GazuntaiReef - 280G Mixed Reef - Algae Turf Scrubber as main Filtration from 2007


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May 18, 2019
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Hello everyone,
My name is David and I live in Manchester, England.
Thanks for stopping by my GazuntaiReef build thread!


I use Core7 Triton method to maintain most of my parameters.
The aquarium is around 280 Gallons.
Lightly stocked at the moment with both hard and soft corals and filter feeders.
17+ fish mostly small and middle sized fish, 2 large Tangs.
The Nutrient Cycling and Export AKA filtration:
2x Algae Turf Scrubbers run for 12 hours each ATS1-54watts=8am-8pm, ATS2-72 watts=8pm-8am.
Cryptic Sump Refugium (Not lit)
Cryptic Hang-On Back Refugium (Not lit)
Skimmer in Sump - Skimmate never collected (just skims back into the sump)
C02 Scrubber feeds Skimmer
No Water Change
Daily add of Strontium.
Weekly addition of Vanadium, Manganese and other as required from ICP test suggestions.
Triton IPC around every 3 to 4 months. Dosing additional recommendations after their instructions.

I have been a member of this fantastic forum May 2019 and I feel its about time I started a thread. I have learned a lot from the many experienced reefers here and hope you can help me improve on my skills as I document my journey, which started in 2007 when I still had hair :)

This is how my system looks today:

Below is a summary of my system and I would like to hear your thoughts/recommendations/suggestions.
Over the next few weeks I will provide specific details of each component of my mixed reef system, but for now…


…A Brief History in time …

My original idea in 2007 was for a planted Discus tank. I already had a 110 gallon Discuss system that was also filtered by a sump, an usual setup even in those days. But this system was so stable it was a doodle to maintain, especially for those who know the finicky requirements Discus fish have. But at this time I also had a 55 gallon saltwater softie and fish reef tank and I found myself drawn to the Salty water side of the hobby. So the original specs for what I have now was not for a salt water tank. This means that I have had to deal with some design limitations, for example the tank originally did not come drilled (I had to do that myself), the hang-on back refugium was not in the original design.
In the end I decided to setup a saltwater reef tank instead of the Discus tank and the rest is history.

Coming from a planted fresh water aquarium background, I had already realised the benefit of plants in nutrient export and cycling and I wanted to replicate this in my salt water system. I have experimented with various types of algae systems from the standard refugium’s to algae grown on troughs and waterfall design for my 55 gallon.
Fast forward today and in summary my current system runs primarily on two waterfall Algae Turf Scrubbers (ATS) as my main nutrient cycling and export mechanism. I am also increasing my sponges population and variety as I try to make them the 1st nutrient cycling component of my reef. I have always relied more on natural filtration for my tanks.
From July 2020, I now run a skimmer but the skimmate goes right back into the sump. I run the skimmer to add oxygen to the tank and to act as an emergency in case I need to quickly remove excess organics. I had some spawning last year and the ATS just about handled it. I can’t risk my tank being nuked by a larger spawning event as I have seen happen to a few reefers.

Currently I run on Triton CORE7. This is because it works for my little to Zero water change method and it feeds my ATS the required nutrients pretty well. When you think about it, the Triton method is nothing more than major, minor and trace element replenishment, period! Everything else is purely a recommendation, and adaptation to the particular life in your tank system is up to you.

System Overview:
Total Volume = 280 gallons (approx). With displacement it’s probably about 220G.

All measurements for DT are internal. When I had this spec’d out, I insisted that the internal dimensions of the DT/Sump/Fug were built to the measurements below. Unusual because most people spec out dimensions based on the external measurements.

Main Display Tank (DT): Acrylic custom build
Width: 142cm (55.91")
Height: 92cm (36.22")
Depth: Centre 80cm (31.5”), ends 60cm (23.29”)
Tank's volume is 783,840.0 cubic centimeters or 862.2 liters, which is approximately 227.5 US gallons.

My tank is built like a tank with 25mm thick sides and bottom. The top bracing is 22mm.

Originally the tank did not come drilled, a mistake on my part. I Drilled the 1x return and 2x overflow holes myself. I also drilled the closed loop system myself, with one centrally placed inlet that goes into the Vectra L1 in the sump, and 4 returns, 2 on either side of the inlet. This was probably one of my best decision because it means that I can have a lot of random flow in the DT without needing to max out my Maxspect 350 powerheads. This is important for me because I like sand in a DT.

The image below show the DT arrived and still in its bubble wrapping. In the back ground you can see one of my planted fresh water tanks.

