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June 2010 - Colin Keene (Basenji) PDF Print

Congratulations Colin on winning TOTM for June with your timeless mixed reef tank. 
Colin is known simply as Basenji on the RTAW forums and you can find out more about his tank in his Tank Journal


How Long have you been in the hobby

Ifired up my first marine tank in 1991 – a 3 foot undrilled fish-only tank. Ihad then only recently learned to SCUBA dive, had been blown away by the beautyand complexity of the marine world, and wanted be able to bring the interesthome. I had also been inspired by friends who had a stunning seahorse tank withbreeding Hippocampus whitei in a tankbursting with Caulerpa. At thatpoint, I had only limited success with my own tank, largely due to lack ofreliable information, as well as lack of budget to do things properly.


Itwasn’t until 1996 that I started to take things a bit more seriously, which wasfurther helped by my discovery of internet-based resources. My wife and Ibought a new 4’ tank, cabinet and hood, bioball trickle filter sump and one ofthose laughable Queen Turbo protein skimmers. That is the tank I’m stillrunning today, and is the subject of this award.


Equipmentline-up has changed a bit over the years, but my emphasis has always been simplicity,affordability and stability. I’ve never been able to justify the spending of$1000+ on a skimmer, I’ve never owned a chiller or a calcium reactor, and DIYprojects have always been a part of how I choose to enjoy my hobby.


Thetank has been through a number of stages and three house moves over the years.It has grown and developed along with my own knowledge; waxed and waned withthe variations in my level of enthusiasm. Its latest incarnation has been arebuild following a crash in 2008, although happily there are still a fewcorals and fish that have been with me for the long haul.

I’mextremely happy with how it has shaped up, and (dare I say) I don’t think ithas ever looked any better.




2a) What size is your winning tank, dimensions andlitres?

48” x18” x 20” display tank with corner overflow and single Durso standpipe.

Approximately280L system volume.


2b) Any reasons for that size tank?

Noparticular reason for size of tank, other than it was the size that fitted intothe space in the house we had at the time, and fitted our budget.


2c) How long has this tank been setup?

Tankestablished in October 1996 (13 years)


3) Anything you want to say about your stand?

Notmuch I can say about the stand. Fairly standard commercial stand bought from anLFS, and has always frustrated me for being about 100mm shorter than it reallyneeds to be. I bought it in white wood, and made a poor decision to stain it ina dark jarrah colour which I have regretted ever since.  The frame is solid timber, and isstructurally sound, but why, oh why do they build commercial stands using MDF?  Really stupid idea. The base has been fallingapart through water damage since about mid-1997, and the cabinet walls (made ofveneer-laminated MDF) are swelling in places.

Iutilise a pine cupboard adjacent to the tank to house electronics, timers,dosing system, topup reservoir and skimmer




4) Do you have a sump and/or refugium?If so, what size?

24” x18” x 12” sump.

Nodividers or baffles. No refugium. No remote sandbed.


-skimmer feed pump (Ocean Runner 6500)

-Schego 300W titanium heater

-display tank return pump

-dosing point for Balling salts and RO topup.


Sump return = Hydor L40

Rated 2800LPH at 0 head. Obviously delivers lessthan that after head and fricton losses. Split between two return outlets.

5) Filtration eg. amount of live rock,sand bed or bare bottom, mechanical filtration etc?
Tank contains roughly 60kg live rock.

Mediumin-tank sand bed (50-75mm) using coral sand.

Nomechanical filtration.




6) Do you have a skimmer?

Skimmeris a Reef Maniacs RSK627B beckett downdraft skimmer. ( )

Purchasedsecond hand from a fellow MASS member.


7) Water flow/movement

1 x2000 LPH Otto powerhead

1 x2800 LPH Tunze Nanostream 6025

2 x3000 LPH JVP propeller pumps.

1 x900 LPH Hydor nano propeller pump.


Nominal 41 x tank volume turnover per hour.




8) Lighting, type and times

8x54WT5 fluorescent. My choice of lamps is eclectic, and has been based onaffordability, availability and aesthetic colour preference more so than anytechnical criteria. Currently migrating towards ATI lamps, but will only do so as tubes need replacing.


Total lightduration = 11 hours per day, phased on and off through 3 timers.

Fullintensity (8 tubes) = 7 hours per day.


