Reef Spotlight Reef of the Month, March 2019, @samparker

March 2019 Reef of the Month belongs to @samparker.
  1. Display Tank.
    r2rrotmsp9full tank2.JPG
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    We are delighted to announce our March 2019 Reef of the Month belongs to our forum member, samparker, from Australia. samparker has a beautiful reef which you will see below. Sam has six tanks plumbed together in a daisy chain. He uses an automatic water change setup that moves a little water from one tank to the next 155 times a day.

    Main display - 850 litres
    Soft Coral tank - 130 litres
    Frag tank 1 - 250 litres
    Clownfish Harem - 250 litres
    Frag tank 2 - 600 litres
    Predator Pico - 90 litres = total 2170 liters or about 570 gallons.

    He has an interesting build thread, which we highly recommend reading, also. We have all of his tank information below, some spectacular photos of his reef, and his answers to some of our questions.



    Twinspot Hogfish, Bodianus bimaculatus, "Harley"
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Display tank: 6x2.5x2 Mixed Aussie Reef (170 gallon)

    Glass or Acrylic: Glass

    Stand: Custom timber build

    Sump: 4x18x18 custom racetrack (65 gallon)

    Grow-out tank: 2.5x2.5 frag tank (90 gallon) plus a 5x2x2 frag tank (150 gallon)

    Protein skimmer: RLSS R10 Skimmer

    Carbon/phosphate filtration: Aquaforest GFO

    Return pump: Abyzz A200

    Water circulation: 2xMp40 Vortechs, 6xTunze (various sizes)

    Lighting (display): 2x400w Radium Metal halides and 3xKessil A360X

    Lighting (grow-out):250w Radium Metal Halides

    Calcium/alkalinity/magnesium dosing: Geo Calcium reactor and KH Guardian

    Kalkwasser reactor: MRC Kalkwasser reactor

    Auto top-off: Spectrapure UPLC2

    Heating/cooling: Eheim Jager heaters and clip on desk fans

    System control: Various self-made devices

    Water Circulation and Flow Summary and Objectives:

    I like a lot of points of flow, but not a huge amount of flow. I run 2xgyres, 2xmp40, 2x big tunze and 3xsmall tunze in my display. None of which are running all that hard though.

    Sump below display tank.
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Daughter of @samparker helping set up equipment.
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Water Parameters:

    * Temp: 25C
    * pH: 8.1
    * Specific gravity: 1.026
    * NO3: 0.75ppm
    * Ca: 420ppm
    * Alk: 7.5Dkh
    * Mg: 1350
    * PO4: 0.05
    * Ammonia and nitrites: not detectable

    @samparker's favorite blue/green SPS, unnamed.
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Lighting Summary and Objectives:

    * Display tank: 12 hours
    * Grow-out tank: 10 hours

    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Filtration and Water Quality Summary and Objectives:

    I’m a big believer in automation where possible. Despite that, I don’t like the current aquarium controllers on the market so have had to make do with various components myself. I run the following automations:

    Litermeter 3 automatic water changes using NSW that is delivered without needing any involvement from me. I can literally not touch water in my tanks if I don’t want to and still do 20-liter water changes every day.

    Flame Hawkfishes and clown hanging out in some coral.
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    STC-1000 temperature controller

    Auto top off unit (spectrapure UPLC2)

    My own build of RODI reservoir automatic refiller

    Skimmer neck cleaner (Avast swabby)

    Skimmer is plumbed to the drain so that it doesn’t need to be manually emptied

    Large GEO calcium reactor to do the bulk of alk/cal/mag supplements

    Kamoer doser for some trace elements

    Syringe dosers for ultra precise trace element dosing

    KH Guardian to monitor and maintain steady alkalinity levels

    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    As I have a mixed reef, I don’t aim for ULNS, but I like to keep parameters around the following:
    Phos: 0.04
    Nitrate: 0.5

    Alk: 7.5
    Calcium: 420
    Mag: 1350
    Potassium: 400

    I also like to run a lot of amino acids and also am a big fan of the coral essentials “black label” supplements made in Australia.

    Red Ricordea (false) coral.
    r2rrotmsp15red ric.jpg
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Tank Inhabitants—Fish:

    1. Prius – hybrid angel (Tigerpyge)
    2. Colin – foxface
    3. Cole- Kole Tang
    4. Prince – Purple Tang
    5. Cleo – Pyramid Butterfly
    6. Jack and Jill – Blue throat trigger pair
    7. Helen and Troy – Picasso clown pair
    8. Buddy and Jessinta – Flame hawk pair
    9. Bill and Billie – Bangaii cardinal pair
    10. School of glass cardinals
    11. School of blue/green chromis
    12. School of lyretail anthais
    13. Harley – twin spot hogfish

    Glass cardinals, Apogon leptacanthus.
    r2rrotmsp13glass cardinals.jpg
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Tank Inhabitants—


    In Australia, we are not allowed to import coral for overseas, so we can only use coral native to our oceans. Thankfully, that is still a pretty handy list!

