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
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
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
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).