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My tank

30 posts in this topic

Ok, here is the write up.

I am going to write this in the same format you see in the magazines.

I first became interest in fish tanks at about the age of 11. My Dad set up a tropical community tank and that was it, i was hooked. By the age of 16, i had a weekend job in a LFS and i got paid in fish. That community tank soon had a pair of every type of Australia rainbow fish that was available at the time. This progressed into owning my own Discus set up – which like marines at the time, were not so easy to keep.

Since then, i have had just about every type of set up you can think of - Discus, Wild Altum Angels, Dwarf Cichilds, Predator tanks, A Red Tail Catfish, Planted tanks – you name i have had it.

I then had a spell of about 10 years without a tank but would still frequent the LFS at weekends. One day i bought a Trigon 350 and set it up again as a planted tank with wild angels. We then decided to have some quite major building work done so i shut the tank down and this time set it up “salty�.

The intention was only to have a few fish and softies but i was hooked and longed for the brightly coloured sticks. However, i found the shape of the Trigon difficult. I couldn’t get the flow right and without a sump for all the extra equipment, i decided it just wasn’t going to match my ambitions.

That brings us to the current tank. I found the tank secondhand on ebay and grabbed it. It is a Seashell 60x24x18 with a sump. The tank probably sat empty for about 6 months while i searched the forums and ebay for secondhand equipment.

Current Equipment list

  • Tank (£500)
  • Lights
  • Display – 6x80watt ATI sunpower running a combination of DD tubes (£360 + tubes)
  • Sump – (originally 2x24w T8 tubes)10w LED
  • Return pump – (originally eheim 5000) Jebao DC12000 (£100 – fishstreet)
  • Flow;
  • MP40WES (£250 – USA grey import)
  • MP10WES (£170 – USA grey import)
  • Skimmer – Deltec APF600 (£20 secondhand bargain from Creation)
  • Calcium Reactor – Bubble Magus (£100 secondhand Gattsps) with secondhand TMC PH Controller from ebay (£50)
  • TC10 temperature controller (£40) running 2x250w heaters + 1x desktop fan
  • Tunze Auto Top Up (£130)
  • TMC 15w UV (£70)
  • DI pods containing phosphate media and carbon – now offline.
Out of all this equipment, i rate the top up as the most important thing. I lose approximately 30-40 litres of water each week and without the top up it would be impossible to control the salinity levels.

With regards to Fishstreet and the Grey Imports, I like to support LFS but at the time of buying the MPs, i couldn’t afford to buy new in the UK but could get new from USA for the same price as secondhand here and just accept the warranty would be an issue if they went wrong (i wouldn’t get a warranty with secondhand anyway).

If you save £100 buying an import that's great. Just make sure you then spend what you have saved on fish and coral from the LFS.

Also, have the decency not to waste the LFS time by getting them to show you the product and then buy it online for a few quid cheaper.

While this all adds up to a fantastic weekend in Amsterdam, It still only came to the same price as the tank and cabinet would have cost new.


I started out with about 60 kilos of secondhand liverock from a tank shutdown. And over the last few years i have taken some bits out and added other bits. Fishwise, until recently (i will come onto that later) i have kept the tank very understocked. I had a few soft corals from the Trigon which i added to this tank. In particular a piece of Kenya Tree which grew to about the size of a basketball before i decided i was quite lucky at growing corals and it was time to move onto SPS.

About the same time, we decided to move house. On moving day, i bottled all the water in 25 litre jerry cans, any rock which had coral on was put into buckets of water, all the fish were bagged and boxed and i quite literally unplugged the tank and disconnected the hoses to and from the sump. We the help of a couple of strong guys, we lifted the tank off the cabinet and put that in the van. We then lifted the cabinet with the sump and all the equipment still in place into the back of the van. Got to the new house, unloaded, re-connected the hoses, filled it up with water, plugged it in and got it upto temperature, put the rocks and the fish in and bosh – job done without a single loss.

