Reef Spotlight - September 2011 - "Luisgo"

My name is Luis Gonzalez and I live in Puerto Rico, the most amazing island in the Caribbean. First, I have to say that it is an honor that the...
  1. EDITOR'S NOTE: The pics in this article were updated based on the member's build thread due to original photos posted in article being lost from server.

    REEF SPOTLIGHT - September 2011

    The Reef Aquarium of:

    Luis Gonzalez aka "Luisgo"


    My name is Luis Gonzalez and I live in Puerto Rico, the most amazing island in the Caribbean. First, I have to say that it is an honor that the mods selected my tank for the Reef Spotlight and to share it with fellow reefers atReef2Reef. In some ways it is a surprise because of the current trend to keep SPS corals. I love soft corals and LPS but for some reason I am starting to like SPS as well.

    My first saltwater tank was setup in 1990 and all of the rocks and corals were collected from the reef. Today I have the same rock from that tank. In those days without the internet, information to setup a reef aquarium was limited to a couple of books and magazines, no forums!

    My original tank was a 100 gallon and I had many leaks and hurricanes affecting it during the first ten years, but the tank continued with ups and downs. In 1999 I transferred all of the rock and corals to a new 125 gallon which I have today. In 2005 I moved the tank to where it is today.

    In February of this year after five years of coral growth it was almost impossible to maintain good water quality due to the size of the corals and the war between them. Some corals were getting out of the water! For that reason, I decided to start all over again and some major changes were made in water flow, filtration, lighting and coral placement.

    Who was responsible for getting you into the hobby?
    I have to say that the ocean was responsible for me to get in this hobby. I have the Atlantic Ocean in the north and the Caribbean Sea in the south. I live 5 minutes from the ocean and since I was a kid I fell in love with it. Snorkeling at the reef was my inspiration for having a reef tank.

    How long have you been doing this?
    Although I started with saltwater in 1990, I had several freshwater tanks before. I remember when I was 10 years old going to the river to catch guppies and having hundreds of them in a small tank. Today, at 55 years old, I have four tanks and one is a planted aquarium with Discus.

    Who or what in the hobby most influences/inspires you?
    Books by Albert Thiel, Martin Moe, Julian Sprung, Charles Delbeek, Svein Fossa, and Alf Jacob Nilsen among others were my inspiration when I started.

    FTS from Jan 2010

    FTS from October 2011

    System Profile

    Display tank: 125-gallon All Glass aquarium, which measures 72" x 18" x 22"
    Glass or Acrylic: Glass

    Stand: Originally, the stand was a steel frame, but when the tank was moved I constructed a wooden cabinet with doors built around the metal frame.
    Sump: DIY acrylic, 29" long, 15" high and 12" deep and holds around 5 gallon of water.

    Protein Skimmer: SWC Xtreme 200 with a Bubble Blaster HY-3000 pump
    Carbon/phosphate filtration: TLF Hydrocarbon in a Simplicity fluidized bed chemical reactor, Phosban in a TLF150 reactor and 400 ml of NP Biopellets in a TLF 550 reactor
    Return Pump: Little Giant 4-MDQ-SC Quarium Pump (810Gph) that supplies water to all reactors, passes through the chiller, and returns to the tank.
    Water circulation: Little Giant 4 MDQX-SC (1225 gph) closed loop and no powerheads.
    Lighting: 2 –20K 175w Plurite Metal Halides, 2 – 160 watt VHOs, 1 – Reefbrite blue led strip 48", and a Digikit 72" moonlight strip.
    Calcium/alkalinity/magnesium dosing: Ecoplus calcium reactor with ARM coarse media and using a Milwaukee PH controller for CO2 dosing. I don’t do any Mag dosing.
    Auto top-off: Automatic Top Off with Ultra Life Adjustable float switch, 5-gallon RO/DI reservoir with Aqualifter pump.
    Heating/cooling: Current USA Tower chiller
    System control: Timers for the lights and a multi switch to turn on and off some of the equipment.

    Water Circulation and Flow Summary and Objectives
    I have three Lockline spraybars. The one in the left is the return from the sump. The one in the center, right and a ¾" flare at the bottom of the tank are part of a closed loop powered by a Little Giant pump 4 MDQX–SC (1225 gph). All live rock is placed on an eggcrate platform and the tank is bare bottom. There are no powerheads or other pumps in my system. No random flow.

