Aleksandr Pyndyk's (ealex) Reef
I would first like
to thank Reefkeeping Magazine for choosing my tank
as the Tank of the Month. It is a big honor for me.
I became involved in the marine aquarium hobby in 2000 after
keeping freshwater aquariums for 20 years. My first reef aquarium
was a 100-liter "stand alone" tank, to which I quickly
added an overflow, a sump and a 100-liter refugium. In July
2002, I transferred this old system into my current 800-liter
tank. The hobby has now grown into a "lifestyle,"
and gets most of my free time.
My main display tank contains 80 kg
of live rock, almost all of which is still in its original
position; everything else has grown up in this tank over three
years. Now, little space remains for fish to swim or for corals
to grow. If I start another reef aquarium, I will build smaller
rock piles and put more live rock into the refugium. Click
for a slideshow of the tank's yearly progression since
I have a deep sand bed approximately 10 cm deep in the main
tank and in the refugium. It has worked very well for three
years now, and I believe it continues to work without problems.
Water circulation in the main tank is provided by a DIY wavebox
(see below), three Tunze Streams (12000 l/h) and a return
pump; currently, I use a Tunze 7400/2 (4000 l/h) as the return
pump. In the coral grow-out tank are two 1000 l/h powerheads,
which I plan to upgrade later to provide more circulation.
DIY wavebox & controller
Water circulates in two loops between the system's tanks;
first from the main tank through its overflow to the skimmer,
then to the sump located under the aquarium, then to the refugium,
and finally from the opposite end of the refugium back into
the main tank. The second circulation loop goes from the main
sump under the aquarium to the grow-out tank in my fish room,
through the overflow to the water change sump in the fish
room, and then back to the main sump under the aquarium.
The refugium contains no circulation pumps. Water enters
from one end over the separating wall, and on the opposite
side is a return pump placed directly in the refugium. When
planning this system I was afraid that a return pump in the
refugium would suck too much plankton out of the water column,
but it turned out that this solution works very well. I think
it works better than would a return pump in its own section,
in regard to collecting plankton.
Three 250-watt AquaConnect
14000K HQI bulbs, a 150-watt BLV 20000K HQI bulb, four 80-watt
T5 AquaBlue 10000K and Osram/67 bluelight bulbs light the
main tank. The main tank's photoperiod is 12 hours for the
T5 bulbs and 11.5 hours for the HQIs.
Over the refugium are four T8 20-watt 6500K and a bluelight;
photoperiod is 14 hours. The grow-out tank is lit by a 250-watt
14000K HQI bulb running on a 12-hour photoperiod.
All biological filtration is provided
by the live rock and the DSB. I do grow some macroalgae in
the refugium, but did not find any "good" refugium
macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha sp. The growth is
therefore not stable or regular, and I do not think that in
my case it is significant with regard to biological filtration
or nutrient export.
The refugium works very well at converting detritus and dissolved
nutrients into live plankton. Because there is no circulation
pump, the detritus falls down onto the DSB, which has no problem
handling it, and there is a good zooplankton concentration
in both the refugium's water and in its sand bed.
For mechanical filtration and nutrient export, I use a DIY
"Beckett" injector type protein skimmer. I also
use activated carbon and iron-based phosphate remover in a
continuously running canister filter.
DIY skimmer (left) and calcium reactor (right).
For now, I do not use any supplements
other than calcium and food. I do have some crushed coral
in the calcium reactor, which provides some trace elements
other than just calcium, but I plan to add pure calcium carbonate
to the reactor during its next refilling to minimize additions
other than food. In some of my friends' aquariums, which run
without any additions other than food, I see much more natural
coral growth and formation than in typical aquariums.
A DIY water level controller replaces evaporated water automatically.
A peristaltic pump connected to a controller pumps water from
a freshwater reservoir through a DIY limewater reactor (photo
right) to the sump. A Tunze RO controller automatically refills
the freshwater reservoir with RO water as needed.
