center Phoenix Halide| Off: Front T5 1x Blue+/1x Purple+
Time: 22:00 pm | Off: Rear T5 2x Blue+|Off: Center Phoenix Halide| Off: Front T5 1x Blue+/1x Purple+

 

Soft Corals


• Various Zoanthids and Palyothoas
• Ricordea Yuma
• Ricordea Florida
• Photosynthetic and Nonphotosynthetic Gorgonians

 

 


LPS


• Torch Corals
• Various Blastomussa
• Kryptonite Candy Cane
• Various Acans
• Echinatas
• Various Favias
• Various Chalices
• Elegance coral
• Dendrophyllia
• Lobophyllia
• Goniopora
• Alvepora

 

SPS


• Various Montipora, Stylophora, and Acropora

 

 


Invertebrates


• 1 x ORA Crocea Clam
• 1 x Blood Red Fire Shrimp (Lysmata debelius)
• 1 x Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)
• 3 x Emerald Crab (Mithraculus sculptus)
• 4 x Pom Pom Crabs (Lybia tesselata)
• 4 x Porcelain Crabs (Petrolisthes sp.)
• 2 x Anemone Porcelain Crabs (Neopetrolisthes ohshimai)


Cleanup Crew

• 2 x Fighting Conch Snails
• 3 x Caribbean Nerite Snails
• 5 x Mexican Cerith Snails
• 5 x Caribbean Cerith Snails
• 5 x Nassarius Snails
• 5 x Tongan Nassarius Snails
• 5 x Banded Trochus Snails
• 10 x Mini Cerith Snails

Fish

• Candy Basslet Pair (Liopropoma carmabi)
• Gladiator Picasso Clownfish Pair (Amphiprion percula)
• Helfrichi Firefish Pair (Nemateleotris helfrichi)
• Neon Goby Pair (Elacatinus oceanops)
• Tiger Blenny (Ecsenius tigris)




Disasters & Regrets

Things go wrong no matter how hard you try. I've had Alk swings, brown flatworms, colonial hydroids, dinoflagellates, bubble algae, red turf algae, caulerpa, bryopsis, and jumping fish. The keys to success are patience (don't go for the quick fix) and fix the root cause, not the result.

The only thing I regret with this aquarium was the one night I left the lid off my tank and my favorite fish jumped. Pretty much everything else has been a learning experience.

Future Plans


My plans for this tank are to continue to let it grow out. I'll be adding more corals, and possibly adding two more fish, as long as I can figure what they should be!

Words of Wisdom


Don't be afraid to experiment, but use common sense. This hobby is full of surprises!

Thoughts On...

Coral Fads: One of the biggest things that I don't subscribe to is falling in love with the latest, greatest coral fads. My tank is full of corals that appeal to me based on color, texture, and shape. I'm a big believer in simply buying what looks good to you, and not because it's a designer, limited edition, rare chalice, acro, scholy, paly, etc.


Advice To New Hobbyists

Plan, Plan, Plan!!! Consume as much as you can about the hobby before you jump in. Try to plan out what kind of tank you want, what fish, corals, and inverts you may want, and what equipment you'll need. Plans can be flexible, but having a good direction when you get started will make your life a lot easier.

 

 

Questions and/or Comments can be asked here