Tank of the Month

Killi's SPS Heaven

First I would like to thank the members who voted for my tank, and those of you who have left such kind comments on my tank thread over the years. 

So how did I begin? Around 37 years ago I started keeping tropical fish like most beginner hobbyists. With a passion for getting my hands wet, one tank soon became two, then three tanks became...I'm sure you get the picture! Over the next few years I was running anything up to around 30 tanks in the back room of my kitchen, and regularly breeding Corys, bettas, tetras, rainbows, and dwarf cichlids. In addition, I was growing all my own live foods, including micro worms, grindel worms, white worms, wingless fruit flies and brine shrimp. In the early 80s I joined the British Killifish association and soon the bug had hit hard. 12 months later and all my tanks were full of killifish and I was running up to 40 tanks!

I had to move into the shed with the extra 10 tanks because I was running out of space in the back room. I spent the next 20 years keeping and breeding killifish and during this time I travelled all over Europe and the states, to conventions and fish club meetings as a guest and to give talks about my breeding successes. I regularly went to view members tanks and sent fish and eggs all over Europe, USA and Canada, and on occasion as far as Australia and New Zealand. I was lucky enough to receive wild fish from fellow fishkeepers from their collecting trips, even unnamed fish. Many of these people are still close friends. 

In addition to all the small tanks mainly 18"x8"x8" with some 24"x12"x12" for raising on fry, I had a Dutch-style planted tank of 48"24"x18" in my living room. 

Then, around 14 years ago, as my children were getting older and a little less demanding, I thought the time was finally right to get into the world of marines. I had a few friends who were, and some still are, keen marine keepers, and seeing their tanks inspired me to try and create my own little piece of the reef. To do so I decided to shut down my planted tank and convert it into a saltwater setup. I filled it with live rock, lit it with 4 D&D t5 tubes, and skimmed with a Deltec mce 600 skimmer, no sump, and started keeping soft corals. The tank had been running a couple of years when I had a bad accident at work, and a CT scan confirmed there were some major issues, so the decision to cut down was therefore pretty much made for me. As such all the tropical tanks had to go. The money I got for them helped fund my first upgrade that I ran for 8 years, and the sale of that tank brings me up to my present tank.

System Details

The tank is a MAC custom build, (thanks Lee) Cabinet and Steel Frame: 
The steel frame is the primary construction of the cabinet and is made from 50mm x 50mm steel with open front and double strength front to avoid flexing once the tank is full. It is then zinc and powder coated to match the panel colour. This gives excellent protection from the salt water environment and has been running 20 months now. The tank has front and side optiwhite glass.

Tank size 48x28x28 
sump 42x20x20


Lighting ATI 8x54w

2x ATI Blue plus
2x D&D pure actinic
2x D&D actinic plus
1x KZ 10k coral tube
1x KZ fiji purple

Tunze 1x 12,000lph 1x 20,000lph, on a tunze 7095 multicontroller, also the return from a eheim 5000lt compact pump through a duck bill.

 2x 300w heaterstats in the sump. 

Filtration methods

For my filtration I rely on live rock and a Miracle Mud sump with cheato, lit 24/7. I use a clip on bayonet fitting with an energy saving 6400k 30w bulb.

Supplementation methods
The tank is run really simply. I keep my KH stable via my auto top up, and calcium I add manually, with FM salts. The only supplement I use is iodine. Like others I find it almost impossible to test for but I believe I can see a visible difference when its dosed or not dosed.
Monitoring/Control Systems

I test my kh and calcium twice a week with an Elos kit. Phos and mag I just test for once a month. PH is monitored with a pin point meter.


 I feed as many different foods as I can get my hands on, frozen and flake, as I'm always worried that a certain fish might not be getting the nutrition it requires. The way I feed is to thaw out a couple of cubes in tank water with some flake or dried food into a small tub, once thawed I add it little and often, so every time I get up for a drink or for the loo, a little goes in. This in my opinion helps in two ways. First, you are not asking your tank to cope with dumping a load of phos and organics all at once. Second, the fish in my opinion seem to be less aggressive. They soon learn that they don't have to fight for the food, and its going to be introduced little and often, even if only for half an hour before work, and half a dozen times when you get home.


I carry out two separate 25l (5.5 imperial gallons ) water changes per week, using RO water with a tds of 0. I always try to do this on a Monday and Thursday. This might seem excessive to many but let me explain. My reason for doing it this way is that in my opnion the tank can cope more easily with a little-and-often water change instead of one big change, say every month. These regular water changes eliminate swings in the tank chemistry and associated problems such as cyano outbreaks, also a regular water change helps replenish trace elements present in the salt in a way that should maintain the average levels. In my opinion a monthly water change wouldn't be replacing the used trace elements that a coral may need, and may cause the water to have very little trace elements nearer the end of the month when the water change is due.


