- May 25, 2007
- San Diego
Lets me start by saying it is an honor to have been selected to feature on SCR. My name is Viet Truong, and I first knew about saltwater hobby around 2012. That was the time when I joined SCR. I spent the good 4~5 years reading other people experience. My cousin was the reason I got into the hobby. I was into planted tank and freshwater shrimp (crystal shrimps, red cherry shrimps) at the time when he showed me how beautiful and easy to keep two Nemo in a small aquarium. Well, until now he still keeps his first pair of clownfishes in 10 gallons FOWL tank.
I, on the other hand, have an addictive personality. I was soon addicted to reef keeping hobby. I always find it is fascinated how we can replicate and maintain the whole ecosystem is such a small environment.
Display tank: 45 gallons Glass tank with corner overflow by Leemar.
Dimensions: 36x 18 x16
Stand: Metal stand came with the tank.
Sump: Trigger system emerald 30
Protein skimmer: Nyos Quantum 160 (rate up to 250 gallons)
Return Pump: Ecotech Vectra M1 DC pump
Water circulations: Jebao PP-8 x2 and Ecotech mp10
Lighting: Ecotech Radions G3 pros x2 + 4 t5s
Doser: Apex DOS smart doser
Controller: Apex classic
Battery backup: Ecotech battery backup power return pump and mp10 in case of power outage.
Alkalinity: ESV 2 parts; 90 ml a day to keep Alk between 8-9 dkh
Calcium: ESV 2 parts; 90 ml (follow Alk rate) to keep Calcium above 400ppm
Magnesium: Never dose Mg
Redsea color program: 1ml each components (A,B,C,D) per day. I dont test, just blind dose.
Temp: 78-80 F
Specific Gravity: 1.026
Calcium: 400 ppm
Alk: 8-9 dkh
Mg: 1400 ppm
One thing I learn is as long as there are nutrients available in the system, sps can tolerate in extreme high light. I have two Ecotech Radion G3 pros and four t5s supplement (3 ATI blue plus, 1 ATI purple plus), and some sps have no problem growing 1 under the water surface.
I have AB+ profile on Radions with 65% max intensity at daylight from 3pm to 9pm. Same time all t5s turn on.
The reason I have t5s is to eliminate the shading effects.
After 9pm is when I have time to enjoy the tank so I let it dims down from 9pm to 2am.
Water Circulation and Flow
There will never too much flow in a sps system. As long as the streams are variable, and not directly hit the corals in close range, they will happy. In fact, I notice that under extremely high flow, the colonies tense to grow more thick, dense, and bushy.
Wavemakers are important pieces of equipment. However, I dont think we should spend tons of money on top tier brands. If the wavemaker stop working for a day or two, your corals will not be affected (return pump on the other hand is worth spending money on). Jebao wavermakers work really good on me. Each $60 Jebao pp-8 can easily last 2 years and create stronger flow than Ecotech mp10. However, I love the cordless and ability to use external battery of Ecotech wavemaker.
Filtration and Maintenance
Everyone knows that perfect water quality is a must to keep acropora. However, building on that thought, we usually over-done thing for our filtration system. Every tank is different. In my system, I find out that chaeto, bacteria media (Marinepure), and heavy duty skimmer is the combination that I can rely on. Chaeto and bacteria works very gently on nutrients export. They will grow and decline following the nutrient availability, not aggressively like GFO or carbon dosing. At the end of the day, the key to successful keeping acropora is not archiving ultralow nutrients, it is STABILITY.
My maintenance schedule is very simple:
+ Feeding fishes: brine shrimp + pellets
+ Feed corals: Reefroid. Stop feeding if I notice too many algae.
+ Manual dose RedSea color program A,B,C,D
+ Observing the tank, sump area, ato. Make sure everything is normal.
+ Test for Alk. Usually twice a week.
+ Do 10 gallons water chance using ESV salt mix.
+ Test Calcium. Adjust if needed.
Problems and Difficulties
Big trouble the system is facing right now is aggressive between corals. As the frags become colonies, they start to fight for space. I usually trim the branches when they about to touch each other. But when the base grow into each other, nothing I can do. Just hope they will live peacefully together.
Another minor trouble is aiptasia anemone. Since my peppermint shrimps died, they have been grown out of control. I am culturing berghia nudibranch in one of my frag tank with the hope of controlling those aiptasia.
Some corals in the tank
Personal though and Recommendations
One easy way to have a success reef aquarium is: COPYING. Its lame to say out loud, but its the shortest way leading to success. There is no plagiarism in this hobby, so use it as your advantage.
When setting up a new system, I first download a bunch of reef scape that I find interesting. Look at them multiple times, try to understand how did the owner archive that type of structures. Does it possible to replicate (sometime we need to be realistic about our abilities too.)? Does the type of scape (pillar, islands, overhang, ) suitable for your type of reef (sps dominated, lps dominated, mixed reef, ....)?
For example, this was the scape that inspired me:
And this is mine, tried to replicate the successor:
Next step is equipment selections. The first two years of keeping sps, I constantly struggled between which light best for sps, which filtration methods to achieve perfect water quality Thus, I spent 2 years of reefing switching between all kind of lighting systems and filtration methods.
At that time, when I still havent decided what work best. And I didnt have any noticeable grow. One day, I saw Ryan (Sandstorm) 65 gallons acropora tank. He had awesome colonies, and the colorations were wonderful. I decided to copy his lighting set up: Radions with t5s supplements. Still, I didnt have any noticeable grow and coloration. But what I have is peace in mind, and that I dont have to think about lighting again. The light works, I just need to focus on fixing other elements like water quality, flow,
My point is pick your idol! Pick the system that you think successful, then follow it 100%. Again, fastest way leading to success is copying the successor.
Happy reefing everyone.