Standard 180 Gallon 6'X2'X2'. Manufacturer: All Glass Aquariums


The tank has two slots 10" long and 1" high cut into the back of tank. These slots were cut by sand blasting which I had done at a local store that specializes in making tombstones and headstones for graves. They have the best sandblasting equipment since they use it for sand blasting the designs on the granite used for the tombstones.

Yeah, it was'nt easy carrying a 6' tank into the store, and trying to explain what I wanted to have done.

Attached to the back of the tank on the outside is a 36"X8"X10" add on tank

The bottom of this add on tank has a sand blasted hole for a 2" bulk head fitting, and is the main water return to the sump.

The side of the this add on tank also has a 3/4" bulk head fitting which feeds the water to the skimmer, so I don't need an additional pump for the skimmer, and I am able to directly feed the surface skimmed water into the skimmer.

Inside the tank, is attached a 36"X2"X2" box, which acts as the surface skimmer.

The water flows over the surface skimmer, through the slots, into the add on tank at the back, from where it drains into the sump, or flows into the skimmer.

Sketch of Tank Modifications

A 3-D VRML view of the modifications can be seen here


Initially the tank was setup and run for a year and half with the following lights:
  • 3 175W MH - 5500K (replaced every 6 months, one lamp every two months)
  • 4 110W VHO Actinics (replaced every 6 months, 2 every three months)

  • I have since changed the 175W 5500K MH lights with 250W 6500K MH lights and use the Iwasaki lamps. This change was made by changing one bulb at a time over a period of three months, starting January 1997. I have kept the 4-110 Actinc VHO lights.
    Since changing to this light, I have noticed that the colors of the corals show up a lot better, and I find that the bulbs seem to last longer too. I have not changed the bulbs since they were put in - one in Jan, one in Feb, and one in March, 1997. The pink colors of the stylophora, pocillopora and seriatorpora are still pink, whereas with the old lighting the pink swould start turning brown in about 3-4 months.

    Since January of 1998, I have changed the lighting to the following:

  • 3 400W MH - 6500K Iwaski lamps
  • 4 40W Normal Output Actincs

  • My reasons for changing to the 400W 6500K bulbs has been the results of the spectral tests performed on the various lamps by me and Dave Morgan. For details on this see the list of publications.

    The change to 40W Normal output actincs was primarily due to the need to re-distribute the electrical power to the MH bulbs and try to save some electricty by switching to the NO lamps.

    Plumbing & Water Circulation

    Water overflows through the tank (see tank modifications above) and into the sump. The sump is made up of two RubberMaid 17G containers connected to each other via a 1 1/2" bulkhead fitting. Water enters in one container and leaves through the other.

    The circulation pump is a little Giant 4 MXQC pump (950 GPH).

    In addition I use 5 powerheads on a Tsunami Wavemaker to create the waves and provide additional water movement.

  • 2 Hagen 802's (now down to one)
  • 3 Rio 2000 (these pumps suck and have since been replaced by 2  Mag 500 pumps. I would not recommend anyone to use the Rio's. All the rio's I have had have shorted out.  The epoxy coating surrounding the motor windings had cracked in all of them. I almost electrocuted myself with these pumps. I will never use a RIO pump again !!)
  • 2 Gemini Pumps - In the last 2 years I have added 2 of these Gemini overhead pumps.  These are great pumps. They sit outside the tank and circulate about 1000GPH. These are set to alternate at 5 min intervals.
  • These power heads are located outside the main tank - in the add on tank at the back, and rigid PVC pipes are used to feed the water into the tank at various angles to create sufficient turbulent flow.

    Total circulation: approx 4300 GPH ( 23 times tank capacity), although not all the pumps are on at the same time.


    The tank is set up as a Berlin type system, with 200 lbs of Live Rock (200 lbs of Florida Rock and 30 lbs of branching tonga rock) and 200 lbsof live Sand providing the biological filteration. The sand bed averages a thickness of about 2" and in some places is almost 3" thick.

    The skimmer is a home made Down Draft Skimmer 5 ft. tall, powered by a GenX pump. Water is fed into the skimmer from the sump, and returned to the same sump. In the fall of 1998, I have modified this skimmer to accept a beckett injector (the one used in the HSA skimmer) and it seems to work rather well.

    I used to run carbon continously in a HOT magnum filter, and change half the carbon every month. This is primarily to keep the yellowing of the water to a minimum. Now I just throw in 2 bags of carbon in the sump and change one bag every 2 months or so.

    CACO3 Reactor

    In late June 1996, I installed a DIY CaCO3 reactor . The reactor uses CaribSea Geomarine as medium. The reactor has really made my life a lot easier. I was constantly struggling ot keep up the alkalinity in the tank, and the reactor has allowed me to simplify that and at the same time help me maintain the alkalinity in the 10-12dkH range.

    If you are interested more in the reactor and its operation, you can read the the DIY Calcium reactor article that was published in Aquarium Frontiers Online.  See the list of publications for links to this article.

    Last update March 17,2000.