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Reef Stable Tank Tour - July 2021

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Last updated on November 17th, 2023


Reef Stable Tank Tour

Why I Haven't done a Reef Tank Tour Before

Though I have shared some images of my fish and coral on the Reef Stable Instagram Page, I have never really done a full tour. In part, I think this is because I know there are things I can do better. With that, I didn't want some of my mistakes or short-comings to make anyone think less of my knowledge and experience. Finally, I know my coral are not the size that many of my readers' keep. This is not due to lack of growth, but rather lack of time left alone to grow.

All of this being said, I've decided to swallow my pride and show my reef tanks and the flaws as they stand! This way, by showing I am not perfect either, hopefully I can help you grow! In return, maybe you can even provide tips to help me become more knowledgable as well! Without further adu, let's dive in!

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About Me - John Krenzer

Reef Stable Founder John Krenzer

I am a Software Engineer with a passion for saltwater aquariums, as well as the founder and president of Reef Stable. I started in the aquarium hobby as a child with a 20 gallon freshwater aquarium. my interest in aquarium life grew and in 2008, when set up his first 55 gallon saltwater aquarium. This included a number of small floods in the upstairs of my parents' home, and many lessons learned!

Today, I maintain over 300 gallons in my reef tank system, consisting of a 120g reef and a 210g reef, with a home-made 90 gallon sump. These large tanks are contained within the same system, sharing a sump as a means to reduce total maintenance and increase total water volume.

I write articles for the blog as a means to learn about more reef aquarium topics. These articles act as a reference for myself, as well as teaching all of you what I have learned along the way!. Through this learning, I have also been able to write Reef Tank Books including Reef Tank Chemistry and Reef Tank Nitrogen.

After reading this article, if you have any questions, comments, or want to reach out with suggestions, feel free to reach out via the let me know via the Contact Me Page!

120 Gallon LPS Reef Tank

Reef Stable 120 Gallon LPS Reef Tank

The 120 Gallon LPS Reef Tank is home to some of my newer coral keeping endeavors. Most recently, I started keeping LPS, such as the Dragon Soul Torch, Gold Sky Hammer Coral, Ultron Favia, as well as a number of other Euphellia, Favia, and Platygyra. I separated these coral to their own tank to prevent them from stinging my SPS coral, as well as having limited space in the 210 gallon tank for more coral.

All of the coral in this tank are being grown with the expectation of fragging and selling. Perhaps, some of these coral will even be available on the Reef Stable Store. For now, they are only available locally.

Lighting and Flow

Currently, the 120 gallon LPS coral tank is using a series ofOrphek OR3 Bars. This includes 2x Reef Day Plus, 2x Blue Plus, 1x Blue Sky, and 1x UV Violet. Providing ample lighting for LPS and soft coral, but not likely enough for high demannd corals.

Reef Stable Tank Tour - Dragon Soul Torch

There are some plans to update the lighting on this tank. Since this tank is not high demand in terms of lighting or flow, I am not looking to add a lot of newer lights. When I upgrade the lights on my 210 gallon SPS tank, I plan to move 2 of the Ecotech Radion XR30s to this tank. Just to provide additional PAR and equalize color a bit better.

In terms of flow, I am using 2 EcoTech MP40 Powerheads. Each of them are running at 75%, giving a turnover of about 6,750 GpH, or 56 times turnover. There is another small jabao wave maker as well, but it is not significant in terms of flow. It just adds movement for the torch corals.

Reef Stable Tank Tour - Euphelia Garden

I don't have any real plans for upgrading these pumps, however, if I were to make a change, I would swap the 2 EcoTech MP40s out for 4 EcoTech MP10s. Then I would remove the Jabao. This would just help spread and randomize flow a bit better. With the cost of the pumps however, this is very low on my priority list.

