Forum member @cancun has had reef tanks for the past six years. Because of either extraordinary skill or extraordinary luck or some combination, during those six years, she has had very few problems with her tanks. This is her story. She also has a terrific build thread you can read.

All the photos below are courtesy of @cancun, and used with permission, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

Former 80-gallon tank.

Current Stock List in New Tank Below

1. Red Coris wrasse
2. Earmuff wrasse
3. Yellow Coris wrasse X 2
4. Blue star leopard wrasse X 2
5. Meleagris leopard wrasse X 2
6. Moyer's leopard wrasse
7. Male melanurus wrasse
8. Solar fairy wrasse
9. Purple tang
10. Flametail blenny
11. Flame angel
12. Midas blenny (new)

Tank Parameters

NH3/NH4 - 0
NO3 - 5ppm
NO2 - 0
pH - 8.3
KH - 11.5
CA - 420

I use Red Sea Coral Pro salt...and have for at least 5 years.

My PAR is a little less than in my SR80 because it wasn't as deep. I get 200 at the sand level.

Unpacking new tank.

When did you set up your first tank?

First I always wanted to be a marine biologist since I was five years old. My parents took me snorkeling in Akumal, Mexico a few years later, and my love of all things ocean grew. Fast forward many years. In July 2013 I decided a hobby would do me good. My husband and I are avid scuba divers and love the ocean. I always wanted a saltwater aquarium.

I set up my first tank in July 2013 to see how I liked it. It was a 29-gallon Biocube. I had a mixed reef, one clownfish, six-line wrasse, coral beauty, and a pink spotted goby. I was not successful at keeping anemones in that tank. It was a huge learning experience for me. Keeping good water parameters while learning about saltwater chemistry, fish, inverts, and coral was a real challenge. I read tons of books and learned everything I could. I loved it. I checked my water daily, and bought RODI water and salt water from my LFS. Had some up and downs but no disease issues or disasters to report.

So in June 2014, a year later, I upgraded to an Innovative Marine SR 80. It was a 80-gallon AIO tank, 4 feet long and 16 inches deep. In that tank I was able to really learn and master caring for more difficult fish species such as leopard wrasses, carpet anemones, and clams.

When I first set up my 80 gallon I was still buying RODI water and salt water from my LFS. In 2016, I started making my own RODI water and saltwater using Red Sea Coral Pro salt. At that time my knowledge of water chemistry really took off. It was so much easier to maintain stable water parameters when making your own water.

Then, in January 2019, I upgraded to the Red Sea Reefer 750 [liter] XXL. Which is 200 gallons total. 160 in the display and a 40-gallon sump. I absolutely love having a sump and a larger tank. All of my fish came with me from the 80 gallon to the Red Sea Reefer. Including my corals. I did add a second Moyer's leopard wrasse, a flame angelfish, and a China wrasse. I also added two new Acan colonies.

Tell me about your philosophy of reefkeeping.

My philosophy about reef keeping is to read, read, and read some more. I have tons of books I read and reference. I also believe in consistent tank maintenance. I love my LFS, they are great and have a wealth of information. However you have to keep in mind they are also running a business. So always research fish, inverts, etc. on your own.

I do a 10% water change every single Sunday. I never miss a water change. I don't over stock, over stocking even a 200 gallon leads to fish aggression, and poor water conditions. I also am a bit OCD when it comes to clean glass on my tank... LOL. Watch your tank every day. Just sit in front of your tank and observe your fish and coral on a daily basis. While doing that check your tank thermometers to make sure everything is functioning properly. It is just a daily routine that I do, and it is actually very relaxing and enjoyable.

Moving everyone into the new tank. January, 2019.

Do you quarantine?

No, I am one of the few that does not quarantine. Years ago when I had my 80 gallon, I gave it a try and lost the fish in quarantine. They weren't sick either. I buy fish from only one LFS in my area. They are more expensive than most other LFS in my area, but their healthy fish are worth it. I NEVER buy fish or other livestock online. Also I only buy fish out of their coral tanks because their salinity is 1.025 which matches mine. I still drip the fish 45 minutes before putting in my tank though. I feed my fish a cube of Mysis twice a day, and two sheets of Nori. I soak the second cube in Selcon each day.

New Red Sea Reefer 750 XXL March, 2019.

Tell me about the ups and downs--any big mistakes or big problems or big happy surprises?

When I had my 80, I had a few months where I decided to try ordering online. Every fish I tried died within a few days after acclimation. I couldn't figure it out. I was so upset. It turned out their salinity was a lot lower than mine. I even followed their step by step acclimation instructions. I figured out there is no way you can raise salinity on a fish from 1.018 to 1.025 in one to three hours following their instructions. I learned a hard lesson. That was back in December 2015 through February 2016. I almost got out of the hobby I love because of that.

Cyanobacteria is another one. I had that issue in 2017 in the 80 gallon. I tried everything: siphoning, large water changes, and nothing worked. Then I tried Chemiclean. Follow the scoop per 10 gallons, remove carbon, leave skimmer running, and do a 20% water change in 48 hours. All gone!

An anemone.

The last issue I had was last June, I had a bacterial infection in my tank that killed a tank-bred Singapore angel, a bicolor angel, a Midas blenny, and a Potter's leopard wrasse. All were long-time residents. I am not even sure what happened.

I always keep spare heaters on hand and had them go out from time to time. No other issues that weren't easily fixed. My husband is handy at fixes.

New Midas blenny.

My happy surprise in my 80 I was to be able to successfully combine 2 yellow Coris wrasses, 2 blue star leopard wrasses, 2 Meleagris leopards, and 2 Moyer's leopards. I added them at different times, not at the same time. I was happy that it worked out! I have 14 wrasses in my tank, and I am thrilled how peaceful my tank is. Mixing wrasses is very difficult, so it took me several years to gain enough experience to be able to do it. Remember the six line from my Biocube? In my 80 he turned into a nightmare fish. I rehomed him. Then I had a blueside fairy wrasse and checkerboard wrasse that did the same thing. Also a blue headed wrasse that killed my old China wrasse. So I learned a lot since then. No Thalassoma wrasses and no lined wrasses in my tank!!!!

New Red Sea Reefer 750 XXL end March, 2019. Everything is stable 60+ days after set up.

Any future plans for the tank?

No big plans for the tank....but as far as livestock, I plan at some point to add a Red Sea regal angelfish and a Kuiter's leopard wrasse. Also, I will add some more Acan colonies when I see some I like. I don't add frags at all, I save my money and buy colonies.

Video of the new tank.


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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.