MASA TOTM – October 2014 – Francois

Full Tank Shot


Wow! This is truly a great honour and privilege to have my tank featured here on Marine Aquarium South Africa.
I started off with freshwater tanks as a kid, and back in 2009 got myself a second hand 4ft marine tank with all its equipment and didn’t know anything about keeping salt water fish, that changed when I decided to join MASA to spread my knowledge in reef keeping before going BIG.
I’ve been in this hobby for 6 years now, and always dreamed of having a big marine tank with colorful corals and fish. That dream became a reality back in 2012.


My 4ft 330 litre softy tank was running from 2009 till 2012 when I decided to upgrade to a bigger tank. This is where the fun started.
On the tank I decided on a 1500mm (L) x 1200mm (W) x 600mm (H) SPS dominated cube, where my local reef buddies which I met through MASA helped me with my tank build. 12mm Bright Polish Low Iron Glass was used, tank was euro braced and viewable from 3 sides. The stand is powder coated black and made from 50 mm X 3mm square tubing with adjustable feet to make the tank level.

The sump is 1500mm (L) x 840mm (W) x 540mm (H) and 6mm glass was used. The sump consists of five compartments which includes a water change, R.O, Live Rock, Frag Tank and Return.

The front section of the sump is my frag tank which forms part of the whole sump and is viewable from the front. The frag tank is 380mm (L) x 840mm (W) x 540mm (H) with its own overflow box plumbed to the BIO- Cubes in the return compartment. A 10 % water change can easily be done from just turning the main valve from the overflow box which goes to my water change compartment, and opening the valve that goes to the Live Rock compartment which by-passes the water change compartment which forms part of the system again.


The tanks filtration is a mixture of Mechanical, Chemical and Biological.

Mechanical Filtration is done by a Skimz SM 202 External Skimmer, It’s a great skimmer and I’ve never had problems with it so far. I’m a heavy feeder and it does an excellent job keeping my tank clean.

Chemical Filtration is done by a Skimz FM 150 fluidized reactor filled with ROWA Phos which gets re-generated with sodium hydroxide every three months. 2 x Two Little Fishes fluidized reactors filled with activated carbon to keep the water nice and clean, this gets replaced every three months.

On Biological Filtration I use Orca Nitra Guard Bio Cubes with the recommended bomb method, I did run them in the Skimz FM 150 fluidize reactor and discovered it’s better running them on the recommended bomb method than through a fluidized reactor. My nitrates and phosphates are always low and my SPS loves me for it. I’ve also got 100kg + Kenyan Live rock in the Live Rock compartment.


Main Tank
I’ve got 3 x Vortech MP40W ES flow pumps and 2 x Jebao wp40 wave makers all set to full blast.
In my sump I’ve got a Reef Octopus Water Blaster HY-10000W for my return and feeding the Skimmer and Reactors, 1 x 2500L/H flow pump in the water change compartment and 2 x 2500L/H flow pumps under the Live Rock to keep the detritus suspended.
Frag Tank
In the frag tank I’ve got 1 x Vortech MP40W ES flow pump, set on half of its flow settings. My main return pump is also plumbed with a valve to the frag tank.
These combined gives me roughly a water turnover rate of x 65, I’m planning in the future to get more flow for the SPS.


Main Tank
On lighting I went for a DIY 400 watt LED unit, all Luxeon 3w LEDs with Steve’s digital LED drivers and a 400 watt power supply. The led unit is controlled via my Reef Angel’s PWM controller and does a nice slope up and down dimming. The LED unit consists of the following colour LEDS,

12 x Cool Whites
22 x Neutral Whites
39 x Royal Blues
11 x Deep Reds
11 x Cyans
11 x Cool blues
22 x True Violets

The LED unit switches on at 05:30 am with only the Royal Blues on for the actinic look, the other LEDs comes on at 06:30 am, LEDs slope interval is set to 60 minutes which means it takes the LEDs to dim up and down from 0% – 100% in a 60 minutes. I added another 2 x Dual T5 54 watt Odyssey units with its standard bulbs at a later stage and they come on at 10:00 am and switches off at 18:00 pm.

