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Last picture of 29g planted tank before it was taken down (86kb) 50g planted tank before it was taken down (71kb) Two giant schnauzers and two aquariums (69kb) Lotsa fish (81kb) 500 gallon 8' x 3' x3' reef aquarium (83kb)
Refugium (76kb) Refugium on left, Euro-reef CS 12-2 on right (70kb) View from left side of tank (86kb) Left side rockwork (88kb) Rightside view (84kb)
DSCN0228.jpg (104kb) DSCN0229.jpg (107kb) DSCN0230.jpg (90kb) Big Rose Bubble-Tip Anemone (107kb) View from right side of tank (101kb)
Mushroom (85kb) Toadstool (94kb) DSCN0235.jpg (96kb) CS12-2 skimmer and kalkwasser drip (68kb) 3-foot long Papua New Guinea monitor lizard (87kb)
Lewis (on the right) and I standing in front of his tank in order to show its awesome panoramic scale. (83kb) Monitor lizard looking for some food (84kb) Interesting flower (84kb)    

500 gallons in Southern California

On the weekend of September 27th and 28th, I flew down to Southern California to help my friend Sean take down his two planted aquariums, and also to visit him and his wife one last time before their move to Colorado. It was sad to take his tanks down since they were lush with plant life and big and healthy fish. At least I saw that his fish and plants were going to tanks where they would be well taken care of.

While I was there, Sean's neighbor Lewis was gracious enough to give us a tour of his 500-gallon tank. Upon seeing Lewis' tank, I was immediately impressed by the sheer size of the tank and the colors and numbers of fish in his tank. Despite the high bio-load of his tank, there was no nuisance algae to be seen. A lot of this could probably be attributed to his very large refugium and protein skimmer. I liked the darker than normal blue background of his tank (I'll have to specify that color for my next tank) and its 3' width and height. The width and height of the tank really opens up the space of the tank for the fish and the viewer. My 5' x 2' x 2' 150-gallon tank looked so cramped when I came home. I also liked the fact that Lewis didn't build a massive wall of live rock, giving room for his fish to swim and his corals to grow. Another thing that amazed me was how clean the front, back and sides were of coralline algae. Coralline was definitely growing well in the tank evidenced by the growth on the live rock and on the sump pump returns, but through Lewis' diligent maintenance the panes of the tank were free of algae.

It's rare that I see a tank that so well balances its technical and artistic aspects. I believe Lewis' design and setup of his tank's life support systems, and his aesthetic skill in the layout of the tank is a great inspiration for other reef aquarists.


Lewis' notes on his aquarium:

Here is some info on my system. The display aquarium is 96"x36"x36". It contains approximately 370 lbs of Tonga live rock and 300 lbs of live sand. The display is lighted by eight 96 watt compact fluorescents (four 2 in 1 daylight/blue and four actinic blue-Hamilton Technology) and four 250 watt 10,000K metal halides (Hamilton Technology). The actinics run 12 hours per day. The 2 in 1 bulbs run 9 hours per day. The metal halides run 6 hours per day. System circulation is accomplished with two Dolphin 3600 gph water pumps. There is a 10"x8" overflow box in the center of the back wall. It is divided into two prefilter compartments. Water flows from the prefilters into a 38"x32"x18" refugium. The water flows into a six inch compartment in the refugium that contains bioballs to break up bubbles. The remainder of the refugium contains a 4" live sand bed over a 1" plenum. It also contains approximately 10 lbs of live rock and several species of macroalgae. It is lighted by two 96 watt compact fluorescents (2 in 1 Hamilton Technology). It is lighted 17 hours per day on a reverse daylight cycle. From the refugium, water flows into a 33"x26"x18" secondary sump. This sump contains a shelf for chemical media (it currently contains Chemi-pure) and a Euroreef CS 12-1 skimmer. The skimmer runs on two Sedra 500gph water pumps (modified by Euroreef to be needle wheel pumps). Ozone is pumped into the body of the skimmer (using a diaphram air pump) at a rate of 150-200mg/hour. One of the water pumps draws water from the secondary sump and returns it to the left side of the display aquarium. The second pump draws water through approximately 20' of pipe to an outside shed that houses a 3/4 hp Aquanetics chiller. The water is then returned to the right side of the display aquarium. The system contains approximately 600 gallons. Water parameters are as follows: specific gravity 1.0235; temperature 74-76degrees F; pH 8.2; Ammonia 0; Nitrite 0; Nitrate 0; Phosphate < 0.05 mg/L; Alkalinity 2.8 meq/L; Calcium 450 mg/L.

A note on my monitor lizard. It is a captive bred Peach throated monitor (Varanus jobiensis).