April 2013: Animal-Chin’s 50 gallon Mixed Reef

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I first got interested in fish keeping when I was a kid. My father was a fish tank fanatic and I spent hours watching his multiple tanks that he kept in various rooms in my house. I loved puffers and ask for my first tank with a puffer when I was around 8 years old. I can remember creating under water scenes with my Star Wars action figures and watching my puffer swim around them. Years later, when I purchased my first house I set up my first large freshwater tank but I really wanted a salt water or reef tank. I purchase a book on saltwater but it all seemed so overwhelming that I chickened out and went with something I was familiar with, freshwater fish.  I still really wanted that saltwater tank though…

Fast forward to 2010.  I was just browsing at my local fish store and a Biocube caught my eye. The shop owner saw I was going to be an easy sell and convinced me that saltwater wasn’t that difficult.  He taught me a few of the beginner concepts and I found myself leaving the store with a tank, sand, live rock and a bag of accessories, this was the first day of my new addiction……the reef tank.

My Biocube kept my attention for a year but like most people bit by the bug, I knew I had to go bigger. In May 2011 I purchased my current set up, a 50 gallon tank and this adventure began.


My tank is a 50 gallon sumpless system. For filtration I have a Ramora Aqua C hang off back skimmer and a Fluval 305 canister filter that I fill with Purigen and Chemi-Pure Elite. I run 2 Hydor pumps for flow. My lights are 2 120watt full spectrum LED units that I’ve only been running about 2 months now but have allowed me to start keeping sps coral, something I’ve always wanted to do.


I’m a water change-aholic.  Because I don’t have a sump with an oversized skimmer or a refugium, I maintain my tank by doing 2 water changes of 10% a week.  I do 5 gallons on Wednesday and 5 gallons on Sunday each week to maintain clean water and to keep my parameters in check.  Since adding the LED lights and sps coral I’ve noticed my Calcium and Alk dropping faster than before so I’ve started dosing Calcium, Alk and Magnesium as needed. I’ve had great growth on my sps over the last couple of months because of this.  Other than this I clean out my canister filter weekly to ensure no build up inside that will cause nitrates and phosphates in the tank.



  • Dwarf Lionfish
  • PJ Cardinal
  • Orange Back Fairy Wrasse
  • Foxface Lo
  • Clownfish


  • Orange Starfish
  • Sandsifting Starfish
  • Assorted snails and hermits


  • 2 Hammer corals
  • Torch
  • Bubble
  • Frogspawn
  • Galaxia
  • Pink Flowerpot
  • Green Star Polyps
  • Assorted Mushrooms
  • Sun coral
  • Spiny Cup
  • Medium Lobo colony
  • 1 large Orange/Green Lobo
  • Cactus coral
  • Candy Cane
  • Colt
  • 2 different leather coral
  • Bam Bam Zoanthids
  • unknown Zoanthids
  • Purple Acropora
  • Green Acropora
  • 3 sps corals that I never got the name of
  • Red Montipora



Lionfish – Large krill or silversides on a every second day schedule
other fish – Assorted frozen food (Mysis, krill, brine shrimp, ect) and sinking pellets rotated and fed once daily


I started, like a lot of people who are getting into reef tanks, by making some mistakes.  This is when I decided to really research and hit the internet to absorb as much info as I could, I was determined to have a successful reef tank and that’s where I finally feel I am now.  My tank is truly a labor of love that I work on and enjoy it every day;  it’s how I de-stress after a hard day at work, it helps me take my mind off everything and gives me a relaxing activity that is truly fulfilling.  My wife and kids really enjoy it too, my wife loves picking out her favorite coral at the store and she’s always the first to pick the ones that sway in the current like frogspawn, hammer and torch corals.  My kids love the fish and name each one.  Louis is our Lionfish and everyone’s favorite.


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