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October '05

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October '05 - Tim Mortlock's 490 L Reef Aquarium. (United Kingdom)

This month's featured aquarium is a large and beautiful reef tank created by British hobbyist Tim Mortlock. An interesting aquascape that avoids the "rock wall" commonplace, and a complete absence of mechanical filtration are the highlights of this very interesting setup. Well done!

Owner:Timothy Mortlock, 26, from Basingstoke (UK), 20 years of fishkeeping.
Setup:November 2003
Dimensions:135x60x60 cm
Volume: 490 L (nominal)
Filtration:120x30x60 sump with bioballs, mud bed, macro algae and return pumps. This also houses the feed and returns for the Ca reactor and kalk stirrer, as well as 500 W of heaters. There is also an old Fluval 2 used to filter through carbon and ROWAphos. There is no mechanical filtration of any kind on the system.
Circulation:About 28000 L/h of circulation: 2 main water pumps Eheim 1060 (2280 L/h); 2 internal circulation pumps located in the sump with specific overflow; 1 internal alternated circulation pump Tunze Stream 4000/12000 L/h in conjunction with a single-controller Tunze; 1 continuous stream 6000 L/h; 2 water falls with output distributed to tank and refugium.
Lighting:1x400 W 14000 K Coralvue halide, 1x250 W 10000 K BLV halide (soon to be replaced by another 14000 K), 2x40 W blue T5's. Sump is lit by two old freshwater bulbs that are over three years old and are on 24 hours a day.
Substrate:About 5-8 cm of Caribsea Aragamax in tank and 5 cm of Caribsea Aragamud in sump.
Decoration:About 40 kg of dry relief rock and Caribsea "Reef Bones" that has become populated from the 20 kg of mature live rock also in the tank.
Others:Calcium is maintained by a Shraun calcium reactor and Ratz kalk stirrer. These, as well as the heaters and cooling fans are run from a Neptune Aquacontroller computer system, with temperature and pH probes.
Water:Temp 26.5-27.5C, pH 8.0-8.2, Ca about 400 ppm.
Fauna: Fish: One Atlantic Blue Tang, 1 Foxface, 1 Orchid Dottyback (captive bred), Pair of Bangaii Cardinalfish (captive bred), 3 Green Chromis.
Invertebrates: One 25 cm black/grey serpent star, 1 blue Linkia star, 1 Cleaner Shrimp, 2 Peppermint Shrimp, many snails and crabs.
Corals: Many species including various Acropora and Montipora species, Seriatopora hystrix, Merulina sp. and Gorgonia.
Maintenance: Kalk is changed every fortnight, and I try to change the carbon and ROWAphos at the same time. Water changes are very much an "as and when" affair in this tank. Something I hope to cure by having a dedicated, isolatable water change tank in my next set-up.

Many think I'm mad running this tank with no skimmer, but it has proved to be fine for the year and a half I have had it so far. I chose this method as the natural approach appealed to me in its simplicity and apparent balance with nature.

I have experienced no problems that I can directly attribute to excess nutrients in the tank, and have only lost one coral colony and one clam in its 18 month life. Both of these losses are still a mistery to me...

On the plus side, I have been able to take many frags of the SPS to share with fellow reefers in the area, and by Bangaii's have spawned on several occasions, though never resulting in fry. Two of my LPS have also propagated themselves in this tank, by means of depositing flesh from the polyps onto the substrate...

It's a shame to have to take the tank apart as it is really starting to develop and grow in, but I will be moving house in the near future. Needless to say, plans are already afoot for the new tank that will be about twice this size. Whether I go skimmer-less or not in the new tank is still up for debate...

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

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Photos taken by Tim Mortlock and displayed here with his permission.

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