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October 2014 Tank of the Month



This Article Features Photo Zoom

Xuan Li's (jacky.l) 170 US-gallon Reef Aquarium






It is such an honor to be chosen TOTM, I want to thank Reef Central for the opportunity to share my reef tank on the Reefkeeping magazine. At the same time, I would like to thank all my friends that have given me help and support along the way, I have gained a lot of knowledge in Reef Central. My name is Xuan Li, I’m from a city in China called Taiyuan, where I grew up and live now. This is an inland city with a very primitive marine market, I never thought I would be able to build a real reef tank right here at home, but it actually succeeded




I first came into contact with reef aquariums in 2001 at a local shopping center. It was like a dream, one that I never thought could be real. But then in 2007, I came across an online video that changed my mind. At that time, my wife and I started to envision what it would be like to have my very own reef tank. In the days after, I did a lot of research online and embarked on the long journey of learning. Due to various reasons, it wasn’t until August of 2011, using my move as an opportunity that I got my first reef tank, which is the tank of interest. As of now, it has been running for 3 years. This is a 170 gallon, 3 way view aquarium. During the beginning phase I did a lot of experimentations: setting up refugium, using the filtration system to load GFO and activated carbon, adding 10+ ZEO additives, with daily efforts mainly spent on maintaining the tank. It was a lot of work but I loved it. However, in June of 2013, I had lost several SPS corals grown from small fragments, one of which had grown quite large, due to overly low nutrient levels. I was really bummed and started to analyze the issue and make system level adjustments. I decided to use the simplest method for maintenance. I removed the refugium and two filters, stopped adding most of the additives, leaving nothing but the filter bags, skimmer, and one circulation pump in the sump. A clean sump is visually appealing, and after running it for more than a year, proved to be quite effective. I now have more time to appreciate my reef aquarium.








System Profile

• Main Display Aquarium: 150cm x 70cm x 60cm (59in x 27in x 23in) 140 US gallon
• Sump: 120cm x 50cm x 40cm (47" x 19" 15")
• Skimmer: AE CLIN
• Lighting: Silver Ceiling 54W x8
• Return Pump: Powerjet 9000
• Water Circulation: Tunze 6105 x4
• ATO: Tunze 3155
• Dosing Equipment: Bubble Magus Dosing Pump



Filter bags are very practical; it can filter out most of the impurities and allow the water to remain transparent. I use the skimmer from AE CLIN; it’s been more than three years and still very satisfied with its performance. Aside from that, I don’t have any other filtering equipment. I have a Powerjet9000 for circulation, although it’s been more than three years and I have never cleaned it, its performance is still fairly stable. Hoping it will stay that way.










I use sodium bicarbonate, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride and potassium chloride to supplement alkalinity, calcium, magnesium and potassium. These are added with Bubble Magus’s dosing pump.

I believe a rich Bacteria in the system is very important. I currently use three types of Bacteria: Bio Digest, ZEO bak, and Brightwell MicroBacter7. Each week, I add one of the three to my tank and from an operations standpoint it’s been ideal so far.



Water Parameters:
  • Salinity: 1.026
  • pH: 8.1 - 8.4
  • Calcium: 420 ppm
  • Alkalinity: 8 dKH
  • Magnesium: 1350ppm
  • Temperature: 26 - 28 oC (78 - 82 oF)




I have always used T5HO for lighting, for the lamp I use 4 ATI Blue+, 2 ATI Aquablue Special and 2 ATI Purple, on between the hours of 11am to 10pm daily.










Maintenance & Feeding

My tank is fairly easy to maintain at the moment. I use a magnetic brush to clean the algae on the aquarium walls every other day; I like my tank clean and bright. I clean my filter bag once a week. I use Tropic Marin PRO-REEF seasalt mixed with RO water to change out 60L of seawater. I clean my Skimmer collection cup once a month. Because my lights don’t have retaining glass I need to clean the T5 reflector film every 3 months (this is my least favorite part as it is quite a hassle). I generally take out my TUNZE6105 to remove calcium alginate every 3-4 months. I change out my T5 lamp once a year. I have a 60L fill tank, and I use TUNZE 3155 to fill the tank. Its performance is stable and precise. Because the city I live in doesn’t get too hot in the summer, I did not use a cooler, just a fan placed above my main tank to lower the temperature. Even during the hottest times, this can ensure the water won’t exceed 28 degrees Celsius.

Because I have suffered the loss of SPS due to low nutrient levels, I now stick to a very regular schedule for feeding my fish and reefs. I like to use a variety of different feeds as a mixture. For fish feed, I use Newlife Spectrum Thera +A, Ocean Nutrition Formula One, Ocean Nutrition Forumula Two, Hikari MEGABITE RED, and Firstbite Marine Pellets. Each week about an hour after I turn off the lights, I will feed my reefs a coral mixture of Tropic Marin Pro-coral phyton, Tropic Marin PRO-CORAL ZOOTON, Brightwell Zooplanktos-L, Brightwell Phytogold-M, cyclop-eeze, and Brightwell CoralAmino. I believe a diverse feed will help improve the health of my fish and coral reefs.




I raised around 30 or so fish, it’s so beautiful to watch them swim among the reefs. My wife and daughter feed them twice a day. They love taking care of the fish. My SPS count isn’t high, I like to give each SPS ample space to grow and thrive.











I plan to change all T5HO to LED’s for lighting towards the end of this year. LED technology has become more and more mature; it can add more fantasy to my tank while emitting less heat and providing better energy efficiency. I like trying out new technologies on my aquarium.




I want to thank my wife, who has always supported me. Without her, there would be no aquarium. She’s the one to get me started and her support is the reason I stuck with it through each and every issue encountered. I hope that, with her continued support, my aquarium can run for a long, long time. I’d like to thank Reef Central for this rare showcasing opportunity. And I want to thank all those friends that have given us guidance and help along the way, thank you all.







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

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