REEF OF THE MONTH - October 2021: Charlie's Amazing 400-gallon Reef

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R2R Username: @charliethetuna
Build Thread:
My 400


Hi my R2R family. It's an honor to be asked by [email protected] to be featured as tank of the month for October. My name is Charlie Pace. My handle name is charliethetuna on R2R and on Instagram. I am 43 years old and grew up in Flushing, Queens, then moved to Long Island about 10 years ago. When I moved, I met a few people through trading corals. They introduced me to the fabulous local fish club, LIRA (Long Island Reef Association). I have been a constant member for 8 years and decided to give back to the club. I ran for secretary and won. So now I have been the secretary of LIRA for 2 years. I've learned alot from the club and met some great people who like to talk fish and corals. We are a little spoiled on long island because we have some great knowlable OGs: Joe Yaiullo, Bob Stark, Joe Muskat, and Joe Burger ...just to name a few. There's definitely a few I missed. I also have been a R2R member for a long time. I have to say R2R is a great community. Everyone's helpful, respectful ,and very knowledgeable. This is why for me ROTM is a great honor.

System Profile:
  • Total Water Volume: 600 gallons
  • DT: Acrylic
  • Display tank dimensions: 400 gallons: 84 x 35 x 32 x 1 inch thick
  • Additional Tanks: 80 gallon frag tank & 80 gallon anemone / clown tank, 15 gallon q/t tank
  • Sump: 105 gallon sump with 15 gallon fuge built in
  • Protein skimmer: Vertex Alphacone 250
  • Additional Filtration: Prefilter sock box, sulfur denitrator, 2 vertex media reactors, ozone generator
  • Return pump: 2 panworld return pumps
  • Water circulation: 4 EcoTech Vortech MP60s on DT, Tunze powerheads for the frag tank
  • Lighting (display): 10 radion xr15 pro gen 4s, 6 80-watt t5 (4 ati blue plus bulbs and 2 actinic), 2 reef brite blue strips
  • Calcium/alkalinity/magnesium dosing equipment: Reef octo calcium reactor, Geo kalk stirrer, 4 channel jaebo doser alk,mag.esv transitional elements
  • Controller: Neptune Apex

Water Parameters:
  • Temp:78.6
  • pH:8.1
  • Specific gravity:
  • NO3:.025
  • Ca:420
  • Alk:8.0
  • Mg:1400
  • PO4:.10
  • nitrate 10 to 20 ppm
What salt mix do you use?

For salt I use esv because Bob is the man and it mixes clean. :cool:

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What kind of rock did you start with?

Dry rock Marco and ultra

What is your substrate?

Tropic Eden Reeflakes

Calcium/Alkalinity/Magnesium Summary and Objectives:

I try and keep my alk steady. Sometimes this can be difficult due to the sulfur denitrator. The bacteria that grows in the reactor consumes alk, so I have to dose small amounts of alk to keep everything balanced to my calcium. I have a lot of fish, and the sulfur reactor really keeps my nitrates down.

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What and how do you dose for the big 3 (alk/cal/mag)?

Reef octopus calcium reactor along with dosing alk and top off with kalk.

Are you dosing anything else for your reef health (carbon dosing, aminos, etc.)?

I dose ESV transitional elements.

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Lighting Summary and Objectives:

As for lighting I have:
  • 10 radion xr15 pro gen 4
  • 6 -80 watt t5
    • 4 ati blue plus bulbs
    • 2 actinic bulbs
  • 2 reef brite blue strips
Photoperiod: I use WWC's 1200 gallon light schedule.
  • Display tank:12 hrs
  • Grow-out tank:12
  • Refugium:10
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Filtration and Water Quality Summary and Objectives:

I have a 105 gallon sump and a 30 gallon prefilter sock box. The ghost overflow drains into a custom sock box I had made by advanced acrylics which contains 3 socks. This makes changing the socks very easy.

What is your export strategy?

For export I use water changes, skimmer, filter socks, sulfur denitrator, carbon and gfo as needed.

What is your maintenance routine?

Daily I look at the tank, look at the sump, and make sure everything good. I also check all my drips, effluent from the calcium reactor and sulfur denitrator
Weekly: Check alk 3 times a week. Test everything once a week.

