Aquarium & Tropical Fish Site
April '04

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April '04 - Hai Phan's 90 L Reef Tank. (Vietnam)

For this month we learn a little about the experience of a Vietnamese living in the USA, who started with reefkeeping little over a year ago and has already been bitten by the famous MTS bug (multi-tank syndrome). Here we show his 90 L reef tank but you can see his other setups in his interesting models/aquariums website.

Owner:Hai Phan, 29, Vietnamese, now in San Diego (USA), 1 year of reefkeeping
Website:Hai's Models Homepage
Setup:December 2002
Dimensions:50x30x60 cm
Volume: 90 L (nominal), 68 L (effective)
Filtration:20 Pounds Live Rock, Red Sea Prizm skimmer, Millennium 2000 for circulation only.
Lighting:2x36 W fluorescent: 7200 K and 18000 K (blue)
Heating:WON Titanium 150 Watts
Substrate:5 cm Argonite sand, 3 cm ultra fine sand
Decoration:Mopani driftwood, red rock walls forming terraces
Water:Temp 26-29įC, pH 8.0-8.2, KH 3, Calcium 350 ppm
Fauna:1 Clarki Clown, 1 Cleaner shrimp, 1 brittle star fish, Snails.
Corals:Polyps, Zoos, mushrooms, xenia, fungia, sun coral, ricordea, alverpora, gorgonian, cup coral.
Maintenance:Water change 10% every 2 weeks (RO + salt water). Top off every day with RO water. B-Ionic 1 ml/day, Iodine 1 ml/week, Strontium 1 ml/week.
Comments:Keeping a reef tank is quite a challenging task and time consuming. Thereís always something that needs to be fixed, resolved every day. I have to spend an average of 2-3 hours per day to keep up with 2 reefs I have. However, a mature reef tank is a living piece of art that's worth all the effort and time. If I have the chance to start everything from the beginning again, Iíll make sure I plan very carefully on the plumbing system because when the tank is up and running, itís very hard to fix the plumbing system. Itís not easy for me to stop the tank for a few days to fix the problem with the sump, filtration system, etc. For a marine tank, it is not likely that I can set up another temporary tank in a few hours to hold the livestock if something happens to the main tank.

Another problem I found in reef tanks is the requirement of intense lighting often lead to the overheating of the tank. For large systems, people often run a chiller to correct the heating problem but for smaller systems (less than 75 L), itís not practical to run a chiller, especially if the tank is in the bedroom (like mine). Itís tough to run metal halide on a 75 L or less without a chiller. Itís doable but itís tough.

Another problem I found with reef tank is the balancing of livestock. Unlike plants, corals can sting and kill each other. So sometimes, I have to pass on a favorite coral because I know it will grow too big for my tank or will damage other corals in my tank. Itís a common thing that most beginners will rush out and purchase the first good looking corals/fish that they like without knowing much about what kind of food they need to feed them. Well, here are the few things Iíve learned. When waiting for the tank to cycle (the longer the better, I would wait for 1-2 months), do some research about the species that will be kept in the tank. Make notes on what food they use, how much movement they have, what kind of light they require, how much space they need, etc. This is a good time to post questions on forums where people with similar species can help you out. Remember, different coral/fish may need different ways to take care of. If possible, for the beginners, try to keep livestock that require as similar care as possible. This will lower the percentage of things that can go wrong (there are too many of them). Mushrooms and polyps are good starters.

If you'd like to submit an aquarium for Tank of the Month, just contact me.

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Upper center close-up

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Lower center close-up

Photos taken by Hai Phan and displayed here with his permission.

oF <=> oC in <=> cm G <=> L