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MAY 2007

Snappy's 130 Gallon Reef


I first would like to thank the CanReef staff for all the hard work they put into keeping this site going and making it possible for us to have a great place to learn and glean knowledge from each other in this fantastic hobby. I hope that through my photos and remarks you will be able to feel the passion I have for this hobby and get a sense of the enjoyment I receive from it. I have always been fascinated with the ocean and diverse life forms we find there. It truly is another world and I love this hobby that allows us to keep a small part of it in our homes. I am honored to be given this opportunity to share my little piece of the ocean with you.




I ran freshwater aquariums for years and like many people seldom had less that two at any given time. When I shut my last one down in the late 1980's due to a leak I decided at that time that when I eventually got back into the hobby I would switch to salt water. In October 2004 that dream became a realization when I had a tank custom built. I thought I would begin my salt water adventure with a FOWLR and maybe add in a few soft corals to sway back and forth in the flow. I had seen this kind of display at some fish stores and thought they looked pretty cool. Within about four months I found I was actually buying coral as often as fish and my tank slowly started to become a reef. By spring 2005 I was up to about 24 fish, an RBTA, several LPS with a few leathers and mushrooms as well as some Montipora caps and digitata. My original lighting was a 72" Coralife Power Compact fixture which I thought was pretty bright and assumed it was all I would ever need. However, by the summer 2005 I knew I wanted to upgrade to Metal Halides so I could add in some so called "harder to keep" sps coral such as Acropora.

In July 2005 I upgraded to a 72" Hamilton fixture with 3x175 watt & 2x 96 watt PC actinics. In September 2005 I added a sump and Dec 05 upgraded my protein skimmer. I once again figured I was all set. Then in summer 06 I added in an RO/DI unit with an auto top-off going to the sump. I went to R/O because I had a major hair algae outbreak that almost killed my reef. It got so bad that I did a complete tear-down on the September 2006 Labour Day weekend and was rethinking whether or not to even stay in the hobby. I obviously kept going which is a decision I am pleased I made. It turns out that my skimmer was running at about 1/3 capacity for several months which sent my nitrates through the roof. Right after that ordeal my main ballast went in my light fixture so I was again at a crossroads. It helped me realize my reef wasn't where I wanted it to be anyway, so in October 2006 I once again upgraded my lighting. I bought a fixture that would allow me to create a better sunrise and sunset effect with a higher intensity and then added in some moon lights for extra effect. Now I was closer to the intensity I wanted but the water was getting too hot. I decided after losing many sps colonies from the heat that I needed a chiller. After installing the chiller I still questioned why it had to run so often to keep things cool, I mean my light was hot but not that hot. I did some investigation and discovered I had a faulty heater that was staying on 24/7 and this had been my biggest problem all along. I immediately replaced it and was very disappointed as I had bought an expensive one because I knew I'd be upset if some cheap $30.00 piece of equipment cooked my reef and cost me thousands. Well Murphy's Law is often cruel and failures can happen with anything despite the cost and the so called superior quality.

In November 2006 I connected what had been my acrylic 40 gallon cichlid aquarium in-line to use as an ornamental Refugium & Softie tank. The refugium is made up of live rock, soft corals, and more than a dozen species of macro-algae. This extra water capacity and nutrient exportation has made a huge difference in helping to stabilize the system as well as virtually eliminate nuisance algae growth in the display. Around the same time I also changed out the Seio powerheads to Tunze's with a controller. The difference in the flow and random surge was huge.  However, I have just recently decided I still needed more flow so I have reincorporated my Seio 820’s back into the reef. I now have flow coming from all four corners which creates a really good turbulent current and at the same time utilized some equipment I already had which made good financial sense.  Last year, 2006 was a "reefer’s roller coaster ride" with some ups and a lot of downs and perhaps the biggest leaning curve I've had in the hobby to date. My next addition, likely this summer will be a Calcium Reactor to further automate the system. I am also considering adding a strip of T5 lights to help supplement that little extra intensity I am always looking for. So far 2007 has been a good year for my reef and things are doing quite well, so hopefully I can keep this trend rolling along smoothly (knock on wood).



Main Display - 130 gallon glass euro-braced  

72"Wide x 18"Deep x 24" High.


Refugium - 40 gallon acrylic hex front with built in rear sump (old school)

48" Wide x 18" Deep x 24" High


Sump - 30 gallon acrylic



Tank Chemistry:


Specific Gravity: 1.0255   Alkalinity:  9.5 dkH   Calcium: 460 ppm  

  pH:  8.1   Temperature: 27 C / 79-80 F  Magnesium: 1250  ppm 

Nitrate and Ammonia undetectable

Sump and Equipment:

Return Pump - Ocean Runner 6500

Protein Skimmer - Aqua Medic Turbo Floater 5000 shorty

Skimmer Pumps - 2x Ocean Runner 3500 with needle wheels (1 in sump & 1 external)

Chiller - Aqua Medic AT5000

Lighting Fixture - Aqua Medic "Sexy" Ocean Light (all HQI)

Bulbs - Aqualine  3 x 250 watt 10k & 2x 150 watt 20k

Moon Lights - 2x 1 watt LED (blue)