11:00  – 20:00   AquazBlue Pro + Aquamedic Reef Blue

12:00  – 21:00   AquazOcean Pro (x2) + ATI Aqua Blue Special + Sylvania Grolux

13:00– 22:00    CH Blue Lux + ATI Aqua BlueSpecial

9) Other equipment

- Autotopoff with RO freshwater, via Williamson peristaltic pump controlled by “ATJII” DIY floatswitch controller.

- ReefMagus 3-channel peristaltic dosing controller for Balling salts.

- Coolingvia room air conditioning, and DC computer fans on water surface.



10) Water parameters

Salinity:                        35 ppt               (Refractometer)

Calcium:           400-420 ppm     (Salifert)

Alkalinity:          8-10 dKH          (Salifert)

Magnesium:      1300 ppm         (Salifert)

Nitrate:              undetectable     (Salifert)

Phosphate:       undetectable     (Salifert); or   0.10  (Hanna checker)

11) Additives and conditioners

3-partdosing by Randy Holmes-Farley recipe:

1)Calcium part – Damprid solution

2)Alkalinity part – Baked sodium bicarbonate

3)Magnesium part – Combination of Magnesium chloride hexachloride + Magnesiumsulphate (Epsom salt)


ProdibioBiodigest (bacterial culture) and BiOptim (trace element).

Weeklyaddition of Seachem Reef Plus (vitamins and amino acids)

Prodibioand Reef Plus have been in use for last 3 months.

To behonest, the jury is still out for me in terms of effectiveness at this point. I’mnot actually convinced that they have made any difference.


12) Fish stock.

Zebrasoma flavescens (Yellow tang).  Added August 1997 (13 years)

Pair of Amphiprion ocellaris (Falsepercula clownfish). Have recently spawned for the first time.

Centropyge acanthops (African Flameback Angelfish)

Pseudochcheilinushexataenia  (six-line wrasse)


Feeding is primarily Spectrum pellet, with supplementation with nori, frozen mysis andbrine shrimp, and flake food.


13) Coral stock.

Catalaphyllia jardinii (Elegance coral)

Euphyllia divisa (Frogspawn coral)

Echinophyllia sp. (Chalice coral) – two colourmorphs 

Pavona maldivensis

Acropora sp.- various

Pocillopora sp.

Stylophora sp. - various

Monitipora sp. - various

Xenia sp.


VariousPalythoa / Zoanthids  (hitch-hikers)

14) Other Inverts.

Cilliopagurus strigatus – Red-legged hermit crab

Trapezia sp. – Acropora crab

Turbo sp. – Algae snails (breeding colony)

Trochus sp. – snails (breeding colony)

Echinometra sp. – black boring urchin

Mespilia globules – Tuxedo urchin

Linckia laevigata – Blue Linckia seastar




15) Maintenance

Daily: (monitored by checklist)

- Feedfish,

-Observe livestock health

-Check topup reservoir, dosing system, skimmate reservoir. Maintain as required.

-Record temperature daily.


-Dosing Prodibio and Seachem Reef Plus.

Monthly (or thereabouts):

- Waterchange, typically around 30%. Quick syphoning of any visible detritus fromrocks is conducted when doing water change. Water changes use a combination ofArtificial and Natural Salt Water, depending on availability.

Periodically or as required:

-Periodically test and adjust salinity, calcium, alkalinity, magnesium.

-Internal glass cleaned with magnet cleaner and razor blade

-Skimmer, pumps, powerheads cleaned



16) Acknowledgments and any other comments

Thank you very much to the MASA Committee and the Promotions andCompetitions team for this award.  It is always nice when people take an interest in what you are doing, but it is even nicer to be recognised by your peers in the context of all the wonderful tanks being kept by Aussie aquarists these days.


I also have to thank my friends within MASS and  the broader MASA community for theirassistance, frags, information and encouragement that have always been sofreely shared, and without whose help I could not have achieved what I have.


I’ve always felt that a Tank of the Month winner should have something to teach the aquarium community. I don’t consider that my system is particularly spectacular to look at. The glass is a bit scratched, the plumbing is a bit industrial and the cabinet (like its owner) is a little bit worse for wear.

I do,however, believe that it is a good example of what can be achieved with apretty stock-standard tank available from any aquarium shop, given a bit of research, some perseverance and more than just a little bit of obsession. I would like to think that it is my keep-it-simple approach that has set this tank apart, and has attracted this award.

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