MASA TOTM – November 2013 – Seabass


It’s an honour to have my tank featured this month, I started this hobby in June 2009 and thinking back on the tanks featured before mine makes me scratch my head and think why my tank.

Anyhow I was like many of you, started fresh water tanks at school and then stopped and started with marines.
I should really blame my LFS who always has a very nice marine section, whenever I went in for anything before starting marines I would have a look into the marine display section, the colours of the fish was what kept playing on my mind.  Together with a short stay in hospital for a chronic condition I have I decided “you only live once” and that when I bought my first tank, a Boyu 450.  That lasted for about 18 months and it was then that I saw and advertisement on MASA for my current tank, only problem it was in Jhb, solution, had a friend conclude the deal, store it for me for a few months until December holidays came around and off I went and collected it.


The tank is most certainly a full blown mixed reef with emphasis being on the corals, preference been given to Ricordea Florida as my favourite coral.

The tank is a standard four foot, 1200l x 600w x 600h, about 400 litres with coast to coast overflow for surface skimming. Sump is a bit smaller 1050l x 450w x 450h, about 140 litres.

The sump has a chamber for RO water, holding about 25 litres; a future tank would have at least double that volume of RO water capacity. I can’t imagine a tank without a RO chamber to keep salinity stable.

The tank is made of 10mm glass and braced extensively; the sump is 6mm glass, a bit thin for my liking considering the size of the skimmer that needs to be moved in and out when cleaning the sump.

The tank is clad in black finished wood cabinet that was built by the same carpenter that did the houses cabinets, its simply beautiful, both side panels can be removed if required when maintenance is performed.

I have run a DSB in the beginning; it had to be removed once I bought the new Reef Octopus 5000 internal skimmer.


The main form of filtration is performed by the Reef Octopus 5000 internal skimmer, it’s a bit of overkill but I am happy with my choice when it comes to skimmers. In future more focus would be put on mechanical filtration in order to minimise the amount of detritus that settles in the sump, it’s just not possible with the current setup, so with a bit of planning the next sump would have capacity for simple effective mechanical filtration.

I use Red Sea NoPox daily, 10ml when all is in check but when things start going south I increase this dose to 15 – 20 ml a day, monitor every 2 weeks and adjust the dose as required. PO4 and NO3 have always been a concern, at one point PO4 was down to 0.04 ppm and NO3 was around 1 ppm.

In addition Rowa Phos is run passively in a bag in order to drive PO4 down when required. Carbon is run passively in a bag 24/7 365, just in passing this is soaked in boiling water over night before being added to the tank.

Biological filtration, about 40kg of live rock in the main tank, the display tank has a sand bed of mix of Caribsea Araginie and Aragilive, from time to time the level of sand is topped up.


The return pump is an Eheim 3000+, since adding a chiller the flow through the sump has decreased, so there is a need to look at something a bit stronger or just clean the return pump properly.

Two Tunze 6105’s controlled be a 7092 sorts out the DT flow requirements; these pumps are very powerful and too powerful for my tank. The pumps are set to pulse mode for 4 seconds, the pumps strength of flow is changed from time to time, currently +/- 50 / 30 with 7 day storm cycle active and 15 minute for feed mode.


Currently run Reef Inmate 6 bay 54 watt T5 unit, have had it from day one and bought it from a fellow reefer, they are very good units. Up until a couple months ago I used Giesemann T5’s, subsequently I have changed to ATI due to recommendations from fellow reefers.

54 watt ATI T5’s

  • Blue plus (x 2)
  • Purple Plus
  • Aquablue Special
  • Actinic
  • Coral Plus

In addition a Tunze Led unit is used to simulate a sunrise / sunset effect.

  • Led come on at 12H00 and goes off at 13H30
  • T5’s come at 13H00 and go off at 21H00
  • Led come on at 20H30 and go off at 22H00

The T5’s are changed every 12 to 18 months with a 10 hour photo period.

Growth rates have not been great, but the corals have grown and can only be seen when one compares a picture from a year ago with a current picture of a coral.

When the tank was set up a light unit was built into the stand above the sump ,this is recommended for any reefer setting up a new tank before the display tank is setup, makes working day and night a lot simpler.


  • Two Eheim 300 watt heaters set at 25 degrees
  • Hailea Chiller 1/2HP rated for 600 litres, comes on at 28 degrees
  • Waterboy RO unit
  • Grounding probe


60 litre water change done twice a month.

