February 2012 Tank of the Month (Bradleyj)
Brad Syphus (BradleyJ) Reef Aquarium
Hello all, Let me take a moment and introduce myself. My name is Brad Syphus and I feel I am in a fictional story, because it is truly a dream come true to be nominated, and then asked by my peers on Reef Central to be Tank of the Month. I was so excited the day I received the invite that I asked a friend how can I write this article and not have it sound stupid? He replied, ‘Try to just be yourself and everything will be alright.' Well, I said, I’ll give it a try.
I’m 52 years young now, married to a lovely and very understanding wife, Vickie, and have two beautiful daughters, Natalie, Megan, and now, one son in law, Alex. I’ve been a ceramic tile installer ever since I was 20 years old, traveling the western states installing ceramic tile projects in LDS churches and McDonald’s restaurants. The first 20 years kept me traveling quite a bit and never really having much of a family life, but Christmas 1999 changed my whole life.
Vickie and the girls decided to buy me a small 29 gallon freshwater fish setup. Thus the adventure began. I immediately fell in love with the variety of fish and eventually had a 29 gallon tank as full as possible, always maintaining quality water and healthy fish. After 3 years of freshwater, I found myself becoming less and less enthused. So on my birthday 2003, after asking permission first of course, I decided to buy a 65 gallon aquarium/ stand/ canopy.
I had no idea what it took to start a saltwater system, and I about gave up on it when I investigated further and found out how much it would cost me to start up compared to freshwater. Needless to say, with many questions to my LFS I finally had the equipment to start my 65g saltwater setup.
I eventually became friends with a local guy starting up his own reef shop, he sent me on the right road to a successful reef tank. Later that same year I discovered that Salt Lake had a local reef club, Wasatch Marine Aquarium Society, and that they met once every first Thursday of the month. It is here that I really began to learn from people that had a common goal of being successful with saltwater livestock. I also learned that year of a Website called Reef Central. I remember seeing amazing TOTM features and was in total awe.
Soon this tank was full of life and thriving. It was at this time that I started working on my wife for a larger tank. The spring of 2006, my 65 gallon was as full as it could get with coral. I had no more room and I was really getting the itch to expand, but Vickie was still not convinced on a larger system. One night I was on the PC and on Reef Central when I stumbled upon a beautiful 225 gallon setup for sale in Los Angeles. It was the perfect size for my spot downstairs, and it came with all the equipment I had hoped I would own someday. I asked my wife to come and take a look, I surely knew what she was going to say, but to my complete surprise, she said, “If you are absolutely sure” and that was all it took. Off to Los Angelos we went, and the adventure began, although Vickie swears she will never drive through downtown LA again.
I added some new equipment to the tank; closed loop, ozone, and then I buffed out the scratches. That was June of 2006, I have not looked back since.
• Display tank: 72”L x 24’H x 30”W Acrylic Tank
• Sump: 50 gallon sump with 2 inch drain line that is a manifold to feed equipment
• Skimmer: Deltec AP702
• Lighting: Maristar 72 inch lighting fixture
• Bulbs: 3x 250w DE Phoenix 14k bulbs on Bluewave ballasts, 4x 39w T-5 Geissmann blue plus actinics
• Controller: ACIII controller
• Return Pump: Reeflo Sequence Dart
• Circulation: 2x Vortech MP40, closed loop Reeflo Sequence Dart
• RO/DI: Spectrapure Max 90 RO/DI unit for all top off water, which first runs through a DIY 36" kalkreactor
• Calcium Reactor: Deltec PF601
• Other Reactors: Deltec fluidized reactor, Korrallin Bio Denitrator, Enaly Ozone generator
Water Movement & Chemistry
There have been many ups and downs throughout my 9 years in the hobby, but you have to push through the downs in able to have the highs. This is hard to do sometimes, and I think that is why there is so much turnover in this hobby.
I always tell newcomers that the number one key to a successful reef is being Patient. Next on the list is stability and water quality. Never take anything for granted, thinking you know better. I also believe there is no such thing as “Old Tank Syndrome” only that the owners thinking they know better, and/or laziness. I will advise to always maintain a strong maintenance schedule and always test your water. This is what I have found that can get you in trouble fast.
If my tank was a car It would be a Landrover. Not the most beautiful vehicle out there, but built to withstand most terrains and can overcome any obstacle it encounters.
I fell in love with Wrasses and Angels 4 years ago and they have multiplied to quite a nice collection. When I first started collecting wrasses, I learned fast that I needed to find some sort of cover to keep the wrasses from jumping out of the tank. So I used an idea that Gary Majchrzak came up with that has become famous, clear mesh netting with window screen framing.
I am a big fan of John Coppolino's TOTM 65g setup and his ability to maintain such beautiful reef tanks with all of his beautiful angels and fish. I am even more inspired by his current system. Maintaining pristine water quality for the corals and yet to be able to have many fish is quite the chore, but with the right equipment and constant maintenance, it can be a reality if you put forth the effort. This is what I believe John has accomplished and it is what I strive for.
Others that come to mind are Mark Polletti and Steve Norvich. Their knowledge and willingness to share with others has been an incredible asset to me.
In conclusion, there are so many people to thank in my reefing adventure that I can’t name them all, but my wife Vickie and my daughters have always been by my side and supported me in every aspect.
Thank you Reef Central for believing in me also.
Brad Syphus (Bradleyj)
Feel free to comment or ask questions about my tank in the Tank of the Month thread on Reef Central.