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Tank of the Month

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Mark Hallett's (northernreefer0) Reef Aquarium



WOW! Tanks to all who voted for me for Tank of the Month. My name is Mark Hallett, and I live in Little Britain, Ontario, Canada. This is a great honor to have my tank featured as Reef Central's Tank of the Month. I have been a member for several years here on Reef Central and have gained a ton of knowledge from the forums. I would like to thank Reef Central as well as other members in the LPS forum for providing a great deal of help. 


The Beginning

My passion for corals and fish started back when I was only 10. I remember my mother and I visiting a local fish store and laying my eyes on my first saltwater reef tank. She had to drag me out of the store after an hour of staring at the tank. After that, I was hooked.

I started my first saltwater reef tank around eight years ago consisting of a 40-gallon bow-front with a simple sump system. After some time, and a few tanks later, I began planning my 120-gallon Aussie biotype reef tank. 

I live about two hours North East of Toronto, which is where all of the awesome and highly regarded reef shops are located. I remember driving down to check out their first Aussie shipment, and I was in complete shock when I walked through the door and saw a full vat of Aussie Acanthastreas. The colors were so incredible and that’s when I knew that I must set up an Aussie Acanthastrea-dominated tank of my own.

I have been collecting Acanthastreas for the past four years, and after numerous trips to Toronto, I have ultimately reached my goal. I finally have the tank of my dreams!  

 System Profile

• Display tank: 120-gallon 48 x 28 x 20
• Sump: 50-gallon custom acrylic sump. Sump is plumbed into the basement for tempature control.
• Lighting display: Sfiligoi fixture with a 400-watt XM 20,000K, four 24-watt T5 Aqua Science blue and two LED Powerbrite fixtures
• Water circulation: 1 Tunze Nano 6055, 1 Tunze 6200, Blueline return pump.
• Skimmer: Mini Bubble King 200
• Calcium reactor: two-stage reactor with Zeo Mag added to second chamber


The filtration consists of 80lbs of live rock in the display and 20lbs in the sump. After going through three different protein skimmers, I decided to buy a Mini Bubble King 200 and it has worked great. Also there is a PhosBan filter filled with carbon that runs continuously. There is a filter sock on the overflow to catch the bigger particulates before entering the sump. I tried to keep things as simple as possible when setting up this tank.


I have tried several bulb combinations to achieve the best color in my Acanthastrea. The blue Aqua Science T5s with a 400-watt XM 20,000k bulb has given me the best results so far. This is all housed in a sleek Sfiligoi fixture. I have installed two Power Brite LED fixtures on either side of the Sfiligoi fixture for that shimmer when just the actinics are on. The LEDs provide a pop in the colors of the Acanthastreas that I just love. I find with Acanthastrea lordhowensis that the bluer the light provided, the better their coloration becomes.



Water Parameters:
  • Specific gravity: 1.026
  • pH: 8.0 - 8.3
  • Calcium: 380 - 400 ppm
  • Alkalinity: 8 - 9 dKH
  • Magnesium: 1350 ppm
  • Temperature: 77 - 78° F


Maintenance, Feeding & Supplements

I change out the carbon once a month. I perform a 10% water change once a week with Instant Ocean salt, and this seems to keep the tank stable. My metal halide bulb is changed once a year, but my T5’s are changed out once every six months. I feed a combination of Cyclop-eeze and Reef-Roids once a week for the corals. I feed flake food and frozen brine shrimp to the fish daily. The only supplement used in my tank is magnesium, but only when needed. I have spot fed my acans in the past and run into problems with nipping fish that had to be removed. Now, I simply dump the food in the display with the main pump off.


The tank is mostly dominated by over 50+ colonies of Aussie Acanthastrea sp. but there are also Aussie Lobophyllia sp., Aussie chalices and a few Aussie Acropora sp. Some fish have given me problems in the past due to spot feeding of the Acanthastreas. The fish started picking and nipping at my Acanthastreas and, therefore, had to be removed from the display. I now have two Yellow tangs, a Mystery wrasse, a school of eight Banggai cardinals, three Anthias and a Marine betta. I also have two blue Linckia starfish that have been in my tank for over four years now.












I would first like to thank my wife, Leighanne, for her support in this hobby and also for keeping me company on all of the long road trips to Toronto. I also would like to thank Oakville Reef Gallery, (Tom), Under The Sea (Patrick), ReefRaft (Jay and Jensen), NAFB (John and his wife) and Sea U Marine (Ken). Without all of the crazy shipments and your help with my system, this tank wouldn’t be possible.



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

If you'd like to nominate a tank for Tank of the Month, click here or use the button to the right.

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