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June 2016 R2R Tank Spotlight: Oldude
Take a peek inside of Oldude's Reef
Take a peek inside of Oldude's Reef
My name is Greg Timms - AKA Oldude & like so many others I had kept freshwater aquariums for many years before I got into the marine hobby in 2004. My first SW tank was a 130 gallon which I out grew within a few years. In late 2008, I had a new tank custom built on site with dimensions of 96" wide x 36" deep and 27" tall that works out to about 404 US gallons. I used a taller stand than I had on my previous tank because since I was usually standing when looking at the reef, I was having to crouch down to see which was less than optimal. The tank is glass with the front viewing pane is Starphire. Once the tank was completed, I moved the contents from my 130 gallon over and then had a "fish-room" built behind the tank which houses the 2 prop tanks and the 130 gallon tank. Over the years, I have had many ups & downs with the reef and actually did a complete "do-over" with new rock in the fall of 2013.
You’ll see my system is pretty much “old school” & basic – I have played the ULNS game in years past and although I had pretty good results it is just another thing to maintain in an already too busy life and for the most part I am reasonably pleased with the results I am getting without any carbon source dosing.
Although my tank is SPS dominant, I don’t limit myself to just SPS because I enjoy the look of a mixed reef and in my opinion it helps give the tank a bit more of a natural look & feel.
Below I have shared some "progression" pictures showing some various stages of my evolution in the hobby. I have to chuckle when I see my first tank's original "aquascape" complete with a few plastic plants and reef picture backdrop. In one of the pictures from 2010 you will see just buckets of dead corals I pulled out after I lost a battle with AEFW (acropora eating flatworms) along with some other issues causing corals to die. I have started my reef over on more than one occasion. Anyway I hope you'll enjoy seeing my progression through the hobby over the past 12 years.
Here a few particulars about the systems –
- Total water volume of approximately 725 gallons
- 404 gal display 96 x 36 x 27
- 130 secondary display/holding tank 72 x 18 x 24 (located in the fish room)
- 120 gal sump.
- 25 gal frag tanks x2 are plumbed separately to their own 25 gallon sump.
- Shallow sand beds in both the 404 & 130 with Caribsea special sea floor grade
- Display Return pump - Reeflow Dart
- Skimmer - Euro-reef RC500
- Water Circulation - Vortech - 4x MP40WP & 3x MP60WP
- Auto Top Off - I use a gravity fed ATO with a float valve (very simple)
- Reactors – Single phosban running ROX carbon (activated charcoal)
- Dosers - Fauna Marine "GHL" stand alone. I dose Randy Holmes Farley’s 2 part recipe using food grade Calcium chloride, magnesium chloride. As per the recipe I also add Magnesium Sulphate AKA Epsom salts & use Arm & Hammer to make my "soda ash".
- RO unit - BRS 300 GPD
- Heaters – 300 watt x2 in display sump & 1 in prop system sump
- Auto-Feeders - Rena filled with 1 MM pellets
- Salt – Reefers Best
Lighting is comprised of the following:
- In the front half - 4 Phoenix DE MH 14K bulbs, 4 x 250 watt Lumen Max-3 HQI pendents driven by 2 X Blue Wave double HQI ballasts & in the rh front corner is a Radion LED fixture
- In the rear half of the tank 2 more of the same MH on each end along with a T5 Fixture running a mix of 6 x 48" T5 bulbs (actinic, Fiji Purple, super blue, daylights) sandwiched between the MH's.
- I also have 2X 48" blue LED fixtures running length wise across the center of the tank that add a little extra "umph" to the lighting. They help make the colors pop and work great for the sunrise/sunset cycles.
- LED 2 foot fixtures x 3
- Radion LED fixture
- 8:00 AM - 12:00 AM (on all day for that little extra)
- LED moonlights are made up of "Reefbrite" 3 watt diodes x 18 & an extra strip of 1 watt x 12 diodes.
- 9:30ish AM - 11:00 PM - T5 actinic & Fiji Purple (4 bulbs) start - stay on all day (runs for 14 hours)
- 1:00 - 1:20 PM all remaining lights come on & run until 9:00 - 9:15 PM.
- The T5's and the Radion are on the same timer and come on at 1:00 PM.
- The metal halides are divided amongst 2 timers and set up with the two outside lights together & the two inside lights on the other timer. This provides a better sunrise/sunset affect - the inside two stay on about 15 minutes longer since in my opinion this gives a more natural appearance resembling the last minutes of sunlight shining through a section of reef with the rest going darker. At this stage it is back to the T5 actinic/Fiji purple bulbs & LED "moonlights" until 10:30 PM when it turns to just the LED moonlights and the reef goes dark at midnight.
I would love to say my parameters never fluctuate however as corals grow and their demands increase I need to make adjustments. In any case I do my best to keep them as close to natural sea water as possible.
