View Full Version : Kaybee's 65gal Reef

01-24-2011, 04:17 AM
Last year I reconfigured my 5-bulb T5HO lighting fixture back to 1 daylight bulb and 4 actinic or actinic equivalent bulbs. This follows a year or so trial with 2 daylight bulbs. It seems that the corals I have do better with a little less light. Multiple daylight bulbs seemed to cause bleaching in some of my corals and seemed to restrict the explansion of some fleshy coral polyps, even those on the sand bed.

I'm still using the Aquactinics TX5 fixture (individual lamp reflectors) with the following T5HO bulbs (from front to back):

Bulb 1. ATI Blue Plus (450nm)
Bulb 2. Giesemann Pure Actinic (421nm)
Bulb 3 ATI Aquablue Special (12000K)
Bulb 4 IceCap Actinic (420nm)
Bulb 5 IceCap Twilight (460nm)

Bulbs 2 & 4 come on one hour before and bulbs 1-3-5 do and go off one hour after those bulbs go off. Photo-period 1pm-1030pm

-Octopus BH-800S Hang on Back protein skimmer (Sicce PSK2500 pump), rated for 130gal tank.
- Dual Phosban Reactors. Reactor 1 utilizes pelletized granular ferric oxide (GFO). The outflow of Reactor 1 feeds into Reactor 2 which utilizes high grade carbon.
- XP2 Canister filter configured for mechanical filtration only (50-micron filter pads which are cleaned weekly).
- Live rock. 60-80+lbs. I can't recall exact amount.
- Live sand/Deep Sand Bed (depth 3"-4")

Phosphate and nitrate at undetectable levels.

Salinity: 1.026 (Salt of choice: Oceanic)
Temperature: Currently 76F
I use a fan for evaporative cooling when it is warm. No heater. Heat generated from circulation components keeps the tank 6-10 degrees (fahrenheit) warmer than room temperature.

Primary Circulation: Koralia 3 (850gph) and a Koralia Evolution 1050 (1050gph): 1900gph (water flow dissipated somewhat since I have the two powerheads mostly aimed at each other (otherwise the flow would be too great for a lot of my LPS corals), additional circulation provided by the XP2 canister (+250gph).

I have an overflow intake box magnetically attached inside the tank for surface skimming. Because my system is sump-less the water in the overflow box is drawn by the canister and the protein skimmer and back into the tank via their respective outflows. The reactors output into this box as does the the auto-topoff. It's also where I keep one of my temperature probes.

For alkalinity I use Arm & Hammer baking soda, though I did give two liters of Seachem's Reef Carbonate a trial (which lasted about a year give or take). The baking soda seems to do the job and in a more economical fashion.

I currently add 1 teaspoon of baking soda about every day or every other day to maintain alkalinity 9-11dkh and replenish carbonates. Once the weather warms up and my tank's cooling fan is utilized 24/7 (which will increase evaporation rate), I will add baking soda to my auto-topoff water container.

I still use Seachem's Reef Complete and add about 30ml usually every weekend to maintain calcium at 400-420ppm between water changes.

I do fairly large water changes about every 40-45 days (usually 50%) even though the tank is lightly stocked.

1x royal gramma, 2x azure damsels (in the tank since the very beginning). They're feed exclusively New Life Spectrum pellets (Small Fish formula), one small pinch (which comes out to about 1/20th of a teaspoon) every 3rd day.

Clean Up Crew: 1 maroon serpent sea star, 1 white shelled nasarius snail, 1 black shelled nasarius snail, 1 turbo snail. There's a small hitch hiker crab about half the size of a plain m&m candy that has been in the tank since 2007. It never ventures more than 1cm from its crevice and I only see it at night. I'm not sure what it eats but I consider it CUC.


Soft Corals (various zoanthids and palythoa's, blue snowflake polyps, anthelia, red sea pulsating xenia, tubipora, various mushrooms and ricordia, green elephant ears, neon green and common toadstool leather corals).

LPS Corals (candy cane, torch, frogspawn, galaxy, fox, blastomussa, favia, war coral, leptastrea, trachyphyllia, lobophyllia, possible euphylia hybrid (frogspawn x hammer), pectinia).

SPS Corals (branching hydophora, encrusting hydnophora, montipora capricornis, pink birdnest, pocillopora).

Due to a fast growth rate I had to remove 80-110+ heads of candy cane coral and large numbers of xenia and anthelia from this tank.

65gal Reef (will be 5 years old this year)

01-24-2011, 04:18 AM
lovely tank! It's very colorful.

01-24-2011, 04:49 AM
great lookings tank you have! ive been reading up about saltwater quite a lot lately as a few years down the road i plan on setting one up. seeing your tank makes me want it even sooner!

01-24-2011, 04:56 AM
The tank is looking awesome kaybee. All the corals look great. thumbs2:

01-24-2011, 05:34 AM
WOW! I almost fell out of my chair when I saw that picture. That has to be the one of the prettiest tank I have ever seen in my life!!!!!!!!!!!

01-24-2011, 11:17 AM
Holy MOLY!!! Incredible tank! Look at all those amazing colors!!!!!! WOWOWOWOW!!!!!!!!!!

01-24-2011, 01:05 PM
Great looking tank.

I love the look of a reef tank

Great job with the coral stocking

You didn't list this in your list of coral, but is that a orange acan (LPS) coral near the lower right hand side ?

01-24-2011, 03:00 PM
One of the most colorful tanks I've ever seen. Great job! This is my future plan for my 65g. It will be a year or so down the road.

01-24-2011, 04:23 PM
Wow that's fantastic... absolutely stunning! Awesome tank

01-25-2011, 12:01 AM
Thanks everyone, I appreciate all the kind comments!

You didn't list this in your list of coral, but is that a orange acan (LPS) coral near the lower right hand side ?