This is the tank in the factory

The stand is made from steel with a flat base. This is it in the factory.


I laid a carpet on the flat stand surface and used some of my barbels to press down until it has set. The picture shows the stand lying upside down.
The bottom of the stand was also carpeted. I placed a flat plywood base and then superglued the carpet. This meant that I could slide the stand on my wooded floor without any scratches.


I also used fibre glass as a base to seal any exposed metal that can be affected by moisture or water and could leak into the sump. (Sump details to come)
From this…

To this…


I also placed a piece of plywood which was fibre glassed at the bottom of the sump where the acrylic sump will rest. A carpet was later glued to this surface and then a protective aquarium mats made of thick and damage-resistant foam was laid onto. This meant that the acrylic sump could be placed level.

Later I covered the entire underside with Acrylic safe sealant.

The insides of the stand legs were also covered in Acrylic safe sealant.

This is the stand in what would be its final position.

A shot of the tank (not drilled at this stage) and stand as I experimented with position.


DT drilled with hang-on back refugium cemented to the back. The return is on the right, with two overflows on the left.

Drilled and partly piped overflows.


The hood was made of acrylic and one of the design flaws inherited when I decided to go saltwater. Here it is still bubbled wrapped. Later on when I write about the details of the lights, I will explain what I have had to do to get this saltwater ready.

DT with some LR aqua-scape in progress. I had to work fast because the LR was from 2007 and some also from my 55 gallon.

Top down view of the aquascape.

Getting there...

Hang-on Back Refugium:
Original design and dimensions. This was built for me my a fellow reefer on Ultimate-reef forum.


Final dimensions is L76xH39xW10.
Hang-on Back volume is 29,250.0 cubic centimeters or 29.3 liters, which is approximately 7.7 US gallons.
This is now cemented to the back of the DT and has two feeds back into the DT.

Here it is before being I finally cemented it. I played around with position using holding straps until I was satisfied. The egg crate shelf is there to hold rock rubble. I wanted a clear free gap between the coral rubble that will be placed on the egg crate and the fuge bottom. This was to ensure I had adequate flow.


Now cemented to the back of the DT. Straps to hold it in place until the cement had cured.


Here it is with fresh water during one of may water and flow tests.

Final cemented fuge. You can see the holes I had to drill myself on the DT. Here you see the two overflows and you can just about see the return on the left side.

Here you can see the hole I drilled for the return.

Sump and Water Top Up:

I wanted to maximise my system volume and took the decision to use up all the space in my stand. I also wanted a fresh water Auto-top up reservoir that was integrated into the system and after much design on paper and deliberation I decided on this design.
The fresh water reservoir is built on either side of the sump. Now to find someone who could build this for me. This was built for me my a fellow reefer on Ultimate-reef forum.

I have never seen this done before or after by any reefer.

The original design and concept below.


The fresh water reservoir would occupy both sided of the Sump, with a pipe linking both sides. This pipe will be placed in the return pump section. This meant that I can just fill in from one side and the water will remain equal and stay level on both compartments. Simple in design and practice. After so many years it has never failed me.


Final dimensions are:
Width: 120cm (47.24")
Height: 40cm (15.75")
Depth: 36cm (14.17")
Sump's volume is approximately 172.8 litres, which is approximately 45.6 US gallons.
Fresh water reservoir volume is approximately 67 litres, which is approximately 17 US gallons

I Top off water using a Kalk reactor fed by a Versa doser at the required ml per minute. The Tunze osmolator takes care of additional requirements.

Sump arrived and ready to be installed.



Here you can see the PVC pipe that connects the fresh water reservoir on both sides of the sump:



The position of the return pump you see in the picture was just temporarily as I played around with the best position/height.


I believe in using as much natural filtration as possible and I rely heavily on two Waterfall ATS. They both sit on the Hang-on back refugium, water is pumped from the DT into the 2x ATS via a Vectra S1, drops from the ATS into the fug and then flows into the DT.

ATS1 - Is lit by 6x 9watt led bars with built in heatsink. 3 led bar are on each side for a total of 27watts each side. Total wattage is 54 watts. I run it 8pm to 8am.

LED lights

ATS1 in its position above the Hang-On back refugium. This before I had the second ATS installed.

Getting some fantastic growth.

ATS2 - This is a bigger brother of ATS1 and is lit by 8x 9watt led bars with heatsink. 4 led bars on each side for a total of 36watts each side. Total wattage is 72 watts. I run it 8am to 8pm.