Powerheads - 2x Seio 820, 3x maxi-jet (for additional flow in behind the rock work)

Tunze Turbelle Stream  1x 6000 & 1x 6100 with Tunze 7095 Multi Controller (with single white LED moon phase light)

Refugium Lighting - 2x 96 watt Power Compact 2x 96 watt Actinic Power Compact

Filter - 200 micron pre-filter sock installed in sump beneath tank’s overflow to improve water clarity

Heater - 200 watt titanium heater with Aqua Medic Temperature Controller

RO/DI - Coralife 3 stage with pump

F/W Reservoir - 45 gallon plastic tub aerated 24/7 to maintain PH level

Top-Off Unit - Aqua Medic SP3000 Single Dosing Pump



Lighting and Photoperiod:

Main Display:

8:00 AM - 1 watt moonlights on                     10:30 AM - moonlight off            

10:00AM - 150 watt 20k m/h on                    11:00 PM - 150 20k's off

12:00 PM - 250 watt 10k m/h on                   8:30 PM - 250 10k's off

10:45 PM - 1 watt moonlights on                  12:00 AM - moonlights off

white led moon phase light runs automatically via sensor while main lights are out

NOTE:  I try to time the photo period in a way in which I can spend more time on the reef while it's active. By starting the lights a little later in the day they are on for a longer time after I get home from work which gives me more time to tinker and enjoy. However I have recently set my "fuge" lights to come on 5 hours before the main display to capture a bit of the reverse photo effect for the PH. Because the refugium is an ornamental tank and I tinker with it too, I don't run the photo periods completely in reverse the way it should be. Time will tell if it boosts the ph level satisfactorily before the MH lighting turns on. Somehow I'm sure that some is still better than not at all.



5:00 AM - actinics on                           9:00 PM - actinics off

6:00 AM - pc's on                                8:00 PM - pc's off






Feeding and Tank Husbandry:

Feeding is provided on a daily basis, generally once a day, and food is alternated to give their diet a variety of flakes, pellets, brine(super)shrimp, mysis shrimp, cyclopeze and "nori" seaweed. I also mix in some "Reef-roids" or similar product, every few days to provide some extra food for the corals.

In January 2007 I started running the Polyp-Labs "Reef-Fresh" program which is said to give results similar to zeovit. In the four months I have been experimenting with this program I believe it has helped with many of the coral's color and polyp extension, but seems to have had the opposite affect on a couple of others. So for the most part I'm pleased with the results but the verdict is still out. This program requires dosing twice a day which has obviously increased my daily maintenance, so if I do continue to stay on this program I plan to have it automated. I will give it a full 6 months to see if the few corals that lost color will come back around and then make my decision.

I also use Warner Research 2 part dosing for Calcium & Alkalinity on a daily basis and plan to install a calcium reactor ASAP. I manually add trace elements to the mix as needed.

Routine Maintenance:

Skimmer - empty & clean twice a week

Pre-Filter bags - change twice a week

Carbon - change out monthly (media bag kept passively in sump)

Water Changes - 10-15% biweekly

Tank Inhabitants: 

Fish &Inverts: (main display)                                     

1-scooter blenny      
1-yellow tang                     
1-blue tang                         
1-yellow coris wrasse                                  
1-six line wrasse                                
1-coral beauty angel                                   
1-royal gramma                                  
1-bi-colour blenny                                     

2-black percula clown                                  
1-yellow tail damsel                                   
1-blue devil damsel                                    
1-4 stripe damsel                                                        
3-green chromis                                         

2-watchman gobies                                    
1-banggai cardinals                                    
1-red serpent star                                      
1-black brittle star                                      
1-orange(Fromia Milleporella)star                  

3-dragon face pipefish                                

30-hermit crabs                                  
2-skunk cleaner shrimp                                                                                                       
1-fire shrimp                                              
1-peppermint shrimp                                   
?-snails (hard to put a number)
1-Entacmaea quadricolor (Green bubble tip anemone)
1-coco worm
4-hawaiian feather dusters
1-red tunicate

4-Tridacna crocea
1-Tridacna gigas




Refugium/Softie tank:

1-flame angel    
1-spotted wrasse
1-yellow clown goby

1-marine betta
1-purple fire fish
1-blue striped pipefish
2-orchid dottyback
        1-pencil urchin           

2-mandarin (m&f)
    2-skunk cleaner shrimp  


Macro Algae
Halimeda opuntia    
   Halimeda durvillei     
Halimeda Discoidea

Caulerpa Prolifera
Caulerpa Taxifolia

Ulva sp.
 Rhizophora mangle


Chlorodesmis (red)
Chlorodesmis (green)


Live Rock:

Approximately 400 Lbs containing a mixture from: Fiji, Jakarta, Vanuatu, Caribbean & Belize, Hawaii, Mexico & Tonga.

I apologize that I don't know all the proper names of many of the corals in my reef so I will only list those that I have identified through research and/or a lot of help from others in the hobby who are more knowledgeable than myself. I have tried to list them by the general taxonomic family first and then by genus, followed by species. Oh and I will apologize in advance as it's likely I made an error or two.