I managed to pass-on the softies and in April 2012, i added about 10 or 12 little SPS frags. And that is what you see today. This is the only reason i entered the competition – i wanted show people you do not have to spend £100s on coral, you simply need to be patient.

To put it into context, everything in my tank cost the same as just one decent Trachys – not that there is anything wrong with buying nice Trachys.

Current fish list

  • 2 x clowns
  • 8 x chromis
  • 5 x anthias
  • 1 x Yellow tang
  • 1 x convict tang
  • 1 x royal gramma
  • 1 x leopard wrasse
  • 1 x coral goby
  • 1 x cardinal
  • 1 x blenny
  • 1 x flame angel
  • Corals – not sure what they are called – but i think they are mostly acropora?
FTS - current



Ever since that very first tropical tank, i have without fail always carried out a 10% water change each week and cleaned the glass. However, that is about where my commitment stops. I am very lazy at cleaning the pumps, the skimmer cup and replacing the filter media. I was hardly ever doing any water test and simply working on the big-headed idea that my eyes would tell me if something was wrong.

That was until about 3 months ago. Whether it was because we naturally become complacent about how nice the thing are that we have or we become bored maybe but i wasn’t happy with the tank and couldn’t decide why. I had a full Triton test done and discovered that through the low stocking levels and millions of water changes, i had been able to achieve the impossible – Phosphates absolute zero and Nitrates absolute zero. In effect, i am running a zeo ultra low nutrient system without without using the potions and giving anything back to the system.

Therefore, i have stopped using any carbon and phosphate removers and have only done two 10% water changes in 3 month (to replace trace elements). I have added 11 fish and now over-feed the fish huge amounts but to date my nitrates are still zero!!

The acropora seem to love the pure water. The blue tip stag grows nearly an inch per month. The montipora are not so keen and i struggle to keep them alive.


There isn’t a great deal to write about here. I have had the odd fish take a dislike to another and kill it and i have had the odd coral just give up even all the others are thriving. I famously killed Barry Gatts clam which was a wedding present from his wife but hey ho!

My biggest issue has been the harmless little plana flat worms. They do not seem to cause any trouble but are a bit unslightly. I have tried every creature reported to eat them but to no avail.

I also have one or two manjanos at the moment, which no matter how often i zap with the manjano wand, they come back.

I must stress i am far from an expert and very much still consider myself a novice at keeping corals. I have met a massive number of really good guys in this hobby and am very grateful for their help (not just reef related) and friendship.

I’m not going to thank my wife for putting up with me flooding the house every week when i forget to switch off the RO water – I wear the trousers in this house and if she doesn’t like it.................

I am a fairly shy guy and never feel my tank is worthy. I have previously rejected offers of magazine articles and even a small fortune to sell all for my corals (i regret not taking that offer).

Hopefully in the not too distant future there will be an upgrade. Once i no longer need my home office, it will become the sump room and the display tank will be approx 9x3x3 (Chemlsford Tang Man - you are to blame for this).

If you are still awake, i do have plumbed into the same sump, so its all the same water, another tank / frag tray which holds 150 litres of water and similarly about 150 frags which i will write up next.

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Having seen your set up in the flesh I have to say hats off to you for achieving a great tank without splashing the cash too much.

The corals look great and I luv the frag tank in another room but plumbed into the same system.


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Not sure exactly but i think i have had them about 4 months. I got them from AAC in Harlow. They also have a good selection of all types of anthias.

They are the standard lyretail type. They are only babies at the moment but one of them has just started to get extended fins so that one is going to change to the male.

I do not run a dsb but the tank was set up with cheato in the sump which was lit on a reverse cycle. However, my phosphates and nitrates have been practically zero for such a long time, the cheato has all but gone now.

I will try to get some pictures of the anthias but i am not very good at photographing moving fish.

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The Frag Tank,

As mentioned in the write up, i also have a frag tank plumbed into the same system.

