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Now, the 90 gallon

Posted 12/12/2009 at 12:46 PM by maysorum

I quickly outgrew my 20 gallon and wanted a much larger tank, which brings me to my second and current tank that I purchased in June of '09. This one is a keeper, but I already have dreams of an in-wall display with attached fish room! Here are the current tank specs:

- 90 gallon with internal overflow
- Sump with Skimmer and ATO
- Koralia 2 in Sump to keep detritus suspended in the water column
- 3 MP20s all set to Lagoon random
- 48" 8 x 54 watt ATI Powermodule that is hanging 14" above tank
- 115 LB mixed Bali Alor and Java
- 2-3 in of CaribSea Sand
- Water General RO/DI with TDS meter

The light schedule is:
7:45 - 8:15 dawn simulation with 2 bulbs
8:15 - 4:30 remaining 6 bulbs fire
4:30 - 5:00 dusk simulation with 2 bulbs
5:00 - Lights off

When the 90 gallon was ready I transfered all of the coral from the 20 gallon. At this time Ben (Classclown) was breaking down his tank (sad!) and I got a few more corals from him, okay more than a few. Thanks Ben! Anyways, I decided on a mixed reef with a few softies, zoanthids, and LPS, but mostly SPS. I know that the softies and zoanthids may cause problems in the future and I am watching for signs of allelopathy.

There are many differences in keeping a small tank versus a larger tank and I definitely enjoy the latter! The parameters are much more stable and there's more room for coral! The ability to work in the tank and sump is also an extra benefit. Oh, and the fish options are much greater. I haven't started stocking fish yet as I'm building up the pod population and I couldn't find anyone to tank sit over the holidays. Here's my fish wish list:

- Group of Green banded goby (Elacatinus multifasciatum)
- Leopard Wrasse (haven't decided which species)
- Anthias harem (Nemanthias carberryi)
- Tailspot blenny (Ecsenius stigmatura)
- Yellow-Eye Tang (Ctenochaetus strigosus) <-- this is a maybe

Recently, I've been thinking about a shoal of Longspine Cardinalfish (Apogon leptacanthus). They are really cool looking in person and seem to float in the water column—very pretty.

I do spot feed the corals since I don't have any fish. I try to feed a variety of food infrequently. I use a mix of coral frenzy, reefroids, oyster eggs, frozen rotifers, and the occasional splash of phyto.

The live rock had many hitchhikers that survived the plane ride and initial cycle. There are many different kinds of feather dusters ranging in color from pink to black and from tiny to larger than a half dollar. Many different types of crabs and snails, some of which, I have not seen described by other reefers; although, admittedly, I haven't done much research. Some of the crabs have florescent pink claws and fan arms that look like some type of force-field-like appendages. Also, there are small shrimp (~1/4 in) and at least one larger shrimp, but I haven't seen his whole body yet, just his claws. It might be a pistol shrimp, I can hear his clicking sometimes. There's also a few encrusting corals that survived (see picture) and many different Zoanthids too.

As far as maintenance goes, I try to keep it real simple with this tank too. I use a variety of snails for algae duty. My favorite is the Top Crown Snail as they seem to eat everything. I also use Nerite, Astrea, Turbo, and Cerith snails. I only have three hermit crabs, one of which is a hitchhiker and currently resides in a huge Top Crown shell. I try not to scrape the algae off the glass, I think it keeps it from transferring to the rock work (just my theory) and the snails do a super job of keeping the glass clean anyways.

Nowadays, I'm finding that weekly water changes of approximately 20% are not keeping up with my ALK and CAL demands. I have been reading about 2-part (really 3-part) dosing versus a Calcium Reactor. I'm 99% sure I'm going to use the 2-part system rather than the Calcium Reactor, because I'm not really a gadget-girl and I'm wary of potential PH issues and micro-adjustments. I'm planning on using two peristaltic pumps to automate the dosing system and haven't decided which peristaltic pumps to use (either litermeter III or BRS pumps), so if you have any opinions please let me know. I will be ordering the dosing supplies from BRS shortly. I think this will definitely help coralline algae take-off again.

I haven't experienced any difficulties (I'm knocking on wood as I type) except for nuisance algae and water parameter shifts, both were caused by laziness on my part and created a sort of cascade effect. I hadn't been checking my parameters (don't flame me ) on freshly mixed batches of saltwater my parameters were way off. I started noticing that my snails weren't doing their normal cleaning and were rather lethargic. Also my two softies (Sinularia and Xenia) started to look slightly off, but the SPS and LPS corals still looked great and were extending polyps per usual.

I began researching and found some posts on wetwebmedia about high MAG values and lethargy in snails. So I got my test kits out and boy was I shocked!!! I thought something was wrong with my test kits so I decided to bring water samples to Barrier and they confirmed my numbers (CAL was 560, MAG was 2350 and ALK was 5.5)—ouch!! I think I had slowly acclimated the coral and inhabitants to these horrible parameters. Since, I've been slowly doing water changes to bring the levels down and almost immediately my snails came back to life.

Moral of the story, always mix and roll your bag/bucket of salt before making water! And don't underestimate the value of testing your water! Although, I have not lost a single coral (more knocking on wood), I have definitely learned a much needed lesson in reef chemistry. I think it's really helpful to be visually aware of what's going on with all of the creatures in your tank. I think it would have been really easy to dismiss what I was seeing, because other 85% of the tank inhabitants looked great... That's just my .02 cents, though.

Enough, with words and on to the pictures.
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