Tangency   [ Jeff Roesmann ] 90 g Mixed Reef

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Thank you Chicago Reefs for selecting me as this monthís featured tank. With so many amazing aquariums in the community I am happy, as a reef aquarium novice, to share my experience. I am humbled daily by the vast amount of knowledge shared by other members and I still have very much to learn. This forum is a great source of inspiration and expertise.  I believe what really sets Chicago Reefs apart is the generosity of both members and vendors alike.  I have had the pleasure to meet a handful of you, as many of the corals under my care are yours, and I hope to meet many others in the future.

My passion is design. I have always loved sketching, painting, sculpting, building; anything creative. I am also completely fascinated and inspired by marine life; as it turns out, the two are a perfect pairing for me. I frequently incorporate many of the marine colors, textures, and shapes in my daily design work. I have even had the chance to work on a few hobby-related products. I use aquarium photography as an alternative creative outlet and enjoy capturing details that often go unnoticed.



Not too long ago, my wife and I decided we wanted to care for our own reef aquarium. Having had both freshwater and marine aquariums throughout my life, I was excited about finally keeping corals.

I had three goals:


More success than my previous aquariums.

Enjoy the tank.


04-11                                                                    6-11                                                                  08-11


09-11                                                                  01-12                                                                02-12


 04-12                                                             06-12                                                                  08-12


I took my time researching different setups and equipment types before finally settling on a 90 gallon reef ready aquarium from Craiglist. My initial plan was to keep mostly soft corals and large polyp stony corals as I enjoy their movement but I soon strayed and now keep a mixture of corals proven to have a high success rate in captivity. Learning something new every day, I continued my plan, testing and retesting water samples and reading and rereading text. Over time I have added additional powerheads, upgraded lighting fixtures, automated chemical additions, solved a few problems, made a few problems, and tried to document my experience. Here is a little I have learned:


I am using a 6 bulb ATI Sunpower fixture fitted with ATI bulbs. Many other successful reef aquariums have used a similar set up so I was confident it would support my mixed reef. The ability to easily change the appearance of the tank just by swapping bulb positions or kelvin temperatures was the most important factor for me as I admittedly grow tired of the same look.

Front to back:

ATI Aquablue Special

ATI Blue Plus

ATI True Actinic

ATI Blue Plus

ATI Purple Plus

ATI Aquablue Special

dawn/dusk (11:00am - 10pm)

photoperiod (2pm - 7pm)



2. Filtration

I decided on a combination of biological and mechanical filtration.

The biological filtration consists of 130 pounds live rock and two inches of sugar fine oolitic aragonite sand. For mechanical filtration, the water passes into the overflow then into the sump via a 100 micron filter sock. Next, the water passes through three separate chambers.  The first area houses a heater, live rock, carbon and phosphate upflow reactors. The second area is the skimmer. The final area has 50 micron filter pad, probes, dosing lines, and the return pump. Between my frequent water changes and modest bio load, water quality issues have yet to become a problem.



 One way I maximized water movement is by keeping rockwork away from the walls and overflow. This helps minimize low flow areas which lead to waste buildup. To supply water flow, I currently have two Vortech mp40 pumps and a return pump. I have been extremely happy with the Ecotech pumps so far.



4.Feeding and maintenance

Keeping a mixed reef has its challenges. SPS require one set of specific parameters, soft corals another, and LPS yet another. My routine is a balance of the following:

Daily I feed a varied mix of Pellets, Formula 1 & Two Flake, Mysis, Nori, high quality frozen blends, blender mush, and on occasion live food.  Calcium and Alkalinity are maintained with Randy Holmes Farley's 2 part recipe #1 dosed with a Bubble Magus dosing pump for consistency and stability. Salinity and PH are controlled via kalkwasser top off additions dosed during the night.

Twice weekly I feed a blend of Aminos, Zoplan & Coral Frenzy Food. I use micro algae growth on the aquarium glass as an indicator whether I need to feed more or less.

Weekly I test and record parameters, fill the automatic top off reservoir, and clean the skimmer cup.

Twice Monthly I perform a water change and monthly I clean debris from the sump, and replenish the carbon and Phosban reactors.

Biannually I clean the skimmer and whatever else looks like it could use it.

As needed I scrape the coralline off the glass, soak the Vortech wetsides in vinegar, and swap the auto dosing reservoirs as they reduce.




Six Line Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia)

Orange Stripe Prawn Goby (Amblyeleotris randalli)

Wheeler's Shrimp Goby (Amblyeleotris wheeleri)

Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)

Yellow Long Nosed Butterfly (Forcipiger flavissimus)

2 x Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)





6.Corals and inverts

The cleanup crew consists of two cleaner shrimp, Nudibranchs, Blue Legged Hermits, Scarlet Reef Hermits snails, Nassarius Vibex Snails, Astraea Snails, collonista snails, and brittle stars.



Soft Corals

 Blue Mushroom  (Actinodiscus sp.)

Red Spotted Mushroom (Actinodiscus sp.)

Purple Mushroom (Actinodiscus sp.)

Toadstool Leather (Sarcophyton sp.)

Various Ricordea (Ricordea florida)

Various Palythoa (Palythoa sp.)

Various Zoanthid (Zoanthus sp.)

Green Star Polyp (Clavularia viridis)



 Frogspawn (Euphyllia paradivisa)

Trumpet Coral (Caulastrea curvata)

Hammer Coral (Euphyllia ancora)

Candy Cane Coral (Caulastrea furcata)

Green Favia (Favites spp.)




 Pink Birdsnest (Seriatopora hystrix)

Ponape Birdsnest (Seriatopora hystrix)

Red Montipora Capricornis (Montipora capricornis)

Green Montipora Capricornis (Montipora capricornis)

Montipora Digitata (Montipora digitata)

Green Spongodes (Montipora spongodes)

Fire Fly Chalice (Echinophyllia)

Various Acropora (Acropora sp.)








7.Ending thoughts


 Iím really grateful to have learned the basics.  I recommend that those starting out to read The Reef Aquarium Vol I,II, III by Julian Sprung, Charles Delbeek and to take the time to understand the foundation for building a healthy reef tank. Keep your setup simple.  Try to purchase captive raised fish and corals; they are not only sustainable, but have a much higher success rate.  Finally, enjoy your aquarium daily!

Thank you once again Chicago Reefs and for taking a moment to look.


All images copyright Jeff Roesmann. If you wish to re-publish or distribute any of my photos please contact me before doing so.

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