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January 2008 - Gavin Hennessy (G1v1n) PDF Print

Congratulations to Gavin Hennessy on winning TOTM for January 2008 with a beautiful setup.

Gavin is known as G1v1n at the RTAW Forums and you can find out more about his tank in his Tank Journal 



I've been keeping this tank for 14 months since November 2006 and many of the inhabitants were from a previous 3ft tank that I kept for around 3yrs (and made most of my beginner mistakes on). Prior to that I had been keeping Malawi cichlids in a 6 footer but when it came time to put a large reef tank in the same room the cichlids seemed outclassed (and required too many waterchanges) so I sold that setup. I also still keep a planted tropical tank and I can tell you that plants can be as technical as corals and frankly I have more success with my reef than with that one so I have downgraded that tank(removed the CO2 and the fast growing, high light plants) so I don't have to spend hours pruning the plants every week.

Tank Information

Tank is 1620x650x610mm roughly 600L
When we bought this house, the one thing that annoyed me was that blank wall stuck in the middle of the room blocking off the view of the pool so one day my wife came home to find me covered in dust and power saw in hand and a dirty great hole in the wall - she finally calmed down when I had the tank in and running and agreed it was much better than a blank wall.

I had the stand made at a local prison cabinet shop and apart from not being as wide as I'd wanted and a surprise set of drawers in the middle(which I've come to really appreciate their practicality) those inmates do a real fine job.


I have a 600X45X45 standard tank as a sump and I use it mostly for storing rock, corals and fish that can't go up top for whatever reason. I originally intended it to allow the option of running a skimmer, filters or macro algae if the need arose - so far I haven't needed that and the sump is just a utility tank.


I have no mechanical or chemical filtration (less to clean and change) because the water stays clear and my phosphates are very low without them. As for bio filtration, I have only a shallow sand bed(3cm) and most of the rock was dry collected limestone. I have only bought 2 small pieces of LR back when I started the previous tank and when I started this one I added more limestone to fill it. The corraline covered the rocks in around 2 months. I had planned on DIY cement rock but I'm lazy and limestone is laying around on the ground here.

I don't use a skimmer as I haven't found the need to.

Water flow/movement

I use a Tunze 6060 (6000lph) and a Resun Waver for tank circulation but would like even more variation in the water currents so I'm getting a Koralia copy that I will try running on a timer.


I have purposefully opted for lower wattage pumps and lights (than usually recommended for this tank size) to keep the power bills and the tank temp down. I have a light pendant from AVK( 1guppy-Andries) which uses 2x150w halides(20000k) and 2x t5ho 54w fluoros(10000k?). It also has moonlights but I rarely use them. The t5s come on at 7am and off at 5pm and the MH start at 9am and go until 9pm.

Other equipment

I have a DIY topoff that consists of an automotive windscreen washer pump, 12v plug pack,r elay, float switch and 25L container. It also runs through a timer that only allows 5mins on per day as a failsafe in case the floatswitch fails.

Water parameters

pH 8.15 every time I check
NO3 undetectable
PO4 less than 0.03
Calcium 450ppm
Alkalinity 4 meqL
Temp 24 winter min 29 summer max

Additives and conditioners

Calcium and carbonate additions are taken care of by DIY 2 part additives (bicarb and damprid) dosed by a simple, cheap DIY doser. Magnesium additive is added manually when I refill the reservoirs. Lately I have been soaking the food in Seachem Reefplus and it seems to increase the size of the morphs noticeably.

Fish stock

Amphiprion occelaris-(spot) bought as a reject from a breeder he has severe misbanding but we love him anyway.
Pseudochromis sp (Royal dottyback) seems to be the fish most commented on by visitors-go figure.
Amphiprion clarki (clarkii clown) reportedly came from Vanuatu and kicked my breeding pair of occelaris out of their xenia to claim it for himself.
Pterapogon kauderni (Bangaii cardinal) one of 2 tank bred by Aquaholic (MASWA member) the other died of unknown causes but this one is quite a character.
Pseudocheilinus hexataenia (6-line wrasse) Does a war dance if he sees you looking at him - sleeps in a mucous sack in the rocks.
Zebrasoma scopas (Scopas tang) well behaved and eats anything
Cenrtopyge bicolor (Bicolour angel) refugee from another reefers tank he had been eating corals and bullying fish- he is still a little naughty but tolerable.
(Green chromis) x3 the dominant male keeps the others in hiding.

Coral stock

Acropora sp. I removed the larger plain coloured colonies to free up the prime spots for better coloured frags and now waiting for them to grow out.
Sarcophyton gradually removing the plainer ones but I will keep at least 2 because I have a leather fetish
Candy cane originally a 3 polyp frag from a frag fest loves the spot it's in and growing fast (I'd really like one of the bright coloured Qld ones)
Xenia I constantly harvest this and it seems to act as a nutrient export (like macro) and I trade the frags at my LFS.
Echinophylia (red crust and orange eyes)
Oulophylia (moonstone)
Seriatopora (Birdsnest)
Turbinaria (Yellow cup coral)
Catalaphylia (elegance) purple tip frag from another reefer
Euphyllia Ancora (Hammer) green tentacle one is a frag from Itdepends
Coral morphs

Other Inverts
Trochus snails -they breed and maintain a population
Turbo snail- only 1 he was a hitchhiker on a coral
Cerith snails - hundreds hiding in the sand waiting for dark to come out and clean up
Hermit crabs - probably 4-5

NLS marine pellets in the morning, DIY frozen mix in the evening

Clean the glass 1-2 times a week
Refill topup weekly
Refill additives every 20 days and add Mg
Test Cal & Alk fortnightly
Change 100L NSW every fortnight(getting a bit slack on that now)

I would like to say thankyou to MASA and all the volunteers whose efforts make this club possible.I'd also like to thank Reef Octopus for sponsoring this competition.
Winning this TOTM was a complete surprise for me in fact no sooner had I rescaped and fragged my biggest corals thinking that the holidays are over and noone will see the tank for a while and I had time to grow some better colonies. Please forgive the bareness of the tank but I guess like all tanks its in a constant state of evolution and sometimes you have to go back to go forward.
Happy Reefing


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