I will have more details about my ATS systems later.

Live Rock:
I have a lot of Live rock in the current DT and sump, which I have had from 2007.

Brief history:
I bought about 150kg of Indonesian Live rock for my original tank setup in 2007. I remember I had this delivered wet from an importer. When I downsized in 2012 to a 55g, I kept about half in this system with a 4ft sump.



I then kept the rest LIVE in a tub running with a Fluidised Sand Bed filter and an ATS filtering it. I fed this holding tub twice weekly and topped up with fresh water and the usual Calcium/Alk/Mag and other trace elements as needed.

This is one of the best decisions I have made because now it is so very difficult to get LR from the oceans.



So in reality I have this LR from 2007 in this current system. This has meant that I did not experienced the usual “new startup” algae/diatom stages when the 55 gallon was expanded into this current tank which I did late 2018.

The Sump has LR in cages made from egg crate.

Hang-on Back Refugium also has some LR rubble in it.

I have a Tunze 9410 DC skimmer with the skimmate returned back into the sump. I got this in 2020 and purely to act as an emergency if needed and for gas exchange.
I will expand on this later.

I feed a lot.
I have a dosing feeding system that is fed from a drinks cooler via a venturi system and I use this when I am on my travels, but since COVID-19 I am home now and so feed manually 3-4
times a day.
I will expand on this later.

Because this is a deep tank (3 ft deep), this has been the most challenging for me in deciding what to go for. Ii went with the best that could meet my requirements so I have 2x Orphek Atlantik v4.


I had some issues with the 2019 boards and had to replace them which I will detail in later updates.

I keep the temp at 25.1 and I use 2x 300 watt heaters controlled by a D-D Dual Heating & Cooling Controller.
The cooling is by 2x 4-fan fans. I have a 6-fan fan that i will install this summer.

Water flow:

I try to replicate nature as best as I can when it comes to flow. That means no direct blasting of corals or sand bed. My objective is to create strong chaotic flow, using the dynamics of water flow against itself. What this means is that I aim to let water currents crash against each other thereby creating further turbulence relative to flow. My returns from my closed loops are slightly staggered in height and width and I use the Reef Crest program.

My gyres are also staggered in height and length. The Horizontally placed gyres are not at the same height and run a sync and alternative gyre flow lasting anything from 10 to 20 mins.
The vertically placed gyres are also not at the same height and run a sync and alternative gyre flow lasting anything from 10 to 20 mins.
I also have short low flow breaks lasting 30mins 4 times a day.

Return Pumps - Decided to go all EchoTech Vectras.

Return is an Ecotech Vectra L1. This is run in continuous mode at 50%.

Closed loop is an Ecotech Vectra L1. I run this on the Reefcrest mode at max 80%.

UV - This is run on an Ecotech Vectra S1 feeding the D-D 80 watt UVC, also feeds reactors I may choose to use and the venturi feeding system I will explain in later updates. So in effect the flow through the UV is a Return flow back to the DT and is run in continuous mode at 75%.

ATS - This is run on an Ecotech Vectra S1 that is located in the DT and feeds the two ATS.

DT - For in tank flow I use 4x Maxspect Gyres XF350. 2 are placed horizontally and the other 2 are placed vertically. I run these with the ICV6 controller via my phone app.

The horizontally placed Gyres are mounted as high up as I can get away with and use the flow guards.
It took me a while to get the flow just right due to the unusual height of the tank and my aqua-scape. For now the flow is controlled by the mobile app via ICV6. Originally I had just the ICV6 and found it a little cumbersome to program. After installing the app its just easy to use.

I originally had the Ecotech MP60 QD, but for the life of me I could not get it to operate silently. I tried everything and even called on the assistance of some local reefers but to no avail. The XF350s do have the power cable inside the DT, which I have just had to get used to but they are dead silent and do an excellent job.
I had a few failures with the original XF350 I received but I got 3 of the motors replaced at no extra cost to me so thumbs up to Maxspect for an excellent customer service.


I rely heavily on dosing and previously used the Aqua Medic Evo 4 4-pump doser and 4-pump slave. I found these were not reliable, with some mornings waking up to find 500ml of magnesium or strontium had been dumped into my tank.
So I investigated and decided on Ecotech Versa pumps. I ordered in November 2019 but had to wait until Jan 2020 before they arrived.
I now have 9 Versa dosing pumps and they have been spot on.


