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July 2013 Tank of the Month



This Article Features Photo Zoom

Gary Majchrzak's SPS-Dominated "Junior's Reef" Aquarium





Introduction & Background

Hi! My name is Gary. It is a privilege and honor to be chosen as Tank of the Month at Reef Central. I live in upstate New York and I have been maintaining marine aquaria since 1993. As mentioned in my April 2006 Tank of the Month article, I have always been interested in the biodiversity of life on planet Earth and coral reefs are probably the most biodiverse ecosystems on our planet... Making the choice between taking care of a dog, cat or reef aquarium is rather easy for me. I enjoy having fish as much as corals, along with everything else (including anemones), in my reef aquarium. At the present time, nothing in my aquarium is “new”. I have had my Emperor Angelfish since April 2007, and he is been nicknamed “Junior”. Thus my current reef aquarium has been named “Junior’s Reef”.

If you are new to reefkeeping, and even if you have been doing it for 20 years, I strongly suggest thoroughly researching everything you consider doing beforehand. Sometimes less is more. I am a big advocate of LESS TECHNOLOGY MORE BIOLOGY. I am also a huge proponent of using real live liverock to construct a reef aquarium. Biodiversity in a reef aquarium tends to decline over time. Fortunately, we live in an age where information is shared more freely than ever before. I would suggest researching the specifics and avoid generalizations. Research compatibilities, and not whether something is concidered “reef safe”, because if an animal occurs on or near a coral reef it eats something on or near a coral reef. Just remember in the end to take into consideration the credibility of the someone giving you advice!








Current System

My present display aquarium is a 72" x 24" x 30" 225-gallon "high" tank (manufactured by Perfecto) set up as a “peninsula” type display. The sump is located in my basement. Water returns are capped with penductors and located inside the aquarium along the top edges. Returning water is directed along the water’s surface to the overflows. This is a crucial part of good reef aquarium design. Keep surface scum from accumulating on the surface. 

The two overflows in my aquarium are simply large diameter screen covered standpipes plumbed through bulkheads at the end of the tank. This results in a very clean appearance.





System Profile

• Display tank: 225-gallon "high" Perfecto Aquarium (72" x 24" x 30" )
• Display Lighting: 400 watt 14k Ushio metal halide x3 & URI VHO actinics x2
• Sump: 75 US gallon tank drilled for external pumps
• Water Circulation: Iwaki100RLT, EcoTech MP60, water returns capped with penductors
• Skimmer: Beckett Skimmer with Iwaki40
• Controller: AC Jr. Controller


My sump is a 75 gallon tank drilled for external pumps. The main circulation pump is an Iwaki100RLT. Along with penductor-capped water returns, I run an EcoTech MP60 and this provides the gyre flow I seek to achieve in my aquarium with minimal visual distraction. An Iwaki40 powers my Beckett skimmer and mechanical filter “socks” are employed. All makeup water is limewater (kalkwasser) and I run an undersized calcium reactor along with DIY liquid two parts. I try to keep water changes at 20% weekly and GFO, GAC as well as LaCl3 are tools I will use as necessary. Junior eats a lot of food. Lots of food creates lots of detritus which should be avoided.

Lighting consists of three 400w metal halides (14k Ushio) and two URI VHO actinics and sunlight is encouraged to enter through a nearby window. I use an AC Jr. controller on the aquarium. As most are aware, every parameter in a healthy growing reef aquarium is always in flux. I strive to maintain SG 1.026, 80o F, Ca >400ppm, 9.0 dKH, pH 8.0.








Anemone keepers in particular might recognize my name. In addition to bringing “mini” carpet anemones (Stichodactylatapetum) to a larger group of reef aquarists through Reef Central I have also had much experience over the years with the “great” host anemone species - of which I presently have a “multicolor” Stichodactyla gigantea trying to take over my aquarium.

You can see below how the anemone climbed up the reef and I had to keep shuffling corals around so they did not end up dead, like the orange Montipora. This brings up a good point, anemones require special consideration before introducing them to a reef aquarium. Make sure you do your research!







I use a variety of foods: Spectrum pellets, frozen orange sections, frozen broccoli, and various frozen prepared fish foods.




Quarantine new arrivals! Needless to say, it would be very bad to bring pathogens into my aquarium. I recommend a quarantine tank for fish and dipping all incoming corals.



Water Parameters:
  • Salinity: 1.026
  • pH: 8.0
  • Calcium: 400 ppm
  • Alkalinity: 9.0 dKH
  • Temperature: 80oF







Disaster Avoidance

Did you ever hear one of Sanjay’s presentations on redundancy? ‘Nuff said! Have a power outage plan in place for your aquarium!

Feel free to check out my build threads on Reef Central. They are called "New Canvas" and "Junior's Reef". They are both located in the Upstate Reef Society Forum on Reef Central.





My heart felt gratitude goes out to; Reef Central for this honor, my local reef club [the Upstate Reef Society (URS)] of upstate New York, to all of the extremely knowledgable reef keepers I have met worldwide online and in person (what a friendly group of folks!), to my parents and kids, plus all the local fish stores in western New York including (last but not least!) my friend John Progno of Marine Oasis… how do you have the patience, good buddy?








Feel free to comment or ask questions about my tank in the Tank of the Month thread on Reef Central.

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