View Full Version : My 1400+ liter (375g) reef system.

09/18/2016, 09:29 AM
Hi All,

Not entirely new here, but sure not being a well know reefer in RC I’ll give a short introduction first. I’m from the Netherlands having a RSM250 for almost 6 years. I moved from a small apartment to a nicer and bigger house last year and with that I was able to start a bigger reef tank. An RSM250 is nice but I had a dream and it looked like this (is it from someone on RC?):

Having also a small 60liters cube with a Peacock mantis I wanted to build a new system supporting both a large reef and a special tank for little mr T.

Here’s my topic in the mantis forum btw:

I’ve already started up the system in June but shall take you through some history beginning in December 2015 because that’s where my new adventure started. I also shall post the steps I’ve taken not all at the same time but try to get to the day of today as quick as I can.

The beginning

I didn’t want to have a cluttered set of displays in the living room and therefor the set of tanks needed to seamlessly connect together. Having a single tank with a divider in it was not an option because that’s just ugly.
With this in mind I started creating a design in December and came up with the idea to have a single cabinet with two 2 tanks on it. This also gained extra space underneath the tanks to add the sump, skimmer and other technical stuff, plumbing and also a frag-tank and ATO reservoir.
Also my dream tells me that the reef tank should at least be 250g big so the dimensions of the large display tank is 120x120x80 cm (48"x48"x24"). I decided to go for cube because of the dept it gives and it suited best in the living room ;)

Here is a first sketch drawing a made

And with the cabinet open (stekkenbak is dutch for fragtank):

Drawing the tank gives me insight and while doing it I've refined the details more until they where ready to send out to a builder.

Large tank overflow

Small tank overflow

And sump

09/18/2016, 09:57 AM
Rock and scaping

I'm a fan of fresh live rock to startup a tank but knowing that I needed 6 or 7 boxes I decided to mix fresh live rock with dead rock to keep costs within an acceptable range. I managed to buy 6 boxes of dead rock which was still covered with algae and dead coral peaces. To clean the rock out I first removed the dead stuff with a high pressure cleaner and then soaked it for a week in a NaOH (lots of it) and water.
The NaOH resolves all organic material (including your own skin so always wear rubber gloves when handling this stuff).


After rinsing it for two more weeks with RO water where I replaced the water every 4 days the result was clean and odor free rock, ready for some scaping.

Realizing this was what I thought a good idea at first wasnít as good after al because rock is heavy even if itís dry. I started building pillars in the attic room and needed to carry it downstairs two floors without breaking stuff finally. So I stopped and waited for the tank to arrive first so I could resume scaping in the tank. (At this time the tank wasnít ordered yet :))

09/18/2016, 10:50 AM
Technology, gadgets and more

To be able to keep the reef tank of my dream having large colorful SPS and LPS colonies, and supporting beautiful fish you need good equipment and a good reefer. So I aimed for the equipment because than the only failure can be me :p
In the first months of this year (tank still not ordered) I went through the several ForSale pages on the local forums to find top quality equipment second hand.
Here is the list of equipment I have installed in the system:

Return pump: RedDragon 12000
Skimmer: Bubble King Super Marin 250
Flow: 2x Vortech MP40W
Lighting reef tank: 2x Giesemann Aurora 4 x 54watt T5 & 3 x 85watt led,
Lighting mantis tank: tbd. (thinking of Ecotech Radion XR15 G4)
Calcium reactor: Dastaco XtremA + Ultegra controller
Computer: Neptune Apex full options (Temp, Ph, ORP, Salinity, AFS, 2nd EB6(the one for europe), Ecotech module, break-out box)
UV-C: Aqua Medic Helix 36 Watt
Ozone: Sander C50

Most of this equipment is second hand except for de Apex computer + modules and the tanks, sump & cabinet itself

Some of the stuff :)

2x Giesemann Aurora 4 x 54watt T5 & 3 x 85watt led

Apex gadgets

Fragtank fixture


09/18/2016, 11:06 AM
Ordering the Tank

In March I finally found a manufacturer (with help from my LFS) to build the tanks and cabinets.
It was a company in Belgium and they make high standard custom tanks & cabinets.
They invited me to come and visit they factory so I could see a stage of the build of my tank in person :)

The factory. They had a LOT of solar panels attached!!

