From Reef Hobbyist Magazine

Link to build thread on
Link to original build thread that was accidentally deleted on





  1. Mr. Ross,

    I first read the article about your 10-year-old reef several months ago, and I must say that I keep learning things from it even upon the 50th reading. I’ve been in the process of building my (hopefully) final tank, and my goals are similar to yours: child-friendliness, aesthetically-pleasing exterior, maximum access and utility in stand construction, and redundancy.

    After thinking a bit, I thought I’d ask you a few questions about how you did certain things.

    1-When you made your tank “built-in”, how did you construct your “canopy”? Did you use simple 2×2 framing above the tank? Did it extend all the way up to the ceiling? I’m thinking about doing something similar. My stand will be industrial shelving (2000 lbs capacity per shelf, $159 at Lowe’s). The tank will be on the center shelf, sump and lights on the bottom and top. I was thinking of using 2×2 framing for a wooden “skirt” and magnetically attaching it to the steel shelving. I’m mostly concerned about heat issues; I’ll probably use a ventilation fan like you did. Any thoughts or warnings here?

    2-Did you notice any real benefit to using 5x250w MH bulbs? I’m planning on using 3xSE Radium 20k, and the folks in my local reef club (MARSH, of Houston) are warning me of the dangers of “overlighting” a tank.

    3-The RDSB
    I’m interested in using an over-tank refugium for production of microfauna. Do you recommend using a DSB to assist in this goal? (I believe you used an SSB). Nitrate reduction will be a secondary and much less important goal here. I want well-fed SPS corals.

    4-Did you actually pay 11.99 for each of 10 locline ball-valves?! (Just curious here)

    5-Regarding your closed-loop (“CL”), would you advise the use of an Oceans Motions 4-way directing water to manifolds similar in form to the ones you used? I have a Dart that I was thinking of using, and instead of having 10 outputs I would have 8x 3/4 inch locline outputs. The 4-way would alternate between the eight outputs in groups of two.

    6-If I use a manifold for my CL, is it necessary to use a ball valve on each one?

    7-In your article you mention that you would have arranged your rock structure differently to maximize the utility of MP40s. What exactly would you have changed? While I appreciate minimalist design, I also like aquariums with SPS corals growing into each other as on a natural reef.

    8-I have 2x 6-foot VHO slots (My aquarium is the same dimensions as your 150g) and a 48-inch ReefBrite strip, and I was planning on using all three options. Overkill?

    9- Do you think behind-the-tank access is critical? I’m not sure I could get away with it in my house (spousal approval probably not forthcoming).


    • Hi Lee,
      1) yep, 2×2 framing using toggle bolts to hold it where there were no beams to screw it into. Any framing of hiding of the stand is decorative, so do whatever looks good.
      2) I did and I didn’t. I like the different looks different bulbs give. I don’t use the 5 x250 anymore, I use 2 lumenarc fixtures that each hold 2 bulbs. So each one holds one 250 14 k and one 250 Radium, but they are only all on for 3 hours together. No problems with overlighting for me.
      3) I haven’t seen any study on what a refuge actually produces, so I don’t know if I can really recommend them for trying to feed SPS coral. I would just feed them a commercial food.
      4) I think I did. I think you can get them cheaper now.
      5) Sure. I used to do that, but took it off when I put the closed loop pump on a timer.
      6) I think so – if you don’t you can’t really control where the water goes, instead it will go to the least path of resistance.
      7) I would have changed it so they could be hidden. That would prolly mean more decorative framing.
      8) I don’t think so, but you should try them and see what you think.
      9) Not critical, but surely helpful. At work a lot of the exhibits only have access from behind!

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