I feed my tank heavily with a wide
variety of foods, including amino acids and different frozen,
liquid, dry and planktonic foods. A DIY phytoplankton reactor
automatically supplies about 700 ml of Nannochloropsis
sp. phytoplankton to the aquarium daily. The return pump feeds
live zooplankton from the refugium to the main tank.
Corals and Invertebrates:
many colonies of Acropora sp., Pocillopora sp.,
Montipora sp. and Seriatopora sp. Other
corals consist of: Porites sp., Cyphastrea sp.,
Turbinaria reniformis, Hydnophora regida, Merulina
sp., Blastomussa merleti, Caulastrea
sp., Montastraea sp., Favia sp., Favites
sp., Symphyllia sp., Lobophyllia sp., Physogyra
sp., Euphyllia paradivisa, Euphyllia parancora,
Goniopora sp., Trachyphyllia geoffroyi and Fungia
Sinularia dura, Sarcophyton sp., various Zoanthus
sp. colonies, Xenia sp. and Heliopora coerulea.
Tridacna squamosa and Tridacna crocea.
Strombus sp., Astraea sp., Nassarius
sp., Turbo sp. and other snails.
Various sponges grow from the live rock. Protula sp.,
Sabellastarte sp. and some other feather worms, two
Lysmata amboinensis, two L. rathbunae and two
Thor amboinensis shrimps, several pistol shrimps, one
associated with the shrimp goby Amblyeleotris guttata,
symbiotic coral crabs and shrimps, Echinometra sp.
sea urchin and two Linckia laevigata sea stars. Additionally,
I have two cucumbers, Holothuria edulis and Holothuria
atra, the latter of which has divided into two individuals.
I have noticed that Holothuria edulis does not do well
when sharing the same sand bed with Holothuria atra,
probably not because of a shortage of food, but rather I suppose
it may be because some kind of chemical competition. Hence,
I keep the Holothuria edulis in the refugium.
There are also two Bubble-tip anemones, one of which has
divided several times; the other is one of its "clones."
leucostermon - 1
strigosus - 1
bispinosa - 1
semifasciatus - 1
squamipinnis - 3
(♂ + 2♀)
sp. (Peppermint Hogfish) - 1
nematoptera - 2
(♂ + ♀)
ocellaris - 2
(♂ + ♀)
splendidus - 2
(♂ + ♀)
decora - 1
guttata - 1
A few words about animals in the aquarium: Amphiprion
ocellaris, Synchiropus splendidus, Chromis retrofasciata
and Gobiodon okinawae spawn regularly in the tank,
but I have not yet attempted to raise any of the fry. I bought
most of my corals from my LFS despite their lack of bright
coloration, because they were the only corals available, but
they usually brighten up very nicely, given enough time. We
have only one real marine fish shop in Finland, so when I
started this hobby, I attempted to buy every coral I could
find, regardless of its condition, because so few were available.
The situation now, however, is slightly better. Rather than
intentionally collecting only brightly colored species, I
tried instead to nurture back to health every species I have.
I am satisfied with most of my coral's growth rates in my
aquarium, but I'd like to see more natural growth forms, and
there is still much to do in this respect. I have never managed
to successfully keep non-photosynthetic corals and some sponges,
and I suppose this is probably due to irregular and inadequate
feedings. I have three Goniopora, which are two to
three years old, and I think the key to my success with them
is placing them in the refugium from time to time.
I try to learn constantly how to keep a successful and more
natural system, so I test different things to find out which
work better, but I do this in my main aquarium. Many things
in my system change almost constantly, such as light and water
flow, for example. I do not think that my aquarium is as successful
as it could be if it were a more stable system; constant changes
do induce some stress and have caused some problems, but also
allow me to learn and get much more from this hobby, rather
than just keeping a stable aquarium to decorate my living
For more information about Alex's tank, visit
his website here.
Feel free to comment or
ask questions about my tank in the Tank of the Month thread
on Reef Central.
If you'd like
to nominate a tank for Tank of the Month, click here
or use the button to the right.