Having been blown away by so many incredible reef systems in Southern California , I am very happy to share my aquarium with the reef hobbyists, and hope that this inspires readers to continue with advancing both the art and science involved in reefkeeping.The Beginning
I've always been around fish tanks all my life since I was a little boy, when going to the fish store with my dad, I always wandered in the saltwater section. I always bugged my dad to get one of those fish but he always told me that those were saltwater fish and we have a freshwater tank. In 2004, I was able to start my own saltwater tank and that were the addiction began. My first saltwater tank was a regular 90 gallon (48*18*24) acrylic. Not knowing very much about the hobby, I thought that volume was most important. With a tank that was only 18" front to back and 24" tall, it was very difficult to aquascape and my only option was a rockwall. Initially the tank was mostly LPS and softies but eventually I would get bit by the SPS bug. So began the equipment swap-out. I changed out everything including the lights, skimmer, pumps, sump etc. The only thing that stayed was the tank, rock and fish. My advice to anyone reading this is to buy the quality equipment first so that you don't have to re-buy when time to upgrade. With the new tank, I knew I wanted something with more depth front to back and not as tall. Current Tank, Philosophy and ConceptsTank: LeeMar 60*30*20 (~150gallons) 3 Sided Starphire with corner overflow box
In 2009, my family decide to move to a new house and instead of setting up my old 90, my loving wife suggested I start over with a bigger tank. I had been wanting to upgrade for a while and with her go ahead, I started my journey. For this tank, I wanted something with more front to back depth and something not as tall so that I wouldn't need a stool to get into the tank (it's amazing the difference 4" makes). In the end I decided on 60*30*20 Eurobraced for my dimensions and LeeMar as my manufacturer. After researching several companies, LeeMar has the best reputation and the did not let me down. I would have like to gone bigger, but I'm happy with what I've got. I also decided to go glass because I scratched my old acrylic tank way too many times. Starphire is a little more scratched proned than regular glass but I'd sacrifice that for the clarity. I also decided on a clear back and a corner overflow box. This actually works out really well so that I can mount my controllers on the side of my tank. My only regret with this tank is that I did not get more holes drilled into the Eurobracing to accommodate any cord that I may want to put into the tank (such as powerheads)in the future.
Filtration: ATB Elegance 200 and Warner Marine EcoBak pellets in a TLF 550 reactor
Initially with this build, I went with the WM K2 Skimmer powered by Sicce 2500. This skimmer pulled out a lot of gunk but was a little too loud for my and my wife's liking. With the bioload on the high side and the need for a quieter pump, I was able to upgrade to the ATB Elegance 200. This skimmer is powered by a Airstar1300 and is much much quieter and more powerful than my old skimmer. Myself, my wife and my fish tank are very happy with this upgrade. A couple of features that I really like about this skimmer is that you're able to take the whole thing apart for cleaning and that it has a float switch attached to the lid so if you're skimmer cup were to ever overflow, the float switch will shut of the skimmer pump.
I'm also running 750ml of WM EcoBak pellets. I was initially dosing vodka but got tired of the everyday routine of dosing. I've been using these pellets for 18months and am happy with the results. I feel I was getting the same results as using vodka but thankfully I don't have to dose everyday.Sump: Custom built sump with refugium and built in ATO reservoir.
Knowing I was going to upgrade this piece of equipment, I initially started out with a basic 40 gallon breeder for my sump but eventually had a custom sump built. When designing the sump I debated if I wanted a fuge added. I've read many threads that if you're dosing some type of carbon source that your macro algae with seize to grown but I figured that if the fuge became useless in the future I could always make it a frag tank. My fuge is lit by 12 - 3w DIY LED. When I started the fuge, I used a spiral CFL bulb from Home Depot. I pruned my chaeto every 6 months or so and figured that the skimmer and pellets were doing its job. Since I upgraded to the LEDs, I have to prune my chaeto every 3 weeks. I also integrated an ATO reservoir in the back of the sump. This section hold about 15 gallon of fresh RO/DI which will last about 2 weeks depending on the weather.
Lighting: ATI 8 x 54w Powermodule
For lighting, I knew I didn't want MH because I was trying to avoid using a chiller. So I decided on T5s. After researching fixtures, ATI PM was the best solution for my needs. I contemplated going with a 10 bulb fixture but decided on an 8 bulb because of my aquascaping. I was able to keep all my rock 3"-4" off the glass all the way around so essentially I only need to light a 52"x22" area. I also decided on going with a 48" fixture on my 60" tank to keep the light spillage to a minimum. This allows me to keep my low light critters off to the sides. The only downfall with this fixture is that it did not allow me to have moonlights. After modifying the acrylic shield, I was able use the Digital Aquatics MLC. I don't know if moon lights are a necessity but I also enjoy viewing the tank while the lights are off. For my bulb selection I'm using:
ATI Blue Plus
ATI Purple Plus
ATI Blue Plus
ATI Blue Plus
KZ New Generation
ATI Blue Plus
ATI Blue Plus
This gives me about a 15k look. I've tried changing out the GE6500 for another Blue Plus but that give me a look that it a little too blue for my liking.
