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Ian Cosford's Zoa-Dominated Reef
R2R Username: @iancosford



Hi my name is Ian. I'm from the UK, and this is my third tank.

First, thanks for featuring me as tank of the month. Although I don't post on Reef2Reef, I do use it as a tool for advice and information. I've seen the other tanks of month and am amazed to be included. I'm very active on the Facebook groups, but I mainly post pictures on Instagram under the name @iansreef (find Ian on Instagram HERE). I started posting on Instagram a couple of years ago and have built up a good following.

I'm a huge fan of Aquaforest and GHL. Both companies have helped me so much, and I'm very grateful.

I love the hobby and being part of the community and have made some great friends. I've had my bad moments and came close to giving up at one point due to dinoflagellates, but I worked through it and now can't imagine not having a reef tank!


System Profile:
  • Display tank: Aquaforest Oceanguard 435 (310 litres/82 gallons)
  • Glass or Acrylic: Glass
  • Stand: Aquaforest
  • Sump: Aquaforest PVC
  • Protein skimmer: Reef Octopus 110sss
  • Carbon/phosphate filtration: Aquaforest Carbon/Aquaforest Phosphate Minus
  • Return pump: Currently Ecotech Vectra S2 (but changing to GHL Versia Flow 6.0)
  • Water circulation: 2 x AI Nero 5 and 1 x AI Nero 3 (but changing to GHL Versia Stream either 2 or 3)
  • Lighting: 2 x GHL Mitras LX7206
  • Calcium/alkalinity/magnesium dosing equipment: GHL KH Director and Doser 2.1
  • Auto top-off: Tunze 3155
  • Heating/cooling: 2 x V2 Therm 200 watt
  • System control: GHL Profilux P4
  • Any other details: Deltec 20 watt UV sterilizer, Aquaforest Air scrubber

Water Circulation and Flow Summary and Objectives: I have about 60 times volume turnover per hour with lots of random flow.

Water Parameters:
  • Temp: 26 °C
  • pH: 8.0 - 8.2
  • Specific gravity: 1.026
  • NO3: 5-10
  • Ca: 415
  • Alk: 7.7-8.0
  • Mg: 1350
  • PO4: 0.06 - 0.1
  • Ammonia and nitrites: 0

What salt mix do you use?

I'm using Aquaforest Reef Salt atm, but I'm going to try Aquaforest Hybrid Pro Salt soon. I've tried a few, but Aquaforest gives me the consistency I need. I've been a bit lazy with water changes and haven't done one for 6 months. I'm aiming to start again soon with the help of a GHL Maxi Doser 2.2 as I can just program and leave it.

What kind of rock did you start with (live, dry, combination)? Aquaforest AF rock glued with Aquaforest Stonefix.

What is your substrate? Aquaforest Bio Sand. In some of the pictures it looks like I don't have a lot but my Goby moves it all to the back of the tank.


Calcium/Alkalinity/Magnesium Summary and Objectives: I use the balling method (3 parts dosed equally), so I let the tank find its own levels to a point.

What and how do you dose for the big 3 (alk/cal/mag)? Aquaforest Components Pro

Are you dosing anything else for your reef health (carbon dosing, aminos, etc.)? I dose Aquaforest NitraPhos Minus (carbon dosing) and occasionally add some Aquaforest Phosphate Minus (GFO) and Aquaforest ABEV for coral health.


Lighting Summary and Objectives: 2x GHL Mitras LX7206. After seeing these on a friends tank, I was blown away.

Photoperiod: 9 AM to 10 PM with a couple of hours ramp up each side.


What is your export strategy? I use Aquaforest Nitraphos Minus at 8 ml a day. Occasionally I have to add some Aquaforest Phosphate Minus as well if PO4 creeps up.

