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I no longer have a reef tank, but I will leave this site up for reference. Sometime in the future I would love to build a 240 Gallon into the living room wall, but until money grows on trees, or Gov. Davis fixes the electricity mess he got us into, I can't afford the electric bills.
I have been interested in fish for a long time and have many different setups over the years. This is my second saltwater setup. The tank contains 95 Lbs of live rock, 2-3 inches of aragonite, and an assortment of fish and invertebrates. I am relying on the live rock to handle filtration. So far the system has been running for 9 months with no (major) problems.
As you can see, I am somewhat of a minimalist. I have worked in the Aquarium industry, and know that most of the additives and fancy mechanical gizmos are completely unnecessary, and some can actually be detrimental. Lots of flow, an ok skimmer (even a skimmer isn't absolutely necessary), good lights, and lots of live rock, That's all you need. The next most important thing is not to overfeed. I have been changing about 10 gallons every other week. I use Kalkwasser in a drip for makeup water. During the summer months I had temperatures close to 90 degrees F. For some reason everything seemed to be unaffected, although some recent research has indicated that the temperature in a tropical reef can swing from the upper 70's to the lower 90's. I rigged up a high RPM fan to blow over the sump during the hottest days. This alone lowered the temp 2-3 degrees. Be sure to watch your water level though, the cooling effect is due to extra evaporation, and I was adding up to 2 gallons a day to keep up.
Most hardcore reefers spend a lot of time making sure the water chemistry is perfect. I haven't checked for ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, etc ever. I let the tank cycle with the already cured live rock, and live sand for about 6 weeks. I only added 2 damsels, and a maroon clown. After a week I added a couple pieces of coral. Within a day after introduction little mushrooms and anemones were opening up on the live rock. If you can afford it, and it is convenient, buy already cured live rock, and transport it in water. this will save a lot of time and headaches. I cured my live rock in an unused tank at the store I help out at. I keep the water around 1.024 specific gravity. I'm assuming the water chemistry is OK because everything seems happy and all the coral is growing. Lots of macro algae, very little micro algae, lots and lots of things growing in the sand bed and rocks. Regular water changes should keep the water specs in range. I do however keep an eye on the salinity. I usually make corrections by adding salt water instead of regular water when necessary. For some reason the tank always drifts towards a lower salinity.
55 Gallon Tall SeaClear acrylic tank
Miracle wet dry, with no media, actually no anything. I am using it as a sump, and an empty aquarium would work just as well.
1 2500 RIO pump. Returns water from the sump.
1 2100 RIO pump that provides circulation.
1 75 watt Ebo Jager heater
2 36 watt Actinic PC (Power Compact) fluorescents.
2 36 watt 10000K PC fluorescents.
2 55 watt 10000K PC fluorescents.
1 Old Compaq UPS (uninterruptible power system, or Battery backup) system. I have the pumps plugged into this and they will run for about 6 hours. I haven't had a rolling blackout yet, but I'm paranoid.
1 SeaClone SCPS-100 Protein Skimmer It took a while to get it to work correctly in my sump. I usually don't run this, only after I clean the glass.
1 Bicolor Angel. It's been very happy in there.
1 8" Snowflake eel. Tiny little guy, usually he's no where to be found.
2 Humpback shrimp. They have been helping with the micro algae, but I almost never see them during the day.
1 Medium sized leather coral. 4-5 " - This has grown to 6-7", and is sprouting a new shoot at the base!!!
1 Small clam 4", The cheapest one they had. (their is a new growth ring about 1/4" wide on the clam.)
9 Turbo Snails
1 Tomato Clown
1 Very large, and getting larger, Anemone (Makes a great garbage disposal)
1 Haitian Anemone (not sure where this one has been hiding. Every once in a while it pops up somewhere new for a couple of days, then disappears again)
3 Clumps of little brown polyps. (Growing nicely)
1 Largish rock with lots of mushrooms and some macro algae.
1 Toad Stool. (Growing Nicely)
1 Colony of yellowish Anemone looking polyps. Not sure of the name.
? There has been a large variety of small critters running around . Several different types of small snails. Lots of worms, Sea Fans, small brown anemones, sponges, macro algae, shrimp, and many other unidentifiable things. It's pretty fun to go turn on the light in the middle of the night and see what has made it's way out of the rocks.
95 Lbs Live Rock (this is A Lot for a 55 gallon tank)
2-3 inches of aragonite gravel.
1 -2 inches fine sand
9/9/2001 - This is another shot of the Anemone and Tomato clown. I just turned the lights on so the Anemone hasn't really opened up all the way. Lately the Clown has been stealing the eel's goldfish and feeding them to the Anemone. I have to put 2 goldfish in at a time to make sure the eel gets one.