Years ago I embarked on a journey into keeping a fish tank. While I started out in fresh water, my attention was grabbed by saltwater tanks. Eventually I ventured into keeping a saltwater tank in 2002. At that time, I converted my 110 gallon cichlid tank over to salt water. However, I quickly learned that saltwater was an entirely different animal. Since my tank was not originally reef ready, I got an overflow box and plumbed a sump in the stand. I found a used metal halide fixture and I was able to keep the tank running for a couple of years. However, due to a combination of a lack of experience, planning and time constraints, that tank eventually crashed and I left the hobby for a good long while. Life beckoned…

A couple of kids and 10 years later, I got the itch to start back up. This time, I decided to start small and try and keep it simple. I found a used 10 gallon tank at a garage sale and started it up as a small saltwater aquarium. While I had a couple of false starts, I was able to eventually build a small stable reef. As these things go, once I figured out how to keep a 10 gallon tank stable, I traded it for my current tank, a 34g Solana. My 34g Solana has now been running about 4 years and has graduated to a full on mixed reef tank. I have been able to keep everything from soft corals to small polyped stony (SPS) corals. I’ve spent countless hours reading, researching and tinkering with the tank as many of us reef hobbyists will do. I’ve learned a few things along the way that help me keep my reefing as simple and easy as possible.

My mixed reef tank. This is my Solana 34g tank.

These days my water changes are done only as needed, few and far between. My filtration consists only of a protein skimmer and an algae reactor. My lights are LED. My evaporated water is refilled with an auto top off.

I hope to share some of my experiences and continue to learn things along the way.

Here are a few things I’ve learned so far:

  • Biological filtration is the best!  (Skimmer and refugium)
  • Reef tanks need tons of flow
  • Patience is key.  Everything takes lots of time in a reef tank!
  • Plan things out!  (The livestock just isn’t as forgiving as freshwater)
  • Never stop learning!
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