Frag tank
Frag tank gets lit with a 108 watt LED unit. Lighting is set on reverse lighting cycle from my main display lights. The LED unit consists of the following colour LEDS,

9 x Cool Whites
9 x Neutral Whites
18 x Royal Blues

I’m really happy with LED lighting and my SPS growth is amazing so far, the reason I added the T5’s is to light up the darker sides of the tank and I’m experimenting with hybrid LED/T5’s lighting, and the results are even better than expected.


4 x 300 W Eheim Jager Heaters, only two of them runs in the summer the extra two is there for the cold winter months.

D-D 150 g RO Unit keeps up with my tanks evaporation demands which is 100 -150 litres a week. The automatic top up unit is connected to a Kalk stirrer, and my marine magic dosing pumps keep my alkalinity and calcium parameters stable.

A battery backup system that keeps my return pump, skimmer, marine magic dosing pumps and air pump for the BIO Cubes running during power outages. This system consists of one 102AH deep cycle battery with a 1000w pure sine wave with charger inverter.

Tank is controlled via my Reef Angel Controller which monitors my PH, Temperature, ORP and Water Level of my RO reservoir and notifies me via e-mail and Reef Angel app. when something is wrong. My Reef Angel and battery backup system provides me with complete peace of mind when I’m at work or on holiday.

Additional Planned Equipment
I’m planning on the following equipment for my tank to make my life easier:
Definitely a Calcium Reactor.
PH expansion and probe for the Calcium Reactor for my Reef Angel Controller.
2 x Jebao Wireless RW-20 Wave Makers for more flow.
Par light sensor for my Reef Angel Controller. Just a nice gadget to have when testing the lights.
Leak detection sensor for my Reef Angel Controller. This will tell me when there is any leakage or water in my drip tray as all my equipment is external.
Water level sensor connected to the skimmer cup for my Reef Angel Controller. This will tell me when the skimmer cup is full.
A 300 Watt – 500 Watt Titanium Heat pump plumbed to my tank. As running 4 x 300 Watt heaters in the winter 24/7 cost an arm and a leg. I’m still doing research on this and other alternatives.


I will be honest, I’m very lazy when it comes to cleaning the tank.

But I do clean the display viewing panes as needed and empty the skimmer cup when needed. I’ve only done three water changes on this tank thus far and none this year yet, which is due to correct the ionic balance of the tank after all the DIY chemical dosing’s.

I use salifert and red sea test kits and test my Alkalinity and Calcium levels every week and Magnesium once a month and make changes to the dosing pumps as needed.

Bio Cubes get topped up every 3 months.

Probes and water level sensor gets calibrated every 3 months.

RO filters gets replaced every 6 months.

Once every 6 months I will take the flow pumps out and give them a good vinegar bath and scrub them with an old toothbrush.


I use a Marine Magic Triple doser to dose my additives. I have been using the DIY recipes as explained by Randy Holmes-Farley. I use pharmaceutical grade sodium bicarbonate for alkalinity, pharmaceutical grade calcium chloride for calcium and pharmaceutical grade magnesium chloride for magnesium.

I make my own stock solutions by dissolving the required dry product with RO water as required by my tanks intake of alkalinity, calcium and magnesium. I make a 5L solution of each which lasts me about 3 weeks. I also dose 5 spoons of potassium chloride every week and a few drops of lugols iodine, 1 drop per 100 Liters once a week.

The kalk reactor gets replenish with one cup of kalk every week to keep my PH and Alkalinity and Calcium demands up.
I feed a lot and this keeps the fish happy. The tank gets fed twice a day with a mixture of Omega One Garlic Marine flakes, Omega One Marine Mini pellets, red and green nori. Once a week I feed my Anemones a piece of hake. I don’t feed the corals the fish poo takes care of that.


Red Plating Montipora (Montipora Capricornis)
Pink Stylophora
Green Plating Montipora (Montipora Capricornis)
Purple Brown Polyps Plating Montipora
Montipora malampaya green
Green Bali Slimer Acropora (Acropora Yongei)
Acropora Secale
Blue Millepora Acropora
Pink Millepora Acropora
Purple Bonsai Acropora
Green Acropora (Staghorn)
Blue Acropora Nobilis (Staghorn)
Green Branched Montipora Coral (Montipora digitata)
Purple Branched Montipora Coral (Montipora digitata)
Red Branched Montipora Coral (Montipora digitata)
Green Seraitopora Caliendrum Birdsnest
Green and Pink Birdsnest (Seriatopora hystrix)
Various mushrooms (Actinodiscus sp)
Green mushrooms (Rhodactis sp)
Branching Frogspawn (Euphyllia paradivisa)
Green and Orange Zoanthids
Red flower pot coral (Goniopora)
Green Gray Lobohyllia
Neon Green Brain
Purple Green Brain
Neon Green Star Polyps
Neon Green Leather


