JRPARK Featured Reef

JRPARK22000 [Josh] 110 g Mixed Beauty.

Introduction and Background:

I was quite surprised and honored to be nominated for Tank of the Quarter. I’m always amazed at the beauty of the tanks selected. My tank is still quite young at 2 years but EyeReef swayed me. Given a few more years, the tank should look much more like a SPS dominant TOTM in my eyes.
I’ve always been interested in ecology, even spending four years studying it in high school. In childhood we had a couple freshwater tanks, but it wasn’t until I rooted in Chicagoland that I started my first 30gal Nano reef. It took a few years, but I finally accepted a Nano was not the tank I truly wanted.

Current Tank and Concepts: The ~110gal:

I found this tank in early 2011. It took until October of that year to source all the other gear, complete the build and cycle. It’s a barebottom covered in black marble tiles. It’s predominantly an SPS tank but contains a nice mix of LPS, NPS and softies. The fish were all selected as they are reef safe or the most reef safe of their family.

I had three primary goals when building this tank; reduce as much heat as possible, build in as much redundancy as practical, and have it as autonomous as possible. The tank is a Miracles built starphire front and side 48x24x21. It was used and has a tempered back so I was left to work around the single drain. I built an external overflow box so a 3 pipe BeanAnimal return could utilized. Using a big external skimmer set the inside height of the cabinet. Wanting the cabinet to be mobile meant it needed to be on wheels. With this, I overbuilt the cabinet to prevent any flexing even when under weight of the tank. I built all the cabinetry covering it with oak plywood and trim, finishing in tung oil.

Filtration and Circulation:

A 27gal sump/refugium shares the two cabinets with the skimmer and several reactors. The 45gal cube quarantine tank (QT) is also plumbed into the display system typically. A combination of pukani and marcorock house most of the biological filtration, but I run a reactor for K1 media. The cabinets also house Ozone, GAC and GFO reactors. There is a co2 scrubber on the inlet of the skimmer to maintain pH levels no matter the season. Skimming is done by an oversized Reeflo Orca 200 that uses a Dart recirculating pump.

A single Reeflo Snapper feeds the display, all the reactors and the attached QT. Tank flow is provided by an m40 at each end and three mp10s on the back. The QT has its own mp40. When all the vortech pumps are put to max each day, water will jump from the tank if the screen cover is not on. This twice daily storm exports the detritus to the sump keeping the barebottom mostly clean.

Lighting and Temperature:

Lighting is the simplest part of my setup, 4 AI sols. They come on at 7am and slowly ramp to a max of 60% blue for a few hours before ramping down, turning off at 8:30pm.

The tank only runs 2 degrees over ambient air temp on the hottest of days. I use a small room AC unit to then keep a max air temp of 80 during the summer, which also removes the excess humidity. Winter the tank is kept at 77deg F.

Feeding and Supplemention:

Feeding is done by a super-feeder with a mix of Formula 1, 2 and Prime flakes, Sprung veggies and Spectrum pellets. The fish also get 2 cubes from a variety of frozen foods daily. All corals are target feed every 4 days a mix of several micro ground dry foods mysis and brine. This leads to high no3 levels (currently 13-18ppm) that I’m working on reducing with carbon dosing vinegar.

CA, ALK and MG are maintained with ESV chemicals dosed from lab grade peristaltic pumps. ALK is kept low at 6.5-7.5dKH as 8.5 and above caused SPS to STN in two previous incidents. CA is 440-460 and MG 1300-1340.

Testing, Maintenance and Automation:

Here my obsessive personality shows. For all three of these I go well above what is needed but it’s what I like spending my free time doing.

I strive for testing accuracy. Unless a test kit or meter can provide granular, accurate repeatable results I have continued to upgrade until I find one that will. A Hach DREL spectrophotometer and titrator water lab, Milwaukee po4 meter, LaMotte kits, precision thermometer and hydrometer are just the start. Stability is key with SPS and I strive for narrow tolerances.

Daily maintenance is very little despite what my wife says, usually just an ALK test and feeding. Planned maintenance is well thought out and regimented with 1, 3, 6, and 12 month schedules. See the tank’s website task list here for the revision.

Automation, well is overboard. I run both an Apex and the older Aquacontroller3 in parallel. I have 2 separate heating and ATO functions, one operated on each controller. The apex has a total of 8 float vales, 10 probes and 80+ outlets. Floats are on everything that can overflow or run dry. Probes are all duplicated to help isolate erroneous readings. Using this many outlets allows for stacked conditional programming to act on a wide range of input parameters. They control all the pumps, lights, dosing, heating, autowaterchange, skimmer cleaner and alarming. All of this is controlled from my phone and monitored by an overhead webcam. I seldom worry about the tank or of a failure while I travel.


As the full list is quite large, I keep a full list of animals and inverts with lineage on the website.

Probably the most amazing to me are the coral and inverts that reproduce in the tank. The ORA Damicornis and torch corals have spread themselves through the DT. The yellow sun polyps propagated into the overflow and in the DT corners. The cleaner shrimp each spawn live young monthly and occasionally I see the pom-pom crab do the same. Twice I’ve caught a mass spawning of the tronchus snails followed by hundreds of tiny snails in the next months.

The Fish:

B/W Ocellaris Clown
Flameback Angel
Bi-color Blenny
Black Zoster Butterflyfish
Spotted Borb Anthias
Yellow Banded Possum Wrasse
Sargassum Triggerfish

The Acropora and Montipora:

The Other Coral:

Inverts and Algea:


Thank you to all reef keepers. The community and vast amounts of experience and experimentation allow this hobby to be what it is.

Thank you to Chicago Reefs and those who nominated my tank for this honor.

Last my wife. It’s often said but without her support this would not be possible. All too many times the tank has influenced her everyday life. On one notable occasion allowing me to deal with a controller hardware failure found the morning we were flying out for her brother’s wedding.