The goal of this system is to establish a reef that provides a visually realistic representation of nature, optimal water quality, and easy access.
In pursuit of the first goal, a realistic representation of nature, I decided to go with a display tank that has an extreme depth component ( 90” from front to back) to facilitate more natural aquascaping possibilities. Many large systems, as they grow past the 500 gal mark, usually just expand in width. I felt that the depth component is just as important. If a tank were only 24”, 30”, or even 36” from front to back, the aquascaping possibilities become limited….. usually resulting in a “wall or “fruit stand” look. This extreme depth comes at a price, though. The life in the back of the tank is not easily viewed. But, that’s fine with me….. I still have the 6 feet of real estate in the front for livestock that I want to view closely along with the depth to provide the realism.
To achieve the high water quality requirement, this system is set up along the thinking of a bare bottom philosophy…. namely, the removal, rather than the processing, of wastes. That means high flow, strong skimming, and a maintenance regiment that focuses on the removal of waste and detritus. The only modification to the bare bottom philosophy is the addition of a small amount of sand. Since I subscribe to the bare bottom philosophy, but hate the look of a bare bottom display, I added a thin layer (around 1 – 2 inches) of sand to the visible portions of the reef only. Yes, this means more maintenance (see maintenance section); but, the visual rewards are worth it.
The easy access requirement probably took the most thought to meet, since each system component had to be functional, yet accessible. The tank, itself, being somewhat cube-like, had to have every inch of its interior accessible by hand, without employing any special tools. This was primarily made possible by the configuration of the stand and the installation of a sliding light hood assembly.
Throughout this site, there is detailed information on how these goals (realism, optimal water quality, and easy access) are accomplished through the various components of the system such as the plumbing, stand, lighting, etc. I hope you enjoy your journey through this site.