Tank of the Month July 2012
Written by Tony Brazao
Tony Brazao's [Tony B (UK)] 156 US gallon Reef Aquarium
My name is Tony Brazao. I can frequently be found on various internet forums under the username Tony B, and on Reef Central Tony B (UK). I am amazed to be awarded the accolade of Reef Central Tank of the Month. It is an honour.
My tank is located in the garage. It was originally set up to grow frags into larger colonies for a future hole-in-the-wall upgrade, which I have recently started to build, but this will take a few months to complete as work and life keep holding up progress!
My tank is fairly simple, but it provides me with an enormous amount of enjoyment, it has been running since August 2009.
I have always loved anything to do with water. From my earliest memories as a child, I can remember fishing with my father on a river. I used to love catching fish, but as the years rolled on I soon discovered I wanted to keep them as pets rather than hook them out of the water. My first ever fish was rescued (won) from the fair ground. It was a small goldfish. I was about 6 years old then. My fish keeping journey started off with various freshwater aquariums, both cold water and tropical, but it was not until I was 26 that I got my first marine tank. My first marine tank was a soft coral reef system with one or two LPS. I will be 35 years old this year and I am still obsessed with corals and reef tanks.
My tank is located in my garage, it measures 60 inch long, 30 inch wide, and is 19 inch high. It is made from 10mm glass with black silicone. I used N&D Aquatics to custom make to this size aquarium for me. I made the stand myself, which is an un-clad wood structure.
As an add-on, I have since added two 3 foot by 3 foot frag tanks. This gives me 18 square feet of frag space. Some of the corals are now touching the edges of the glass, so I either frag them by hand or the mag-float does so when I clean the glass.
I have three 25 gallon plastic header tanks which function as my sumps. Total system volume is about 1000 litres (264 US gallons).
• Display tank: 575L (156 US gallons) N&D Aquatics glass aquarium (60" x 30" x 19")
• Sump: 25 gallon plastic tank x3
• Frag Tanks: 3 foot by 3 foot glass aqariums
• Skimmer: Reef Octopus XP 3000 cone skimmer
• Heaters: 400W and x3 300W submersible heaters
• Lighting: x8 54W T5 Lightwave unit
• Filtration: Deep Sand Bed with Chaetomorpha and Xenia
• Return Pump: Laguna Max-Flo 3500 pump
• Circulation: Tunze 6080 and x2 Tunze 6025 x2
• Other: Aqua-PHOS and Aqua-Carb media, Tunze auto-top-off
For internal water movement, I employ one Tunze 6080 Stream and two Tunze 6025 Nano Streams within the main display. All three have been modified so I have no idea what output they produce. The sump water is returned with a Laguna pond pump. I forget which model it is I think it is rated at around 3500 litres per hour.
The xenia frag tank is fed by a small Eheim hobby pump, the water over-flows from this upper frag tank into the lower SPS frag tank. The lower SPS frag tank has a single modified 6025 Nano Stream for water movement.
The filtration is nice and simple. A deep sand bed, cheato, and xenia form the biological and organic components. Mechanical waste removal is taken care of by what I can only describe as the best skimmer I have ever used. A Reef Octopus XP 3000 cone skimmer. The amount of skimmate this produces is amazing, about 20 litres a week.
There is no live rock, just a few bits of dead reef bones, and not a lot of it. With SPS corals, a classic mistake is putting too much rock in and this leaves stag horns with very little room for growth. Whilst I was putting the aquascape together, it was always going to be a foundation, the corals were going to fill the tank, not the rock work. I knew what corals I wanted and where they would be placed and how they would grow. Planning ahead like this, selecting the right corals and correctly placing them results in a more compatible and pleasing result.
The only phosphate remover I have ever used on this tank is Aqua-PHOS. I started off using Aqua-Phos FE and I now use Aqua-Phos Xtra. Disclosure: I am a co-owner of an aquatics wholesale company. Aqua-Phos Xtra is one of our products. I also use a small amount of Aqua-Carb which is changed every month or two. There are no other mechanical or biological filtration is used. I have no cooling system. I use 1x 400W heater and 3x 300W heaters. My temperature runs constant at around 27-28oC all year.
I can honestly say I would rather boil my head than let an aquarium computer run my tank. You only have to look at Dell or HP PCs which have had millions spent on research and development - they still crash - I know of too many horror stories with aquarium computers. I do not feel a computer should control a reef tank. Maybe monitor, but I would not hand over full control to one.
I like to have things no more complicated than is absolutely needed, for me it is the lack of automation; I do not have pH probes, computers, peristalic pumps, or cooling system. Just plain RO water without DI resin. The only automated components used on this tank are a Tunze auto-top-off and Tesco digital timers for my lights.
Other than lugols iodine, I do not use or dose any additives. My calcium and alkalinity is taken care of by a large Deltec calcium reactor which is filled with coral bones media. Should my parameters need any small adjustment, I keep some calcium chloride, magnesium sulphate and sodium bicarbonate to hand, which I mix with RO water and add if or when it is needed.
I feed my fish between 3-6 times a day, mostly flake food and a cube of frozen about once a day. The corals get no direct feeding, other than a Rhizoo, which is often fed pellets or flake food via a turkey baster.
I keep my maintenance fairly simple. Each week I change about 40 litres of water. At the moment I am using Red Sea Coral Pro salt, although I am happy to use most well known brands. I mix my saltwater overnight to 35ppt, using a refractometer to test. I clean the glass every 2-3 days, or whenever it is needed.
I only test for alkalinity on a regular basis. I try to test for this about once a week. Although, recently, I have slacked a bit and test only once or twice a month. Every other month I try to test for calcium and magnesium. Temperature gets checked once a week. I don’t test for any other values.
My water was tested for phosphates ages ago by my friend Barry and there was no PO4 showing. I used to test for phosphate, but I found the test kits were hard for me to get an unambiguous reading. Over the years I have tried several test kits! So now I use algae as my guide; if the front glass gets dirty quicker, and if there is algae taking hold on the rockwork then I know my phosphate remover is due to be changed. It is these subtle changes that tell me when it is time.
My skimmer cup goes through phases of being cleaned once a week. Then I get slack and might leave it for a few weeks. Light tubes get replaced around the 9-12 month mark. Pumps will get a clean, maybe twice a year, by soaking them in citric acid overnight, and it brings them up like new.
Life on coral reefs fascinates me. I have a real passion for tropical marine life, especially corals. I am lucky enough to have snorkelled and dived on several tropical reefs around the world. The Red Sea and Indian Ocean are fantastic. I find the diversity of life on display is astounding. It creates so much excitement in me that I find myself yelping underwater on my first dive saying silly stuff like “Wow!” and “Oh my god!” through my mouth piece.
I owe thanks and gratitude to several local reefers, the Essex Reef Club, the various internet forums, and all the many reefers who have imparted knowledge over the years. Lastly, I would like to thank my wife Annika, she has put up with various floods and smells over the years.
Feel free to comment or ask questions about my tank in the Tank of the Month thread on Reef Central.