    Water Parameters:
    * Temp: 80
    * pH: 8.0-8.2
    * Specific gravity: 1.025
    * NO3: undetectable (Elos)
    * Ca: 450 ppm
    * Alk: 8 dKH
    * Mg: I don’t test Mg
    * PO4: 0.03 (Hannah Checker)
    * Ammonia and nitrites: undetectable

    Lighting Summary and Objectives:
    3:00 PM: Reefbrite ON
    4:00 PM: VHOs ON
    5:00 PM: Metal Halides ON
    11:00 PM: Metal Halides OFF
    12:00 AM: VHOs OFF
    1:00 AM: Reefbrite OFF
    1:00 AM – 3:00 PM: Moonlights ON


    Filtration and Water Quality Summary and Objectives:
    In my sump, I have all of the reactors, my skimmer and Chaeto algae with a clip light running 24/7 with a 23 watt spiral 6,500k bulb. My overflow is an Eshopps with two sponges to pre-filter the water going to the sump. I perform 32 gallon (25%) monthly water changes, using Coralife salt and adjust it for temperature and salinity by mixing with a pump 24 hours before the change.

    Tank Inhabitants—Fish:

    Blue Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus)
    Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)
    Purple Firefish (Nemateleotris decora)
    Tomato Clown (Amphirion frenatus)
    Pajama Cardinal (Sphaeramia nematoptera)
    Coral Beauty Angel (Centropyge bispinosa)
    Purple Stripe Dottyback (Pseudochromis didema)
    Spawning pair of Oscellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)
    fish blenny.jpg

    fish yt.jpg

    fish bt.jpg

    fish clown.jpg

    fish clown2.jpg

    fish clownbabies.jpg

    fish sailfin.jpg

    Tank Inhabitants—Other Invertebrates:
    Crocea Clam (Tridacna crocea)
    Blue Leg Hermit Crabs (Clibanarius tricolor)
    Astrea snails (Astraea tecta)
    Fire Shrimp (Lysmata debelius)
    Banded Coral Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus)

    Tank Inhabitants— Corals:
    Soft Corals: Tree leather, Green Star Polyps, Gorgonians, assorted zoanthids and lots of mushrooms!
    LPS –Bubble, Cactus coral (Pavona), Elegance, Candy Cane, Frogspawn, Plate (Fungia), Acans, Lobophyllia, Brains,
    SPS – Green Birdsnest, Red Planet, Steve Elias Acropora, Montipora Digitata, green, red, purple and brown Montipora Capricornis.


    coral brain.jpg


    coral pulsers.jpg

    coral trumpets.jpg


    coral monti.jpg

    coral acro.jpg

    Fish and Coral Feeding:
    For the fish, I feed a variety of the following foods twice a day; New Life Spectrum pellets mixed with Seachem Garlic Guard, Frozen Brine shrimp, Roger’s Reef Food, and TLF Green Sea Veggies. For corals, I target feed weekly with the pumps off using 1/4 tsp of Coral Frenzy mixed with water and shredded shrimp for the LPS. I also use Seachem Reef Plus (aminos,vitamins, etc.), Reef Trace, TLF Marine Snow (Phyto,Zooplankton, etc.), and 1 drop of Lugols Solution daily.


    I have a Logitech webcam to watch my tank from my office, where I have some of my other tanks. Some of the photos are not current, but some are. The address is:

    I love photography and that is why you see the quality of my photos. I use a Nikon DSLR D60 with a 18-105mm zoom and a Nikon 105mm manual macro lens. I also use extension tubes for even closer shots as well as a tripod.

    What are your future plans for improvement/upgrade of the tank?
    I just recently upgraded my tank and for the moment, I just want to watch it grow. I think that my tank needs one or two years to reach its best as it was before the latest upgrade.

    fts 2013.jpg
    Updated FTS from 2013 (2 years after the original posting of this article) to show how tank progressed

    Final Thoughts?
    During the last 21 years, there have been many different approaches to reef keeping. I have used many of them including no skimmer, hang on skimmers, big skimmers, sumps, bioballs, different lighting systems, ozone, etc. I started with all the gadgets and then decided to go natural and simple and lately a little more complicated, but I think that all approaches work depending on the livestock you want to maintain.

    In closing, I would like to thank my fellow reefers at AMEPR (our local Puerto Rico forum) for sharing with me this excellent hobby and to my wife, Nancy, for all these years of understanding my passion.

    Updated tank video from 2013 (after initial article was posted)

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