Good catch! I forgot to list the acans!

I've got three different types of acans in the tank but none are in the lower right hand side. What coral(s) is the coral you're inquiring about next to? At the bottom right (left of the green open brain and below the light colored toadstool) are some common red mushrooms.

By chance did you mean lower left hand side?

01-25-2011, 01:23 AM
Absolutely beautiful! And that is the same size as our current freshwater tank. I was just saying to my bf that it would be a good size for us to try saltwater when we upgrade.... your picture is quite a wonderful inspiration in that direction.

01-25-2011, 01:51 AM
Thanks everyone, I appreciate all the kind comments!

Good catch! I forgot to list the acans!

I've got three different types of acans in the tank but none are in the lower right hand side. What coral(s) is the coral you're inquiring about next to? At the bottom right (left of the green open brain and below the light colored toadstool) are some common red mushrooms.

By chance did you mean lower left hand side?

Actually, the one I was looking at was next to the blue shroom & green candy cane. Your red mushroom is colored like some one my favorite acans. I did notice your other acans tho.

I was going to ask if you were doing any to help keep there red color. Mine is fadding a bit and I'm a little concerned. I'm going try a liitle lower light and feed him some more.

01-25-2011, 02:43 AM
Kaybee, that is an incredible looking tank. Definitely something to be proud of. Goes to show just what you can do without a sump. :D

01-25-2011, 01:33 PM
Thanks ILMGB. Yep, not all reef set ups require sumps, and I'm actually using a canister filter which is typically not advised for SW tanks (though I don't have it configured as I would if it were on a FW tank.

Trillianne, I find the 65gal tank to be a decent size tank for SW it's not too large and not too small, plus has adequate height and width.

Actually, the one I was looking at was next to the blue shroom & green candy cane...

Oh, ok. I think I know which one you're talking about. My blue mushrooms are on the far left. The blue corals you must be referring to which are near the green candy cane are actually blue snow flake polyps.

I believe the coral you're inquiring about is my 'super red' blastomussa, a fleshy polyp'd LPS. The camera is washing out its true color a bit in the photo, in person it's the color of tropical punch or cherry kool-aid:

I've got a larger blastomussa colony (the common red variety) in the tank as well (its obscured from view in the rear right corner of the tank).

Indirect lighting may help prevent the lightening of color with some acans.

01-26-2011, 01:05 AM
Yep, not all reef set ups require sumps,

Nope, they sure don't. :) My new 75 doesn't have one either.

01-26-2011, 12:16 PM
Very nice set-up kaybee :ssmile: I hope ours looks half as nice in 5 years.

My main reason for a sump is I absolutely hate HOB equipment. If I had the cash I'd have a sump/wet/dry on all of our freshwater tanks, lol

01-29-2011, 05:29 PM
Size comparision:

Green elephant ear mushroom adjacent to small and normal-sized common red mushrooms

Sometimes the elephant ear will expand to the extent that it completely conceals the red mushrooms and even the nuke green paly's on the adjacent live rock.

03-13-2011, 04:57 PM
I moved my green torch to a different area in the tank (to the upper far left) section of the tank. Under the larger frogspawn one of the heads was getting deprived of light and the torch was a little too close to my blastomussa.

There was a crevice that held the torch's skeleton base very nicely. It fit very well wedged in. But my darned damsels dislike changes and kept bumping it out from below, forcing me to epoxy it in place, but not in the position that I wanted.

I also relocated some excess candy cane, xenia, palys and anthelia to a different reef tank.

Here's a close up of my orange leptastrea frag (a small-polyped LPS coral, if that makes any sense:14:). Green-centered leptastrea can be seen in the background:


My most recent addition, a small pink lobophyllia:

I'm observing something with my green-polyp toadstool leather coral that may be of concern:

It's been retracting its polyps for maybe 4 to 6 hours about every 2 or 3 days. It seems that the last one or two polyps don't completely retract, instead they're being ejected and detached into the water flow (the entire 'stem' and polyp head).

It seems to producing new polyps at a rate equal to or greater than the loss so it's not visibly missing any polyps. Is this normal? Is this a form of reproduction? I'm going to try to capture one of the detached polyps and place it in a different tank to see if they live.

03-13-2011, 05:02 PM
I love the pink lobo, I've actually been looking for one like that but havn't been able to find a pink one (wife's favorite color).

Wish I could help with the leather. Mine has only done that a few times

02-18-2018, 03:41 PM
I had been planning to revisit my very brief journal (posted in 2011 when my reef tank was entering its 5th year of establishment) with an equipment & coral update, now that tank is approaching its 12th year, and also discuss a particular multi-year tank issue which nearly caused me to lose all interest in reef-keeping and almost made me want to leave the hobby.

I'm still planning to do an update, but instead let me start with this:

I had perhaps the most startling experience I've ever had with any of my aquariums while my hands were in the water, which I will sum up with two words: huge. bristleworm.

I was aware that this creature was in my tank in 2009, and wrote about it in this 2010 post:

My sightings of this beast were rare and to the best of my recollection I may have seen it once or twice in 2012 and then nothing. Out of sight, out of mind, the years pass by, perhaps it died, and I forgot all about it...until yesterday.

I'm doing some minor reorganization and decide to move a coral which is growing on a palm-sized clam shell from the sand bed to a place higher up on the rocks. With the coral on a clam shell in my hand in the tank I am about to relocate it when I take a glance at the underneath, and there it is! The bristleworm is curled underneath the shell and is in panic mode trying to find its way out from the situation.

I try hard not flinch or drop the coral (which could damage it or any corals beneath it), and wonder if my composure will hold up if this thing touches my finger (it was getting restless). I place the coral with shell on the rocks and call it a day. I had no idea this thing was still in my tank! This beats the suprise I had last year after Hurricane Irma, when after a day and a half without power this larger-than-an-acorn sea urchin which I had never seen in my tank before revealed itself.