The building process. The tanks were glued and drying

The welded frame made in INOX stainless steel

09/18/2016, 11:24 AM
The delivery

While waiting for the tank to be build I had to move the RSM because it was standing on the spot where the new system was planned. I also got an electrician to create an extra power outlet with separate group. Thatís the ugly box sticking out of the floor.



After 10 weeks of torturing patience the announcement came that the setup was ready for delivery. Unfortunately some mistakes had been made and needed fixing so the delivery truck left with the cabinet leaving me with only a big tank and the small size cabinet. Then I saw that the color on the cabinet was wrong too. The finish was matte instead of high gloss so this was also taken back the be fixed. So I ended up with nothing.

After again 2 weeks of more waiting pain the delivery was made and the system could be bolded and build.


That's me with the power tool :P

And finally after 5 months planning and ordering, it's stands and shines!!https://c8.staticflickr.com/9/8451/29139682543_2d3d589b60_c.jpghttps://c6.staticflickr.com/9/8247/29139680933_8fded1c573_c.jpg

09/18/2016, 02:38 PM
The tank and stand look very nice. Looking forward to the rest of the build.

09/18/2016, 03:36 PM
Woodwork and tank look sleek!!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

09/19/2016, 01:39 PM
The tank and stand look very nice. Looking forward to the rest of the build.

Woodwork and tank look sleek!!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Thanks guys!!

09/19/2016, 02:05 PM
Installing the tank

After the tank was delivered it was time to install the equipment, fix the plumbing and scape the rocks into a reef. The date was around May 20th.

The first step I took was the make the whole inside of the cabinet high gloss white. It has a more appealing effect and also is easier to keep clean. I used plastic wrap to accomplish it and the result is stunning, especially with the led light strip I installed.
Together with a red underlay underneath the sump it has the nice red/white colouring.

I already planned out most of the plumbing on paper to know what pieces I needed and had the layout mapped out in my head knowing that eventually the real layout was defined during the actual plumbing.

The third stage was to put all electrical stuf like wires, powerstrips, power supplies etc out of sight and away from salt creep. For this I made L profile casing, added a DJ switch and put everything behind this. Nice and clean.
The same dry area has room for the Dastaco Xtrema reactor.

Finally, it was time for some scaping. I wanted an open structure with pillars and bridge like structures where fish had hiding places and I had lots of room to put corals. I didn’t want the scape to be to perfect and mimic just a spot in the shallow area of a reel reef.

And a video :)


09/20/2016, 03:12 PM
woah.. this is going to be one awesome set up.

09/25/2016, 10:02 AM
Cycle time!

When everything was build, fixed and in place it was time to fill it up with tap water to check for leaks and see if all equipment was working.


3 days later 1600 liters of natural seawater was delivered and the start was a fact. This was on June 1st.
As I wrote in a previous post I started up with around 80% dead rock and 20% fresh life rock. I also planned to do a fast cycle during 2 weeks and then have it ready to start stocking it like KorallenZucht and FaunaMarin described it in their methods. I know there are people out there thinking this is grazy and you need at least wait 6 to 8 weeks and have water params for nitrite, nitrate etc. on zero for some time before even thinking about adding anything, but Iím convinced this is not the best way to cycle. In my opinion you should start the cycle adding additional bacteriaís (from a bottle) the keep the nitrite and nitrate spikes low so most of the living creatures survive. If phosphate and nitrate measure acceptable levels ea. Po4 of around 0.04 and No3 of around 5 the system should be stressed by adding fish. This give all strains of bacteria the right nutritionís to feed and grow. If you wait too long and let the params go to zero, you lose some strains because they die of starvation.