    1. My main showpiece is my large “Dallas” Staghorn coral.
    2. Next up would be my large green digi cap.
    3. After that there is a bunch of various SPS, LPS and softcorals.

    Evolution of display tank over three years.
    r2rrotmsp10progress first 3 years.JPG
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Fish and Coral Feeding:

    I feed frozen food and a range of aquaforest dry foods once a day.

    Zoanthid "sunny-d."
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Who was responsible for getting you into the hobby?

    My brother-in-law opened up a pet store, and I went to the grand opening to support him. Ended up buying a 9-liter freshwater tank and fell in love with the hobby. Decided I wanted to do marine, but figured I should try my hand at something small first and picked up a second hand RedSea Max 130. About six months after setting it up, I decided to build my custom tank.

    Kole tang, Ctenochaetus strigosus
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Can you tell me about your evolution as an aquarist?

    I’ve only kept fish of any description for about 6 years now, so still consider myself a newbie to the hobby. That being said, sadly, too many don’t get past 1-2 years so I guess I am a veteran! I am fairly passionate any hobby I get involved with, so it was no surprise that I picked up a lot of the concepts and technology that goes hand in hand with reefkeeping fairly quickly.

    Clowns and their eggs.
    r2rrotmsp12clowns eggs2.jpg
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Do you have a "philosophy"?

    My philosophy is to automate anything you can on the tank, especially tasks you do not enjoy. It is a given that you will have a bad week at work, a family emergency or even illness that will stop you doing what you normally do on your tank at some point in time. The more prepared you are for this inevitable moment, the more likely you are to succeed.

    "Boysenberry" coral.
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Can you tell us about any special big successes or big mistakes?

    I put a huge amount of success on my tank down to three major items: 1. Automatic water changes, 2. Calcium reactor and 3. Metal Halide lights with Radium bulbs

    Pink bounce mushroom coral.
    r2rrotmsp16pink bounce.jpg
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Any big problems?

    I currently have six tanks and want to setup another… That is my problem

    Do you quarantine your livestock?

    I don't quarantine myself, but I only buy fish from one local fish store (DeerPark aquarium) who only sell me healthy fish.

    Cyphastrea coral.
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    I noticed in the build thread that you use natural sea water (NSW). Do you treat it before using it?

    Yes, I use natural salt water. It is collected by a local in my town who has been in the hobby for many years. He collects and processes water before deliver, but the processing method is a trade secret. :)

    How long have you been doing this?

    6 years total, never kept a goldfish before then!

    Male blue throat trigger fish.
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

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

    I have so many influencers in the hobby it would be unfair to name any individual. That being said, my local fish store owner “Dave” has never steered me wrong and I have no doubt I would be nowhere without him.

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

    My tank has now been running for 5 years and is fairly full. I intend to let it run its course for another few years before starting up a new setup. Only thing I’d really change is to go for a more minimal scape and grow everything from frags. (That seems to be the current trend!)

    Bubble coral.
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Any advice for beginners?

    Be realistic with what you can/want to spend on the tank in both time and money. Don’t kid yourself with this at the start or you will only get disappointed in the long run. Even if you set a modest goal, you can always surpass it. If you set an unrealistic goal, you will just resent your tank every time you look at it.

    Toxic birdsnest coral.
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Tell me about any else you think is important.

    I’m starting to get some traction with my “Parkers Reef” youtube channel and are really enjoying the positive feedback it gets. It’s great to be able to use the internet to put faces to people’s names and generally make the hobby a bit more sociable.

    Blue chromis, Chromis viridis.
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Final Thoughts?

    It’s an amazing hobby, so challenging yet so rewarding. Find a quality local fish store (doesn’t have to be the closest to you!) and build a connection with them. It will make your reefing life a million times easier if you do.

    Rose Bubble Tip Anemone.
    r2rrotmsp8rose bubble tip.jpg
    Photos are all courtesy of @samparker, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    A recent video of the display tank:


    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.


    Reef2Reef thanks @samparker for sharing his tank with us, answering detailed questions, and allowing us to use his beautiful photos in order to make Reef of the Month a regular feature.

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