Only one really in that I had my sump made too large, not allowing a space for mounting plug bars etc. I could have also made my auto top up section larger, and my equipment section smaller, but as they say you live and learn.

Purple Tang(Zebrasoma xanthurum)Spotted Kole Tang,(Ctenochaetus strigosus)Earmuff Wrasse(Halichoeres xanti)
Checkerboard Wrasse(Halichoeres hortulanus)Ornate wrasse(Halichoeres claudia)Mandarin Dragonet(Synchiropus splendidus)
Black Leopard Wrasse(Macropharyngodon negrosensis)

Mainly sps with a few lps. To name a few Acropora: plana, prostrata, granulosa, echinata, tortuosa, red planet, red and green dragon, pearlberry, gomezi, florida , tenuis, nana, Bali slimer, red and blue milli, stags etc. Other sps: hystrix green & pink, lots of montis both plating (branching) and encrusting, various pocillopora. Lps: red cynarina, cyphastrea decadia, cyphastrea meteor shower, acan hillia, war coral, and a clam.


4x orange lipped conch for my sand, and true mexican turbo, and a couple of emerald crabs.

Final thoughts

One thing I often get asked is why I went down the miracle mud route in the first place on this tank and my last tank? Well the main reason was after seeing a number of tanks in Holland, on a trip to a convention. A good friend of mine in the Dutch killifish group arranged for me to visit a number of members who belonged to a marine study group. In my mind there were two tanks that really stood out to me. One tank had a deep sand bed and my favourite tank by far was run on miracle mud. Both tanks had the same thing in common, that being the corals and fish looked so healthy. I often think some tanks can be TOO clean to the point of being sterile. I realise many marine hobbyists are running great-looking tanks on ULNS (ultra low nutrient system) and with large skimmers. If you have a lot of fish in a tank, I'm sure its the way to go, but IMHO if you keep your fish stock low then Miracle Mud should be considered. One other positive thing I have noticed in my mud section of the sump is the abundance of pods and mini beasties of all descriptions. Every 2 weeks I close off the downpipe from my weir and let the tank fill and the sump empty, then I open the valve fully, which flushes the sump into the tank. When I do this I can see all the corals open up into feeding mode. I do this about 10mins before lights out when most of the wrasse have dived into the sand for the night.


I would like to thank my wife for all her support over the years, and thank all my friends that have made this such an enjoyable hobby. A massive thanks to Matt (slash halen) who kindly took some of the pictures for me. I would also like to thank the members of UR for all the kind comments on my tank thread, and of course voting for my tank, and a special thanks to the mod & admin team for all their help, patience, and time. With there being so many great tanks on here, it does mean a lot. Thank you all, Pete.

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Quick facts


Display: 48 x 28 x 28 inches (122 x 71 x 71cm)
Sump: 42 x 20 x 20 inches (107 x 51 x 51cm)
Tank Volume: 616 litres (136 gal)
System Volume: 700 litres (154 gal)

Water Parameters

Temperature: 25.5- 26
pH: 8.00-8.2
Salinity: 1.026
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
Phosphate: 0
Calcium: 400-420
KH: 8-9
Magnesium: 1350
Potassium 370 


Auto Feeder: n/a
Skimmer: n/a
Control System: n/a
Lights: ATI VHOs t5s
Pumps: tunze
Top up: aqua medic auto top up 
Heaters: 2X DIGITHERM 300W
RO Unit: 4 stage ro man
Chiller/Cooler: n/a
Phosphate Reactor: phosban 150 ,with rowaphos
Ultra Violet: n/a
Calcium Reactor: n/a
Kalk Stirrer: n/a
Dosing Pump(s): n/a

Quick fire questions
1. Do you subscribe to any publications? No 
2. Whose is your favourite tank? I have taken inspiration from many tanks
3. What books do you recommend? Coral Propagation, by Anthony Calfo
4. Who has been your inspiration? I have always liked to think you can take a little from everyone
5. Who do you turn to for advice? Everyone. In this hobby you never stop learning
6. What's been the greatest purchase you've made? Tunze pumps
7. If you could change one thing on the tank, what would it be? Had my sump made a little smaller to allow for mounting of plug bars etc
8. What do your family think of this? I have kept fish from being a child. At 18 I had around 30 tanks, so my wife and children have grown up with fish in the house
9. What do you do for a living? Retired due to ill health 
10. What other hobbies do you have? Go fishing and like to dive on holidays
11. What single piece of advice would you give to someone thinking of taking up reefkeeping on this scale? KEEP IT SIMPLE
12. Chicken or egg? Chicken curry, with a hard boiled egg on top 
13. Dream fish? A pair of crosshatch triggers, gem tang
14. Anything, invented or otherwise, that you'd love to be able to get your hands on? Well my next purchase is going to be a triple doser
15. What camera/kit do you use? Sony hx300
16. Which is your favourite forum on UR & why? Don't have one tbh, use most of them
17. Favourite music? I like most music
18. What car do you drive? Don't drive

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