210 Gallon SPS Reef Tank

Reef Stable 210 Gallon SPS Reef Tank

The 210 gallon tank is currently home to all of my SPS corals. Though the Walt Disney Acropora and RR Apple Jacks Acro are my favorite, I am also a fan of Stylophora, Precilopora, and Digitatas. Basically, I like the "Fuzzy Stick" corals.

As for fish, this tank houses my Sohal Tang, Desjardini Tang, Doctor Tang, Hippo Tang, Yellow Tang, and a number of peaceful fish such as a Dusky Wrasse, Clownfish, and Bangaii Cardinalfish. Though there are a lot of tangs, they were all added at similar times and most similar species are close in size. This has kept the aggression low and hasn't been much of a concern.

Lighting and Flow

Because of the high demand in terms of lighting and flow for SPS corals, this tank needs a bit more to keep up! Currently, the lighting on this tank includes 4 Ecotech Radion XR30 Light Fixtures. Currently, 2 of these are gen 2 and 2 of the light fixtures are gen 3. I plan to upgrade all of these to either the XR30 Blue G5, a series of XR15 Blue G5, or the Neptune SKY. As a supplement, or filler light, I am using 4 Orphek OR3 Bars. These help add "Pop" and PAR to the coral and make up for any areas that the Radions miss.

Reef Stable Tank Tour - Fish

In terms of flow, I am using 4 EcoTech MP40 Powerheads. Each of them are running at 75%, giving a turnover of about 13, 500 GpH, or 64 times turnover. I do plan to add more flow near the bottom of the tank to prevent settling, but want to do so in a way that minimizes sand from blowing around.


In terms of equipment, I am a gear junkie. I am always interested in checking out more control equipment. My main focus is anything that helps keep my parameters as stable as possible.

Reef Stable Tank Tour - Walt Disney Acro


Though I mentioned it above, I will repeat it here.

210 Gallon SPS Tank Lighting

120 Gallon LPS Tank Lighting


Both tanks use the EcoTech MP40 Powerheads, running at 75% to target the appropriate turnover rate for that tank.

Reef Tank Monitoring and Control

Like many other large tanks, I am running a Reef Tank Controller to monitor and control parameters in my tank. This is where the true gear junkie comes out! I use the Neptune Apex Pro to handle all of this for me!

Parameter Monitoring

The primary use, and reason for buying the Neptune Apex Pro was to monitor Reef Tank Parameters. Mainly, I was looking to monitor Temperature and Salinity, and it grew from there. I chose the Apex because I knew I would upgrate equipment over time, so I didn't want to waste money on a "cheap" solution and then get rid of it when I upgrade.

In addition to the Temperature, Salinity, and pH control built in to the Neptune Apex, I monitor Alkalinity, Calcium, and Magnesium using the Neptune Trident. This gives me a fairly full picture of what is happening in my tank. Though I would like to see Nitrate and Phosphate monitoring in the reef tank, Neptune does not currently (though I here it is coming) support these measurments. I could use another monitor such as the ReefBot, but at the price, I would rather wait for the Neptune version.


If you haven't found out by now, or by the name of this website, I believe that stability is a major key to success in reef tanks! As such, I STRONGLY encourage a reef controller, such as the Neptune Apex, to help maintain stability in your reef tank!

As for my tank, I use the Neptune Apex (Standard) (with the PM2 Salinity Module) to help maintain a number of parameters in my aquarium. I have alarms if my salinity, ph, temperature, alkalinity, or calcium are outside of a very tight range.

Salinity Control and Auto Top-Off

With the exception of the sharp drop from when doing a water change (out of the main analysis), you'll see fairly good stability in terms of salinity. This is based on having the ATO float sensor in the final chamber with the return pump. The top off water, however is added on the opposite side. Allowing the water to mix, preventing any sudden changes in the tank itself. In fact, much of the fluctuation in the below graph is because the fresh water is added near the salinity probe.

