Chuck (Chucksreef) was the winner of the Boston Reefers Society Tank Of The Month on May 2005.
(click on any photo to see a larger version)
Tank, under full lighting
My interest in aquariums started as a child. I'll never forget waking up one Christmas morning to my first 30g filled with freshwater fish. Drifting back as I write this, I have to chuckle as I now realize why nothing lived past New Years! To think, even Santa had no success with the overnight cycle. As the years went on I tried to keep every type of freshwater fish that I could get my hands on before finally settling down with African Cichlids.
In the early 80's my interest turned toward salt water as I started to notice a small variety of fish becoming more and more available in the few shops I had access to. At the time, it seemed the only information I could find on these creatures was that they were impossible to keep. My plans on moving forward with this venture were suddenly cut short when my 2 year old brother took a hammer to the front glass of my tank. The only explanation I could get out of the kid was that the fish were laughing at him. Needless to say it was next to impossible to convince my parents of another set up.
About 9 years ago I finally decided to get my hands wet once again, this time it was salt all the way. I started with a used 75g setup with fish and fake coral skeletons. As my experience level increased, so did my system. Fake coral was replaced with live rock and some hardier corals were added. That system was later upgraded to a 180g, which was then upgraded once again to my current 375g.
My current setup was started around 1 1/2 years ago although the majority of the livestock has been with me for many years. Due to space constraints this system does not allow me to have all that I would like it to, i.e. a large refugium.
The system includes, in addition to the 375g display tank, a 150g custom built sump that sits under the main tank, inside the stand — also custom made. All the remaining equipment is either inside the stand next to the sump, or next to the tank, in a recessed spot that will be enclosed with a wood door to match the stand.
Lighting is provided by 8 metal halide lamps — 4 400W 10000K XM bulbs and 4 175W 20000K XM bulbs — and was mainly designed this way for my own enjoyment of both color temperatures. 8 VHO actinics are also used for aesthetic purposes, as well as moonlights.
Water flow is distributed throughout the tank by 2 Sequence 4300 pumps, pushing 4300gph each. One pump is used for a return and is branched off to 6 randomly selected 3/4" ports. The other pump is used on a closed-loop and is plumbed through an 1-1/2" actuated 3-way ballvalve controlled by a timed relay. These trunk lines are also branched off to a variety of 3/4" ports located throughout the main tank.
A custom built, 4ft high skimmer and a 1/2 HP chiller are both fed by a third Sequence 4300 pump.
A dual stage calcium reactor helps maintain adequate calcium and alk levels (used in addition to kalkwasser, as described below).
Additional safety precautions taken in hopes of preventing any serious set backs :
In addition to the main flow lines mentioned above, an Eheim 1260 pump is used to supply 2 ports located at the water surface. This pump is wired through my battery backup system (built myself) in order to keep the water circulating in the event of a power failure.
I try to stay pretty religious with my water changes, usually performing a 60g change every 2-3 weeks. Two large bags of carbon are used in the sump 24/7 and are changed out as needed.
Kalkwasser is used to make up for all daily evaporation, usually resulting in approximately 5 gallons a day. Kalk is supplied by a peristaltic pump controlled by a dual float switch setup.
There are way too many corals to list individually. I still like to consider my tank a mixed reef, albeit heavily dominated with SPS.
This is a small sample of the corals in the tank:
SPS: dozens of species of SPS corals, including Acropora, Montipora, Pocillopora, Seriatopora, Stylophora, Hydnophora, etc.
LPS: several LPS corals, including Euphyllia sp. (frogspawn, hammer, torch), Scolymia, Caulastrea (trumpet coral), Trachyphillia (open brain), etc.
Soft corals: a few soft corals, including solid green Nephtea, solid yellow Nepthea(?), yellow leather and a variety of colored Zoanthids.
Aside from a large clean-up crew, other additions are 2 Tridacna crocea and 1 Tridacna maxima clams, and the extra large rose bubble tip anemone from hell, Entacmaea quadricolor.
Like many other reefers, my success at this point did not come easy. There has been a lot lost along the way and many lessons learned. I still feel there is much more for me to learn about this hobby and at this day and age there is enough info out there for everyone to keep a healthy and happy system. My advice to all would be to spend as much time as possible reading, learn through one another and most of all, get to know your animals as they will tell you when they are not happy.
© 2005 Nuno Santos, Chuck Smith