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June 2013 Tank of the Month



This Article Features Photo Zoom

Brian Vu's (Dejavu) SPS Dominated 270 US-gallon Reef Aquarium






I would like to start by thanking my wife Tracy, my two daughters Nadia and Anya, Reef Central and the online reefing communities that have allowed me to share my dedication to the hobby that we all share a passion for. There have been so many tanks and hobbyists that have inspired me to reach where I am today. My name is Brian Vu; most of you will recognize me as Dejavu from the online boards. I live in Hudsonville, which is a small suburb outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan. I have always been grateful to live in an area where there has been such a great network of reefers. Every day I am grateful to have met and made friends with so my great people who share this same passion.


The Beginning

As a young child I can always remember having an aquarium in my house. I mostly kept tropical fish or native fish that I would spend my summer collecting. It wasn’t until 1998 that my interest in saltwater aquariums began. I can remember spending hours studying my good friend Dave’s tank, amazed at the fish and corals that he had housed in his tank. The complexity of life in such a closed environment was what sent me over the edge. It wasn’t long before Dave helped me setup a 40 gallon reef tank of my own. After a few different setups over a few years I moved onto a 90 gallon SPS setup, where my first struggle in reefing began. It wasn’t long after that that I joined my first online community searching for answers.






Current Setup

As my passion for SPS grew, so did my need for space. My 90 gallon tank could no longer hold my desire for collecting corals. About the same time my tank was out grown, so was the house that my wife and I lived in. Our search for a new house also began the planning of my “dream setup”. Due to a slow housing market, I was had 2 years for planning and saving. Finding the right house that fit my family and tank needs was a bit of a challenge. Once we found the house that we wanted, the final touches to my setup could be put in place. I ordered a 270 gallon tank from Miracles in Glass. The tank is viewable through Starphire glass on three sides, and I selected a center overflow due to my space limitations. Since there wasn’t an ideal place for an in-wall setup and fish room, it was very important to have a stand that could house all my equipment and at the same time be appealing to the eye. I had a few goals that had to be met with the stand and canopy as it played a major part in the setup. Function and durability were at the top of this list. Functionality was important because I wanted to keep things easy to work on. The stand can be accessed from all four sides of the tank though double sided doors. At the same time if the doors aren’t big enough the whole cover of the stand can be removed to access in the event of a major problem. The canopy has access from all four sides too. The reflectors for the lights are mounted on a track at the top of the canopy. The reflectors can be removed from the end of the tank for cleaning. Durability was also important because I wanted a facing that would withstand water, but still look new years down the road. From past tanks I knew that wood finished stain can’t take the consistent water spill and still look new. I decided on facing the stand and canopy with black counter-top laminate, as it is easy to clean and holds up to water well. The inside of the stand and canopy were painted white with oil-base (4 coats) paint, the SPAR urethane (6-7 coats) for the outside of the stand frame, to prevent any water rot.





System Profile

• Display tank: Miracles in Glass 270 US gallons (72in x 36in x 24in)
• Display Lighting: 400 watt Radium metal halide x3 driven by Blueline E-ballast with Lumarc Reflectors
• Sump: 85 US gallons (48in x 24in x 17in)
• Frag Tank: Integrated in sump (24in x24in x 17in) lit with an x4 39W T5
• Water Circulation: Tunze 6105 x4
• Return Pump: Water Blaster 12500
• Controller: Neptune Systems APEX
• Heating: Finnex 400 watt titanium x2
• System Reactors: GEO 624 Calcium Reactor, PM SR45 media reactor and carbon in a TLF PhosBan Reactor







As we all know water quality is very important. Throughout my time in this hobby, I have used a few different skimmers. I have yet to have one that I have been happier with than the current one I have. The tank is filtered with a Bubble King DeLuxe 250 internal. Besides skimming, I also use GFO in a PM SR45 media reactor and carbon in a TLF PhosBan Reactor. All drains have filter socks on them to aid with detritus removal.



Water Circulation

Currently the flow in my tank is provided by four Tunze 6105’s. They are controlled by a Neptune Apex controller. I have plans to add more flow down the road as the corals grow, but for now this is enough. The return flow is managed by a Water blaster 12500. Off the return line is a manifold that runs my calcium reactor, PM SR45 media reactor and the TLF PhosBan Reactor









When it comes to light, there are so many choose available, in the end it’s a personal choice. For me that choice is metal halides. It might be a little old school, but I have had very good success with this choice and many of the tanks that inspire me have used the same. When I first planed the lighting for the tank, the plan was to use VHO’s for supplement with three 400w metal halides running Radiums bulbs with Lumarc Reflectors. After seeing the Radiums in action, I didn’t see a need for supplement lighting. To be honest I probably would be fine with three 250w metal halides, but for now I’m happy with the current setup.


Maintenance, Supplements & Feeding

Everyone has a goal of having beautiful corals. In my opinion it starts with a good and steadily maintenance program. Weekly maintenance is done with 50 gallon water changes, cleaning of the skimmer cup and testing for alkalinity, phosphates and salinity. Monthly, or as needed maintenance includes cleaning all pumps in vinegar, changing media, and cleaning the sump. I’m a strong believer in not adding anything to your tank that you do not test for. In following that belief I don’t add many supplements other then magnesium on the occasion it is low. Alkalinity and calcium are held in check via a GEO 624 calcium reactor. I feed a mixture of frozen food a few times a day. I guess you could say I’m a heavy feeder, but I manage feeding a lot by feeding small amounts more frequently. I’m not a big fan of feeding reef tanks flake or pellet foods as they are normally higher in phosphates. It’s not to say I don’t use them, I do, but only in for fish quarantine.

Water Parameters:
  • Salinity: 1.027
  • pH: 8.1 - 8.4
  • Calcium: 420 ppm
  • Alkalinity: 7 - 8 dKH
  • Magnesium: 1380 ppm
  • Temperature: 74 - 77oF
  • Phosphate: 0.03








Livestock, this is why we are all in the hobby. For me this is the best part. As you might have seen I’m addicted to SPS corals. As long as I can remember SPS corals have excited me. To this day that excitement is still here. I would say 90% of my corals in my tank are SPS, from “collector/designer” corals to your everyday “common” SPS. In the end whatever catches my eye ends up in the tank. Keeping fish has been a growing interest as my time in this hobby has grown. I find myself spending as much time looking for the next fish to add to my system, as I do looking for that next coral. Currently angels and butterfly fish have my attention. Over the next few years I plan to expand my current fish list with a few select choices, but for now here is my current fish stock.



  • Acreichthys tomentosus
  • Centropyge acanthops
  • Centropyge multicolor x2
  • Chaetodontoplus mesoleucus x2
  • Cirrhilabrus jordani x3
  • Ctenochaetus tominiensis
  • Halichoeres iridis
  • Hemitaurichthys polylepis
  • Pomacentrus alleni x4
  • Zebrasoma flaviscens









Once again I would like to thank my wife and two daughters, without their support I would have never reached this point. I would also like to give thanks to GRMAS and the supporting members, all the friends that I have made while being in this hobby, and Reef Central and all the other online communities that allow us to share this hobby that we all enjoy so much. Lastly, a big thanks to all the LFS in my area, without them many of us would never have thought about starting this hobby.







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

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