All of this allowed me to maintain a salinity between 36.6 and 37.9, with an average of 37.24. Though these are the numbers reported by the Salinity Monitoring in the Apex after calibrating, don't put too much weight on the numbers themselves. Something as small as an air bubble can change the numbers a lot. I'm mainly watching for stability and occasionally checking the salinity with a Salinity Refractometer to make sure the salinity is roughly 36 ppt.

Reef Stable Tank Tour - Salinity

As for the ATO, I use the JBJ Automatic Top Off with a simple pump. Since it simply toggles an outlet, this ATO lets you size the pump to your tank's needs.

Finally, I have both a high and low level sensor using the Neptune Systems OS-1 and an FMM - Fluid Monitoring Module for the Apex. This way, if the water level is too high, the Apex will turn off the ATO and protein skimmer, preventing the sump and/or skimmer from overflowing. Saving the tank from low salinity and re-releasing the skimmate to the tank. The ATO can also be turned off if the salinity is too low, preventing the same problems.

The low water sensor turns off the return pump as the water is decreasing faster than the ATO can add water. Generally, this means there is a leak or that the overflow is clogged. This saves me from another potential source of a flood. If any of these conditions happened, I will get an alert to my phone telling me what is wrong!

Temperature Control

My temperature target is between 79 and 80 degrees, however it can drop as low as 78.4 or go as high as 80.3 degrees. Though I would prefer to ensure temperature remains within 0.5 degrees, there are very few temperature controllers than can maintain this value. Though the Apex and Neptune EB832 could maintain this level of control, the number of on/off cycles could damage the relay in the EB832. If it were a cheaper outlet, I wouldn't mind, but at this price, I prefer to risk cheaper temperature controllers.

I use 2 separate Inkbird Digital Temperature Controllers, each with a 500w Finnex Titanium Heater. Giving a total of 1000w. These controllers are then connected to the Apex / EB832. If the temperature goes above 83 degrees, the Apex will turn off the temperature controllers. This gives a dual-redundancy to prevent aquarium temperature failures.

pH Control

To improve pH in my reef tanks, I ran hoses outside, providing fresh air to both my Skimz protein skimmer, and air pump for micro-bubble scrubbing. I have not set up high pH shut-off yet, however, I plan to set up the protein skimmer in the Apex to turn off if the pH is above 8.5 or so. This way, I don't risk the odd occurrence of something going wrong when I'm not around.

Nutrient Control

For nutrient control, in addition to the Skimz protein skimmer, I use Saltwater Refugium with a focus on Chaeto Macroalgae. I light the refugium with the CANAGROW 100W Waterproof Grow Lights as well as a Neptune GRO.

I started with a standard T8 shop light but didn't see any cheato growth. After updating to the Neptune GRO, I saw about a gallon of cheato per month. I decided to try the CANAGROW Grow Lights after a local reefer reccomended it. Currently I see about 3 to 4 gallons of macroalgae grow per month. I have also seen my Nitrates drop from over 50ppm to roughly 25ppm in the last 2 or 3 months by just adding this light. As such, I plan to remove the GRO and add another CANAGROW in its place.

Reef Stable Tank Tour - Refugium
Alkalinity, Calcium, and Magnesium Control

Using the Neptune Trident to monitor alkalinity, calcium, and magnesium I do manually determine how much of each supplement needs to be added at specific times. I calculate the amount needed using the Reef Stable Dosing Calculators. I split the day up into 4 sections of 6 hours. Then, by watching when alkalinity is high or low, I can modify how much BRS Soda Ash I dose at what times. This helps maintain stability. The amount added will look different across the day, but the actual alkalinity levels will be far more stable.

Reef Stable Tank Tour - Alkalinity Reef Stable Tank Tour - Alkalinity Dosing

By doing this, you can see from above that I am able to keep the alkalinity at about 7dKh +/- 0.5 dKh. I am currently trying to make this window even smaller, but haven't narrowed it in quite yet.