Most bristleworms of the hitch-hiking variety are about half the length of a toothpick. I couldn't grab my camera due to the situation yesterday, but this is what it looked like in 2010:



The flash of the camera is washing out the bright red lines where the bristles come out from.

02-18-2018, 04:37 PM
Knowing absolutely zilch about SW fishkeeping, I'm assuming that one of these things coming into contact with human flesh would be a most unfortunate experience, correct?

Can it harm other creatures in the tank?...about how big is it now?...is it best to remove these things when you see them?...how big can it get?

02-19-2018, 01:50 PM
Yes, contact with the bristles of this one wouldn't be fun. I've gotten 'bristled' before by the smaller variety (their bristles are about 1mm) and at worse those caused minor skin irritation/itchiness for perhaps a day. The bristles on this one appear to be just under 7mm-8mm. I don't think it is a fireworm (which toxic bristles inflict a painful sting and nausea).

It seems to be able to contract and expand its length. It looks to be 7"-8" as a minimum/~9" max (most, but not all, of its length can be seen in the 2nd photo with black ruler for rough comparison), but it can contract down to 5", which was the length it assumed beneath the shell the other day; it's about a half-inch thick. Apparently more bio-mass than my fish which are 2.5"-3.5".

Like most other bristleworms, it seems to be a detritivore/scavenger. It appears to be harmless (as long as I don't come in contact with it); were it the harmful type/fireworm (which can eat corals & other invertebrates) there would have been signs of that long ago.

02-19-2018, 04:13 PM
So, live and let live, I guess...thanks for the info

03-18-2018, 01:19 PM
This update will fall into the :worthless: category (further exacerbated by the fact that due to photobucket's policy change all of my previous pics are no longer visible); so this is just a data update.

I entered the saltwater/reefing side of the hobby in the summer of 2006 (45gal) and upgraded to a 65gal in the autumn of that same year; I started this thread back in 2011, but never kept up with it.

Changes to my sump-less 65gal reef since 2011:

In 2012 I transitioned from the Aquactinics TX5 T5HO/198-watt unit (five 39 watt T5HO bulbs) to a Maxspect Razor/R420R 160-watt 16000K LED fixture in 2012, which is bracketed 6" above the tank top.

Photo-period: 12:30-23:00 (peak illumination period 15:00-20:30)

Channel A (daylight spectrums) 13:30-21:30 (ramp-up from 1% 13:30-15:00; max 55% from 15:00-20:30; ramp-down from 55% to 0% 20:30-21:30).

Channel B (blue spectrums) 12:30-23:00 (ramp-up from 1% 12:30-15:00; max 74% from 15:00-20:30; ramp-down from 74% to 0% 20:30-23:00).

03-18-2018, 01:38 PM
FILTRATION: Only change over the years was that I ditched the canister and changed protein skimmer model.

Protein Skimmer: In 2013, I replaced the Reef Octopus BH-800S Hang on Back (HOB) protein skimmer with the BH-2000 HOB model, (rated for 100-200gal tank). Wasn't really a big fan of the pump-inside-the-skimmer configuration of the BH-800S. Maintenance was a pain.

Chemical Filtration: I still use Dual Phosban Reactors (HOB). With a Cobalt MJ1200 powerhead/pump, water is drawn from the tank and through Reactor 1, which contains granular ferric oxide (GFO) (I'm currently using Rowaphos, but am not picky on the brand) for phosphate adsorption. The outflow of Reactor 1 then feeds into Reactor 2 (which contains high grade small particle lignite carbon to enhance water quality and counter the effect of allelopathy (coral chemical warfare)). The water is then returned into the tank. I have about a 2" depth of media in each reactor. (I previously used a larger quantity of media but have scaled back on the amount of media.

Mechanical filtration: None. I no longer use the Filstar XP2 Canister filter with 50-micron filter pads.

Biologic Filtration:
Live Rock (~60-80+lbs of live rock, I can't recall exact amount. Little to no change here.
Live sand bed (depth 3"-4") (no change).

Sump-less configuration:
No change. Overflow intake box still magnetically attached inside the tank for surface skimming. Positioned in this overflow intake box are:
- HOB protein skimmer in-take
- APEX controller temperature and pH probes
- reactor out put
- alkalinity doser out put

03-18-2018, 04:32 PM
Water Parameters and Properties (Part 1):

Phosphate: Consistently at undetectable levels. Tested bi-monthly/~quarterly with a Martini Mi-412 Phosphate/(Low Range) photometer (measurement range: 0.00-2.50ppm).

Nitrate: Consistently at undetectable levels. I test with a API Nitrate test kit no more than once or twice a year. An established colony of third-stage marine beneficial bacteria within the live rock and sand bed converts nitrate into nitrogen. Tank has small bioload (65gal tank with three small fish, small pinch of food once a day, corals fed every week or two).

Nitrite & Ammonia: Never test for.

Alkalinity: (solution comprised of about 1.125 cup of baking soda/sodium bicarbonate to 1 gal of RO/DI water). 40ml of this alkalinity solution added daily using a doser. About 0.83ml automatically dosed every 30min (at a slow a 1.8ml/per min dose rate) to keep up with carbonate consumption by the stony corals. dkH maintained in 7.5-9 range. Tested every 7-10 days with Salifert Alkalinity test kit.

Calcium: (solution comprised of about 2.5 cups of calcium chloride to 1 gal of RO/DI water). I manually add 1/3 cup about every 3 days. Calcium maintained in the 420-450ppm range. Tested every 7-10 days with Salifert Calcium test kit.

