Note from the Editor:

These profiles are only possible with the help and participation of aquarists willing to talk about their tanks and practices and answer a long stream of questions. Reef2Reef thanks @HotRocks for letting us profile him.

It's always interesting for readers to get to know the staff of Reef2Reef. @HotRocks is a staff member. He is good friends with @4FordFamily, another staff member, and they live near each other. As such, they work together on many experiments with quarantine and sick fish protocols to further our understanding of best practices and design new procedures as needed.

The photos below are all courtesy of @HotRocks ©2019, All Rights Reserved. Now you can hear him tell his story in his own words.



When I was a young child around the age of five, I had a few different freshwater tanks that were around 10-20 gallons. I kept goldfish and tetras for a couple of years. Of course, back 30 years ago equipment wasn't what it is today, and I hated cleaning my tanks, so, I eventually moved on to things like riding dirt bikes, flying remote control airplanes, and helicopters.

Fast forward to early 2017 (30 years later), I was at Jason's (@4FordFamily) helping install home audio speakers in his new house. Well, I saw his "fish tank". I asked a million questions. The one that stuck with me the most was when I asked how much it would cost to get into the hobby. His answer was "around 1500 bucks" for a 180 gallon. He forgot to tell me that was for a used system with no fish or coral in it! Lol.


Anyway he led me to R2R. I began researching and asking a million questions. Then I decided to purchase a Red Sea 750XXL for my first tank.

I knew I wanted several tangs and a few angels as well as wrasses. I was instantly hooked. My 750 houses eight tangs, a few dwarf angels, regal angel, and several wrasses including 7 species of the Macropharyngodon genus. It's also full of inexpensive softies and palys/zoas, as my main focus at the time was fish, and I didn't want to take any risk with expensive coral that could have been a potential fish snack!

Here's my build thread.

Once I was actively stocking my tank, I became interested in fish disease. I frequented the disease section of reef2reef and decided I hoped to never be one of the members posting pictures of diseased fish looking for advice. I dug deep into the forum and heeded much advice from Jason and decided since I desired to keep several "hard to keep" expert-level fish, quarantine was a must.

Interest quickly led to obsession, and I now have five quarantine tanks in my basement totalling 365 gallons. I enjoy taking sick fish in and nursing them back to health to live a long happy life in one of our glass boxes. Don't ask me why, I just do. I also enjoy spending time helping local hobbyists and other friends by prophylactically treating their new additions.


Early on I struggled with quarantine and was losing fish in copper. This led me to the discovery of the Hanna copper checker accurately reading the Cu level in seawater. This is now the preferred test method of most hobbyists using copper to treat fish.

I have to give credit to Jason and Bobby Miller for guiding me along the way as well as pushing me to learn more and be the best I can be at QT'ing fish. We are constantly testing new methods and treatments for the betterment of the hobby.

I enjoy frequenting the disease forum and helping people diagnose and treat their fish. I look at it as a way to pay it forward for all that I have gained from R2R.

I have also had the pleasure of handling the treatment of almost all of the common and not so common fish in the hobby in the few years I have been at this. I have treated in the upwards of 300+ fish. Most of this is owed to Jason and the stocking of his 500-gallon in-wall system in addition to my systems. I have had the pleasure of treating all of his fish prophylactically that live in that system today. I also helped engineer and build the tank which was a chore.


All of my fish are/have been treated prophylactically using my protocol (or a slight variation of it) that I wrote for the disease forum here. I also quarantine all corals and inverts before adding them to the display tank by keeping them in a fallow (fish-less) system for 76 days before introducing them to any system that houses fish.

The biggest mistake I have made is probably the same mistake everyone makes at least once. I move too fast, push the limits, push stocking heavily, and these are all things that can come back to bite you in one way or another.

My advice to anyone just joining the hobby is to research any and all desired tank additions. Save yourself some trouble, and start off with a tank that meets the needs of your desired fish list. If the largest fish you want requires a tank of 180 gallons start off with a 220.

I only have one way of doing things and it's all or nothing, to a fault. It can really cause aggravatingly expensive lessons in this hobby. So take your time!


My philosophy of reefkeeping is hard to put into words. I like to keep things simple. Don't make this hobby so much work that it becomes something you can no longer enjoy. Only purchase equipment that is necessary for the type of livestock you desire to keep.

The more equipment you add the more maintenance is required and things that can go wrong will go wrong and cause issues. IMO quarantine is a must with the current state of the marine-trade distribution system.

I have adapted this philosophy a bit with my newest tank which is a red Sea Reefer 425XL that is strictly for keeping Acropora coral. I have only been keeping Acropora corals and other SPS (small polyp stony) for a few months, and it does require additional equipment to get the job done properly. I was inspired to build this tank by going to a local frag swap this spring and getting a nasty bug bite. The coral bug. As I stated previously I only know one way of doing something, all in, so here we are. More info in this build thread below:


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.


Editor 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. Now she is a writer and editor on staff at R2R, where her forum nickname is @Seawitch.
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