Tank Of The Month
Reefkeeper2 was selectd as the Boston Reefers Society May 2008 Tank Of The Month .
I was introduced (or should I say hooked) to the aquarium hobby at the age of 16 when my mother bought my brother a 10 gallon aquarium for Christmas. As it turned out, he couldn’t have cared less for the thing and I was addicted for life. I took over the tank and in short order, ten gallons became thirty, and thirty quickly evolved to 50 and then to 75. This should have been a clear indication of what would
follow for the next 30 or so years. Although my first interests where for fresh water, I dove right into salt the first time I saw a marine setup in high school. I even had sea horses for a while. I had 3 tanks in my bedroom at home. Successes were few though and I eventually gave up on marine tanks while I was attending college and for years after. All this changed however when one day I walked into PJs Pet Store in Dedham about 20 years ago. There for the first time I saw a reef aquarium. It was pretty drab looking compared to todays standards but I was awestruck. Out went the freshwater tank and in came a succession of reef tanks each one bigger than the one before.
In 2005 I decided I wanted to construct my “dream tank”. With this new project I was also going to build a new room (a solarium) to house it. I had to get a variance from the town and appear before the Bridgewater Zoning Board with architectural plans, surveyors plot plans and letters of acceptance from my abutting neighbors. Then I had to convince six people ( who had just denied the last petitioner the week before for a similar project) why they should allow me to build a large addition and a garage on a very small 6000 square foot lot. Not an easy task for someone who’s petrified of public speaking. First off they asked me what the strange blue lights were that some of them had seen coming from my house at night. After I had explained what actinic lighting was and started talking about the new tank, I relaxed and actually had a good time. They loved the plans and granted the variance. This tank, the one I am honored to have been chosen for Tank of The Month, is the result of many years of trial and error (lots and lots of trial and tons of error) and has been a labor of love.
This aquarium is set up in a Four Seasons Sunroom. With its construction I wanted to address problems I have had with other tanks in the past and make the most of the natural sunlight of the new room. I had 5 preset goals I thought were important:
- Unobstructed views from all sides including above.
- No big cabinet for a stand, and no equipment underneath.
- An open top for complete access to interior of the tank (no hood, lights or equipment to move out of the way) for ease of cleaning and placement of corals.
- Low electricity consumption.
- Freedom from tedious maintenance.
- The Aquarium must look like an integral piece of the room. the centerpiece
The aquarium is a eurobraced 427gal acrylic with open top manufactured by Envisions Acrylic. It dimensions are 84”long by 42”wide by 30” tall. The 12” by 8”overflow is dead center and the tank can be viewed from all sides and above. The stand is constructed of 4 columns of concrete blocks topped with four steel I beams. One inch thick plywood was placed over the I beams. Plumbing and electrical pass up from the basement through the concrete blocks and are not visible. The stand was finished with the same tile and wood trim that are seen in the room. The sump is in the basement and consists of a 160gal Rubbermaid stock tank connected to a 50gal Rubbermaid trash container that serves as a remote deep sand bed. Substrate in the tank consists of 1 to 3 inches of white playsand
| Main tank
|| 427 gallon Acrylic tank
|| 160 stock tank
| Remote DSB
|| 30gal rubbermaid trashcan
All equipment was purchased with energy consumption in mind. I looked for the lowest watt draw on everything. The main pump is Reeflow Uno made by Sequence. This is slightly undersized for my setup but this was intentional. The majority of flow in the tank is supplied by four Tunze stream pumps. Two are connected to Wavy Sea wave makers. The other two will eventually be mounted to wavy seas as well. I decided to go with the Tunzes instead of a closed loop setup because of their very low energy consumption (11- 14 watts each) and ease of cleaning.
Alkalinity and calcium supplementation are accomplished with a Schuran calcium reactor. I have an old Koralith reactor connected to the Schuran as a second chamber and this has worked well to raise the pH of the effluent going into the tank water. A Reef Fanatic controller keeps an eye on the tank pH and will shut off the calcium reactor if the pH drops below 7.9. An Aquamedic Kalkstirrer supplements calcium as well in the top off water. I turned an old MRC calcium reactor into a chemical reactor for carbon and GFO that I run 24/7.
Lighting consists of two Maristar Fixtures hanging from the ceiling. Each contains 2 250watt 10K AB metal halide bulbs and 2 ATI blue plus 39 watt T5s. The ballasts are all Ice Cap Electronic and are kept out of sight in the room above the solarium (the laundry room). The fixtures that the lights hang from I designed and built myself with the hope to make them look like part of the solarium structure. The tank also receives a large amount of natural sunlight.
