GETTING THE DISPLAY TANK READY
Fitting the lighting to the hood lid, I setup all the controllers to provide a ‘Dawn to Dusk’ lighting profile. Fiddly, but works well. During this time I added a temperature meter underneath the display tank so I could keep my eye on the settings and any fluctuation, tuning the heaters/chiller bit by bit.
The live rock was added to the display tank having modelled the rock structures by drilling the rocks and inserting plastic rods/tubing for stability whilst the epoxy cured the rocks were placed directly on the glass bottom of the tank. This has worked well and the rocks are very stable.
(Tip: With rock structures, create three points of contact on the base – it will always be stable.)
There is always a debate on ‘sand or no sand’ or ‘how deep should the sand be’? I opted for sand as I feel that the sand makes for a more realistic reef display and adds brightness to the tank. Two inches/5cm deep has proven a good compromise in the past re: my ability to manage/clean the sand and it provides a good home for starfish and snails.
I also wanted an Orange Spot Goby to assist in tank cleaning. They are a great fish, always on the move adding interest in the tank and they do a great job at keeping the sand clean. This activity is another reason why I wanted a sand base.
(Tip: The Orange Spot is better for Reef tanks because, in my experience, the very popular Blue Cheeked Goby deposit significant amounts of sand on the corals from high up in the tank. This causes damage to the corals below. The Orange Spot Gobies constantly just churn over the surface of the sand rarely venturing high up in the tank – but they do like to dig holes!)
After a long while the system was ready to fill with sea water. This took several days, making a large quantity of RO water and mixing the salt, in 16 gallon batches. (if only I had a bigger shed!) Once completed, then the inevitable wait while the system cured and developed the live bacteria etc. (c.8 weeks) The inhabitants were then added gradually over several weeks.