Spotlight A Photo Essay: 15 Before and After Full Tank Shots for Inspiration

Do you ever secretly want to see how reef tanks evolve, change, and mature over time with different owners and different husbandry practices?...

  1. When you're starting a reef tank, it can take a long time before your tank starts to look like something you can be proud of. It takes patience and perseverance. We always say, "nothing good happens fast in a reef tank."

    Recently I visited a big LFS in Vancouver, BC, that had a nice display reef tank set up at the front. My daughter--who knows nothing about aquariums--asked me, "can someone walk in and say they want a tank that looks just like that?" My answer was, "well, sort of. It's a living thing, not an inanimate object, so unless you're in a laboratory with precisely controlled conditions, you can try to achieve something similar, but it will never be an exact replica. And it won't happen overnight either."

    This is what she saw, below:

    IMG_3363.JPG

    Photo courtesy of @Seawitch, ©2019, All Rights Reserved. Photo taken at J&L Aquatics, March 2019.

    Nevertheless, I think it's always important to show beginners what is possible and offer inspiration.

    So, with that in mind, here below you will find 15 before and after full tank shots to inspire you. These photos were taken from a thread on the forum. I have not included here all the photos posted in the original thread. But by all means go back and read through the thread to see all of them.

    We can't necessarily know just from a photo what the aquarist's husbandry practices are, but if you are a member of the forum, you can contact another member and ask them, if you like what you see. Many of the forum members also have build threads, where you read about everything about their systems from soup to nuts. (Joining the Reef2Reef forum is easy and free, by the way.)

    Try to appreciate each tank on its own and not compare tanks which are maturing at different speeds. There may be totally different corals in one tank over another. One tank might have been an upgrade from a smaller tank, so the water was already cycled and that tank had a jump start compared to others. Also, sometimes an aquarist has a problem and takes down and restarts a tank. So, tanks will never show identical growth except maybe in a laboratory.

    But go ahead and feast your eyes on these tanks below. And dream.

    "Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20


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    Photo 1 of 2.
    r2r1asmh254.jpg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @smh254, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.


    Photo 2 of 2. Time elapsed = 2 1/2 years.
    r2r1bsmh254.jpg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @smh254, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.


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    Photo 1 of 2.
    r2r1awvned.jpg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @WVNed, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Photo 2 of 2. Elapsed time = 13 months.
    r2r1bwvned.jpg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @WVNed, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

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    Photo 1 of 2.
    r2r1adangerdave.jpeg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @DangerDave, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.


    Photo 2 of 2. Time elapsed = 18 months
    r2r1bdangerdave.jpeg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @DangerDave, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

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    Photo 1 of 2.
    r2r1apongo.jpg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @Pongo, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.


    Photo 2 of 2. Time elapsed = 2 1/2 years.
    r2r1bpongo.jpg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @Pongo, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.


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    Photo 1 of 2.
    r2rspr19681a.jpg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @SPR1968, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.


    Photo 2 of 2. Elapsed time = 29 months.
    r2rspr19681b.jpg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @SPR1968, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.


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    Photo 1 of 2.

    r2rpassthetorch1a.jpeg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @PasstheTorch, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Photo 2 of 2. Elapsed time = 7 months
    r2rpassthetorch1b.jpeg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @PasstheTorch, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

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    Photo 1 of 2.
    r2rdolelo961a.jpeg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @Dolelo96, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Photo 2 of 2. Elapsed time = 22 months.
    r2rdolelo1b.jpeg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @Dolelo96, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

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    Photo 1 of 2.
    r2rdolelo2a.JPG
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @Dolelo96, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Photo 2 of 2. Elapsed time = 13 months.
    r2rdolelo2b.jpeg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @Dolelo96, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

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    Photo 1 of 2.

    r2rsuncrestreef1a.jpg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @SuncrestReef, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Photo 2 of 2. Elapsed time = 7 months.
    r2rsuncrestreef1b.jpg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @SuncrestReef, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

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    Photo 1 of 2.
    r2rhappyhourhero1a.jpg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @happyhourhero, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Photo 2 of 2. Elapsed time = 9 months
    r2rhappyhourhero1b.jpg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @happyhourhero, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

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    Photos 1 and 2 combined.
    r2rmcfly1ab.png
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @McFly, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

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    Photos 1 and 2 combined.
    r2rngoodermuth1a.jpg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @ngoodermuth, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

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    Photo 1 of 2.
    r2rhemmdog1a.jpeg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @Hemmdog, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Photo 2 of 2. Time elapsed = 7 months.
    r2rhemmdog1b.jpeg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @Hemmdog, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

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    Here's something unusual. A reef in a bowl. Who knew?

    Photo 1 of 2.
    r2r1abrandon429.jpg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @brandon429, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Photo 2 of 2. Elapsed time = 13 years.
    r2r1bbrandon429.jpg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @brandon429, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

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    Photo 1 of 2.
    r2r1aleadfooted.jpeg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @Leadfooted, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Photo 2 of 2. Time elapsed = 15 years, although @Leadfooted credits the improvement to his 2 years on R2R.

    r2r1bleadfooted.jpeg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @Leadfooted, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

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    I included this photo below as a cliffhanger. Here is the before. Who knows what the after will look like? We'll keep you posted.


    Photo 1 of 1.
    r2r1athisguyisextrasalty.jpeg
    Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @This guy is Extra Salty, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

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    We encourage all our readers to join the Reef2Reef forum. It’s easy to register, free, and reefkeeping is much easier and more fun in a community of fellow aquarists. We pride ourselves on a warm and family-friendly forum where everyone is welcome. You will also find lots of contests and giveaways with our sponsors.

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    Author Profile: Cynthia White

    Cynthia received her BA in English from NYU a long long time ago. She has been a freelance writer and editor for over 20 years. In 2018, she won the President's Award from the Professional Writers Association of Canada. Now she is a writer and editor on staff at R2R, where her forum nickname is @Seawitch. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband, three special-needs dogs, and three saltwater aquariums being set up. There's no activity in her tanks this week because of emergency water restrictions in her area.



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