What is your maintenance routine?
  • Daily: check stock, clean glass, hand dose iodine and manganese
  • Weekly: fill ro reservoir, check pumps and equipment, empty skimmer and test parameters.
  • Other: clean all pumps every 6 months, clean skimmer, change UV bulb, check dosing pumps

Tank Inhabitants—Fish:
  • Yellow tang
  • A pair of Ocellaris Clowns
  • Midas Blenny
  • Blue Cheeked Goby
  • 2 Silver Bellied Wrasses
  • Cardinal
  • Mandarin
  • Longnose Hawkfish


Other Invertebrates:
  • Cleaner shrimp
  • Fire shrimp
  • Peppermint shrimp
  • Brittle starfish
  • Fromia starfish
  • Various snails
  • Hermit crabs
Tank Inhabitants— Corals:

Probably too many to mention individually, but I consider the tank to be a zoa-dominated mixed reef. I've just started getting into Acropora, and mostly they are doing well. I also have a soft spot for Goniopora.



















Fish and Coral Feeding:

I feed the fish 2 cubes of frozen food every other day. The other days I feed Aquaforest Liquid Mysis and Aquaforest Liquid Artemia. I feed the corals Aquaforest Power food and Aquaforest Zoa food twice a week.

How did you decide what to keep in your tank?

Just by learning over the years what can live with what. I like to have a balance of movement and colour.


Any stocking regrets?

Torches. I still have 3, but don't think I'll add anymore. I seem to do well with them at first, but then for some reason I've yet to work out they bail.

Any fish, invert, or coral you will NEVER keep?

I used to have a collection of scolies but just struggled to feed them enough. In the end, I moved them on.

What do you love most about the hobby?

Definitely the community around it. I've met so many great people that I consider friends through the hobby.


How long have you been doing this?

Just over 5 years now.

Who was responsible for getting you into the hobby?

I kept freshwater fish and always loved the marine section at my fish store. I did some research and decided to take the plunge.


Who or what in the hobby most influences/inspires you?

So many reefers. I post mainly on Instagram. I've been inspired by so many tanks on there. For example:


There's too many to thank who have gave me great advice and helped me through problems, but you know who you are.

If you could have any tank, what size would it be and why?

A 200cm x 100cm x 50 cm peninsula.

Favorite fish?

Yellow tang. Unfortunately, mine is getting too big now, so I will have to swap him. It's the fish I always wanted.


Favorite coral?

Zoas! I've given up on the more expensive ones as they seem to either thrive or melt.


Favorite invert?

Definitely my cleaner shrimp. My 2 daughters love seeing him clean my hand in the tank.

How do you typically get over setbacks?

I speak to my friends on Instagram. It's a great community with people alway willing to help. I moan at my wife when something is going wrong. She deserves a medal!

Have you faced any major challenges with this particular tank, and if so, how did you overcome?

I had a temporary thermometer when I started this tank which cracked and all the ballast (tiny metal balls) fell into the sand. Next couple of ICP tests came back with elevated levels of metal. I lost some stock to this and the tank struggled for awhile. Another time, I lost all the torches. To this day, I don't know why. No Brown jelly. No pests. ICP on point.


What's the best thing you ever bought for your tank?

Yellow Tang

What are your future plans for improvement/upgrade of the tank?

Unfortunately, due to space and time I cannot upgrade from this tank, but I'm always fragging and swapping corals. I plan to rescape the top of my tank for maybe a couple more acropora. My 2 daughters (3 and 5 years old) are really taking an interest, and I love teaching them the names of all the different corals

Any special tips for success or advice you'd like to share with other reefers?

Stability is the key. I'm a bit of a hypocrite, but don't rush. You need a whole load of patience. Also, find a tank you like and ask for advice. This is the best hobby for people helping people.


Final Thoughts?

I'd like to thank a couple of people. Ash Sewry-Griffiths is always a big help, and we chat most days about reefs and everything else. Also, Ian Sargent who is always there to help. I'm very lucky to have one of the best zoa supplier's not far from me. Joe from Ocean Blue Coral has always had the best and healthiest Zoas and is great for advice. I also have a great LFS, ReefKeeper Rugby, who have the most amazing selection of fish and corals.

I'm just a painter and decorator with a passion for this great hobby. If I can do it, anyone can. When it's all going wrong, reach out and ask for advice. So many good people are willing to help!

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