Due to space limitations I use TMC Reef EASI Dosing containers at 1.5 litres each. I have 2 of the 3x 1.5 and 3 single 1.5 litre containers.
At any one time I am using 7 to 8 of them.
I wish had space for larger sized containers, then I won’t need to mix my Triton and other liquids every month.


This only shows 6 of the versa's. The other two I use on the two containers I have in my cooler. I will expand on this in the future.

I am now on Triton CORE7 which has all the components I need.
When I need to make corrections I use Seachem products for Calcium/Magnesium/Strontium.
ICP test always show my system low in Strontium so I dose this daily.
I also always get low Manganese readings so I dose this daily.
I suspect the high demand is from my ATS.

Previously when I had low to 0 Nitrates and low Phosphates I would dose TNC Complete Plant Fertilizer.
Now I just feed more. ICP test results are showing a balanced system apart from low Manganese, elevated Iodide, Zinc and surprisingly copper. I suspect the copper is from using TNC and Seachem Reef Plus previously.
I currently use a Seachem resin cuprisorb to remove the copper and ICP test results shows the copper is going down. My inverts, shrimps and pod population are doing well and none gave died as a result so my logic is that the levels reported by Triton ICP are not toxic to my tank inhabitants.

I still use Kalkwasser. I am using Triton CORE7 and I tried to come off the Kalk from late 2020 to early 2021 but my ph dropped to just 8 and this was just unacceptable to me. So I have continued to feed my Kalk stirrer via my Versa. I top up the Kalk weekly with 4 heaped spoon fulls and currently pump in 1.6 ml of RODI wager through it.

Tank Inhabitants

1x Orangeshoulder Tang (Acanthurus olivaceus)
1x Desjardini Sailfin Tang (Zebrasoma desjardini)
1x Lamarks Angel (Genicanthus lamarck)
1x Bluehead Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus cyanopleura)
1x Six line pyjama wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia)
1x Bluestreak Cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus)
1x Starry Blenny (Salarias ramosus)
2x Captive-Bred Ocellaris Clown fish (Amphiprion ocellaris)
3x Lyretail Anthias (1x Male, 2x Female) (Pseudanthias squamipinnis)
5x Green Chromis (Chromis viridis)

6-8 Nassarius Snails
1 Tiger tail cucumber
1 Strawberry Conch
Hundreds of smaller snails i can't ID.
6 Mexican Turbo Snails
4 Turcos Snails
Plus others I can’t remember

Various types , including Orange Tree Longe, Orange Fan Sponge.

My intention is to have a mixed reef, this means as many varieties of corals, sponges, filter feeders as possible. That being said I do perform as much research as possible before introducing any corals. If they survive they say. I will not change the system for just one coral.
I have a mixture of SPS, LPS, Softies, Filter feeders, etc in the tank.

For placement, and because of my tall tank, I first place the corals at the bottom (sometimes attached to a small LR). I move them as needed over a period of a few months until I find a place where they can thrive. I then leave them alone.

My passion is for a naturally looking mixed reef.

Maintenance / Husbandry

Now that I work from home I feed manually 3-4 timer per day.
ATS get cleaned once per week on a rotation. That means each ATS runs for 2 weeks before a clean. It takes me 5 mins!
Dosing containers are topped up as required but usually every 5-6 weeks.
I clean the acrylic glass twice weekly, Wednesdays and Sundays. Take me 1o mins.
Fresh water reservoir is topped up using a 5-Stage RODI system on Sunday’s. I have a long tube from the RO unit under the sink in the kitchen that gets unwrapped and plugged into the lid in the fresh water reservoir compartment. The RO water can last 10 days but I just keep it topped up on a weekly basis. I also have 5 litres of RO water stored as a backup.
Kalk gets topped up as mentioned above.

My parameters are:
I test twice a week as a minimum.
Wednesdays and Weekends (Sat or sun). I also put the times I test:
Last test readings were:

Water Parameters:
  • Temp: 25.1
  • pH: 8.15-8.4 (Fluctuates due to C0 scrubber media depletion over time)
  • Specific gravity: 35-36 ppt
  • Ca: 460-480 ppm (I have high Ca due to Kalk)
  • Alk: 9.1-9.6 dkh
  • Mg: 1400-1440
  • K: 400 ppm
  • PO4: 0.03 ppm
  • NO3: 0.2 ppm
  • Ammonia and nitrites: 0 ppm
Wednesdays I just test Salinity, PH and dKH.

I do experience high calcium at about 470-489 range so this is something I am keeping an eye on. Suspect its from my time heavily reliant on Kalkwasser.