1 and a half week later I added 5 bags of live sand

The mantis mansion

Frag tank with ball of Cheato

09/25/2016, 10:02 AM
After 2 and a half weeks from day 1 the levels where great and none toxic so I added the first cleaners and fish. I choose to add the Copperband first too because I had planned to add more tangs in the feature.


09/25/2016, 11:09 AM
Transfer animals from my previous tank, the RSM250

I waited a week to see how the water params were doing after the new fish where added to the tank before I decided to move the animals from my RSM250 to their new accommodation. I also added some test corals (an acanthastrea and montipora digitata) in week 2 to see how those where doing.
In the 4th week I decided it was time for the move.

First the mantis got it's new home.


The frag tanks was ideal for pieces I didn't have a good spot for yet.


09/25/2016, 11:14 AM

And the final result!


I was also able to get a leopard wrasse couple in the week after the big move.


09/25/2016, 12:55 PM
I can't believe how clean your sump looks. I'd keep the covers off personally to show that off. Incredibly impressive.

09/27/2016, 11:59 AM
I can't believe how clean your sump looks. I'd keep the covers off personally to show that off. Incredibly impressive.

Thanks! The sump area and equipment is also part of the hobby for me. Keeping it spotless helps me keeping control on the system :)

09/27/2016, 12:05 PM
The reef after 5 weeks (I don't know how to embed these youtube movies)



09/27/2016, 12:30 PM
After 6 weeks the reef was maturing and the rock was loosing it's pale colour. Because it is still a young reef there was some short hair alge growing on the rocks. No problem for me and the tank :)


I also added this nice couple which I got from a fellow reefer

It wasn't all sunshine and happiness btw. Due to what I think was an to immature system without the necessary amount of copepods and other reef critters I lost the Chelmon. It was eating all frozen food fed twice a day but suddenly he got thinner and eventually stopped eating at all. I think it didn't got all nutrients it needed to stay healthy and got sick.

Also I had a Salarias Ramosus which got sucked up un the return pipe when I did power off the return pump. No explanation needed about what happened when I powered on the pump again I assume. It is a Red Dragen 12000

09/27/2016, 12:43 PM
ATO finally!

I was waiting a long time for the float switches I wanted to become available but after 8 weeks after startup I got them. The switcher are from AMS, the guys who build the Dastaco and Sumpguard systems and are top quality.

Because I have a Neptune Apex system and a break-out box it's possible to implement al the functions the AMS Sumguard has.

Waterlevel monitoring in the sump. (To low: shuts down return pump, To high: shuts down skimmer pump, Lower: starts ATO pump)

Waterlevel monitoring in the RO tank (Apex warns me if the level get low)

Level monitoring in skimmer cup. To high sends out alarm and shuts down skimmer pump.

The Dastaco alarm connected to the Apex

I also connected the AquaMedic Helix UV-C after that for the next 'challenge' :)

09/27/2016, 12:51 PM
Tank shots after 8 weeks (first week of August)


High tech chiller for the hot summer days :p

09/27/2016, 01:03 PM
Project "Acanthurus leucosternon"

In the first week of August I started the next 'challenge' and got a healthy medium sized Powder blue tang. The difficulty of keeping it healthy and the beauty of this tang makes it a high desirable fish I must have in my tank. I've red a lot about keeping this species and planned to have it in QT for 4 weeks first. Because I already have 5 tangs in the tank I also wanted that the final introduction would be a massacre I

I used my RSM250 as QT

And here's a movie of the 2nd day after introducing the Scopas in the QT

10/02/2016, 06:21 AM
After 11 weeks from the first drop of water


10/02/2016, 06:24 AM
In the 11th week I also added 3 (1 male, 2 female) Flame angels (Centropyge loricula) which I got from an other reefer.


10/02/2016, 06:26 AM
At the end of August, 4 weeks after QT I decided to introduce the Powder blue tang in the main DT. Here are some video's of the first minutes...


