March 2014 Tank of the Month
Robert Worst's (Diving Butcher) 400 US-gallon Reef Aquarium
Hello everyone, I am Robert Worst from The Netherlands. On my honeymoon I first encountered the underwater world through a diving trip. I was instantly fascinated by all the life underwater harmoniously living together. After many dives and certificates I came infected with the reef keeping hobby. I couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful than a small piece of the reef right in my living room, so after a lot of studying and forums I began. My first 150 gallon aquarium was a success right from the start, corals were growing and fish were thriving. I think that good preparation and the relatively large volume of this tank was key to success. After a few years I wanted to get the tank to the next level, keeping a lot of SPS corals and fish together. I searched for an experienced reef keeper that could give me hints and share his experience. His name is Luc Looien (Jawsee). He helped me to get the most out of this tank, and make it a success. I think the best part of this hobby is the constant improvements you can make on your tank and share those experiences with the community.
My 150 aquarium tank was too small after three years, so I wanted to upgrade. After two more years of planning I made a compromise with my wife to buy a 6.5 x 2.6 x 2.5 foot tank. If you include the sump the total volume is 600 gallons. With the agreement I started planning how I wanted the reef to appear, and what equipment I needed to make this tank a success. After six more months I could finally install the tank. This was a dream coming true, I finally was able to build a large reef at home, just as I had experienced diving in nature. All the equipment and sump was situated in a special structure outside of the living room, to keep moisture and noise outside. Also, I could work on the tank and equipment outside the living room, which is a large advantage. The cabinet of the aquarium is made by a kitchen manufacturer so it is perfectly finished and provided with drawers and cabinets for test kits and books etc.
• Display Aquarium: 95” x 31” x 31” 400 US-gallons
• Sump: Sump 100 Gallon HDPE Container
• Frag tank: x2 Frag tanks 40" x 8" x 8"
• Lighting: x3 hqi 400 watt MH Aqua Medic 1300 kelvin, T5 ATI blue special x4, T5 ATI blue plus x5, x3 Blue 450 nm LED strips for late-evening light
• Frag tank lighting: T5 ATI Blue+ x8 and ABS
• Flow: Vortech MP60w x2 and MP40w
• Skimmer: Skimmer Deltec SC 4580
• Return: Royal Exclusiv Return Red Dragon 12M3, Red Dragon 6M3 for the frag tank
• Computer: GHL profilux
• Heater: 400 watt Titanium x2
• Reactors: daStaCo T3, phosphate, GAC, & Zeolite reactor
• Ozone: Aquamedic 200
• UV: Uv filter aquamedic 80 watt
One of the most important things in reef keeping is nutrient export. I use a Deltec SC 4580. The reason for that is it has four separate pumps. If one fails the skimmer will continue to export nutrients, and gives me time while I replace the failed pump. Next to that I have installed a self-cleaning head so the skimmer works much better, and it saves some cleaning every day. I use GFO, GAC, and Zeolite stones to export nutrients and 200 micron filter bags for detritus particles.
I really believe in stability, that’s why I measure ALK, calcium, nitrates and phosphates weekly, and if needed adjusting them. Every week a 50 gallon water change is performed using KZ-Reefers Best salt. The skimmer and pumps are cleaned regularly for optimal performance. I believe that less is more, and keeping it simple is the best. That’s why I don’t use a lot of additives and trace elements. I do use QFI Amino acids daily, Reef Corner Trace Elements, and a little vodka. I feed the tank every day with a great diversity of foods, mysis, lobster eggs, artemia, banana, Spirulina Flakes, and Cyclops. .
Water Parameter Targets:
I didn’t have any major problems with this setup. The only thing was the maturing of this reef took a while, approximately one year. The main reason was the reef ceramic that was custom made for this tank from Germany. The ceramic kept leeching phosphates and other substances for a long while, causing algae growth on the rocks and unwanted parameters. I kept using GFO and Zeolites to absorb it, and that was sufficient. I would go for ceramics again though because its structure is very open allowing flow to get everywhere preventing detritus buildup.
Coral, Invertebrates and Fish
From looking at my reef you can tell I really like SPS corals. I try to collect as many different colors and growth shapes as possible. There are too many different species to name them all, but I think 95% of the tank is made up of SPS corals, the rest is LPS and some soft. I also like fish, but they’re less important than the corals. That why I really like my Wrasses, especially my three Anampses femininus. They are my favorite. Here’s an overview with all the inhabitants:
Last but not least I would like to thank my family for supporting me and my hobby. Everyone in the Reef aquarium community for sharing their experiences and enjoying my reef tank. Reef central in particular for selecting my tank for TOTM and help me put this article together. Happy reefing! Robert.
Feel free to comment or ask questions about my tank in the Tank of the Month thread on Reef Central.