Initial setup of what will hopefully be a hardcore small polyp stony (SPS) coral and clam tank.  These are some of the toughest creatures to keep in your living room.  Here’s the stats so far: 45ga cube tank with 10ga sump and overflow; natural salt water (NSF); 4x170gph powerheads in tank; Magnum 350 returning through SCWD unit; 4” super fine - medium grade deep sand bed (DSB); ~ 20lbs live rock so far, with ~ 20lbs aragonite base rock.  More to come.

The light was initially a 15watt florescent that came with the tank to get started and keep algae blooms down, but one of my rocks sprouted an SPS so I threw a cheap 400watt metal halide (MH) lamp from Craig’s List on there.  Currently ramping up the light slowly so nothing gets burned.  It’s too much of the wrong spectrum of light with no UV filtering, but it’s better than nothing for right now and we can work on the rest.

The operating theory here (perhaps novel) is to promote planktonic growth as the first priority of this system. As such no fish, no crabs as they eat many organisms reproducing in tank with at least one juvenile planktonic stage, no protein skimmer nor any real mechanical filtration.  There’s a little foam here and there, but I want to make certain anything having either a juvenile stage or a full life cycle as plankton will have a 100% chance of either establishing it’s adult, reproductive form (more plankton) or being eaten by something else.  Plankton is anything from single celled floating algae and bacteria to little white bugs that hop around all over.  It is the primary food source of the more interesting reef inhabitants.  The pumps don’t seem to make a difference, but there is a noticeable drop in planktonic life when using either mechanical filtration or a protein skimmer.

Currently there is no real nutrient export, but there is one heck of a lot of nutrient uptake as various creatures grow to fill empty niches in the tank and more niches are created by addition of live rock / growth of other creatures.  Eventually nutrient export could be accomplished by removing algae from the mud sump / refugium if needed.  I wouldn’t be surprised if nutrient uptake in the display eats up any added food once the system is stable.

Only one water change because of calcium levels so far, and only kalkwasser (kalk) has been needed to keep good water chemistry since.  Water quality is maintained by monthly active carbon in the canister filter and carefully (careful!!!) regulating nutrient addition.  Currently the system can handle addition of about 2-3lbs live rock a week.  Which is quite a bit, I get some dirty rocks.

March 2007