5 minutes later

2 1/2 hours later

And the next morning

A full day later the peace was back

10/02/2016, 06:29 AM
Feeding time

10/02/2016, 06:37 AM
After 3 months (September 1st) I got the following stock

2x Amphiprion ocellaris *
2x Halichoeres chrysus *
Zebrasoma Veliferum *
Zebrasoma Xanthurum *
Zebrasoma Desjardini
Zabrasoma Scopas
Naso Literatus
Acanthurus Pyroferus
Acanthurus Leucosternon
3x Centropyge loricula
2x Valenciennes Sexguttata
2x Macropharyngodon bipartitus
Salarias ramosus
Labroides dimidiatus

* are fish from my old tank.


10/02/2016, 06:46 AM
In the 3rd week of September I got 10 beautiful Pseudanthias Squamipinnis. Still all females.



10/04/2016, 12:15 PM

I've posted the build cycle and start of my aquarium from december last year until 2 weeks ago. And those last two weeks I didn't made any changes no more. My goal was to keep the PBT and Anthiasses healthy and let them get a little bit fatter. The PBT still has some minor signs of ick and I hope he is gaining resistance against it over time. Due to the amount of corals in the tank there will be a lot of nematocysts in the water so this slow the process..

Also I noticed that some montipora, especially a Monti Jedi mind trick is losing color and turning grey. It looks like STN and I think that the water is getting low on minerals. So I mailed out a Triton test last week. The results are in the next post.











10/04/2016, 12:23 PM
Triton test (sample from september 25th)

as expected most values are a little low but easy to adjust :)


10/07/2016, 07:47 AM
Nice tank, fish are awesome.

10/08/2016, 03:01 AM
Picture time!

After a long time of consideration I just had it with the dramatic quality of iPhone photos and had a choice. Go for the new iPhone7 with hopefully better camera or keep my existing 6 and use the money for a DSLR camera.
I know Samsung have good cameras in their phones but has no option for me because I'm vendor locked by Apple. Anyway, Working for years with budget compact cameras and making nothing more than 'snapshots', I always look with respect to those being able to shoot insanely beautiful compositions, but I always found it complicated with all that ISO, aperture and what else of complex terms those photographer people :p
As I donít believe in the new iPhone having a better quality I started reading on DSLR, ISO, aperture, lenses, camera bodies and so on. Last week I saw no reason to wait any longer and I entered the world of amateur photography so went to the store for a real digital SLR with kit lens, memory card and bag .. I'm ready!

In recent days, the first Anthias transforming from female to male, and that I can now make beautiful show so the picture's coming here

No man but one lovely lady


De new boss in town




10/08/2016, 03:02 AM
Two detail shots of my Scopas and Veliferum :)


10/08/2016, 03:05 AM
Yesterday I went to the LFS for some food and additions. For some reasons there is always a coral that keeps sticking to my fingers so this are the catches of the day ;)

https://c8.staticflickr.com/6/5758/30175180775_70268e0d04_c.jpg ('https://flic.kr/p/MYtFXv')

https://c8.staticflickr.com/9/8727/30175178935_51b8a4744b_c.jpg ('https://flic.kr/p/MYtFpM')

A yellow Micromussa was on my wish list for a long time :)
https://c8.staticflickr.com/9/8403/30175174975_44dee8aa56_c.jpg ('https://flic.kr/p/MYtEev')

10/08/2016, 03:06 AM
Nice tank, fish are awesome.

Thanks man!

10/08/2016, 11:48 AM
Congrats on the fine camera work and the excellent reef tank!


10/09/2016, 01:13 PM
Congrats on the fine camera work and the excellent reef tank!


Thanks Dave!!

10/09/2016, 01:16 PM
Today was cleaning day and is was necessary after 4 months!! I'm going to do this on a more regular base 'cause it took me almost all day. Thankfully some of the equipment like pumps, skimmer parts etc needed some time in their vinegar bath so I could enjoy the sunny day too..