Tank Inhabitants—Fish: (Please List)

In the DT:
  • 2 masked swallowtail angels
  • 2 wanatanbie angels
  • 2 potters wrasse
  • 2 ornate leopard wrasses
  • Yellow tang
  • Black tang
  • Purple tang
  • Scopas tang
  • Hippo tang
  • Long horned cowfish (named virus)
  • Labouti wrasse
  • Rhomboid wrasse
  • Pintail wrasse
  • Cleaner wrasse
  • Red marginal wrasse
  • Mccosker's wrasse
  • Roseline wrasse
  • 5 green chromis
  • Blue spot jawfish
  • STarki damsel
  • 5 bartlett anthias
  • 4 carberryi anthias
  • 3 randall's anthias
  • Lyretail anthias
  • 2 red madrins
  • 3 percula clowns
  • Filefish
  • Copperband butterfly
I'm sure I missed a few in the DT...

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Frag tank fish:
  • Convict tang
  • Clarki clown
  • 6 line wrasse
  • Sailfin algae blenny

Other Invertebrates:
  • Trochus snails
  • pink cucumbers
  • blue leg hermits
  • Fire shrimp
Tank Inhabitants— Corals: (Option to List)
  • Space invader pectinia
  • 21 tail torch
  • Pink ******* chalice
  • Avatar chalice
  • Space invader chalice
  • Raja rampage chalice
  • Orang tongue
  • Red goni
  • Bunch of different gonis
  • Red dragon acro
  • Wwc yellow tips
  • Fox flame
  • Copps hoki
  • Miyagi tort
  • Cali tort
  • Orgon tort
  • Pink lemonade
  • Sunkist bounce
There are really too many to list. I'm a hoarder...

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Fish and Coral Feeding:

I feed the fish every night: mysis, mysid, brine shrimp, chopped clams. I fish a lot, so I'm always chopping up stuff I catch. I also harvest fish eggs when I fillet the fish I catch. Everything loves fish eggs

How did you decide what to keep in your tank?

I'm a hoarder...I really love lps. Chalices are probably my love.

Any stocking regrets?

I wouldn’t say I have stocking regrets. It's more placement of corals.

Any fish, invert, or coral you will NEVER keep?

Never keep a medusa worm. They will nuke your tank. I know firsthand.

What do you love most about the hobby?

I love the hobby. I can never not have a tank. It's peaceful. Gets my mind off life for awhile. It's my escape ...I have also made great friends from this amazing hobby.

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How long have you been doing this?

Over 25 years, since I was a kid.

Who was responsible for getting you into the hobby?

My father had a 55-gallon tank for me as a kid (freshwater of course). I remember him cutting the coupon out of the newspaper for petland. There was always one for a free banana plant. Come Sunday, we would take a ride to petland to get a fish or 2 and my free plant…I have been obsessed ever since. One of my favorite things to do is go to a pet store.

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

My main influence is Mother Nature. She is my main goal. As far as people, one of my favorite tanks ever is TUSI's tank. It's impeccable! I am always talking with him, trading ideas and thoughts. I have always loved looking at everyone’s tanks. People have a different way of doing things and aquascaping. I feel no matter what the tank is, I can always learn something or take an idea from everyone's tank.

If you could have any tank, what size would it be and why?

I'm happy with my size. I would have gone with an 8 ft long tank, but could not fit it down my staircase. Anything bigger would be even more work.

Favorite fish?

Potter's leopard wrasse

Favorite coral?

I would say space invader pectinia. I like them all, but I really like lps.

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Favorite invert?

Pink cucumbers. Great sand cleaner.

How do you typically get over setbacks?

Fight through and don’t give up. Don’t do anything crazy without really thinking it through.

Have you faced any major challenges with this particular tank, and if so, how did you overcome?

I went through a bad torch loss. I lost an 8-head colony of 21 tails and over 100 heads of a yellow tip torch along with a few others. Something got introduced from another torch I had purchased and was wiping my torches out. I did heavy water changes, bought a huge uv sterilizer, fragged all the sick torches, then dipped them in iodine. It finally stopped, and I was able to save a few heads of each.

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

I really need to thin out my corals and maybe move some of the bigger colonies towards the back.

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

Nothing good happens fast.

Final Thoughts?

This hobby is my sanctuary. It gets my mind off things. Make great friends. Be humble, because you will get humbled. Share your knowledge, but be open minded to learn, and HAVE FUN!

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2500 Club Member
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Oct 6, 2013
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Congratulations Charlie very well deserved award, your tank is anyone’s dream. Absolutely one of the very best


Can’t Remember What I Did Before Reefing?
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Aug 28, 2020
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White Plains, NY
Charlie - You are a great inspiration! Thank you for sharing your experience and really relate to the aquarium being my sanctuary!

Best wishes!


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Sep 29, 2021
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Congratulations!! Well deserved! Love your story. I got a tank at a young age too, my fondest childhood memories are with it. Excited for the day we can all build out our dream tanks! :) LIRA is an awesome organization, so great that you’ve been a longtime supporter and were elected secretary.

By the way, excellent advice/final thoughts!