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My first reef -- 45 gallon acrylic cube (picture intense)


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Well, here it is. My first tank that I filled a little more than a week ago. I have been researching this hobby for the past 3-4 years mainly through forums and select books. Once I was making some decent money and was in a place I figured I'd be in for awhile I decided to take the plunge.


Before pictures let me go into some specifics about the tank..





Tank - 45 gallon custom acrylic cube built by James @ envisionacrylics. 1/2" polycast (cell cast) acrylic.

Lighting - Giesemann 250w Metal Halide pendant (~9inches from water surface)

Skimmer - Deltec MCE600 w/ Seachem Matrix carbon

Flow - (2) Tunze 6000 pumps with 7095 multicontroller (interval 2, throttled between 60-100%)

Controller - Aquacontroller Jr. w/ temp & lab grade pH probe. DC8 plugged into surge on battery backup.

Heater - 200w Finnex

Top Off - Spectrapure Litermeter III

RO/DI Unit - Spectrapure 2000+ 60GPD

Battery Backup - APC Back UPS RS 1200 (only powerheads plugged into battery backup, rest on surge).. Plugged into GFCI outlet.


Live Rock - 65 pounds Marshall Island cured live rock (from premium aquatics).. Cooked for 5-6 months.

Substrate - 60 pounds Caribsea Select




Tank Setup:


Sits next to my desk where I spend most of my time. I use my computer for gaming and also design work and I spend a lot of time in here.. Therefor I figured next to my desk would be a great place so I could always check it out. The Aquacontroller jr. is mounted on the outside of the tank on the side that I sit near. I can always check the temp and pH easily and make adjustments to the timers no problem. The Litermeter III pulls water from a 6 gallon reservoir which is right around the corner in my living room. My reason for doing this is that the living room is always much cooler than my bedroom (because of tank and two computers) and the cooler water being pumped into tank all day will help with temperature a bit.


You may notice there's no sump or refugium. Sadly to say I very much wanted a sump and fuge, from what I've read the benefits are great.. Being my first tank however, and living on third floor of an apartment I decided not to have to deal with plumbing as I didn't want leaking while I was at work or whatnot. When I move into a house and build a bigger tank, I will definately be having a sump/fuge.


I cooked my live rock for about 6 months... After reading up about it and reading the pros and cons I decided to do it.. While I do believe it has it's benefits, it also is no miracle cure for anything. One benefit is the lack of initial detritus shedding in the aquarium and lack of cycle or algae blooms. Since putting in the rock I have seen no crud on the sand and with my photoperiod no significant algae (A little GHA on one rock, but very little). Another bonus is the lack of undesireable hitchhikers such as mantis shrimp and crabs. However since putting the rock in tank I've noticed a few undesireables still living on/in the rock. One is aiptasia. I've seen two small aiptasia on the rocks and I plan on ridding of them before starting to stock the tank with fish and corals. I also noticed the other night an isopod.. I didn't have enough time to examine it or take a picture as to determine if it's parasitic or not but still gives me an uneasy feeling. Regardless I'm happy of my choice although I may do things differently in the future with a new tank.


My plans for stocking is on the moderate to heavy side.. I plan on having 3-5 fish, a large/diverse cleanup crew and mostly SPS corals with a clam in the "cove" area of my rockwork. Given my skimmer is a powerhouse for this volume of tank, with proper husbandry I feel I can stock semi-heavy without a fuge or sump.


One thing I haven't touched upon yet is flow. Some of you may be shocked at the fact I have not one, but TWO Tunze 6000's in a tank as small as mine. Let me explain my decision. With the multi-controller I have a ton of control over how much flow goes on in my tank. With proper placement of my powerheads I have some of the flow hitting the rockwork which allows for flow to slope down one side (to the rear of the tank) while some of the flow goes over the rock and to the front of the tank. Even at 100% operation on one pump (with 30% on other) I only have mild sand dune issue in the front of the tank which will be remedied once I add some live sand and add clam/corals to help disperse the flow a bit better. I also liked the fact that these two powerheads, with simply switching out something could become 6100's, which could be perfect for a larger setup down the line. Another reason for two and the controller was because I wanted to have a more diverse flow, not a constant blast in one direction at one speed.. I asked a question about this before I started buying equipment and most people said I was crazy for even thinking of putting one 6000 in the tank.. By using my head a bit and structuring the rockwork the way I did, it has been working out very well, with great flow throughout the entire tank.


I am really happy with my first aquascaping job.. I was a bit worried about this actually and just looked at the pieces a minute and started plunking them in one at a time with a general idea in my head.. Fortunately first time was the charm and it looked great. Lots of tunnels/caves/darkened overhangs and open on all sides of the rock work.. There is not a single bit of rock touching any side of the tank.. I felt this was important for scared fish or inverts to have the ability to go behind the rocks and hide if they wanted to.