Magnesium: (solution comprised 5 cups magnesium chloride & 3 cups magnesium sulfate to 1 gal of RO/DI water). I manually add 1/4 cup of this week. Magnesium maintained 1300-1350ppm, keeping up with coral consumption. Tested every 7-10 days with Salifert Magnesium test kit.

Potassium: Tested at irregular intervals with Salifert Potassium Test kit, 400ppm.

Auto Top-Off (ATO) with Kalkwasser: 8 gal ATO reservoir. 1 gal kalkwasser ('kalk') comprise of 2 tsp of calcium hydroxide per 1 gal of RO/DI water. Sometimes I go as low as 5gal of kalk with the remaining 3gal being RO/DI. I use an Avast pressure-switch controlled ATO using an Air-Lifter pump to keep up with water lost from evaporation. The kalk delivers additional calcium, alkalinity and pH to the reef.

03-18-2018, 05:32 PM
Water Parameters and Properties (Part 2):

Temperature Control: I still a fan (6" Air King) for evaporative cooling which streams air across the water surface of this uncovered tank. Using an Apex Controller, the fan is configured to engage when the water temperature reaches 78F/26C and disengage when it reaches 76.5F/25C. In the summer months, I tend to lose 1 gal per day due to evaporative cooling. I do not use a heater.

Circulation: The Koralia 3 (850 gph) and a Koralia Evolution 1050 (1050gph) which I had in 2011 where eventually replaced by two Sicce Voyager 3 (each 1200 gph) Stream Pumps; both configurations were augmented by the aforementioned XP2 canister (~250gph). All of this was replaced with a Maxijet Gyre/XF-230 (max 2300 gph). The gyre presents a entirely different type of flow to the tank when compared to the powerheads/stream pumps I used, as it moves all of the water in the tank.

The flow patterns that I am currently using range between 20%-60%, and alternate between various pulse/wave and random flow, alternating every hour, incremental flow ramp up from 20% (midnight) 60% at around 4pm for the incremental ramp down. When I first set it up I initially had it set to 30%; at that setting for the first couple of days the Gyre evicted all sorts of detritus from the sandbed and rocks in the water column; the amount of matter surprised me since the two Voyager 3's and XP2 2650gph of flow.

Interestingly, after switching to the Gyre, all of my mushroom corals for some reason (excluding my elephant ear) have significantly expanded in size. While they're all not uniformly sized, the average surface area increased from, say, a medicine or tylenol container cap, to that of a dental floss container (hard to put in words since those are standardized; I wish I had some before and after shots). Essentially, they 'shrink' down to their old sizes at night.

Water Changes: Previously, for years I used to do fairly large water changes...anywhere from one-third every 3 weeks to 45-50% every month and a half. (I think 10% weekly is the 'general' norm for reef tanks).

Starting last summer I have switched to doing daily micro-water changes: 1 gallon daily of a 65gal tank. I'm primarily doing this as a measure against essential and/or trace element depletion, not for waste exportation. In three months of doing this the coloration of my euphyllia polyps, pocillopora tissue bounced back. The coloration of my trachyphyllia intensified as well (it appeared to be in the early stages of bleaching or something which I contributed to light deprivation due shaded position under my frogspawn colony.

The shift to daily micro-water change regimen was initially an experiment before resorting to chemical additives, particularly since there is no way (from my understanding) to overdose anything with a tiny water change. With some additives there can be a thin line between meeting and overdosing the requirement (or fueling nuisance algae, etc).

Salinity: Target salinity: 1.027 specific gravity; checked with a refractometer aperiodically.

Water preparation:
RO/DI: I use multi-staged Reverse Osmosis/De-Ionized (RO/DI) water system for the production of salt water and ATO; as well as for making the calcium, alkalinity, magnesium solutions and kalk. I make and store salt water using Instant Ocean's Reef Crystals in a 44 gallon brute container and two powerheads for mixing and circulation.

03-18-2018, 06:06 PM
No change from the first post, these same fish have been in the tank since the beginning in 2006: 1x royal gramma, 2x azure damsels. Still feeding New Life Spectrum pellets (Small Fish formula); though I feed them practically now rather than once every 3 days.

Clean Up Crew (CUC):
Over the years I let my CUC dwindle away in number. I didn't replace snails or hermits for some years. I was down to about 1 or 2 hermit crabs which survived the years. In 2016, in a last ditch effort in my fight against dinoflagelletes I revamped by CUC population. (I'll write about my multi-year battle with dinoflagelletes and the affect CUC may have had on it in a later post). Currently I am down to a handful of hermits and a lesser quantity of algae eating snails, and perhaps a single nassarius snail (tackles detritus and left overs).

(bold=10+ years in my tank)

Soft Corals: zoanthids, palythoa's (of the hitch hiking variety), pulsating xenia, tubipora, green star polyps, various mushrooms, green elephant ear mushroom, toadstool leathers; clove polyps.

LPS Corals: candy cane, torch, frogspawn, blastomussa, war coral, leptastrea, trachyphyllia, lobophyllia, acanathastrea, possible euphylia hybrid (frogspawn x hammer), pectinia).

SPS Corals (hydnophora, plating and encrusting montipora, birdnest, pocillopora; stylophora, acropora).

Corals are fed every 1-3 weeks a liquid soup comprised of a mixture of: reef roids, reef chili, vitamin c, amino acids, reef snow, multi-size zoo plankton; food applied manually to as many polyps as possible with an eye dropper.

08-02-2018, 12:13 AM
My tank reef tank over the years.

August 2006

Not yet a reef, this was my first saltwater tank, picture probably taken soon after being set up.
45gal tank with live rock and live sand acquired from a fellow hobbyist exiting the hobby.

