The Big Tank (now no longer...)


New Zealand Nanoreef
Sea Apple Page
Black Ocellaris Central
The Family Room Tank
The Big Tank
Propagation/Breeding Tank
Larvae Tank
Steve's Corals
Steve's Inverts
Steve's Fish
This page covers the setup and progress of my biggest tank (48x18x24), not big by general marine standards but certainly the biggest tank I own, hence in our house it has always been called 'The Big Tank'. Always intended as a hobby tank it is located in the study and therefore aesthetics have never been a big issue. Its primary reason is as a grow-out tank for my propagation experiments 

This was my second marine tank, setup around October 2004 it was only really starting to mature nicely when I was forced to break it down and sell it all to move to New Zealand in April 2006. Not long before this I re-aquascaped using a pvc frame to build up the rock (see here). This tank is now completely gone, all sold or given away.

Full Tank Shot - Taken 28/7/2005
Tank Specs
Size: 48x18x24
Sump: 48x16x16
Display Volume:
Total Volume:
1 x Otto 1500lph Powerhead
1 x Resun 2000lph Powerhead
1x Weipro 2000lph return pump
Trachyphyllia sp.
Red Open Brain
Nice colouration, first one like this I have seen.
Discosoma sp.
Pink Spotted Coral morphs
Unusual variation, look like they will go a nice green colour with the pink spots under good lighting. Another good propagation coral.
Euphyllia paraancora
Branching Anchor/Hammer Coral
Reported to be common in Indonesia but rare in Australia. Good for propagation due to it's branching style of growth. I will probably split this one into two soon.
Tank Renovation
Having had a bit more experience and done a lot more research, I realised that whilst my previous attempts at aquascaping may have been great for the fish (lots of caves etc to swim through), it was not very realistic in terms of a reef-scape. It also looked very sparse on rock (about 60kg). I came across some pictures on RTAW of some PVC tube stands used as shelving for the rock to be built up on and decided this may be the way to go.
I built the PVC shelf unit and drilled it with holes every inch or so to allow water flow through the piping (and to allow the air out when the stand was submerged. Then I moved the rock from the right hand side of the tank out into a tub of pre-made seawater. This gave me the room to add the frame along with some additional sand to build up the substrate.

Then it was time to add the rock to the frame, I did this the next day so the tank had time to clear from the addition of the new sand. This was the fun bit, it is quite surprising at how well the rocks lock into each other nice and firmly.

Then the placement of corals began, this is the time consuming part and is not over yet, I am still moving things around every few days to get an idea of which parts of the tank are best for the various corals (light, current etc).

All up I added about 5kg of live rock, plus all the corals. Quite a big difference from what it used to look like. I love it, I also have a wider range of heights within the tank to allow for different light needs.
The Sump
This tank also has a sump running underneath it, a sump is a great addition to a tank. It gives you somewhere to place your heater, skimmer without cluttering the display area. You can also add a Deep Sand Bed and a refugium to grow macroalgae which will both aid nutrient export (lowering of nitrates). I have a DSB installed but I am yet to setup the macroalgae, I did have some in there but it got eaten by some crabs in the rock  I had in there. I also have an extra chamber in there which is handy for isolating troublesome organisms or crab-infested rocks.
My sump is fed by an overflow box, as it is siphon fed there is a danger that in the case of a power outage, when the power resumes the siphon may not, therefore the sump will be pumped dry and the display tank would overflow. I have experienced many power outages and my siphon has always restarted with no intervention from me. The water is then returned to the tank by the return pump, my pump is 2000lph but I have an adjustable tap taking it down to around 1000lph, which is all the overflow can handle. I find this insufficient and I am looking for another solution.
Overflow Box Return Pump
I'm not currently running a skimmer but I do conduct regular water changes (10% weekly/fortnightly). Skimmers in my opinion require such high maintenance (cleaning etc) that the water changes are easier. My opinion of course, works for me, may not work for you. Maybe it's just because I have only ever owned cheap skimmers.
Corals Fish Other Inverts
Euphyllia paraancora Neocirrhitus armatus Pseudocolochirus violaceus
Discosoma sp. Pomacanthus semicirculatus
Trachyphyllia sp. Amphiprion Ocellaris
montastrea sp.
Acanthastrea lordhowensis
favites sp.
Palythoa sp.

Xenia elongata

Reefing The Australian Way
Australian reefing forum, excellent resource.

RTAW site, a searchable wki knowledgebase.



Licensed WA collector, Pete & Leanne run an excellent business with a real focus on sustainable collection and propagation.



Great online source for equipment, supply food cultures.


ATJ's Marine Aquarium Site
Very comprehensive site, reliable source for accurate well-researched information.


Oz Reef

Great resource site with a comprehensive DIY section.


Reef Online

Another recommended online shop for marine products. 


Age Of Aquariums

Very good source for low budget pumps and equipment.


GARF (Coral Propogation)

The ultimate resource for coral propagation, a seemingly endless supply of articles on coral propagation showing step-by-step from fragging to grow-out.

All content & pictures Copyright Steve Strachan 2006, no pictures or content to be used without the authors permission.

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