REEF OF THE MONTH - April 2024: A Full Wall Bookcase Aquarium!!!


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All the reef of the months are always gorgeous, but this one in particular just has so much diversity in every category. Truly a little bit of everything thrown together with intention and passion. Congrats, and what a wonderful tank. One of my favorites ever.
Aw, thank you. Appreciate that. Lotta great tanks on here. Comes down to personal preference. I happen to like diversity so I try to keep a little bit of everything. Mostly successful. :smiling-face-with-smiling-eyes:

Fred A.

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Reef of the month  title.png

R2R Username: @JGT
My Tank Thread: My 240, My 240/Basement Fish Room, My 240/Basement Fish Room/built into a full wall bookcase and focal point of house addition.
Hi everyone, my name is John or better known as JGT on R2R and I’ve been keeping fish/corals on and off for over 40 years. As a boy, I had freshwater water tanks and as I got older, I migrated to saltwater. My initial foray into saltwater was back in the early 1990’s. Got myself a 135 gallon, stand, wet/dry filter with bioballs and the plan was to start up a fish only tank. That was until I came across a magazine called Freshwater and Marine Aquarium where there were pics of tanks with corals and fish, and I was hooked.

I got myself a Hamilton Metal Halide/VHO light canopy and a couple hundred pounds of Marshall Island live rock and began my venture into reef aquariums.

After a house move and receiving a free 240-gallon tank, stand and canopy from a buddy of mine across the country (see my Build Thread for more details) the tank sat in my garage for 17 years while other life events took priority. Fast forward to late 2021 where I just finished building a home addition with the intention of making the aquarium the centerpiece of the family room. This evolved from a tank, to a tank with a basement sump/fish room, to a tank with a basement sump/fish room built into a full wall bookcase. Me and my crazy ideas. While it involved a lot more work, in the end I am really pleased on how it all came out.



System Profile:

Display tank: 240 gallon 8’x2’x2’
Glass or Acrylic: Acrylic
Stand: Wood stand reinforced and customized and part of a full wall built-in bookcase.
Sump:45-gallon Zero Edge located in the basement.
Grow-out tank: Deep Blue 80-gallon low boy/Bubble Magus Sump and Aquatech SC-80 Skimmer (not yet setup)
Protein skimmer: Deltec SC 2060
Carbon/phosphate filtration: GFO in a reactor
Return pump: Sicce 9.0 SDC
Water circulation: Maxspect Gyre 350’s
Lighting (display): 7 Ecotech Radion XR 15’s (4 Blues/3 Pros) on an 80/20 light rack connected to a tubular shade motor that allows me to raise/lower the rack from a keypad or phone.
Lighting (grow-out): 2 NooPsyche K7 Pro III LEDs
Lighting (refugium): Amazon 12W Grow light.
Calcium/alkalinity/magnesium dosing equipment: Bubble Magus Dosing Pump for Alk and Calcium. Don’t dose Mag.
Auto top-off: Tunze Osmolator
Heating/cooling: 2 Eheim 300W heaters on an Inkbird controller. No cooling.
System control: None. Other than a couple of Kasa strips that I use to do some basic monitoring and water changes.
Any other details: Lifegard 55W UV. Puratech Aquamax 100GPD 4 stage RODI Filter

The sump and related equipment along with growout tank, phyto/pod container and water change station are located in a basement fish room. I connected the sump to the DT above using flexible PVC which is great due to the soft bends and elbows it creates vs. hard plumbing.




Water change station consists of 2 50-gallon pails mounted vertically. Top being RODI, bottom being saltwater. Have RODI filter tied into the top pail along with my ATO so I top off both and use float valves for auto-shutoff of the RODI filter. I have 2 Sicce Utility pumps: one in the saltwater pail, 1 in the sump which I use for water changes. I’ve setup a Water Change Scene with Kasa where it turns off all equipment, water drains into the sump, I then turn on the pump in the sump which pumps out the contents of the sump into my utility sink. Then the pump in the saltwater pail is turned on and pumps fresh saltwater back into the sump and then everything gets turned back on. I also have a canister with a sediment filter inline from the saltwater pail to the sump that catches any sediment/residue that may come out of the saltwater mix. Takes me about 15 minutes to do a 45-gallon water change.




