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Status of the Tank Today

As of January 2006, I no longer have the reef aquarium running. I sold the equipment and all that goes with it to a nice gentleman in Bethesda, Maryland. With kids and family obligations, I just didn't have time to run the tank anymore.

Although I no longer have the tank set up, or indeed do I even own it, I have maintained this site because of its popularity. I still get on average about 40-50 hits per day of people doing Google searches. I will keep the site up for those interested in it, and will continue to answer any questions you may have. Just contact me with the link at the top or the bottom of the page. (Just click on the mailbox at the bottom.)

Want a Successful Tank?

The key to success is a well-read hobbiest. I seriously recommend reading up on the hobby before spending lots of money and endangering these expensive creatures with a lack of knowledge.

There are many great books recommended in the Bibliography of my page.

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Locations of visitors to this page

Pictures of my Tank

Flora and Fauna

My philosophy in running this tank is that every organism in the tank should provide some useful function. I don't believe in getting the prettiest fish and inverts just for visual kicks. I try to maintain an ecosystem that will be well balanced in terms of food-chain needs and community behaviors. Therefore, you will notice that many of the creatures below have a description of just why they're in the tank.

Creatures and algae that do not have a description next to them are generally "freebies" that came attached to the live-rock. If they provide no special function, then they are generally benign and are kept to maintain the reality of the reef ecosystem.

My general desire is to achieve a macroalgae reef system which is void of microalgae. To that end, I have purchased many fish and inverts which are beneficial to keeping microalgae in check, and thus allowing the macroalgae to flourish. This helps because, in many cases, the microalgae and macroalgae exist and flourish in many of the same conditions. So growing macroalgae without microalgae has proved challenging indeed!

I have finally decided to add some coral. We'll see how it goes.

Unless otherwise noted, everything in the tank is natural to (and comes from) the Florida Keys reef area.

So here's what I've got:

Live Rock
100 lbs of Florida Keys Live Rock in the 75 gallon tank

Corals and Anemonies
Sarcophyton trocheliophorum Leather Coral
Discosoma sp. Fuzzy Tonga Mushrooms
Actinodiscus sp. Purple Striped Mushrooms

Halimeda discoidea Cactus Alga
Halimeda goreaui Small-Leaf Hanging Vine Alga
Caulerpa racemosa
Acetabularia calyculus Green Mermaid's Cup
Acetabularia crenulata White Mermaid's Cup
Avrainvillea longicaulis Paddle Blade Alga
Ventricaria ventricosa Sailor's Eyeball, Sea Pearl
Valonia macrophysa Elongated Sea Pearls
Dictyosphaeria cavernosa Green Bubble Weed
Sargassum sp. Brown Seaweed
Ulva lactuca Sea Lettuce
Neomeris annulata Fuzzy Tip Alga
Dasycladus vermicularis Fuzzy Finger Alga
Codium isthmocladum Dead Man's Fingers
Padina jamaicensis White Scroll Alga
Dictyota bartayresii Fluorescent Blue Alga
Hydrolithon boergesenii Encrusting Calcareous Red Alga
Porolithon pachydermum Reef Cement Alga
Peyssonnelia sp. Burgundy Crust Alga
Rhodophyceae sp.
Titanoderma sp. Lavender Crust Alga
Corallina officinalis Tufted Calcareous Red Alga
Jania adherens Pink Segmented Alga
Botryocladia uvaria Red Bubble Alga

Creatures and Critters
One Mine Urchin Eucidaris tribuloides

Grazer, keeps hair algae in check
Three Herbivorous Hermit Crabs Paguristes sp.

Herbivores and general scavengers
Sally Lightfoot Crab Percnon gibbesi

Herbivore, keeps hair algae in check
Many Brittle Starfish Ophiomastix venosa

Omnivores and general scavengers
Many Small Feather Duster Tubeworms Sabella penicillus

Filter feeders, eat plankton in the tank
Several Barnacles Balanus sp.

Filter feeders, eat plankton in the tank
Several Black Cucumbers Stichopus sp.

Filter feeders, eat plankton in the tank
Several Rock Anemone Aiptasia sp., (two varieties)

One Mexican Turbo Snail Turbo fluctuosus

Keeps the hair algae in check
One Zebra Turbo Snail Turbo sp.

Keeps the hair algae in check
Several Astrea Snails Astrea tectum

Keep the hair algae in check
Several Trumpet Snails Charonia sp.

Keep the hair algae in check
Several Keyhole Limpets Diadora sp.

Keep the hair algae in check
Lots of unidentified Sponges and Tunicates.

One Six-Lined Wrasse Pseudocheili evanidus Indo-Pacific

Keeps the bristleworms, including
fireworms (Hermodice carunculata), in check
One Banded Blenny Salarius fasciatus Indo-Pacific

Keeps micro hair algae in check
One Dragon Goby Amblygobius phalaena Indo-Pacific

An excellent sand sifter and herbivore.
One Royal Dottyback Pseudochromis paccagnellae Indo-Pacific

A good looking fish, but can be a bit
of a fin nipper.
One False Percula Clownfish Amphiprion ocellaris Indo-Pacific

Often mistaken for the Percula Clown, this
fish is hardier and just as pretty.

Rest in Peace

The following fish/inverts have lived and died in my aquarium. I list the suspected reason for death below. This isn't a comprehensive list of the creatures I've (accidentally) killed, but it's the significant ones that I was sorry to lose.