Small Polyp Scleractinia


A.Granulosa, A. Loripes, A. Rosaria, A. Nana, A.Verweyi, A.Hoksamai, A.Grandis, A.Microphthalma, A.Humilus, A.Gemifera, A.Jacquelineae, A.Selago, A.Loisetteae, A.Prostrata, A.Youngei, A.Austrea, A.Tortousa, A.Valida, A.Seriata, A.Millepora, A.Aspera, A. Kimbeensis, A.Suharsonoi, A.Formosa, A.Tenuis, A.Willisae, etc.


Pocillopora Damicornis, Stylophora Pistillata, Stylophora Subseriata, Seriatopora Hystrix, Seiatopora Caliendrum


M.Digitata, M.Capricornis, M.Danae, M.Verrucosa, M.Capitata, M.Confusa, M.Samarensis, M.Flabellata, M.Tuberculosa, etc.


Hydnophora Pilosa, HydnophoraRigida, Pavona Cactus, Porites, Oulophylia sp, Mycedium Elephantotus, Turbinaria Reniformis, Echinophyllia Aspera, etc.

Large Polyp Scleractinia

Blastomosa Wellsi, Lobophyllia sp, Symphyllia sp, Caulastrea Furcata, Echinopora sp, Favia Speciosa, Trachyphyllia Geoffroyl, Euphyllia Ancora, Euphyllia Divisa, Turbinaria sp, Acanthastrea Lordhowensis, Acanthastrea Echinata, etc.  


Corallimorpharians (mushroom corals)

Rhodactis, Actinoddiscus (=Discosoma)Striata, Mutabilis, Cardinalis, etc.


Tubipora Musica, Xenia sp. , Alcyonium, Lobophytum Pauciflorum, Sarcophyton Elegans, Sinularia Notanda, Sinularia Dura, Capnella Imbricata, etc.


Briareum Asbestiumi, Rumphella, Acanthogorgia,

Zoanthids (Various species)

Pachyclavularia Violacea (green star polyps)



A Few Comments I’ve heard:

In Mike Palletta's "Ultimate Marine Aquariums" he asks his subjects about some of the remarks people make when they see their reefs. I hope he won't mind me borrowing his idea as I thought it's a good one and I often get a kick out of people's reactions when they see my reef for the first time.

Is all that stuff alive? Are those plants? They're all corals? Even those? Are they real? How did you get them?

Do you bring these back when you go scuba diving? Is that salt water? I used to have goldfish but it wasn'’t like this.

 One reaction I find quite rewarding is when people simply stand there and say wow. (repeatedly)

But being of Christian faith, I think my all time favorite comment was when one individual out of the blue stated "I've always believed in evolution but after seeing this I think there must be a creator."





What would I do different next time?

I had this tank custom built to fit in a particular spot in the house and then afterwards decided it shouldn't go there. This is why I had the tank front to back so narrow at 18". If I could do it again I would have that dimension at least 30" to give me more options with aquascaping. I would also build a fish/equipment room and build the tank into the wall. I do have the green light from my wife and I do have room to do it so I just might have a new project for the future. I've been toying with the idea for some time now but only time will tell what's on the horizon. But with all that said, you may have noticed I'm a bit of a coral junkie so the chances of upgrading are pretty good.




Although my aquarium's look and especially my tastes have continuously evolved I still have my original s/w tank as the main display. This amazing hobby has taken me up and down and back and forth, through euphoric feelings of reward to great depths of frustration. There is a saying "Experience is what you get when you were expecting something else." All of the "school of hard knocks" experiences along with my desire to learn and improve have brought me to where I am today. I still have much to learn and am never satisfied for very long with what I've achieved so more changes to my reef are imminent. But for now anyway I have what I would call an "SPS dominated Mixed Reef". With my reef continually growing and corals so often crowding each other, I have found that regular pruning and fragging is necessary and also a lot of fun. Having frags available creates an opportunity for me to meet lots of great people in the hobby, make some cool trades and even get a few costs covered now and then. This hobby has had a profound effect on my life and has even changed the way I scuba dive. I used to mainly look for the big things; dolphins, rays, turtles, sharks, etc which I will always enjoy seeing, but since having my own reef I spend more of my dives looking at coral details and the small things many people miss, for example Christmas tree worms, nudibranchs, flatworms, tunicates, etc.



I would like to thank Canreef for selecting my reef to be the FTOTM for May 2007, as mentioned it is an honor. I also want to thank all the people who have helped to educate me and given their support since I got started. I would also like to thank the suppliers that have put up with my bending their ear trying to learn from their knowledge, particularly Wai's Aquarium and Gold Aquariums' in Calgary, Reefwerkz and A/I in Edmonton and Ocean Aquatics and J&L in BC. There are so many people I have learned from, too many to mention here but I again want to thank you all for sharing your knowledge, time and friendship. Last but certainly not least I want to thank my wife for always being supportive of me and the crazy expenses she always turns a blind eye to. I couldn't have done it without her.

 I hope that this has provided a little of something for everyone to enjoy. Thanks, happy reefing and I'll see you on the board.




Page designed by Paul Callow, 2005