2 x Yelow Tangs – (Zebrasoma flavescens)
2 x Purple Tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum)
1 x Sailfin Tang (Zebrasoma veliferum)
1 x Regal Tang – (Paracanthurus hepatus)
1 x Scopas Tang (Zebrasoma scopas)
2 x Convict Tang (Acanthurus triostegus)
1 x Magnificent Foxface (Siganus magnificus)
2 x Clownfish – (Amphiprion ocellaris)
3 x Blue/green reef chromis. – (Chromis viridis)
3 x Anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis)
1 x Sleeper Gold Head Goby (Valenciennea strigata)
1 x Sleeper Railway Glider Goby (Valenciennea helsdingeni)
1 x Fire Goby (Nemateleotris magnifica)
2 x Yellow Wrasse (Halichoeres chrysus)


1 x Porcelain Anemone Crab (Neopetrolisthes ohshimai)
3 x Rose Bubble Tip Anemones (Entacmaea quadricolor)
1 x Green Bubble Tip Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)
8 x Dwarf Zebra Hermit Crab (Calcinus laevimanus)
4 x Turbo snails
1 x Scorpion Spider Shell (Lambis scorpio)
1 x Pom Pom Crab (Lybia sp.)
2 x Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)
2 x Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni complex)
2 x Blood Red Fire Shrimp (Lysmata debelius)
2 x Trapezia Pocillopora/Acropora Crab (Trapezia sp.)
1 x Indian Sea Star (Fromia indica)
2 x Pincushion Urchin, Hairy (Tripneustes gratilla)
1 x Crocea Clam (Tridacna crocea)
2 x Big Clams
1 x Tube anemone, (Cerianthus filiformis)


* Tank Dimensions: 1500mm (L) x 1200mm (W) x 600mm (H)
* Sump Dimensions: 1500mm (L) x 840mm (W) x 540mm (H)
* Frag Tank Dimensions: 380mm (L) x 840mm (W) x 540mm (H)

* Display Tank Volume: 1044 (L)
* Frag Tank Volume: 172(L)
* Total System Volume: 1500 (L)
* Total System Volume after subtracting equipment and live rock: 1300 (L)

* Tank Temperature: 25
* Sump Temperature: 25.6
* Room Temperature: 17
* pH: 8.28
* Salinity: 1.026
* Ammonia: 0
* Nitrite: 0
* Nitrate: 1-2 ppm
* Phosphate: 0.08 ppm
* Calcium: 420
* KH: 8 dKH
* Magnesium: 1400 ppm
* Redox: 232 mV


I would like replace my sump in the near future as it’s too big, there is not a lot of space for other equipment. Invest in a nice calcium reactor as I’ve noticed the doser won’t be able to keep up with the alkalinity and calcium demands of my SPS. If I could give advice to a fellow reefer is to plan accordingly and buy all your necessary equipment before stocking up your tank. Don’t design your sump to complicated or to big as it will only frustrate you. Go for the K.I.S.S principle and make your life easier.

Do a lot of research on Marine Aquariums South Africa, quarantine your new livestock and dip your new corals before putting them into your tank. Invest in a decent skimmer, light, flow, calcium reactor and especially a backup system to cover you in those power failures. You’ll save a lot of money by just following these steps.

Firstly I have to thank my lovely wife Renthea for supporting me in my reef keeping hobby all these years and to my good friends Express Reef and Goby for building my tank and their support, to MASA for giving me knowledge and this opportunity to share my tank with you. And to Killer Whale (Marc) for inventing Orca Nitra Guard Bio Cubes and making our tanks algae and maintenance free.

Thank you all!

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3 thoughts on “MASA TOTM – October 2014 – Francois

  • Ebrahim

    Well Done. This is a great tank. Something to be proud of.

    Thanks for sharing all the info. I’m sure this will help and inspire many reefers

  • Patricia Kruger

    So awesome to see all this information and such detail shared with everyone. So well done and such beautiful fish. Just love the beauty of it all. Carry on making your dream come true

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