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 225 Gallon Saltwater Reef Aquarium:
 Table of Contents


The main lighting in the tank is supplied by two 250 watt metal halide fixtures driven by Icecap ballasts. Currently, Aqualine Buschke 10000K bulbs are used.

The metal halide lighting is supplemented by two 48" (110 watt) URI Super Actinic bulbs. These are driven by an Icecap 430 ballast.

The Tunze 7095 aquacontroller includes an LED moonlight that matches the phases of the moon. It is on a photosensor and lights when the main lighting is off.

The metal halide bulbs are on for 8 hours, from 12pm to 8pm. The VHOs are on for 10 hours, from 11am to 9pm.


Over the years I've kept my tanks with varying depths of sand, from less than half an inch to a full 4-5 inch deep sand bed. I was never really happy with the cleanliness of those tanks. Recently, there have been a large group of people keeping bare bottom reef tanks.

The basic premise behind these tanks is that a very strong skimmer is used to keep the water clean. These tanks require a very high rate of flow to keep the organics in suspension in the water column, thus allowing the skimmer to pull them out. Essentially, remove all the nasty gunk from the water before it can break down into harmfull components such as ammonia.

The main circulation Dart and the two Tunze Streams create a large amount of water movement in the tank. As typical in these systems, the flow is much too high to have a sandy substrate (hence, bare bottom). Instead, a very thin white plastic called Starboard is used. It's primary purpose is to protect the glass from the rocks sitting on top of it. In my opinion, it also looks a little better than just bare glass.

The system is cleaned by a modified My Reef Creations MR-3 protein skimmer. This skimmer is a becket style skimmer that is run by a second Reeflo Dart. Becket style skimmers are perfect for a bare bottom tank because they pull out a very wet skimate, helping remove the crud before it can break down.

Seeing a bare bottom tank for the first time is usually a new experience for people. In most cases though, the tank is so pristine and the livestock flourishing so well, they don't even notice there's no sand.


In many cases, evaporative cooling using fans is sufficient. With this tank, we wanted it to be as quiet as possible, which meant no loud fans. We also didn't want to have to cut holes in the walls around the tank. And finally, the amount of evaporation it would have taken to cool the tank would have meant a LOT of water soaking into the house (and in Florida, moisture related mold is a serious problem).

After fumbling around trying to make a ghetto chiller, I decided to just have a fellow reefer and AC guy, Rob Stuart, build me a chiller. It's setup with a LifeGood 6100 BTU window unit mounted outside, connected to a titanium coil heat exchanger inside. The system is controlled by a dual stage Ranco controller (which also controls the heater). The system is set to kick on the heater at 78 degrees and the chiller at 81 degrees, keeping the tank between 79 and 80 degrees.

Last Updated: May 13, 2005

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Lighting, Filtration & Cooling
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