The tank is 900l x 450w x 400h braceless and rimless out of 10mm glass. The tank is located in another room to the display tank so i have core drilled a hole through the wall and by using eheim tubing the frag tank drains via 2 TMC style outlets drilled and fitted In the top corners of the tank.

There are two reasons i have plumbed it into the sump of the main display tank. Firstly - stability. By having just one large body of water it is much easier to keep the parameters stable. Also, any cut frags are not shocked by moving them to a different system.

Secondly - equipment. This has saved me having to buy and run 2 skimmers, atu, calcuim reactors, heaters etc.. The only duplication is the lights over the frag tank and a wavemaker.

The frag tank is on a steel stand made out of box section and powder coated in true ssex style - escort mexico orange! The stand had been made taller than usual as the tank is quite shallow.

Lighting is another ATI Sunpower 6x39 watt unit. Again this was chosen so the frags have exactly the same lighting as the display tank.

All of the above refers to the benefits of the frag tank being part of the same system. As this thread develops i will go into the drawbacks.

Pictures to follow.

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Ok time for an update.

Unfortunately, i took my eye off the ball with the main display tank. I noticed my corals look as though they had algae on the tips. Being lazy i did nothing until it got worse.

Water test showed the KH was above 20 and my sps were literally melting.

Over a period of a couple of weeks with small water changes and dialling down the calcium reactor i brought the KH back down. However the damage had been done by then.

To add to this issues, my fans have packed up and my ATU has gone dolalee so my temperature has been through the roof and my salinity has been up and down more oftens than a tarts knickers!

I have pretty much lost all my sps and from somewhere i have had an outbreak of manjanos!

Therefore over the next few weeks, i am going to shut down the main tank and the frag tank. I will probably sell the frag tank but i may put the 5ft display in the garage to use in the future as a sump for the monster upgrade.

For the time being i am going to set up a smaller system that i hope will take up less time to maintain.

So watch this space as there will be a new tank thread and also the rehoming of some of my fish that will not go in the smaller system.

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Operation shutdown has begun.

The remaining live sps have gone today.

If anyone wants any red or blue mushrooms or zoas send me a pm.

Similarly i will be looking to rehome a pair of common clowns and a flame angel

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What size are the clowns rtigerc and what price you looking for?

The clowns are big. Female head to tail 3", Male 2"

The spawn regularly but in a tank full of other fish, the eggs have never survived.

They will be free to the right home. However, i stress it must be the right home. I have had these as a pair since they were 1/2" in size and i do not want them splitting up or ending up being moved on or taken to a shop

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I'm intrested rtherc I've just upgraded to a redsea reefer 250. And just got levels stable and just starting to add fish.

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Ok cool,

If you can find time, can you update your tank thread with more details about your system and your stock.

Please don't think I'm being an ar$e - its just really important to me that these fish go to the right home. I'm only re-homing them because my 6 year old daughter has a pair of clowns we are keeping for the new tank (I can't tell my little girl "daddy is keeping his clowns. Yours are going back to the shop)

There is no rush, i'm not going to be able to catch them until i shut the tank down and remove the rock

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I would be interested in a couple of red and blue mushrooms. How quickly would I have to pick up as would not be able to get to you for a week or so.


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I might try to get shutdown saturday and Sunday afternoon next week

I can pop round next weekend?

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No probs guys but note as per my thread i have a few manjanos and planaria flatworm.

Any flatworm can be killed with an RO or coral dip but you will have to really examine to zoas and be sure there are no manjanos hiding amongst them

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I assume the mushrooms are on LR?

R they easy to take off as would remove, dip, glue onto another small piece of rock and introduce to frag tank for a couple of weeks..


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No they are not on liverock, they are on my sandbed so really easy to move and dip


Ok to pop round next weekend?

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Operation shutdown part 3 - frag tank shut down and moved to darrens house and set back up again to house the fish i am going to keep.

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