There is a battery backup system that is attached to a converter/ups that will provide 18hrs of power to the Tunzes in case of a power failure. I have learned from bitter experience that this absolutely necessary for any reef tank. I also have a small generator for prolonged outages.
The skimmer is a Bubbleking 250 internal. This was an expensive aquisition but the 45 watt draw and lifetime guarantee on the Red Dragon pump convinced me to spend the money. I was tired of replacing worn out impellers, and soaking calcium frozen parts in vinegar.
There is a fan on the wall of the solarium that is connected to a Ranco controller. When the tank temp reaches 80 degrees it blows across the surface of the tank. The room is air conditioned as well but even when it’s not in use and the room temp is as high as 88 degrees the tank never tops 81. Tank temp range all year is 78-81 degrees
At the center of the system is the Dialyseas Unit made by Seavisions of Florida. It monitors the salinity and performs all the water changes. It is capable of much more, similar to any controller, but I use it primarily for the purpose of water changes. It dialyzes and returns water to the system and adds salt when required. Presently it is set to change 10gal a day. It can be set to any amount. This devise has freed me from water changes forever and has spoiled me so bad I don’t know how I could do without it.
Maintenance consists basically of replacing carbon, GFO, calcium hydroxide, DI resin etc, etc, as needed. I also need to make sure the Dialyseas has salt available and I change its membrane every 3 to 4 months.
I found it difficult to keep track of what needed to be replaced and when. It drove me nuts. To solve this annoyance I sat down and thought of every conceivable task I could possibly need to do and made a maintenance chart for it all. It’s broken down into weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly tasks. This has worked very well for me.
I feed nori daily, mysid and brine shrimp every other day. I use cyclopeeze to feed the gorgonians and the anemones get silversides and shrimp about once a month. I don’t supplement the tank with anything but have tried iron and haven’t decided whether to continue or not. If I set up a refugium I probably will. I plan on experimenting with amino acids next.
Royal Dottyback- Pseudochromis paccagiellae
Powder Blue Tang- Acanthurus leucosternon
Decorated Goby- Istigobius decoratus
Leopard Wrasse- Macropharyngodon meleagris
Allens Damselfish- Pomacentrus alleni
Blue Green Chromis- Chromis viridis
Pink Skunk Clownfish- Amphiprion perideraion
Percula Clownfish- Amphiprion percula
Lemon Damselfish- Pomacentrus moluccensis
Coral Beauty- Centropyge bispinosa
Banggai Cardinalfish- Pterapogon kauderni
Elegance Coral- Catalaphyllia jardinei
Torch Coral- Euphyllia glabrescens
Branching Hammer- Euphyllia parancora
Bubble Coral- Plerogyra sinuosa
Brain Coral- Ouiophyllia sp.
Organ Pipe Coral- Tubipora musica
Sun Polyps- Tubastraea sp
corals & Polyps
Clove Polyps- Clavularia sp.
Green Star Polyps- Pachyclavularia violacea
Colt Coral- Alcyonium sp.
Finger Leather- Sinularia sp.
Toadstool- Sarcophyton sp.
Purple Sea Blade- Pterogorgia sp.
Spiny sea Rod- Mauricea sp.
Blueberry Gorgonian ?
Purple Frilly Gorgonian- Pseudopterogorgia bipinnata
Zoos- Zoanthus sp.
Button Polyps- Protopalythus vestivus
Yellow Polyps- Parazoanthus sp.
Mushrooms- Dicosoma sp
cleaner shrimp and a very large and old Sally Lightfoot crab.
T . maxima
There is so much I want to accomplish with this tank, and so much yet to learn. There have been setbacks and successes. I learn something from each. Previous TOTMs have been an inspiration for me, and I hope to increase the diversity and populations of my livestock to compare with these fantastic tanks. I can’t read enough on the BRS website and I am constantly on Reef Central as well.
Besides the beauty and fascination this wonderful hobby provides are the great people I have met. The social camaraderie is an extra bonus and I am so thankful for all the friends and people I have interacted with over the years. This includes all the many people I have corresponded with online. Without them I don’t think my accomplishments with this tank could have been possible.
© 2008 Heather Thevenin, Greg Thevenin, Paul Burns.
The copyright to all text is owned by
Paul Burns. The copyright to all photographs is owned by Greg Thevenin.
Permission is granted to the Boston
Reefers Society for publication in the club newsletter, both online and in
No other uses are permitted without the
express written consent from the authors.