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December 2011 Tank of the Month



This Article Features Photo Zoom

Thorly Tan (Crazy4Acros) Reef Aquarium






First off I would like to thank Reef Central for this honor to showcase my tank as Tank of the Month (TOTM)! My name is Thorly Tan and as a young boy growing up on the island of Oahu Hawaii I could not help but be fascinated by the inhabitants of the ocean, everything from the tiny creatures in tide pools to the giants of the deep blue. My drive to keeping saltwater inhabitants started as a child when I would bring home fish. I would try to keep them in a tank, only to find them dead the following day. Needless to say my learning curve has been by trial and error, but as the years passed filtration technologies improved and allowed us to keep these beautiful creatures in our home. Eventually, I accepted a wonderful job offer that moved me away from the islands out to the desert. Immediately after moving I was longing to have something that reminded me of home and what better way then to have my love of the ocean right in my living room. Here is my piece of the ocean enjoy.








I have had everything from a simple 10-gallon fish only aquarium up to a 180-gallon reef. For this system I decided I wanted a happy medium between the two. I love the look of rimless cubes and decided I would build this tank with focus on simplicity and ease of maintenance. The aquarium is a Lee Mar 36” x 36” x 24” rimless, three-sided low iron glass that holds approximately 135 gallons.






I have been a Berlin method kind of guy and again with focus on simplicity this method fits my vision. The filtration, in my opinion, consists of the bare essentials needed to keep a successful reef tank. Currently my skimmer is a Royal Exclusiv Alpha 170. Due to a leaky external pump seal this was a replacement from the previous Precision Marine Bullet 2. My current lighting is a six bulb T5 system by Tek Light. This lighting system had replaced a single 400W 20k Radium. I switched to a T5 system to be able to play with the coloring and also in hopes of enhancing the colors of my corals. I have noticed more full color throughout the whole colony rather than just the tips since switching from metal halides. Also, I like the fact that I can play with the different bulb combo to achieve my desired effect.


Currently my T6 bulb combination, from front to back, is:


Gieseman Actinic
Gieseman Aquablue
Gieseman Actinic
ATI Purple Plus
Gieseman Aquablue
Gieseman Actinic

System Profile

• Display tank: 135 US gallon Lee Mar aquarium
• Sump: Minimal setup
• Skimmer: Royal Exclusiv Alpha 170
• Lighting: Six bulb T5 system by Tek Light
• Circulation: Vortex MP40, Tunze Turbelle Stream 6101, SICCE Syncra 4.0 pump, and Sequence Barracuda
• Calcium Reactor: Korallin C4002 Calcium Reactor

Water Movement & Chemistry

To keep calcium levels consistent I use a Korallin C4002 Calcium Reactor fed by the return pump. Again I choose to use a reactor with focus on ease of maintenance. I would only have to chance catching the need to refill the C02 bottle and reactor media annually. For water movement I am using a Vortex MP40 on one corner and a Tunze Turbelle Stream 6101 hidden behind the rockwork. The return pump is a SICCE Syncra 4.0 pump. This had replaced a Sequence Barracuda due to a leaky seal. To further minimize maintenance I decided to remove all the sand and go bare bottom. Prior to this I was dosing VSV and Micro Bacter creating an Ultra Low Nutrient System (ULNS) to help the sand bed stay clean. Believe it or not I have no aquarium controllers nor do I monitor my water parameters. I’m a firm believer that the less you mess with it the better it will be. One could do more harm to their system by adjusting things that are sometimes unnecessary just because they wanted to follow a recommended parameter that more than often fluctuates on a normal basis. I have become pretty good of noticing the behavior of the inhabitants of my tank. I use the creatures as the indicators. If nothing has changed with them then I do not bother to modify the aquarium parameters. However any signs of distress I immediately respond.


Water Parameters:
  • Salinity: 53 mS
  • Temperature: 76 - 80 °F
  • pH: 7.8 - 8.2
  • Calcium: 425 ppm
  • Alkalinity: 11 dKh
  • Magnesium: 1200
  • Phosphate: <0.03 ppm
  • Nitrate: 0 ppm








I have always frowned upon having a rock wall, fruit stand, or what I like to call the pile o’ rock look. This tank had presented me with a challenge with creating a pleasing view from all three sides without residing to this look. After countless attempts to utilize all of my rock that I had purchase, I decided to take out a few pieces and with a vision of a bonsai tree created my “Bonsai Inspired Aquascape”. I used a combination of acrylic rods, zip ties, and underwater putty (Aquamend) to attach and secure the pieces of rock together. My rockwork consists of five major pieces and has been going strong for four years. As the years have passed the corals have helped strengthen the structure by encrusting and fusing these pieces together. During the years I have been pruning and trimming as if it was a real Bonsai tree. I have also had to completely remove some colonies as they were overgrowing and dominating over other pieces.



I am a coral enthusiast and have been fascinated by how these little creatures can work together and create the ever-changing huge reef crests in our oceans. In my tank I see them as the main attraction and my fish are just the back up dancers. That being said I have a few species of fishes. My fish list includes:



  • Apogon leptacanthus (Blue Streak Cardinal) x10
  • Chromis atripectoralis (Blue Green Chromis) x3
  • Monacanthus ciliatus (Green Filefish)
  • Apogon parvulus (Red Spot Cardinal)
  • Zebrasoma rostratum (Black Tang)
  • Apolemichthys xanthopunctatus (Gold flake angel)







I have started with 12 Apogon Parvulus, but personally I think this species would do better in a tank with no other fish. Other fish easily startle them. I have lost numerous ones due to being spooked and jump out of the tank. This seems to occur when they are hanging in the open waters or during feeding, which has result in them being lost down the overflow and suffocated in the filter sock. I also noticed they get hassled by the larger shoal of Apogon leptacanthus (Blue Streak Cardinal).

The coral and invertebrate inhabitants include:

  • Echinophyllia sp. (chalice)
  • Acanthophyllia deshayesiana (meat coral)
  • Favites pentagona (war coral)
  • Favites bestae (Christmas favia)
  • Scolymia sp.
  • Blastomussa sps.
  • Acanthastrea echinata
  • Acropora sps.
  • Montipora sps.
  • Entacmaea quadricolor (rose bubble-tip anemone)
  • Various other small and large polyped corals



In conclusion I wanted to create a simple tank that would satisfy my love for the ocean while being out in the desert. One that would not only be pleasing to the eye, but would also be a great piece of décor to the room. This simple design has not taken much of my time maintaining it, resulting in more time for viewing and observing how these creatures grow and transform my creation into their very own. I would like to thank the staff of Reef Central for this wonderful opportunity to share my tank to the world. I’d also like to thank all that have been following my build thread, and responding with wonderful comments, which helped keep this tank and my motivation going!





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

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