Rest in Peace
One Flame Angel Centropyge loriculus Indo-Pacific

A beautiful fish. Seemed healthy and then one day just croaked. sniff.
One Dragon Goby Amblygobius phalaena Indo-Pacific

Malnourished. I continue to struggle with gobies.
One Banded Blenny Salarius fasciatus Indo-Pacific

Fell prey to a mantis shrimp (Squilla mantissa)
Three Blue-Cheek (or Goldenhead Sleeper) Gobies Valenciennea strigata Indo-Pacific

These poor fellas just wouldn't eat. They starved to death.
One Lemon Goby Gobiodon citrinus Indo-Pacific

This fella was going to starve to death (he also
wouldn't eat), but the mantis shrimp caught him first.
One Peppermint Shrimp Rhynchocinetes uritai

Was eaten by my 8" brittle star... he was in the
wrong place at the wrong time.

Latest Adventure

Well, when adding my Jaubert plenum, I decided it would be a good time to finally--once and for all--get rid of my mantis shrimp. I took every rock out of the tank, and dipped them all in a bucket of freshwater to drive the mantis out.

Well, the plan worked great. The shrimp was quickly evicted. But the amazing thing was that the shrimp was never a mantis!!! It was a pistol shrimp, which is quite harmless (but makes the cracking noise similar to the mantis shrimp). If I had known, I wouldn't have worried myself with it, but I was only able to tell it was a pistol upon inspection after its death. (These things are VERY reclusive... I had only ever seem a glimpse of it twice in a year.)

This is especially interesting since I had previously caught a real mantis in my tank. I naturally assumed the other must also be a mantis.

Oh well. At least now I have nothing to worry about.

Past Adventures

Water Chemistry Parameters

  • pH is stable at 8.3
  • Ammonia, Nitrites are stable at 0 ppm
  • Nitrates are stable at < 5 ppm
  • Phosphates are stable at < 0.5 ppm
  • Hardness ranges from 8 dKH to 12 dKH
  • Calcium ranges from 375-420 ppm
  • Temperature stable at 75 deg. F

Not a Hobby for the Lazy or Light-Hearted

I currently spend about than 1 hour a week performing routine maintenance like:

  • Performing water changes every three months
  • Vacuuming/blasting detritus with my turkey baster
  • Cleaning sludge in the protein skimmer
    Yech! It smells like sewage! (Hydrogen Sulfide)
  • Cleaning filter material
  • Cleaning glass, inside and out
  • Harvesting wild growths of microalgae
  • Removing the occassional molted crustacean shell
  • Dosing Kalkwasser (Calcium Hydroxide)
  • Dosing Kent Essential Elements
  • Dosing Kent Coral Vite
  • Dosing Strontium (Strontium Chloride)
  • Dosing Iodine (Potassium Iodide)

But the results are worth it!!

The Equipment I've Got

I currently have the following equipment providing the delicate balance required in a reef aquarium:

  • 2 Little Giant water pumps
  • 1 Lifereef Berlin-style sump and filter
  • 1 Lifereef 24" Venturi protein skimmer
  • 2 IceCap 430 VHO (Very High Output) ballasts (1 unused)
  • 80 Watts of Actinic PHILIPS flourescent light (2xNO)
  • 2 175W 5500K Metal Halid bulbs
  • 1/5 hp Aqualogic Cyclone Chiller (Awesome!!)
  • Medusa digital temperature controller
  • 2 Ebo-Jager 100 Watt submersible heaters
  • DIY Wavemaker using Bill Potter's plans WORKS GREAT!
  • 2 Hagen Aqua-Clear powerheads
  • Lots of custom-built PVC plumbing

Here's a schematic of my tank.


This list is my current reference library for the aquarium. These are some great books, and are very interesting reading for the reef enthusiast. I can highly recommend each one of them.

The foundation of a good tank is a well read tank keeper. You can find these books and others like them easily at You can even order them directly from this page!

  • A Practical Guide to Corals for the Reef Aquarium, Puterbaugh and Borneman, Crystal Graphics Publishing, 1996, ISBN 0-945738-99-4. ORDER
  • The Reef Aquarium, Volume 1, Delbeek and Sprung, Ricordea Publishing, 1995, ISBN 1-883693-12-8. ORDER
  • Marine Atlas, Volume 1, Baensch and Debelius, Tetra Press, 1994, ISBN 1-56465-113-4 (U.S.A. only), ISBN 3-88244-051-1 (For other countries). ORDER
  • The Book of the Marine Aquarium, Dakin, Tetra Press, 1992, ISBN 1-56465-102-9. ORDER
  • The Marine Aquarium Reference, Systems and Invertebrates, Moe, Green Tutle Publications, 1992, ISBN 0-939960-05-2. ORDER
  • The Marine Aquarium Handbook, Beginner to Breeder, Moe, Green Turtle Publications, 1992, ISBN 0-939960-07-9. ORDER
  • The Reef Tank Owner's Manual, Tullock, Aardvark Press, 1992, ISBN 0-945777-06-X. ORDER
  • Reef Fish Identification, Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas, Humann, New World Publications, 1994, ISBN 1-878348-07-8. ORDER
  • Reef Coral Identification, Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas, Humann, New World Publications, 1994, ISBN 1-878348-03-5. ORDER
  • Reef Creature Identification, Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas, Humann, New World Publications, 1994, ISBN 1-878348-01-9. ORDER

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© Copyright 1995-2006, Scott E. Harris. All Rights Reserved.