Tank Of The Month - February 2011


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Barnum Island
Congrats to MikeNY - our February 2011 Tank of the Month here on Manhattan Reefs!!

You?ve read our ToTM threads Mike so you already know the first question, how did you come to be a reefer?
I have had small freshwater fish tanks since I?m a kid and always wanted a larger tank. So when we decided to get married and buy our own home in ?89 I was really surprised that my wife bought me a 90 gallon Odell with a stand as an engagement present and it has seen water ever since.

It sounds like you married the right lady Mike! So? a new bride, new home, new tank, where did you go from there?
I wanted to try saltwater, but back then there wasn?t the resources for info that are available now like MR. It started as a Fish Only with dead bare corals, an under gravel filter, fluorescent lighting and a Skilter filter. As it slowly progressed I learned from all my mistakes, including things like going from a Seaclone to a wet/dry and realizing a panther grouper wasn?t a good choice. I started to add live rock and saw a little polyp that got me addicted to this hobby we call reef keeping. As my tank slowly evolved I started learning about water quality, lighting, flow etc and all of my equipment slowly upgraded like switching my lighting to PCs, then to MH, all the while hoping to get a larger tank.

Ah yes, every reefers dream, a larger tank, how did you finagle that?
I knew it was just a matter of time when my wife wanted a new kitchen so in August of ?10 she got her kitchen and I got my current 170 combo which is 60x24x27 and I a great deal on it from Alfie (Albano) here on MR ..thanks again. (ah-ha! I KNEW that tank looked familiar! Lol)
The tank is in my living room and is aquascaped so that there is plenty of flow throughout the rockwork to prevent dead spots. I plumbed everything down in to my basement.

I saw your wife?s new kitchen and Mike, as beautiful as your tank is, that kitchen is awesome?so I?d call the deal a draw since you got the larger tank AND the right to drill holes in your living room floor for your plumbing ;)

Tell us more about the system?
I kept the 90, for sentimental value, as a fuge and I?m using a 65 gallon tank for my sump. Lighting for the tank is two 250 watt Reeflux 12ks with T5 ATI blue plus and actinic supplementation all on timers for a dawn and dusk effect. The tank?s water circulation is provided by four modified MJ1200s on a wave timer and the returns. The fuge is lighted by a combination of T5s and has a modded Maxi-Jet 1200 as well, that along with the overflow provides plenty of motion there. The water then overflows into my sump through filter socks where I have reactors for phosban and carbon.

..and your husbandry??
The carbon is changed every thirty days at a rate of one cup per hundred gallons, three cups total, and I use 300grams of Phosban that is changed every 3-4 months. I do weekly 10% water changes but all these can change if I suspect something is wrong like slime, too much algae etc..

It?s obvious by looking at your tank that you do stay on top of things. What other gadgets run your system?
I use R/O DI water for the changes as well as the top off. The top off is in a 20 gallon pail mixed with kalk to combat the low pH water given off by the calcium reactor and the pump is controlled by an ATO sensor in the sump. Also in the sump I have a dual chamber MRC 2 calcium reactor which I learned to monitor better by using a little cup to catch the effluent and in that cup is a probe to monitor the PH coming directly from the reactor. If that pH level changes I know there is a problem right away which will effect the calcium and alkalinity levels in my system.
My skimmer is also in the sump which is a MRC 2 dual beckett which I modified to perform better and I?m using a Reeflo Dart for the return. I don?t use a chiller because the sump is in a cool basement and the tank is an AC room. In the winter I don?t use just one large heater, but a few smaller ones in case one fails. I also keep a notebook which I find to be very helpful in keeping track of husbandry, equipment, fish, corals etc..I tried to set it up so it is as automated as possible, on a budget and yet simple.

You certainly succeeded!

Who calls your reef their home?
It?s a mixed reef with the majority of corals being SPS and over the years I?ve had many different species of fish and coral many I still have like my 10+ year old Powder Blue Tang and my 15 year old Frogspawn. I also had many breeding pairs of clowns, damsels and even chalk bass. Now I keep a limited number of fish because the fish I chose are tough and can cause water quality issues as well as compatibility problems.

My Fish:
A Niger Trigger, Blue Throat Trigger, a Powder Blue Tang, a Yellow Tang, a large Chalk Bass, Red Hawkfish, large Sixline wrasse, Talbert damsel, black bar Chromis, Percula clown and a Roland?s damsel.
As far as coral there are way too many to list, but I prefer to have ORA and other captive breed corals as opposed to wild. They just seem to be more tolerant of the sometimes fluctuating conditions in my tank so the majority of my coral are from other reefers.

Your tank is simply beautiful Mike, it has been a real pleasure getting to see it in person and for the lesson on calcium reactors! Any closing words before you go?

I would like to thank MR for this honor and wish it had started many years earlier because it is a great website not only for the wealth of information, but for meeting good people as well?this hobby is still evolving so I?m here still learning and passing on information I?ve learned.

Happy Reefing everyone and thanks! - Mike

-Pictures by MikeNY


Saltwater since 1973
Staff member
Manhattan Reefs
Real Reefer
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Let me be the first to congratulate you, Mike...Great Job, well deserved TOTM!

:shhh: I'm proud that 66.66% of the TOTM tanks are, or have been mine!
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Barnum Island
Let me be the first to congratulate you, Mike...Great Job, well deserved TOTM!

:shhh: I'm proud that 66.66% of the TOTM tanks are, or have been mine!
When I walked in the front door, I did a double take when I saw the tank stand. I was like, wow, am I the only one who didn't design my stand this way? lol And then I found out he had YOUR old tank, and the bell went off.

Mike did you proud!
His fish have tons of swimming room, lots of places to hide and swim through and the flow pattern in there is just fantastic! It should the be MR model for how to aquascape :)

You need to make the road trip (in that lil' yellow car of yours!) one of these days to see the tank :)