But in the end everything is bright and shine!! :)

https://c7.staticflickr.com/6/5656/30104252222_7ee0058741_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/MSdanq)IMG_0976 (https://flic.kr/p/MSdanq) by b nes (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5554/30104260872_923c48cb02_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/MSdcWy)IMG_0980 (https://flic.kr/p/MSdcWy) by b nes (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5521/30104266432_318f8dd51b_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/MSdeAq)IMG_0998 (https://flic.kr/p/MSdeAq) by b nes (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

10/11/2016, 08:10 PM
Great looking tank, well thought out. Awesome pictures too!

10/12/2016, 06:52 AM
Beautiful tank!

10/12/2016, 08:29 AM
I really like the pyroferus tang... this is on my to-buy for my 300. I'm surprised so few people have these. Highly underrated fish in my opinion.

this is me
10/12/2016, 09:15 AM
Looking great!!

10/13/2016, 01:13 PM
Great looking tank, well thought out. Awesome pictures too!
Tnx! I'm not native English so posting picture sis easier than writing stories hahaha. Will do my best learning to make even more great photos :)

Beautiful tank!

I really like the pyroferus tang... this is on my to-buy for my 300. I'm surprised so few people have these. Highly underrated fish in my opinion.
Me too. I was in doubt first to get it but I'm glad I did. It's a beauty! The only thing is that I didn't got it in its juvenile colours but as an adult. SO I missed the color change unfortunately. Same as the Scopas.. Most people think it's a boring brown coloured tang but IMO I think it better looking than a Rostratum

Looking great!!
Thanks :)

10/15/2016, 04:38 AM
Downs & Ups

Tank had a little dip due to the water getting poor on minerals and nutrients. The Triton test confirmed this. After a 5% water change with NSW two weeks ago and a 10% change after cleaning the sump I saw a positive change in the corals. 2 Montiporaís who started getting grey are getting their colours back. 3 Acro frags did bleach and one died. Two others are struggling and hopefully survive. The 3 Acroís were already stressed because I raised the intensity of the white leds in the Auroraís for a week which resulted in burning.

Yesterday I did the weekly measurement

Kh: 9.6
Ca: 440
No3: 3
Po4: 0.043

I did configured the Dastaco to dose a little less Ďcause the Kh and Ca where rising but know I see the get lower again. So thatís good Kh was 10.8 at itís highest, Ca 455.

The 'Down' is gone and the 'Up' is here again. With that I dared to buy some new pieces. Some Ďnormalí, one a bit more exclusive.

To start off, a tricolor Stylopora
https://c7.staticflickr.com/8/7560/30281333446_69d8629380_b.jpg ('https://flic.kr/p/N8RKrY')

Second a red Chalice
https://c8.staticflickr.com/8/7476/30316358215_085825ee1f_b.jpg ('https://flic.kr/p/NbXg6i')

And last but not least a 'Warpaint' Acanthophyllia
https://c7.staticflickr.com/9/8551/30281318886_8435db5792_b.jpg ('https://flic.kr/p/N8RF7W')

The PBT is doing fine to. He still has some ick. You can see the white spots, but also the small bumps underneath the skin. He eats well and doesnít behave sick or scratches against the substrate so I have a good feeling he will be ok in the end.
https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5567/29685870954_7e13cb1970_b.jpg ('https://flic.kr/p/MeeRch')

10/15/2016, 04:51 AM
Coral growth is always visible on my hystrix first. See the little white grow points

https://c8.staticflickr.com/6/5657/30335357615_a1b2f8a790_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/NdCCXa)IMG_1231 (https://flic.kr/p/NdCCXa)

10/15/2016, 08:30 AM
Today I got my long awaited fixture for the Mantis tank / Display refugium. I decided to go for the new Ecotech Radion XR15 Pro G4 'cause it can lit the whole width of the tank (70cm).
I also can program is using my Apex WXM module and hopefully all 8 channels soon after the firmware update from Neptune systems.

