4th Month of Starting a Saltwater Reef Tank

 March 14, 2009
Posted by Rashed Talukder

Well, this is as far as I’ve gotten with my saltwater setup after about 4 months. I have learned a whole heck of a lot and I know I have a lot more to learn yet still. I have made a couple of changes and added a few fish as well as coral. The tank has matured pretty quickly and with Coraline algae spreading rapidly from month 3 and various little critters and copepods by the thousands thanks to my sump tank and refugium.

My Refugium

Probably the best thing I did for the tank was build a sump tank and setup a refugium. For a few months I had no plants and no lighting system for my refugium. This caused a plague of algae in my display tank as time went on. I had a phosphate reactor and I still couldn’t stop cleaning the glass daily. After putting in some cheato and a mangrove plant, on a 16hr light cycle, it’s been under control almost completely. I only need to clean the glass once every 3 days and everything is doing fantastic. The copepod population has gotten to a pretty stable amount and my bullet goby is able to sustain its appetite.

The new tank-mates

My Bullet Goby

I added some new livestock to my tank, including my large with an incredible appetite Blue Hippo Tang

Far Shot Blue Hippo Tang in Tank


Blue Hippo Tang

I have also added a One Spot Foxface Rabbitfish:

One Spot Foxface Rabbitfish

My latest addition (added today) would be this Electric Scallop. It’s just pretty cool to see the blue pulse:

Electric Scallop


My new Corals

For my newest additions as far as corals go, here is the Blue Acro. SPS, which is pretty new by only a few days and I have it at the bottom to acclimate to the new lighting before it finds a more permanent home in my tank. It is a decent size and the color is just gorgeous.

Blue Acropora Coral

Next is my Metallic Green Frogspawn. It’s hard to see the metallic coloring when it has expanded itself so large but it is brilliant and the pictures really do it no justice.

Metallic Green Frogspawn

After that, we have some Green Star Polyps which have spread a huge amount after taking on a small bit off the piece that I bought from the fish tank and putting it on a rock. I plan on selling the original rock back shortly.

Green Star Polyps

Some Green Duncans that I have been working on restoring to health. They were in good shape after being sold to the fish store after a tank crash and I have been taking care of them for about a month when this photo was taken. There are several new heads coming out, death/necrosis has stopped, and the existing heads are huge.

Green Duncan's

A log of orange/green, pink/blue and green/blue zoanthids. There is a lot of dead ones but it will eventually take over that log and it has been moved to spread on to the rock with my existing green zoa’s.

Zoanthid Log


Zoanthid Colony

Here is a leather coral that my LFS gave to me for free that was tucked behind a piece of liverock I bought. It was incredibly tiny and almost dead from being under the rock with almost no light for who knows how long. It has now at least tripled in size and is very healthy.

Finger Leather Coral

Here is my favorite coral out of all of them. The Metallic Green Brain. This thing is HUGE and it is/has been splitting for about 2 months now. There are 3 mouths on it total and it is such a eye catcher. Hopefully it will finish splitting so I can get rid of one so it can lay flat instead of sitting folded up.

Metallic Green Brain Coral

Here are some of my other corals that i have had since the last article. Almost everything has reproduced and grown about twice as much as before.

Green Zoanthids

Pulsating Xenia

Purple Mushrooms

Changes to my saltwater tank:

  1. Got rid of the POS Coralife outlet timer. It stopped working and caused 4 (!!!) overflows of my tank because it kept shutting off the power on the regular outlets. I have fixed the water levels and also got rid of that thing and replaced it with some home depot timers and quality surge protector.
  2. The sump pump and heater are on a battery back up. This way if the power goes out, my tank can operate for approximately 5 hours on the battery.
  3. Bought a CPR overflow box. It is a little bit louder than my PCV rig and significantly more expensive but it is also more asthetically pleasing. As far as performance, it is about the same.
  4. Added Cheato & Mangrove to the sump
  5. Bought a variety of copepods to seed the refugium
  6. I have switched from Instant Ocean (not useful for reefs) to D&D’s Mag Pro+ salt and there is a night and day difference for my corals. I am not sure if it’s worth the price over some of the other reef salts but I will switch after this bucket is finished.
  7. I now dose a tablespoon of kalkwasser every 3rd day during top offs to keep my calcium above 420. I also add about 2 drops of trace elements during that as well. I have extended my water changes to 3 weeks and everything is doing well and the coraline is taking over the back wall. Nitrates stay at 0 and I barely have to clean the glass.
My 65g Tank After 4 Months

That’s all for now, but I will definitely be stocking my tank with more corals and work on making my own control system to do all the things that I want it to do and make everything a bit more automated and less work for me.


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