90g Reef

90g Reef
90g Reef

As some might know, I relocated to Canada - therefore I had to sell off all my tanks. However once the reef bug bit you, you will never be free from it. So here I am - 20 months later - and starting up my new 90g reef aquarium in Canada!

Saturday the 27th of February I went shopping for a new aquarium. Sunday the 28th I had all my equipment delivered to my home, bar some plumbing pieces. During the course of Sunday and Monday I managed to get all of the plumbing done - not that there were much plumbing to do but it always seems to be a challenge to get all the pipes and connectors fitting.


The tank I got is an 90g (340L) Aqueon AGA glass tank measuring 48.5" x 18.5" x 25.375" (L x W x H). It has an off center overflow chamber made of plastic, siliconed with black silicone to the rear panel. Inside are two holes - one for the overflow to the sump using a Durso standpipe, and one for the return line to the tank from the sump.

The cabinet is made from a kind of cherry wood veneer, with no central column and no metal bracing. This is both great and bad. Bad for structural integrity, good for access to the sump. Canopy is open back, and there are no cover plates. Guess I have to keep that cover closed. The glass panels are 10mm thick. With this design there are three viewable sides.

As the tank does not have anything at the back, I am considering adding a black cardboard to hide the colour of the wall behind it. My first tank had a black background and I liked it.

Since the top is completely open and it is quite dusty in here, I decided to custom make two 5mm glass panels to fit in the little recessions on the top of the tank. They are now 95% covered and will help with jumpers as well.

The water flows over the overflow at the back, down the Durso standpipe into the sump beneath. There is a special chamber to supposedly lessen the noise of the falling water. This flows into the three chambered sump. In the first and largest section is my skimmer, two Phosban 150 reactors and two heaters. This flows over an up/down partition to the return pump.

I am keeping cheato in the second chamber with a reverse photosynthesis schedule.

Here is a photo of the sump before and after the water circulation was turned on:

Mechanical Filtration

The sump is an acrylic EuroReef RS180/250 sump, measuring approximately 30" x 15" x 15" (L x W x H). Here is a picture:


Chemical Filtration

Two Phosban 150 reactors are used - one with RowaPhos, and the other with GAC (Granular Activated Carbon), helps keep the phosphates and possible unwanted chemicals at bay, and helps prevent yellowing of the water.

Biological Filtration

I only have a 2" sand bed made from CaribSea oolite live sand. This is not deep enough for a DSB, so this sandbed will not form a major part of denitrification. Instead the inhabitants are wholly dependent on the live rock in the tank to perform denitrification. The Cheatomorpha in the sump will also somewhat help remove unwanted phosphates and nitrates. Lastly, my BubbleKing 180 skimmer will take care of the DOC's (Dissolved Organic Compounds) before they break down to cause phosphates/nitrates.


I have two Jager 250W heaters in the sump - together they provide for redundancy. Since this condo never gets colder than about 18C even in the winter without central heating turned on, I believe my biggest concern would be heat in the summer. For this I have acquired an AquaLogic 1/4 HP TLC-3 chiller (drop in sump kind). Seems to work awfully well.



The Tunze Osmolator 3155 is handling the auto topup from a tiny 15l reservoir of RO water. I have a lot of evaporation so I plan on adding two glass cover plates to the top of the tank to reduce this. The topup feeds through a Deltec Kalkstirrer that doses Kalkwasser to help keep alkalinity and Calcium in check.

Return Pump

Experience has taught me the Eheim pumps - though expensive - are simply the most reliable and quietest pumps out there. I therefore got a 1262 for the return flow, rated at 900gph. I will therefore get about 550gph if you take the head loss in affect, or more suitably 6 times the turnover rate of the tank. However this was a bit of a mistake as the pump is a bit too powerful and causes some flushing in the overflow, and the tank is noisier than it should be.


My trusty Tunze pump takes care of the internal flow. This time I got a 6105 with a new USB based 7096 controller. The Tunze pump comes with a magnet, so no more paying $40 for extra magnets. I have programmed the controller for a straight pulse action, with 4 second between 50% and 100% and night mode turned on. Unfortunately it seems that the moon light is not working, though the photocell is.


For lighting I have a Sunpod HQI 1164, 48" 2x250W 14k MH pendant installed in the canopy. It gets a bit hot, and the 14k lights are too blue to my liking but I will change this eventually. I added a small Antec fan to the canopy and this reduced the heat tremendously.

UPDATE: I have temporarily replaced my metal halides with 6 x 54W T5's. My corals started bleaching about 1 month ago and since my water parameters are good,I am testing to see if my light was maybe too intense.


For automation I use the Neptune Apex system - a very capable little controller that seems more powerful than the AquaTronica, however it seems like fewer probes are available (or I do not yet know where to look). It has an 8-way plug bar, a temperature probe and a pH probe. This system controls my lighting, heaters, chiller and pumps.

Neptune Apex
Neptune Apex

Water Parameters

Measured: 24 Apr 2010

Temperature26.2 C
Specific Gravity 1.026
Ammonia - NH30 mg/L
Nitrite - NO2-0.0 mg/L
Nitrate - NO3-0.2 mg/L
Calcium - Ca420 mg/L
Alkalinity8.8 dKH
Phosphate - PO4-0 mg/L [24 Mar]
Magnesium - Mg1500 ppm [15 May]
Silica - Si0.015 mg/L [1 Apr]


As this is a new country for me, I will have to see what is available. Right now I have purchased a pack of freshwater Mysis shrimp - will see how well that works.


I plan on performing monthly 20% water changes. Will still determine how often I need to replace the GAC and RowaPhos.

Power Backup

I purchased an APC SMX750 UPS with one extended battery pack. Everything except the chiller, heaters, lights and refugium light is on the UPS. I get 5.5 hours of runtime at 23% load. If I turn off the skimmer I expect to get 9.5 hours of runtime at 17% load.