Water Circulation and Flow Summary and Objectives: I utilize 2 Maxspect Gyre 350’s running an anti-synch program at 60%/10%. This creates a nice random back and forth wave-like flow. Return pump is a Sicce 9.0 SDC in the basement running at 90%.

Water Parameters:
  • Temp:76.8-78
  • pH:8-8.4 (don’t monitor regularly)
  • Specific gravity:1.026
  • NO3:15-25
  • Ca:420-450
  • Alk:8.5-9
  • Mg:1500
  • PO4:.05- .09
  • Ammonia and nitrites: N/A
What salt mix do you use? Reef Crystals – has always worked well for me and until recently one of the less expensive salts.


What kind of rock did you start with? (Live, dry, combination) 300+ pounds of KP Aquatics premium live rock shipped in saltwater. I feel live rock is the key to a successful start in this hobby. It’s not cheap but the headaches and the issues that many people face with dry rock will probably wind up costing as much in the long run. I also think the concern about hitchhikers is overblown and can be dealt with. Additionally, I added a few pieces of my Marshall Island rock that I held onto from the 1990’s to create islands for things like GSP, Xenia, and an extra shelf here and there, etc.

What is your substrate? CaribSea Live Sand - Special Grade




Calcium/Alkalinity/Magnesium Summary and Objectives: Look to maintain calcium between 400-450, Alkalinity between 8-9 and Magnesium around 1450-1500. I use Randy Farley DIY recipes for all.

How do you dose for the big 3 (alk/cal/mag)?

Alk- Sodium Hydroxide – in a 5-gallon container. Randy Farley recipe. Dosed hourly via Bubble Magus dosing pump.

Calcium-Calcium Chloride – in a 5-gallon container. Randy Farley recipe. Dosed hourly via Bubble Magus dosing pump.

Magnesium-have a 5-gallon container of it. Randy Farley recipe. Never dosed it. Water changes always seem to keep my Mag at around 1500. Have also stopped testing for it as well.

Are you dosing anything else for your reef health (carbon dosing, aminos, etc.)? I manually dose Manganese, Iron, Iodide and Phyto/Pods (which I grow my own) several times a week. Periodically, I will dose Calcium Carbonate powder (DIY Coral Snow) with some MB7 added.


Lighting Summary and Objectives: I have 7 Ecotech Radion XR15 G5’s (4 Blues/3Pros) running a modified AB+ program at 80%. It provides good uniform coverage with minimal shadowing. Schedule starts and ends with Blues ramping up and then down to mimic sunrise/ sunset. Have moonlight on for 1 hour at the end.

  • Display tank:12 hours Blues/10 hours AB+ ramp up and down for both.
  • Grow-out tank: N/A at the moment.
  • Refugium: 12 hours off cycle from my main DT lights

Filtration and Water Quality Summary and Objectives: Dual overflows using Herbie drains flow into filter socks, skimmer, sponge, and then into return section which has a bunch of Chaeto. Have a canister with high capacity GFO which I change out every 6 weeks or so. I strive for stability and consistency on my water parameters. Rather than 1 number I look to keep my parameters within a tight range. Based on water tests, I will tweak my dosing accordingly.

What is your export strategy? Filter socks, Protein Skimmer, GFO, Chaeto in sump. All with the goal of keeping my parameters within tight tolerances.

What is your maintenance routine?
Daily: Clean glass, feed fish.
Weekly: Test parameters, refill ATO and RODI/Saltwater pails, do 20% water change, clean skimmer cup, swap filter socks.
Other: Monthly I transfer my phyto/pods to another container, rinse out the primary container and transfer the phyto/pods back. This keeps my culture from crashing. Trim chaeto ball.