Illuminated by PC lighting, two maxjijet 1200 powerheads for circulation. The red objects at the far right and left-center were macro algae which came with the rocks. The macro-algae didn't last long as my first clean up crew (specifically the emerald crabs) made short work of it). The brownish object at the far left on the rocks is an aiptasia, a pest anemone, which I removed from the tank before it had a chance to reproduce

08-02-2018, 12:31 AM
November 2006

Because my live rock and live sand came from an established tank, the tank was pretty much cycled, I added fish in September 2006 and some 'starter corals' (zoanthids, candy cane coral, mushrooms, and ricordea from what I can see). Officially a reef!

There is also a euphyllia sp. (which I thought was e. cristata but remains unknown 'til this day) and frogspawn. I ended up losing the frogspawn probably due to inexperience at maintaining proper water parameters. Belonging to the same genus, the euphylia sp. is still in my tank.

The royal gramma and azure damsel in this shot are are also in my tank today.

It looks like I added a remora HOB protein skimmer and an HOB filter (???). The pump at top center was part of a HOB refugium that I had at the time. Green nuisance algae started to appear as it often does in newly set up tanks.

08-02-2018, 12:44 AM
December 2006

Upgraded to the 65gal tank:

I had added an alveopora 'flowerpot' coral to the tank by this time. Touted as an easy coral by the LFS, I later learned (the hard way) that this coral can be hard to keep and is best suited for experienced hobbyists, not beginners. At this point I was 4 months into the hobby and was still a beginner.

08-02-2018, 01:05 AM
Probably mid-2007

Probably close to 1 year after set up

Close up of my second attempt with frogspawn, keep an eye on this guy (at this point a $5 frag).

08-02-2018, 01:11 AM
December 2007


The 65gal 1 year after set up.
Green star polyps encroach the back of the tank.

It looks like I've added a third powerhead and also a Filstar XP-2 canister filter at this point. I may have also made the move from power compact fluorescent lighting to T5HO at this point or maybe not long after, I can't remember.

Frogspawn frag in front center on sandbed, now a somewhat larger colony.

08-02-2018, 01:23 AM
July 2008


Trying out my first SPS corals (stylophora and hydnophora).

08-02-2018, 01:29 AM
February 2009


Replaced the maxijets powerheads with koralia circulation pumps. It looks like I've added a GFO reactor and replaced the Remora HOB protein skimmer with a Reef Octopus HOB protein skimmer by this time.

Also the green star polyps colony faltered by this point after a failed attempt at trying to encroach the entire back of the tank.

Frogspawn getting larger.

08-02-2018, 01:35 AM
June 2011


08-02-2018, 01:39 AM
2012 (not sure what month)


The soft coral anthelia (which grows at weed-like proportions and can be seen encroaching the glass on the far right) experience a mysterious meltdown soon after this and it practically disappears overnight.
A relative of pulsating xenia, my xenia colony on the left-side (and elsewhere) were complete unaffected by this malady.

My frogspawn, acquired as a tiny frag is now the largest coral colony in the tank and begins to overshadow corals beneath it and grow in to stinging range of other corals which were previously beyond its touch.

I believe I transition from T5HO lighting to LEDs later in the year.

08-02-2018, 02:33 AM
In 2013 conditions in my reef took a serious turn for the worse when my tank experienced a dinoflagellate outbreak which lasted for multiple years and almost motivated me to quit the SW-side of the hobby. (I'll write about that at another time).

The dino's and a final chemical ditch-effort to counter it both led to some coral losses and near-losses (as well as the loss of all of my serpentine-limbed sea stars; for some reason the asterina starfish made out just fine). I was finally able to turn things around in starting in mid-to-late 2016 and was back on course by mid-2017.

I'll soon have to upgrade to a larger tank as my frogspawn colony now occupies/obscures practically half the tank and is waging coral warfare via stinging and overshadowing. My other corals have also run out of 'elbow room' and getting aggressive as well (I didn't know that SPS corals such as pocillopora could cast inch-long sweepers).

Here's what my tank looks like today. (I have yet to figure out how to take photos of my LED-illuminated reef without the color distortion, the colors look quite differently in person).

August 2018, year 12


08-02-2018, 02:41 AM
Thank you for sharing all the pics and updates. I sure hope you share the new tank build and progress! That frogspawn growth is impressive.

08-02-2018, 03:40 AM
That is one huge mf’n frogspawn. Holy crap that’s impressive. What is really amazing is that you’ve had the tank running for over a decade.

I’m curious about so many things haha Care to provide a rundown of the tank in terms of parameters, maintenance, equipment, etc.? Do you supplement target/broadcast feedings for the corals?

If you are taking your photos with a decent phone, Aquarium Cam is a good filter app that lets you adjust sliders to correct the blue noise. I’m colorblind so I couldn’t use the app correctly if my life depended on it, but my wife spent a good ten minutes getting everything tuned just right for me and then took a screen shot of all the settings so I could recreate them myself haha

08-02-2018, 01:21 PM
photo looks great to me. I will look forward to the new build.

08-02-2018, 01:44 PM
Arghh! I added an emerald crab to my tank and I like him a lot, but I've also just asked my LFS to order macro algae for me. I guess it will be a battle to see if I can grow enough of it to make me and the crab both happy.

The macro-algae didn't last long as my first clean up crew (specifically the emerald crabs) made short work of it).

08-02-2018, 04:47 PM
Wow, really cool to see how your tank evolved over the years. Thanks for sharing.

08-02-2018, 04:58 PM
Arghh! I added an emerald crab to my tank and I like him a lot, but I've also just asked my LFS to order macro algae for me. I guess it will be a battle to see if I can grow enough of it to make me and the crab both happy.

If I were to put one of my emeralds in my refugium (where I cultivate macro algae), I wouldn't be surprised if it ate all of it within a matter of days. They are voracious. You may want to grow the algae in your QT and just take little bits of it at a time and hand/tweezer-feed your crab instead of giving it unrestricted access.