Other factors that help keep my stability:
Having 2x ATS running continuously means that I have very stable parameters.
My ph had dropped though to 8.0 to 8.10 recently after going fully on Triton CORE7, but I am back dosing Kalk which has it back to 8.25-35. I have also added a CO2 scrubber inline to my skimmer and will monitor the results.
Ideally I want out back to the 8.35-8.45 range I used to have it at. pH is so vital for coral growth and health.

According to my ICP test results most of my parameters are good. I have high iodide and suspect its from the food I feed. I don’t dose iodide and will just leave it as is for now.
I have high Zinc but I don’t know where the Zinc is coming from and will need to keep this in check. I have found no leaking pumps or magnets and I use gloves for all tank maintenance. My RODI has 0 TDS and resins are changed every 6 months regardless.

I don’t clean the back of the DT because it feeds by CUC, Tangs and Blenny.

I am not one of the reefers who won’t do a water change as a matter of principle or style. I will do one if required but I have not done one since I had to fix my leak last year. Prior to that I have not done one since in 2012.
I will occasionally adjust the flow of the nozzles that is connected to the T-off from the S1 and this stirs up a lot of the muck which feeds my filter feeders and corals.

Lighting Schedule

I operate a set and forget process with my lights. I don’t tinker with it. LEDs are a lot sharper than Halides and one can easily punch too much light on your corals. Also because I have a mixed reef, and a DEEP reef I need to establish a safe setting that satisfies all inhabitants, a challenge at best.

Current settings are:
Orphek Atlantik v4 Channel 1


Orphek Atlantik v4 Channel 2

Orphek Atlantik v4 Channel 3

Orphek Atlantik v4 Channel 4

I wish I had a PAR meter to rent.

More detailed updates that will cover the various components of GazuntaiReef will follow as this journey continues.
Apologies it is photo heavy ;Snaphappy, but its a lot of years to cover.

Thank you for getting this far. Phew you deserve a drink now.;Yawn
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May 18, 2019
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I was going to provide an update today but I feel like crap. I had my COVID-19 vaccination yesterday and my head is splitting. I had the AZ one.


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Really remarkable mixed reef you have thriving, great care, strong work! heck of a starting post, would vote for you in reefsville. Keep doing what your doing, and updates dont need to be much at all, its just the internet, feel better, dont forget to dose yourself too!


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Really remarkable mixed reef you have thriving, great care, strong work! heck of a starting post, would vote for you in reefsville. Keep doing what your doing, and updates dont need to be much at all, its just the internet, feel better, dont forget to dose yourself too!
Thank you, appreciate it.


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May 18, 2019
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I did not do much over the weekend, I was busy recovering from the Covid-19 jab.
I still managed to clean ATS2-72 watt, clean the glass, top up the water reservoir and add two teaspoons of kalk to the kalk stirrer.

took time pictures and videos today and will upload a few here over the next few days.

For now here are a few shots. I am not the best photographer, all I have is my iPhone XR and the Orphek lenses so apologies if they are not up to scratch ;)





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May 18, 2019
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Lights...I have decided to change my lighting to 14k. the " blue" look just does not do it for me...I prefer the more natural look
This is what it looks like ATM:

But i will do this over a period of time.
My current lighting setting are as follows:





14k settings on my Orpkeks are as follows:
Screenshot 2021-03-24 at 13.03.15.png

I have tried this briefly over my tank and I like the look.

So I will raise Ch1 slowly by 5 points every 2 days.
Ch4 is already at 75%, so this will be raised by 3 points over the next week to 80%.


A cup of water and a dash of salt
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May 29, 2014
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Love the Christmas tree worms! Something that I see in virtually every reef I've ever dove around the word but rarely see in people's tanks. :D


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Love the Christmas tree worms! Something that I see in virtually every reef I've ever dove around the word but rarely see in people's tanks. :D
Thanks. They are a beauty.
Very rare to see them come up for sale, in the UK at least. So when I see one and its healthy I buy em.


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May 18, 2019
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Orange Shoulder Tang love ❤️


Tank has recovered nicely from the brief GHA bloom from last years neglect due to my Mums passing away.

looking forward to making more updates from now.

Reef companions: Do you have fish that interact with your invertebrates?

  • I currently have fish and invertebrates that interact.

    Votes: 65 57.0%
  • I don’t currently have fish and invertebrates that interact, but I have in the past.

    Votes: 19 16.7%
  • I have never noticed any interaction between my fish and invertebrates.

    Votes: 26 22.8%
  • Other.

    Votes: 4 3.5%