I will also dose DIY Coral Snow infused with MB7 randomly. Also 2x a year I sand the inside of my tank to remove any scratches.




Tank Inhabitants - Fish: Currently 33 total.
1. Tangs: Hippo, Purple, Gem, Naso, Powder Blue
2. Wrasses: Melanarus, Gold Nugget, Yellow Coris, Blue Star
3. Anthia: 2 Red Bar, 2 Dispar, 2 Fathead, 2 Bimac, 2 Pink Square, 1 Lyretail
4. Angels: Watanabe, Swallowtail
5. Chromis/Damsels: 1 Green Chromis, 2 Springeri Damsels
6. Triggers: 2 Blue Jaw
7. Miscellaneous: 1 Midas Blenny, 1 Mandarin, 1 Royal Gramma, 2 Dart Fish, 1 Flame Hawk




Other Invertebrates:
1. Snails: Bunch of Astreas, Ceriths, Nerite, Nassarius
2. 2 Strawberry Conches
3. 4 pistol shrimps
4. Tridacna Maxima
4. Bunch of limpets, crabs, hermit crabs, fanworms, sponges, spaghetti worms, peanut worms all came in as part of the live rock.

Tank Inhabitants— Corals:
1. LPS: Gonis, Euphyllias, Chalices, Blastos, Favias, Scolys, Echinatas,
2. SPS: Montis, Stylos, Birdsnests, Acros, Millies
3. Softies: Leathers, Sinularias, Gorgonias, Zoas/Palys, various polyps




Fish and Coral Feeding: I typically feed my fish frozen mysis/Brine infused with Selcon and flake/pellets once a day. Will also put in a large leaf of Romaine lettuce several times a week. I don’t feed my corals.




How did you decide what to keep in your tank? If I like the look and it adds to the diversity I add it.

Any stocking regrets? None really. I even keep things like Xenia and GSP but you must put them on their own little island so they don’t become a nuisance.

Any fish, invert, or coral you will NEVER keep? Obviously, anything that would use my corals as an all-you-can-eat buffet.



What do you love most about the hobby? The fact that we can keep a little slice of the tropics in our homes. I also like some of the biology, science and tech aspects of the hobby. I’m a geek. What can I say.

How long have you been doing this? Aquariums on and off for 40 years. Saltwater/reef on and off for 30 years.

Who was responsible for getting you into the hobby? My dad had freshwater tanks as a kid and that got me into aquariums in general. Reefing was my own venture.

Who or what in the hobby most influences/inspires you? Not 1 specific person but I certainly pay attention to anyone that has a successful tank and what they do to get to that point. There are a bunch of people on R2R, especially some of the past ROTM winners that I read up on to see how they manage their tanks.

If you could have any tank, what size would it be and why? I think I’d love to have a 400 to 500-gallon tank. As you can see, even with a 240 you can run out of space quickly. I bigger tank would allow for even more variety and to be able to create some more depth in the tank.

Favorite fish? Yellow Coris. Great color, hard worker and always on the move. Second is my Hippo Tang. Sadly, he liked the taste of Acans so you’ll not see those in my tank, but his personality far outweighs a few more corals. During feeding time, he will go to the surface, take a mouthful of air and swim back down releasing the bubbles and him and the other fish will go after and “eat them”. He will also do this thing where he races across the tank and then will do a shimmy near the glass at the end of his speed burst. I haven’t figured out what exactly this is all about yet, but I think he’ might be racing his reflection and then showboating because he won the race. It’s comical.

Favorite coral? Gonis. Great color, movement and for me relatively easy to maintain.




Favorite invert? My Conches. Goofy looking but great CUC. Would like to have some shrimp but my wrasses and blue jaw triggers would probably have them for lunch.