08-02-2018, 09:51 PM
Im curious about so many things haha Care to provide a rundown of the tank in terms of parameters, maintenance, equipment, etc.? Do you supplement target/broadcast feedings for the corals?

I provided a detailed rundown of this sump-less set up in posts #24-28 of this journal all on page 3:

Post #24: Lighting and photo-period (since March 2018 I've up'd the daylight/blue spectrum max percentages to 50%/80%)
Post #25: Filtration
Post #26: Water parameters/Auto Top Off system
Post #27: Water properties (temperature/circulation/water changes/salt water prep)
Post #28: Livestock (fish, clean up crew and corals) and feeding

08-02-2018, 11:05 PM
That frogspawn growth is impressive.

I had no idea at the time that a tiny frag could grow to this size.

Also, the growth pattern was interesting: in addition to creating new heads of frogspawn by one head slowly dividing into to two, the colony also sprouted new polyp heads from the skeletal structure itself, from the stony areas not covered by or in contact with the soft coral tissue.

Older pic from years ago, displaying this type of skeletal budding which still continues with this colony:


It can't be seen in the photos I've posted thus far, but now it's almost as if there's another frogspawn colony is growing from within.

08-02-2018, 11:19 PM
That is one huge mfn frogspawn. Holy crap...

Here is the colony again from different angles

Top view of the tank (taken from the front of the tank)

The frogspawn conceals this trumpet coral colony when viewing from the front, and this trumpet coral colony is very large in its own right.

This view is taken from the top facing the right-side of the tank

08-02-2018, 11:58 PM
Do you supplement target/broadcast feedings for the corals?

In March 2018 I wrote 'Up until very recently Corals are fed every 1-3 weeks a liquid soup comprised of a mixture of: reef roids, reef chili, vitamin c, amino acids, reef snow, multi-size zoo plankton; food applied manually to as many polyps as possible with an eye dropper.'

Since then, I just feed liquid soup comprised of a mixture of: reef roids, reef chili, brightwell's Restor (which I forgot to mention in the March entry), & vitamin c (once the vitamin c is finished it'll just be the reef roids and reef chili and restor (until the Restor is expended).

I normally feed every 1-3 weeks usually on late-mornings on the weekends and before the reef lights come on. I feed during this time of 'darkness' because the feeder tentacles natural extend in the hours of darkness. I then turn off my skimmer and circulation for 90min to maximize the amount of food is captured by the corals. Feeding when the tank is dark also prevents the fish from eating the coral food.

I mix 15ml of tank water with a quarter-tsp (1.2ml) of reef roids, same quantity of the liquid Restore, and two spoonfuls of reef chili (using the tiny 0.15ml spoon that came with it). I then squirt this liquid mix to as many polyps as I can with an eye dropper.

I used to feed larger meater stuff to my LPS such as mysis shrimp using tweezers years ago, but the above stuff works for me nowadays. The LPS corals have no problem with this particulate soupy mix as they react to it by capturing it with some sort of mucus web and then reel it in. My open brain coral loves this stuff as it gets super-inflated.

In addition to this stuff, there is also a natural food source (I suppose) in the tank: groups of tiny hitch hiker mysid shrimp about 2mm-3mm in length, they come out in large numbers at night and are actually attracted to the beam of my flash light. They get caught by any coral feeder tentacle they come in contact with which probably happens to some degree every night.

08-03-2018, 01:11 PM
The trumpet coral colony is beautiful. I wouldn't mind having a tank full of those. Thank you for posting a breakdown of your feeding and everything else. I'm definitely going to be taking notes from your success!

08-03-2018, 04:10 PM
I had no idea at the time that a tiny frag could grow to this size.

Also, the growth pattern was interesting: in addition to creating new heads of frogspawn by one head slowly dividing into to two, the colony also sprouted new polyp heads from the skeletal structure itself, from the stony areas not covered by or in contact with the soft coral tissue.

Older pic from years ago, displaying this type of skeletal budding which still continues with this colony:


It can't be seen in the photos I've posted thus far, but now it's almost as if there's another frogspawn colony is growing from within.

Both my frogspawn and my branching hammer have those little buds. When I first saw them I freaked out a little bit thinking they were something similar to vermetid snails haha

Thank you for all the info. I'll have to go back and read through your journal when I have some free time :)

12-21-2019, 03:35 PM
In 2013 conditions in my reef took a serious turn for the worse when my tank experienced a dinoflagellate outbreak which lasted for multiple years and almost motivated me to quit the SW-side of the hobby. (I'll write about that at another time)...


In 2013 my reef tank became inflicted with dinoflagellates (which are protists) which persisted for several years, which took the form of a photosynthetic greenish-tan snotty matter that seemed impervious to every remedy that I threw at it (elevated pH, 3-day photo-period blackouts, manual removal, etc). I was finally able to rid by tank of it several years later in 2017.

At that time I had embraced the Ultra Low Nutrient/ULN method of reef keeping and strove for undetectable nitrates and phosphate levels no greater than 0.03ppm. I also maintained a low bioload (3 small fish in a 65gal) which I fed very sparingly (once every 3 days). Dino's took a strong hold on over the live rock and stony structure of my frogspawn colony and to the extent that it was smothering some of the small budding polyps.

Years later in 2017 I stumbled on what would cure my tank of this infliction. I instituted two changes relatively at the same time so I am not sure if one of these fixed my dino problem or if the combo did the trick. None of these changes were done to combat dino's but I noticed a rapid decline and the ultimate eradication of dinos within 3 or 4 months after these changes were put into place:

- I decided to feed my fish once a day instead once every 3 days.
- I upgraded the flow in my tank by replace powerheads with a masxpect gyre.