I add the exact same amount of BRS calcium carbonate as soda ash, but at different times. The first 3 hours of the 6 hour window will be for dosing soda ash, and the second 3 hours will be for dosing calcium. This helps prevent precipitation from the chemicals interating.

Filtration and Maintenance

For filtration, I use 100 micron filter socks at the output of the tank overflows. Additionally I use a protein skimmer and refugium. Beyond this, I do use a Coralife Turbo-Twist 12X UV Sterilizer Black, ROX 0.8 Activated Carbon, and a 1 micron sediment filter (the same one as the RODI filter) all in a line to improve water clarity!

I do a 10% water change every week, using the Fritz Blue Box Salt Mix. This is a good time to siphon the waste from the sand bed, and stir up the sand a little bit. Making the most of the water change.

Every day, for about 2 hours, the MP40s in both tanks turn to 100% and the bubble scrubbing is turned on. Essentially turning both tanks into large protein skimmers, and getting all of the waste out of the water column and down the overflow, where it can be trapped in the filter sock.

Reef Tank Supplements

Though nothing out of the ordinary, I dose BRS Pharma Soda Ash and Calcium Carbonate regularly. I do this using, you guesed it, the Neptune DOS. During the weekly water changes, I also add 60mL of each of the KZ System 1-4 additives. That's it! Nice and simple!

Quarantine and Dipping

The only other thing I ensure to do that helps my tank remain stable, is that all fish go through a minimum of a 2 week quarantine, using Copper Power and Prazipro. Before adding to the tank, the fish must be healthy, not have any noticable illnesses for at least 2 weeks in medication, and must be eating.

The coral must all be Dipped in Bayer and have no noticable pests on the coral.

Though these methods aren't perfect, they handle most problems, meaning it fits the 80/20 rule, as well as the "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".

Additional Photos

Reef Stable Tank Tour - Coral Photo Reef Stable Tank Tour - Coral Photo Reef Stable Tank Tour - Coral Photo Reef Stable Tank Tour - Coral Photo Reef Stable Tank Tour - Coral Photo

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This has been the tour of my tank! The photos don't do the justice I wish they would, but I will update these as I get better at Reef Tank Photography. There will definitly be update posts as I make changes that I feel are large enough to share. These types of posts help me put my money where my mouth is and hopefully gain credibility with you, the reader, by making myself vulnerable. Showing that I am not perfect, nor do I have a perfect, wall-to-wall reef tank. But I am getting there, one day at a time!

If you like this kind of post, or even if you don't, PLEASE send me a message so that I know if I should make more like this. Also, if you'd like to share your tanks, reefing secrets, or anything else with the reefing community, send me a message so we can set it up! Keep Reefing All!

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About the Author

Reef Stable Founder John Krenzer

John is a Software Engineer with a passion for saltwater aquariums, as well as the founder and president of Reef Stable. He started in the aquarium hobby as a child with a 20 gallon freshwater aquarium. His interest in aquarium life grew and in 2008, John set up his first saltwater aquarium.

Today, John maintains an over 300 gallon reef tank system, consisting of a 120g reef and a 210g reef. These large tanks are contained within the same system, sharing a sump as a means to reduce total maintenance and increase total water volume.

John writes articles for the blog as a means to learn about more reef aquarium topics. These articles act as a reference for the readers as well as himself. John updates these articles frequently to provide additional information or make corrections as new information becomes available.

If you would like to request an article, tank tour article, or to collaborate, let me know via the Contact Me Page!

About Reef Stable

Reef Stable was initially founded in 2019 as a reef tank parameter log to fill a need. Reef Stable quickly grew, becoming a location to solve all of your reef tank problems as well as a place to learn.

Reef Stable now provides a Reef Blog, Reef Aquarium Guides, Coral Care Guides, Identification and Solutions for Pests and Algae, and Reef Dosing Calculators, in addition to the original Reef Parameter Log.

Reef Stable continues to grow, striving to provide a single location for all your reef tank needs!

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