Prattreef - April 2011 Tank of the Month - the Real Deal

KathyC

Moderator
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Location
Barnum Island
April seemed like the perfect month to award the honor of MR Tank of the Month to our own Randy aka Prattreef ! Congrats Randy! Not only will we get to see some close up pics of the tank here on the ToTM thread, but we will also have the opportunity to visit the tank (during announced tours) at the Spring Frag Swap that is held at the home of the this great tank!


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[FONT=&quot]What does being chosen as MR ToTM mean to you?[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
I am very honored. It is always rewarding to be recognized by your peers and as you’ll see as you read on, this in a very real way is MR’s reef too.
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It seems like you have been here forever, when did the interest in fish-keeping bite you?
I've kept aquariums literally all my life. I recall pretty much always having a freshwater tank when I was a kid. The big addiction hit when I moved back to NYC after grad school in 1987 and I became totally consumed with breeding Tanganyikan African Cichlids. I think I had over 10 tanks in my 1 bedroom apartment at one point.[/FONT]
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[FONT=&quot]So why the change to saltwater?[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
I had never kept a marine tank of any sort until one day in 1994 I saw a for sale sign at of all places, the Park Slope Food Coop. Some guy who lived literally around the corner from my place was selling a complete 55g system with anemones and fish --everything. I was assured by several associates that my cichlid experience had well prepared me to make the jump and I did. I was hooked immediately. I must say that system with its old style wet- dry filter and standard florescent lamps ran very smoothly. I think it must have been 4 whole months before I decided to set up a 125 gallon reef. Yup, hooked badly.

Shortly afterwards I began working at Pratt where I met some guy named Terry Siegel who just happened to be one of the most experienced and influential hobbyists in the country having founded The Marine Aquarist, Aquarium Frontiers, and later Advanced Aquarist magazines. Lets just say my learning curve was exponentially steep and I was soon cavorting with known authorities on the national level--guys like Craig Bingman and Tony Vargas ---wait aren't they speaking at the MR swap????---attending the national conferences and publishing articles for the hobby.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Lol,thanks for the swap plug Randy and wow, it seems like you stepped in some fish poop along the way, nice way to have some of the best mentors in the field![/FONT]


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What happened next?
Well, given Pratt's long history with the marine aquarium industry, I got the bright idea that it might be fun to set up a system for public display at my office. After a very modest 55g reef was well received by the community, I decided to try to go big and in 2000, through generous donations from national and local vendors, I put together an acrylic 210gallon reef system that thrived for several years.

In three words—I hate acrylic! After about 5 years of use (and abuse) by myself and my work–study assistants, the acrylic tank began to get so scratched that it became a distraction. It was right around this time that I discovered this wonderful MR community. In 2006 shortly after the tank experienced some brace cracking and repair, Jim (House of Laughter) made an astonishing post on MR asking the community to step up and fund a replacement aquarium. You can read about it here:

http://www.manhattanreefs.com/forum/...f-project.html

The result of this incredible generosity is my current 240g. (8’ x 2’ x 2’) Glasscages
system known affectionately as Prattreef.

You can read in detail about the community build here:

http://www.manhattanreefs.com/forum/...ransition.html[/FONT]


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I recall entering the saltwater portion of the hobby at the same time the upgrade to the current Prattreef tank was going on. You had a great bunch of helpers there to install the tank, it’s easy to see why you consider this THE MR reef tank!


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[FONT=&quot]Tell us about the system itself, there is a lot going on there. I love the concept of colonies instead of a thousand frags ..lol
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[FONT=&quot]The system is quite simple equipment wise as I am actually a bit intimidated and untrusting of too much automation. I also find the plumbing and electrical and gadgetry aspect of the hobby quite uninteresting and delegate these things to willing others whenever possible. Here are some specifics:

Setup: 8/06 though all the rock and many of the animals are far older

Tank: 240g (8' x 2' x 2') Glass Cages tank with low iron glass front, a standard 75 gallon sump unbaffled and drilled for the return pump.

Circulation: Sequence Dart return pump and 4 Ecotech Marine MP40 Vortechs on random settings and battery backups.

Lighting: 4x 250W Ushio 14K DE lamps (I hate overly blue tanks!) in Icecap pendants driven by Icecap electronic ballasts. All 4 pendants have been recently retrofitted with Reefbrite Actinic LED supplemental lighting—just a little pop and shimmer.

Filtration: I run this heavily stocked system skimmerless via a large, experimental Chaetomorpha algae chamber and carbon is run 24/7.

Sand: 2-3" ESV coarse and fine mixture

Additives: 300ML of ESV B-Ionic 2-part dosed manually daily, occasional additions of Iodine, Strontium, Iron, Manganese and Magnesium (mostly for enhanced Chaetomorph growth).

Salt: For years I used Instant Ocean salt with great success, but after beta testing the new ESV salt I have happily switched, though I am not one to believe that your choice of salt is the key to your success or failure in reef keeping—there are too many successful people using all different kinds of salt to come to that conclusion. Water changes are performed monthly at around 30% of system volume.

Really that is it. I feed my fish heavily a mixture of frozen and dried foods, don’t feed my corals anything in particular, look carefully at my tank daily, and try not to muck around with it too often.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Wow, I bet some folks will be very surprised to hear some of those details![/FONT]
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[FONT=&quot]How about the fish & corals?[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
There are way too many corals, clams and fish to list, but this system is heavily dominated by dense Acropora and other SPS coral growth and contains well over 50 established coral species, 5 Tridacnid clams, and roughly 20 fish including many Cirrhilabrus sp. fairy wrasses---I loves me my fairy wrasses! And no, I don’t name my fish. I’m actually quite superstitious about this as I find that as soon as I personify them in any way they die. Silly I know, but please don’t name my fish. I am also not particularly interested in named, LE, branded, or signature corals. If I like it, I like it. It doesn’t matter what it is or where it came from or what designer name it has or what its monetary value is. For me, these are not investments, nor profit generating acquisitions.
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[FONT=&quot]Is there anything else you’d like to add?[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
I’d like to thank the entire Manhattan Reefs community for their incredible support over the years. Marcin Smok for his amazing photos, my colleagues and students at Pratt Institute and of course, my family, for putting up with all this overly excessive, never ending fishy business.[/FONT]


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WE would like to thank you as well Randy, your candor and help on the boards and the sharing of your tanks with the community raises the bar for many folks here. We are very proud to have you as our April Tank of the Month!!

[FONT=&quot]During the day of our Spring Swap we will be having guided tours of the tank at a few pre-selected times. These will be announced during the event, so please listen for the instruction on where you are to go to join the tour. Enjoy![/FONT]
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All Photo Credits: Marcin Smok
 
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Gwiz3005

Reefer
Manhattan Reefs
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Location
Brooklyn, NY
Not only does PraffReef shared my first name, but I love his approach at reefing. His tank actually inspired my switch from FOWLR to a Reef tank! Can't wait to see the tank in person next week!
 

Domboski

No Coral Here
Manhattan Reefs
Rating - 100%
237   0   0
Location
Montclair, NJ
NEED MORE PICS!!!!!

Did the many lined basslet actually get caught in a photo (see to the right of the yellow tang in the second photo) or is that a flame wrasse?
 

tentacles

cephalopod enthusiast
Manhattan Reefs
Rating - 95%
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Way to go Randy, you deserve it. Glad you trusted me enough not to destroy your tanks while I was at Pratt!

and look, there's my file! she's famous!:)
 


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