Dusk/Dawn: 1200 - 2100
Full light: 1300 - 2000
Moonlights: 2100 – 1200
I recently cut my full light photoperiod from 8 hours to 7 hours to help cut on my electricity bill and so far none of my corals seem to be bothered by this change.Flow: 2-Ecotech MP40W, Tunze 6045 and Eheim 1262 as my return pump
I decided on 2 MP40s for my main flow because of its low profile in the tank and because of it broad flow pattern. I also incorporated the Ecotech's battery backup for my MP40s. This is a small price to pay to ensure the health of your livestock during a power outage. Up until about 6 months ago, I thought had enough flow with no dead spots but notice the buildup of detritus on the backside of my display. Since then, I've added a Tunze 6045 dedicated to keep the flow up on the backside of my rockwork.
To help with more random flow, I attached a Vertex MOcean to my return. I went with this solution because to be able to control the travel of the nozzle and the speed it travels. Controller: Digital Aquatics ReefKeeper Elite with 3 PC4s, SL1, SL2 and MLC
I started out with a ReefKeeper Lite but soon used up all the modules (RKL has a limit of 4 modules). I then upgraded to the ReefKeeper Elite. The RKE does all that I need to do and am very happy with its performance. I have to admit, I haven't upgraded the firmware in a while but if it isn't broke, why fix it. I believe having a controller saved my inhabitants from an overheated tank. One day my wife and I left for work like normal and we turned out heater off (this was sometime in January when the outside temp was in the 50s) or so we thought. I guess she flipped the switch up to turn the heater off and then not knowing, I flip the switch up to turn the heater off again but actually put the heater in the "on" position. On the way home, I pulled into the driveway and notice the lights were off and I was thinking to myself "hmmmmmmm, maybe we had a power outage". As soon as I open the door, I got a rush of hot air coming out the door. The heater had been running nonstop for the whole time we were gone. When I got to the thermostat the house was at 93 degrees, but thanks to my controller, the lights turned off and the fans were running to try and keep the tank cool. Thankfully my tank only got up to 81 and all the livestock made it through. Because of this, I would never run a tank without some type of controller.Dosing: 2 Drews Dosers for CA and Alk
A fellow reefer has a saying of what SPS stands for, Stability Promotes Success. I truly believe in this motto. Having my RKE control the Drews Dosers helps me accomplish this. Throughout the day, I drip 120ml of CA and 120ml of Alk. I also manually dose 100ml Mg every other week (opposite of my water change schedule). I've been using BulkReef Supply's recipe #1 since I started dosing. I use their 2.5 gallon jugs as my reservoir for the supplements. This keeps my Calcium at 400 and my alk at 8. I refill every 2 – 3 months.
Heating and Cooling
Temperature control is managed by my RKE. For heating, I depend on 2 Eheim Jager heaters, 200w and 250w. Each on is placed on a different outlet on a PC4 for redundancy. I would much rather have some heating rather than no heating. For cooling, I use just a normal fan over the sump. Thankfully I live in an area that rarely gets over 85. Maintenance
Maintenance is a part of this hobby that nobody loves to do but does it to make sure the inhabitants are healthy and happy, I'm definitely one of those. I do a 30 gallon water change every 2 weeks using Instant Ocean Salt. I've tried Reef Crystals before but didn't like how high the Alk was on a fresh batch. When asked what type of salt I use, I say Instant Ocean and then I love to see the look on their faces. In my opinion, I don't think you need to spend $80 on a bucket of salt to have a successful SPS tank. Feeding
Feeding my fish are one of my joys of this hobby. I have an Eheim auto feeder that feed NLS Pellets once a day. It's also nice to have if I happen to be busy and don't get to feed in the evenings. In the evening , I also feed a cube of Hikari Misys or Rods food. I also feed my tangs and angels a 1"x4" piece of nori every other day.
I also feed my corals once or twice a week using ReefNutrition Oyster Fest. Fish List
Powerder Blue Tang
Mutli Colored Angel
Lyretail Anthias (male)
Lyretail Anthias x2 (female)
Tierra Anthias (male)
Tierra Anthias (female)
Six Line Wrasse
Percula Clown(Picasso B Grade)x2
Potters AngelCoral ListSPS
ORA Red Planet
Green, Blue tipped Tort
Yellow stag w/brown polyp
Forrest Fire Digi
ATL Shade of the Fall
Deep water enchita
Purple tipped acro
ORA Bird of Paradise
ORA Purple Stylo
Mystic Grape Favia
Baby Breathe Favia
Season Greating Monti
Light Blue Scolymia
Sponge Bob Favia
Little Princess Favia
Sapphire War Favia
Bubble Gum MonsterSoft Corals
Happy People Eaters
Ring of Fire
Tyree Space Monster
Neon Green Toadstool
I'd like to thank the staff of SocaliReefs for picking my tank as the featured tank. I'd also like to thank my fellow reefers at Southern California ReefKeepers (SCRK) for their help and knowledge, especially Ramon (MrSandMan) for taking these amazing pictures. Finally, I'd like to thank my family for putting up with my saltwater obsession. Happy Reefing everyone.