Change carbon once a month.

Change Rowa Phos as required.

Tunze 6105’s, vinegar/water soak and run for a couple hours and cleaned once every 3 – 4 months.

Reef Octopus 5000 Internal skimmer, vinegar/water soak and run for a couple hours and cleaned once every 6 months. Based on my experience cleaning the skimmer neck and cup is critical for maintaining good water quality.

Scrape glass once every 2 weeks or so to remove gunk that has grown on the back glass mainly and the areas near the bottom and sides of the display tank that the magnate cleaner cannot get to. Generally I do not risk taking the magnet cleaner near the substrate in case the gravel gets caught between the magnet and the glass and ends up scratching the display tank.


Calcium, Alkalinity and Magnesium

For calcium and alkalinity dosage was done manually with a balanced additive called Tropic Marine Bio Calcium, it is know been done with bulk purchased chemicals. This is added in the evening.

Magnesium was dosed using Kent Tech M, but now also using bulk purchased chemicals. This is added in the morning with Red Sea NoPox.

Corals and fish

Corals are fed at the same time the fish are fed, but provision is made to target feed corals at least twice a week, normally a Wednesday and a Saturday, flow is switched off for an hour to do this. A mix of frozen food is used to feed the corals, 3 to 4 different kinds are used. Small fish food pellets are also used to target feed the corals, mainly for LPS and the Ricordeas.

Daily Reef Energy A and B of Red Sea range of products are added; this is for corals and comprises amino acids and vitamins.

In addition to the frozen food above the fish get a mix on pellets and flake each evening, frozen food is also fed at night.


Trying to give the scientific name, but hey I might be wrong with some of them, if not all of them:

  • Trumpet coral, (Caulastrea curvata)
  • Candy cane, (Caulastrea furcata)
  • Montipora, (capricornis, digitata confuse)
  • Acropora, (millepora & secale)
  • Stylophora, (Stylophora spp.)
  • Goniopora
  • Birdsnest, (Seriatopora hystrix)
  • Acan, (Acanthastrea echinata)
  • Favites, (Favites spp.)
  • Pineapple coral, (Favia sp.)
  • Bubble coral, (Plerogyra sinuosa)
  • Mushroom, (Various)
  • Zoas, (Zoanthus sp.)
  • Palys, (Protopalythoa sp.)
  • Blastomussa
  • Star polyps
  • Bali polyps
  • Torch coral, (Euphyllia glabrescens)
  • Chalice coral
  • Toadstool leather, (Sarcophyton sp.)


  • Copper band butterfly, (Chelmon rostratus)
  • Bicolour blenny, (Ecsenius bicolor)
  • Yellow tang, (Zebrasoma flavescens)
  • Flame angel, (Centropyge loriculus)
  • Lemon peel, (Centropyge flavissima)
  • Cleaner wrasse, (Labroides dimidiatus)
  • Six line wrasse, (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia)
  • Ocellaris clownfish (orange and black & white), (Amphiprion ocellaris)
  • Blue tang, (Paracanthurus hepatus)

Would still like to add a tail spot blenny.


  • Fire shrimp, (Lysmata debelius)
  • Blue sea star, (Linckia laevigata)
  • Harlequin Shrimp, (Hymenocera elegans)
  • Hermit crab
  • Tube anemone, (Cerianthus filiformis)


Tank Dimensions: 1200 (L) x 600 (W) x 600 (H)
Sump Dimensions: 1050 (L) x 450 (W) x 450 (H)

Display Tank Volume: 400 (L)
Total System Volume: 540(L)

Temperature: 25 – 28 degrees
Salinity: 1.026
Nitrate: 1-2 ppm
Phosphate: 0.08 ppm
Calcium: 430 ppm
KH: 12.2 dKH
Magnesium: 1380 ppm


I have forgotten more than what I have learnt during my brief time in this fantastically fascinating hobby but know that parameters must be kept stable but at optimal levels in order to facilitate a thriving mixed reef tank.

One of the many things to do differently next time around is to plan coral selection better in order to reduce the amount of coral warfare that takes place – less is more.

People to thank Tony, Kunhardt, Leslie, Sean, Andrew, Greg, Rob, Dallas, Riaan and many more who have kept me grounded in this hobby by sharing their knowledge and experience freely, guys and gals I have not mentioned, thank you very much and The Fishkeeper magazine, thanks for featuring my setup. Keep on reefing.

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