How do you typically get over setbacks? Early on I’d get upset and dwell on why things went sideways. What did I do wrong? Over time, you come to realize that sometimes there is no explanation why a fish or coral died. Sometimes your water parameters, flow and lighting can be perfect, and things will still die. Accept it and move on.

Have you faced any major challenges with this particular tank, and if so, how did you overcome? Luckily, I haven’t had any major challenges. I’ve had some of the more normal things like coral warfare, fish aggression, a coral dying for no apparent reason. Also had some instances with things like a few Aiptasia, Montipora eating nudibranchs, mantis shrimp/crabs, etc. As long as you take the necessary steps to remediate the problems before it gets out of control, all of these things are manageable and able to be overcome.




What's the best thing you ever bought for your tank? A generator. I have one for my house, but it can only take a certain amount of load. So, I bought a smaller one just for the tank. I have it in the basement fish room. If power goes out, I connect my Kasa strip to it and it can run my heaters, return pump and skimmer. It can run for like 7 hours on a gallon of gas. The main generator can handle some of my lighting over the tank so I am covered. This has saved me a couple times already and with such a large and costly investment, it’s something that I think everyone should consider.

What are your future plans for improvement/upgrade of the tank? Nothing for my display tank but I still plan to get my growout tank up and running. My corals grow too well, and I am constantly having to frag them but I really have nowhere to put them so I wind of tossing them away. I have the growout in the basement fish room but want to plumb the DT sump into it so I use the same water. Little tricky given the layout so I may need some input from R2R members on exploring different options.




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

Not unlike what many people have said, go slow and stability is king. Don’t make any drastic changes. Make changes gradual and strive to minimize the changes you make.

For fish, I would advise to quarantine in some capacity before introducing them to your DT. Will save you heartache down the road.

How do you deal with a hobby that has gotten increasingly expensive within recent years?

Buy quality products and look to purchase previously used equipment in good shape with minimal wear/tear. Most of my equipment was purchased from other R2R members including my sump, lights, gyres, skimmer as well as my full grow out tank setup including sump, skimmer and lighting. While not cheap, buying gently used, quality equipment can help your wallet and ensure you'll have products that will perform for long time.




Final Thoughts:

The fact that we can maintain a microcosm of the ocean in our homes is amazing. But also realize that it’s not a perfect environment and despite our best efforts, things may not always thrive, and sometimes will die for no apparent reason. Shrug it off, move on and focus on all the good things this hobby has to offer.

I hope your backup generator in your basement does not run on gasoline. Using a gas powered genny INSIDE your home can be DEADLY. PLEASE move the generator outdoors when/if you need it if it runs on gas.


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I hope your backup generator in your basement does not run on gasoline. Using a gas powered genny INSIDE your home can be DEADLY. PLEASE move the generator outdoors when/if you need it if it runs on gas.
Thanks Fred. No worries. It is gasoline but I run it outside. I run a long (30’) heavy (10gauge) electrical chord from the fish room to the genny. I have the genny grounded with an 8’ steel rod hammered into the ground. So all safe and sound.


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That is an amazing tank! You have clearly put lots of work into it! The corals are beautiful


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@JGT Love your approach, it’s refreshing to see a thriving LPS tank. I love SPS but they get all the attention it seems!

I also have acrylic - what grit sandpaper are you using on the inside? I’d love to know the details of your glass cleaning / sanding routines!


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Boy what a beautiful tank ! Very well deserved Tank of the month award ! I saw you said you throw away frags they grow so fast , what is the chance of a new guy getting a hold of some of them ? Or would that be bad manners to ask ?

How much do you care about having a display FREE of wires, pumps and equipment?

  • Want it squeaky clean! Wires be danged!

    Votes: 159 39.4%
  • A few things are ok with me!

    Votes: 207 51.2%
  • No care at all! Bring it on!

    Votes: 38 9.4%