SPS Setup

Update for 2017

As this system has begone to age I've found increasing difficulty with Phosphate. I'm now required to dose something to keep levels in check. I am slowly removing sand to help control this level and to increase flow as the growing colonies are blocking it.

My focus is on the following:

    • PO4 - 0.03 to 0.08
    • NO3 dosed with KNO3. Acceptble values are 3 to 8ppm
    • KH 7-8dkh and stable
    • PAR 200-500 (top to bottom) for 8-10 hours per day
    • Even light across the tank

When I installed the LED's I was also considering 2 more T5's. There were a couple aspects of the LED's I was not totally happy with, and now, after 2 years, some of them have been damaged by water spray and a couple appear dim so I decided to try the other choice. Here are the updated PAR readings with year old bulbs. I will replace my bulbs starting this weekend over the next few weeks.

Tank Setup


I believe in strong flow, good light, a decent size refugioum, heavy skimming, and heavy feeding to maintain a healthy environment for SPS. I am not a ULNS guy, instead I like to keep some nutrients in the system to feed the coral. I watch my coral colors, and how quickly I get Algae on my glass to balance my feeding. I like to clean my glass every three days, I find that if I have to clean it more often I have too much phosphate, and less often and I have too little.

Equipment List:

75G standard tank with custom low profile overflow. Three 1" drains running a Bean Animal setup.

29G Sump sectioned off into 3 chambers, Skimmer, then Fuge, then small Return.

4x54W Tek T5 with individual reflectors.

-- Added-- 2x54W LET T5 with individual reflectors.

-- Removed!-- Two strips of 20, 3W LED's on driver in back of and in the center of the T5's (PAR numbers below).

Curve 5 Skimmer running fairly dry, about 1 cup per week.

2 - Tunze 6105 running about 2100 gph each

Apex controller.

ATO run by the Apex, with a 5G tank that can be tied to a 40G tank for vacation.

Apex Moonlight Module

60LBS of Live rock

LED 6000K Spotlight bulb for the Fuge, runs on a reverse cycle.

Korilan CA reactor with top drilled for PH probe.

20LBS of Sugar sized Sand


I use 4x 54W Tek T5 lights with individual reflectors, these are supplemented with DIY LED strips to boost the par a bit. The bulb arrangement is as follows


Giesemann Atinic Blue

ATI Coral Plus

Giesemann Purple Plus

Giesemann Atinic Blue


In the center of the bulbs, and behind them I have DIY LED strips built on 1/2 inch Aluminum channel which add 20 3W LED's each. The entire lighting array looks like this:

The lights are 6" off the water. These are the PAR numbers I am getting. I tried using 80 Deg optics but found that they focused the light so much that some corals would get too much and others only inches away would get to little. I would want to move the lights much higher up if I were to use optics again.


Flow is one of the most important things for SPS health, and I have supplied it with the return running at about 500GPH after head loss, and 2 tunze pumps set to alternate between 100% and 50% controlled by my Apex controller. In total I have about 68x my tank volume for turnover, and I have it placed so that the sand doesn't get kicked around too much.


I take Feeding very seriously, I think the best thing you can do for your reef is ensure that an ample amount of food is available for your coral. I think the second best thing you can do is make sure that food is removed before it can break down.

I feed twice a day when I can, once in the morning when the lights come on and once in the evening. I like to add coral foods every couple days to the fish food such as:

  • Coral Frenzy
  • Oyster eggs
  • Zooplancton
  • Cyclopeze

I cycle through the following fish foods, along with whatever new I find in the LFS freezer:

  • Mysis
  • Gut loaded brine
  • Nori
  • Flake
  • Pellet food
  • Blood worms

I let the Algae growth on my glass decide how much I feed, if I notice myself cleaning it every day, I feed a little less, every four days and I feed a little more. I notice that some foods are more "dirty" than others, such as Mysis will always give me more algae growth than flake will but I think it's better for the fish and coral. I do not rinse my food because I want the little bits to get to the SPS.

Sump Shot:

As you can see, it's just a mess in there. I did my best to put hooks at the top and run all the wires together, but there is so much stuff in such a small area at a certain point it just doesn't fit very well.

My next project will be to build a set of drawers that match the tank stand that I can place next to it. This will allow me to store all my test kits, food and such right next to the tank and it will look like it belongs thus winning the all important family approval.