The gyre, which provided a completely different flow than what my power heads provided almost immediately began to 'uproot' a lot of dino in areas that the flow from my powerheads could not provide. The increased/different flow also seemed to prevent the dino from regrouping, so it wasn't regenerating in areas as it had done so before.

I think the increased feeding created an enviroment which contributed to the dino losing its edge in the system. After being a multi-year nuisance, the dinoflagellates disappeared in a matter of months.

I later read that ULN systems can be suitable for dino development (something to do with the fact that microbes and algaes that thrive in higher nutrient environments somehow outcompete or keep dino 'in check'. These are absent or reduced in ULN systems which enables dino to dominate.

Last year I upgraded my system from a 65gal reef to a 75gal reef with 31gal sump (with refugium section), and more than doubled my fish population (from 3 fish to 7). Also running two gyres instead of one.

While I still feed the fish once a day, I feed a lot more per session (six pinches of pellets instead of one pinch). I also feed my corals twice a week rather than once every 1-3 weeks, and have allowed by phosphate to reach 0.09 to 0.15ppm, rather than triving for 0.03ppm and below.

Looking back at it, I used to feed my LPS corals mysis shrimp weekly, I must have stopped doing that between 2009-2012. Could explain why I had no issues with dino from 2006-2012.

12-21-2019, 04:32 PM
Attempting to catch up on over a year of updates.

By Aug 2018, (well probably way earlier than that!) I was running out of space in my 65gal reef.

The frogspawn and trumpet coral colonies were taking up too much space (in all three dimensions) and were overshadowing corals beneath their breadth and stinging adjacent corals:



In another marine tank, a 75gal SW fish-only set up that originally housed 4 fish (porcupine puffer, maroon clownfish, neon velvet damsel and a flame hawkfish), but over the years only the damsel and flame hawkfish were left.

I wasn't into adding more fish and there would have been problems with my 5" neon velvet damsel accepting new tank mates. When my nearly 12 year old damsel passed away in mid-2018 I didn't want to get anymore fish for this tank, but it was an awful lot of space for a single 3" flame hawkfish.

I briefly considered just moving the flame hawkfish to the 65 reef, but ultimately decided to kill two birds with one stone: Move my reef from my 65gal to the 75gal, the flame hawkfish will reside in the same tank (which could be converted into a reef tank).

Unlike my 65gal reef and soon to be broken down 75gal fish-only systems which were sump-less with a hang on back protein skimmers, I decided this new 75gal reef system would have a sump (with refugium section), and an in-sump protein skimmer:

Nov 2018

02-04-2020, 01:58 PM
Back to Nov 2018...

I then had the task of relocating my existing livestock from the 65gal to the 75gal. I think I transferred 40% of my existing sandbed to the 75gal and the rest was new sand that I had on hand. Made for some murky work.

I didn't realize just how much coral I until I temporarily relocated them to containers and the like. I then when to work cutting away much of the frogspawn and trumpet coral skeletons so as to reduce the volume of space the branch colonies took up. Rendering large connected branched colonies into individual 'stalks' with living tissue and polyp heads at the end took more than a couple of hours.

It seemed as if I was dealing with a good hundred or so coral heads. I then placed the frogspawn stalks in the sand and live rock crevices, occupying the rear-right of the tank, the trumpet corals I just placed in the sand on the far rear-left. I placed all the other corals in the tank which was arranged in a sprawled low aqua-scape (if you can even call it an 'aqua-scape).

75gal reef tank in Dec 2018 nearly a month after the move from 65gal:

02-04-2020, 03:12 PM
From Dec 2018:

Close up of green leptastrea frag (note the pale montipora spongedes to the right, the effects of nutrient deficiency):

Various corals:

Various SPS corals: (red dragon acro, blue stylophora, bird of paradise seriatopora, green pocillopora).
Aside from the stylo and seriatopora, none of the corals were yet positioned in their permanent positions. In hind-sight I wish I would have spaced the SPS corals 6"-8" of space to allow for future growth.


Green pocillopora:


The larger pocillipora is a different species from the one at the left (which was actually sprouted from remnants of the above green pocillipora.

A year earlier (from the 65gal): Here is the larger pocillopora from the photo above a year earlier as a new frag:


Also of note, in this 2017 pic, in the rear are a 2 or 3 war coral polyps. I was able to salvage these from the larger parent colony which in my 65gal gal were completely overshadowed by a large trumpet coral colony. These salvaged war coral polyps can be seen in the 2nd photo above at the upper right of the pic, having increased in number.

I wasn't able to rescue the war coral mother colony until I set up this tank. By this time it was completely bleached due to the effects of coral overshadowing. It has since recovered. (recover from complete bleaching to full coloration took about 4-6 months). What is interesting is that the mother colony was a combination of red polyps and teal-green polyps with neon green centers (it continues to grow in that pattern today). However the rescued red polyps with neon green centers has continued to grow with just that pattern.

02-04-2020, 03:22 PM
As my 75gal reef tank appeared in late-Dec 2018. I elevated some of the SPS corals (With the digital cameral I have, I am still unable to capture how the tank looks in person):



Of note, those two pocillipora were originally a single colony, the one one the right broke off from the main colony during the transfer.



Somewhat full tank shot:

02-04-2020, 03:47 PM
I forgot to mention, back Nov 2018 when I took out all of my corals and live rock, I was finally able to capture this beast. (This pic appears earlier in this thread taken years ago in the 65gal but not sure if photobucket is blocking or not, so here it is again). The disturbance of moving everything around must have made it bail out from its lair.

Huge bristleworm (not the 'ordinary' kind, count the inches):

I had THE opportunity to discard this beast. But reflecting on how it has done no harm in the last 12 years I decided to re-introduce into the tank. But for hours I was on the fence about it. In the mean time I had isolated it in a plastic cup with a couple of inches of water in it, and placed it on the table and went on to other business of transferring the tank.