After opening the package I found a nice card written (in dutch ;) ) by the LFS, Finding Dori gadgets and sweets!! How nice is that :)
https://c4.staticflickr.com/6/5807/30338272995_2f38bfda2b_b.jpg ('https://flic.kr/p/NdTzAk')

Apex Fusion with only 6 of the 8 channels available at this moment
https://c5.staticflickr.com/6/5594/30303587996_5d46a18889_b.jpg ('https://flic.kr/p/NaPNX7')

And there was light
https://c8.staticflickr.com/6/5333/30253009351_eff7d774bd_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/N6mzFv)

10/16/2016, 03:31 AM
I transfered some LPS from the main display to the mantis tank and the colours pop! Here is a photo of my Trachyphyllia

I adjusted the contrast and green/yellow to make it less bright

https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5467/29725221584_f3a3d3dc9c_b.jpg ('https://flic.kr/p/MhHwLq')

The original photo:

https://c7.staticflickr.com/9/8579/30320673526_714c79c391_c.jpg ('https://flic.kr/p/NcknTd')

10/16/2016, 06:37 AM
Your tank is an inspiration. That last piece is simply stunning.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

10/16/2016, 11:05 AM
Your tank is an inspiration. That last piece is simply stunning.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Thanks man!! :)

10/16/2016, 05:47 PM
I like the dimensions. keep it up.
Are you sure your PB has ick? If your other fish show no signs, I would suspect something else. Unless you know for sure...

10/16/2016, 10:05 PM

This photo alone has me subscribed to this thread. Incredible growth in progress.

The videos of the addition of the powder blue tang to the aquarium are interesting. PBTs can be quite aggressive, but that one was well behaved. It was what appears to be a purple tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum) that got all bent out of shape (English idiom for becoming upset). I expect it wasn't funny to the fish, but I laughed to see the purple sulk under the rock work at the bottom right, then come charging out to confront the PBT, then go back to sulk.

Wishing you success with this system.

10/17/2016, 11:13 AM
I like the dimensions. keep it up.
Are you sure your PB has ick? If your other fish show no signs, I would suspect something else. Unless you know for sure...
Yes I'm sure it's ick. The PBT are well known ick magnets due to their sensitive skin and lack of thick slime coat. The other fish have a thicker coat so ick doesn't get a chance to nest.

This photo alone has me subscribed to this thread. Incredible growth in progress.

The videos of the addition of the powder blue tang to the aquarium are interesting. PBTs can be quite aggressive, but that one was well behaved. It was what appears to be a purple tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum) that got all bent out of shape (English idiom for becoming upset). I expect it wasn't funny to the fish, but I laughed to see the purple sulk under the rock work at the bottom right, then come charging out to confront the PBT, then go back to sulk.

Wishing you success with this system.
Thanks :)

The PBT isn't full grown so he is still quite mellow.. He probably get more aggressive when ageing. The Xanthurum is the smallest tang in the tank and I think he is aware of that :p

10/23/2016, 12:35 PM
Today I took some photo's of some of my fish :)

https://c8.staticflickr.com/6/5663/29884966983_a037ffa0d1_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/MwQgvr)

https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5691/30219740170_4e9f65071d_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/N3q4UW)

https://c4.staticflickr.com/9/8568/30431104491_2b8cf56f24_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Nn6nan)

https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5339/30219970160_102176abc4_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/N3rfhh)

11/11/2016, 06:57 PM
Gorgeous tanks. Love them all. Just subscribed on YouTube too

11/15/2016, 02:31 PM
Gorgeous tanks. Love them all. Just subscribed on YouTube too

Thanks! I'll try to post an update soon. I'm a little busy lately so need to find some time..

11/15/2016, 02:36 PM
Very, very nice looking!!!

01/27/2017, 03:05 AM
wooow moooooi :) haha. absolutely gorgeous man

01/30/2017, 05:14 PM
Mooi! Ik woonde in brabant voordat ik verhuisde naar Amerika.

Im jealous!

01/30/2017, 05:25 PM