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August 2014 Tank of the Month



This Article Features Photo Zoom

Valentina Frugoni's (valentina84) 50 US gallon Reef Aquarium






Hello everyone, my name is Valentina Frugoni. I am from Italy. I am a young hobbyist, my first tank was set up 4 years ago, and was a nano reef of only 15 gallons with biological filter. This ended being no good. After this experience, I decided to set up a larger tank of about 50 gallons but without a sump because I was not aware of these.






I began to grow my first SPS corals with good results, but I was not satisfied and wanted more color. Especially after seeing other tank around the internet I knew that it is possible. I needed to have mine. From then on I developed a real obsession for SPS corals that prompted me to study, experience, and learn so much in just a few years. I decided to design the new setup from zero. Using new equipment and a new layout. It was hard at the beginning to handle a new aquarium with LED lighting. I was a neophyte, but I was motivated to understand it all. I slowly overcame the initial difficulties. And now, here I am writing this article.


System Profile

The aquarium was built using 10mm thick Starphire glass. It was sealed using transparent silicone for that acrylic look, which I really like. It is supplied with water circulation using XAQUA. It was originally filled in July 2011. The aquarium sits on an iron frame while the exterior base is covered with wooden walls.








Sump & Filter

The aquarium is set up using the basic Berlin method. I then made a few additions to this method. One of which was a self-made zeolite reactor that I feel at times the system needs them. When I do using it, it is not for a long time. The sump is a glass cube (2.5’ x 2.5’ x 2.5’). Within this lies a Deltec skimmer APF 600 with which we are very satisfied. An Eheim Compact 1000 pump powers the skimmer and the foam is created using one Aquabee 2000/1 pinwheel pump. Occasionally, we will use charcoal placed near the exit of the skimmer. We supplement calcium and carbonates using a Bubble Magus reactor C-150 filled with coralline sand and some kz magnesium granules. The return pump is a Sicce 2.5 that also helps to supply the calcium reactor. An Eheim 200W heater complete the technical stuff.






The lighting fixture is Italian made LED lamp. The lamp is made with only Cree XR-E cool white 3w and Cree XPG royal blue 3w LEDs. There is a total of 56 white and 25 blues LEDs.

Normally, I use the lamp is only illuminated at 75% power for the white channel and 90% for the royal blue channel. Total power is around 200W.







Water Parameters:
  • Salinity: 35 ppt
  • pH: 8.3 - 8.5
  • Calcium: 400 ppm
  • Magnesium: 1300 ppm
  • Nitrate: undetectable
  • Potassium: 380 - 400 ppm



The tank started with around 24 kg of fresh live rock. It was taken from various places for to try to introduce biodiversity. It is very difficult to setup the rockwork in an aesthetically pleasing manner. A good layout with rocks is needed because I love corals and need to have many, many places to put all my colonies and frags. Check Food Lovers Specials and Game Specials.

The bottom of the aquarium is a shallow sandbed. It contains a few kilograms of aragonite sand, less than a total bag. I love sand in the tanks, but it is very difficult to keep clean. Also, with strong pumps its very hard to keep it flat. I feel that the sand is necessary to have better stability and with having this substrate it offers a chance for bacteria to survive, along with various animals (snails worms and other useful detritivores).


Feeding & Dosing

 I use only Boron, Potassium and trace elements if don’t change water for long time.

Normally I dose supplements like food and other additives, but I prefer to make my own mix that works very well. I mix some RO water with Reefbooster, D&D SPS Powder, and KZ amino acid concentrate. I dose a little bit of this compound daily, before lights turn off.

I don’t have a hard fast rule on how much to dose. I look at the animals to gauge when they need more or less food. If they need more I will double dose, if they are well colored or healthy I half the normal. I found if you look at the film on the glass it is a good method to determine how well the aquarium is fed.


  • Crysiptera sp.
  • Labroides dimidiatus
  • Amphiprion ocellaris x2
  • Chromis viridis x4
  • Ptereleotris evides
  • Ctenochaetus strigosus
  • Zebrasoma scopas



Now I am setting up another tank because I am in the process of moving from Rome to Milan. Obviously the move is difficult enough but I decided to build a new tank and is currently cycling with dry rock. It will be all Acropora species and run LED lights.





Feel free to comment or ask questions about my tank in the Tank of the Month thread on Reef Central.

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