I should point out that outside of the tank the actual size of this bristleworm was about 4.5" or ~11cm in length, way shorter than it appears in the photo, so it has the ability to constrict/expand in length; still had the width of a pinky finger, though.

After some time I went to check on it (I was still on the fence at this point) and to my dismay, the bristleworm was NOT in the cup (which was 5" or 13cm tall). (insert shock emoji).

I finally found it wrapped completely around the base of the cup like an o-ring. I put it back in the cup (with cover this time).

Like I said, I put it back in the tank and haven't seen it since. There have been years between sightings, so I am pretty sure it still in there 'til this day.

02-04-2020, 04:12 PM
Wow on everything, but a special 'yikes' for that bristleworm. I'm very glad to see your tank is doing well and enjoy seeing the pics and updates.

02-04-2020, 04:17 PM
I know nothing about SW fishkeeping, but how did you handle that worm?...you can't touch them with your bare hands, right?

02-04-2020, 04:35 PM
WOW and Yikes too. Those just creep me out and it looks huge-even though you said it came out to 4.5".

Also curious as to how you scooped it back in. Glad it isn't damaging the current set up.

BTW the current set up is just amazing. I know how the camera can't do the real thing justice. I find that sometimes a video can capture the tank better.

02-04-2020, 04:53 PM
In Jan 2018, I acquired some additional fish: a black clown fish, a tomini tang and a horse face blenny. They joined the two azure damsels and royal gramma (all three which I've had since Sep 2006), and the flame hawk fish (which I had since Oct 2007).

As mentioned I used about 40% (give or take) of my existing sand bed which had been in my tank since 2006, and since I got the tank, stand, live rock and sand used from a fellow hobbyist, it's definately older than that. The transfer into the 75gal made the water very murky for a couple of hours after the transition.

The move unlocked all sorts of nutrients I guess because my tank experienced a hair algae bloom that persisted for about 3 months (Jan-Mar 2019). For awhile there was a patch so large that my black clownfish hosted it. For those three months my tomini tang exclusively ate this stuff and ignored fish food. It and the horse face blenny ate the algae constantly. Eventually, the hair algae bloom dissipated.

With its algae patch gone (this stuff was an inch to an inch and a half in length), the clownfish moved on to host the frogspawn corals which it defends.

It was about 2 weeks before the tomini tang took to fish food after the algae disappeared. While it greedily eats fish food, I've never seen it as fat as it was when it feasted exclusively on the hair algae.

Pics from Jan 2019 during the early stages of the algae outbreak. I have never seen it to this extent in any of my other tanks or tank moves (from the 45gal to the 65gal), just a lot of diatoms on the glass and the like. This was something else. Unfortunately I don't have any pics from Feb 2018 when it was at its worst:

Very early stages of the algae outbreak. At its peak the clownfish would have been completely obscured in the algae patch.

This stuff was everywhere and the tomini tang, in the center of the pic, loved it. It was all it would ever eat. It completely ignored fish food during feeding time.

The algae outbreak would get a lot worse before it got better. If I used 100% new sand I imagine the algae outbreak would have been less severe.

The horse face blenny, like the tang, loved this stuff (though the blenny far was greedier, it would graze on algae around the clock and aggressively take a big share of the fish food too). I think this blenny was the first fish my wife ever picked out. I was aiming to get a tailspot or bi-color blenny, so I didn't research the horse face. It can be fairly belligerent, though these days it doesn't chase the other fish...as much. From what I've read these get any from 4" to 7". In Feb 2020 this fish is right at about 5".

Full tank shot in Jan 2019:

02-04-2020, 05:12 PM
I know nothing about SW fishkeeping, but how did you handle that worm?...you can't touch them with your bare hands, right?

WOW and Yikes too. Those just creep me out and it looks huge-even though you said it came out to 4.5"....Also curious as to how you scooped it back in.

I believe I use the flat end (not the prong end) of a some tweezers. A 1" bristleworm the width of thin spaghetti (or less) seems to have bristles barely 1mm in length that can create a very itchy irritation which seems to persist for about 2-3 days.

This bristleworm has bristles that were easily 3-4mm in length. I'm not chancing getting into contact this those. Probably not has painful as the similarly looking yet aptly named fireworms.

02-04-2020, 05:18 PM
...BTW the current set up is just amazing...

Thanks, I am still trying to get caught up to present day. That's how my tank looked a year ago.

02-04-2020, 05:44 PM
Silly me, I am stuck in 2019-staring at the label and wondering what I missed...:doh: The older I get the more I realize that the oncologist was right when they told my Mom all the chemo/radiation would affect me later in life! (blush)

03-24-2020, 01:05 PM
Picture from Jan 2019 of the sump's refugium compartment.

I had a pre-existing large-apple sized clump of chaetomorpha macro algae (completely obscured in the below photo), which I previously kept on this tank (when it was fish-only) in a CPR hang on back refugium.

I added the chaeto to the sump and introduced other types of macro algae's (ulva, various gracilaria, some caulerpa).

The refugium is primarily illuminated by a pre-existing 7-watt CPR LED refugium LED (white light) and a 9-watt chaetomax LED fixture (blue, magenta, violet and red light). Currently I run the chaetomax light 9pm-6am and the CPR LED 2am-5am.

In hindsight I suppose I should have just stuck with the chaetomorpha that I already had on hand as it has since out-competed nearly all of the other macroalgae's (still have some spike sphere gracilaria here and there but all of the other macroalgae vanished, displaced by a huge mass of chaetomorpha.

As the refugium compartment appeared in Jan 2019:

Water enters the sump at the far left, passes through the refugium compartment, then continues onward to the protein skimmer compartment (partially seen at the right side of the above pic) and then passes into the return section where the water is pumped back into the tank.