As far as dosing is concerned I am only going to be dosing b-ionic 2part and magnesium as needed. Since my tank isn't stocked yet, I can't really say I know how much or how often to dose. That will be something I learn over time and add corals.


Feeding will be a slurry similar to Eric Bornemans.. Frozen into mini icecubes and fed as often as needed.




Here's a condensed pluses/minuses list...



Things that I'm really liking:


- VERY quiet. The tank is in my office (which is also my bedroom) and I have absolutely no trouble with the noise. Unnoticeable when I work or game and at night I find the low hum pleasant.. No gurgling or slurping noises.

- Rock looks great even after half a year of cooking, I see plenty of purple and other colors coming back very quickly.

- I am REALLY liking my rockscape and only took one placement to have it look how I wanted it. Many overhangs/caves/tunnels in such a little amount of rock.

- Very open all the way around the rockwork. Great for skiddish fish/inverts to hide if needed.

- Great flow throughout the entire tank, including behind the rockwork.

- Very happy with the aquacontroller junior.. Worth it's weight in gold. Having constant up to date temperature and pH readings while having full control over any devices in my tank while I sit at my desk is fantastic.



Things that could be better:


- Could have done without the aiptasia and isopod(s)

- Could have a sump/fuge

- Temperature swings could be less during photoperiod. Currently about a 2.5 degree swing between lights off and on.



Some pictures.. Pardon the film on the sides of the tank.. This came about because of the foam from the sand as I was filling it up gradually.. It's easily wiped off with fingers just haven't gotton it all yet.



Here's some pictures of the tank when empty:







...And some pictures of the tank as of today (06/16/06):











pictures continued on next post...




Future plans:


As far as my future plans with the tank I already have a pretty good idea of what I want my cleanup crew to be and I am going to be purchasing my first critters this weekend. Fish I have not decided upon much yet but I am going to make sure they're peaceful and all compatable with everything in the tank. As I said earlier in this article will be going mostly SPS and have a nice clam in the center of the "cove" in the rockwork.. Here's a general list of my planned cleanup crew:



(2) Skunk Cleaner Shrimp

(1) Blood Red Fire Shrimp

(2) Peppermint Shrimp





(1) Tiger Tail Cucumber


(1) Fighting Conch

(5) Nassarius Snails

(3) Super Tongan Nassarius

(12) Cerith Snails

(8) Nerite Snails

(8) Trochus Snails

(4) Mexican Turbo Snails

(2) Zebra Striped Turbo Snails


(12) Sm. Bristle Worms

(12) Spaghetti worms


(2) Mini Serpent Star(s)



Thank you all for checking out my thread!







pictures cont'd:











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are those Tunze 6000 stream pumps worth 250 a piece? This will be one hell of a tank when you get done with it i like a lot

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Kellie in CA

Nice Tank! What kind of magnet holders are you using for your powerheads? Are those the "Algae Free Sure Grip" ones that Marine Depot sells?

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Nice Tank! What kind of magnet holders are you using for your powerheads? Are those the "Algae Free Sure Grip" ones that Marine Depot sells?


They are Tunze magnet holders, made specifically for the Tunze Stream powerheads.. The ones I have are suitable for up to 1/2" thick tanks which is what I have.. They make another one for thicker tanks as well.




are those Tunze 6000 stream pumps worth 250 a piece? This will be one hell of a tank when you get done with it i like a lot


Yeah, they're awesome powerheads. I would only recommend them to nano owners if they're doing barebottom with SPS only or know how to deflect the flow via the rockscape :)


One of these guys at 100% without deflecting flow somehow easily puts bare spots in the tank sandbed.


I just managed to set them up in a way where part of the flow is caught by the rockwork (so it flows to the back of the tank) while some of it goes over and to the front/corners.. Still have a bit of a sand dune going on in front but once I have more stuff in the tank it should break up the flow a bit more and make it less of an issue..



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He DOES build awesome tanks! Thank you for the kind words! :)


VERY VERY NICE!!! James builds awesome tanks. Cant wait to see this baby bloom. Keep us updated.



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Man you are going all out on this tank let me know who the Deltec works for you.


So far so good with the deltec.. Even tho I haven't added any livestock yet it's still pulling some good bubbles into the collection cup :) I can imagine this thing is going to be pulling some NASTY stuff when I start feeding the tank :)

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Beautiful tank! I always love the clean lines of an acrylic tank compared to a glass with a brace.


BTW, nice rocks! Are they Marshall island rock?

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no tonga branch it's all premiumaquatics marshall island


awesome looking tank!!! not a fan of the tonga branch, but you seem to pull it off!



Thanks! Yep all Marshall Island :)


Beautiful tank! I always love the clean lines of an acrylic tank compared to a glass with a brace.


BTW, nice rocks! Are they Marshall island rock?

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Thanks :) Loving your tank btw cesar :)


Yes very nice set up. I like that 45g tank. Can't wait to see this baby develop.
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