- Specific gravity – 1.026
- Alkalinity – 7 – 7.5 DKH
- Calcium – 420 PPM
- Magnesium – 1350 PPM
- PH – 7.9 – 8.3 ish (I rarely test the PH since in my experience if the alk parameters are okay then the PH is likely within tolerances)
- Temperature – 77 – 80 degrees F through the day, usually dropping to 75 – 76 F at night.
- Dose KZ “sponge power” one or two times per week
- Dose "Acro-power" weekly
- Dose Iodide & Potassium weekly
- Dose FM "color elements" weekly
- Weekly water changes of approximately 45 gallons or 6.5%
- Bi-weekly stir sump detritus after lights out to circulate back to display to feed corals
- Cleaning of Protein Skimmers as needed
- Testing of parameters bi-weekly
- Tracking tests & bulb change dates, etc. in a journal
- Change out MH bulbs yearly
- Change out T5 bulbs every 6-8 months
- Pre-Filter bags – change as needed
- Carbon – change out monthly
- Prune & frag corals as needed
- Top up dosing tanks as needed
- Top up auto feeders with pellets as needed
- Clean glass every 3rd day or as needed
- Change filters & membranes in RO unit as needed
- Rinse Chaetomorpha Algae in sump weekly
Fish and Inverts
Below is a list from the display tank. Last fall I lost several fish to an unknown cause and haven't replaced them yet so the list is shorter than it generally is. the coral beauty & yellow tang in the main display are from my original set up so I've had them for 12 years.
It may surprise you that I keep a Racoon Butterfly which is certainly not reef safe however it does an amazing job at keeping "mojano" anemones in check. After it eats the majanos in the display I move it back & forth between the two main tanks and it then it goes to the sump until it's needed in the displays again once the MA's start to grow back. It does do some damage to the corals but it's mostly the zoas and they are like a weed and grow back quite quickly.
- Cleaner wrasse
- Leopard wrasse
- Christmas Wrasse
- Possum Wrasse
- Kole Tang
- Naso Tang
- Orange Shoulder Tang
- Powder Blue Tang
- Purple Tang
- Sailfin Tang
- Yellow Tang
- Bristle Tooth Tang
- Blue Green Chromis x8
- Clown Goby (yellow)
- Coral Beauty
- Disbar anthia
- Dragon pipe
- Firefish Goby
- Mandarin dragonets x2 (paired)
- Marine Beta aka comet
- Racoon Butterfly
- Orange spotted diamond gobies x2
- Royal gramma
- Ocellaris clown
- Fire Shrimp x 2
- Cleaner shrimp x2
- Large Brittle stars (2 large black)
- Yellow tang
- Purple tang
- Powder Brown tang
- Mature Red Coris Wrasse
- Osellaris Clown
- Mandarin dragonets x2
- Six line wrasse
- Assorted damsels x6
Both tanks are fed by the use of “auto-feeders” and get a mix of 1-2 MM pellets. The main display is fed 4 times per day & the 130 gallon is twice a day. I have had good success feeding smaller amounts several times per day versus feeding a larger portion once a day since in the wild fish graze all day and this creates more opportunity for less aggressive eaters to be sure to get something every day. I also do not use a feed mode with the pumps but prefer let the fish chase their food which to me just seems more natural. When I am home I sometimes manually throw in a little extra mostly so I can watch and enjoy a feeding frenzy and often feed some “Nori” for a little treat. Many of the fish, both tangs & wrasses eat it right out of my hand. I very seldom feed frozen foods so if you are a fish in one of my tanks – you either eat pellets or hunt for "pods".
Below is a list of corals in the reef that I have been able to identify with some confidence so for the most part it should provide the reader with a pretty good indication of what I have in the tank.
(Small Polyp Stony)
Large Polyp Stony
Soft Corals & Corallimorpharians
Gorgonians – Assorted photosynthetic
Rhodactis sp. – Assorted
Zoanthus/Palythoas - Assorted
Heliopora coerulea AKA “Blue-ridge” is considered an “octocoral”
Acknowledgements & Closing Remarks
The reason I have the opportunity to have my small piece of ocean and share it with you is because of the support and freedom given to me by my amazing wife Penny who encourages & supports me in whatever I do. Although she isn’t directly involved in the build or day to day husbandry , I couldn’t have done it without her.
Thanks to the Reef2Reef crew for inviting me to share my reef with you and thanks to all my peers and those who have helped me along the way.
My advice to anyone new to the hobby is to try not to get discouraged when things aren't going well. Stuff happens and things don't always go as planned. If you enjoy it, stick with it. Don't get caught up in always comparing what you have with other people's systems - there is always a "nicer" tank somewhere - just go at your own pace and enjoy making it yours