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Marine 94 Litre


3 Dec 2012
I have been running a 94 litre saltwater planted tank for a couple of years - since May 2011. It's been done in rather a lazy and sloppy way, and I originally came at it very much from a reefer's viewpoint, so it is, frankly, rather amateur compared to most on here. I have also learnt an awful lot from my reading on this forum that I didn't previously know, particularly about CO2, so, if I were to do it again, it would be significantly different.

Having said which, there aren't very many Marine Planted tanks out there, so I hope it will be of interest. Because I'm aware most of the aquarists on here are primarily Freshwater, I will be trying to explain interesting points of difference - I know, equally, that many of you understand marine as well, so I'll *try* and pitch it right!

Because I have 30 months to catch up in, I'll be doing this in stages, but, for now, here's a video:
Wow, that is far more interesting than most reef tanks I've seen. The colours of the plants are fantastic and I love that fish!
Very nice, back in my marine days I had quite a bit of the scinaia complanata absolutely stunning stuff you must be very happy with the tank
The original idea behind this tank was that it was going to be part of a very rigorous quarantine regime (Saltwater people seem to be more rigorous about QT than Freshwater. Partly this may be the price of the individual fish, but mainly because Saltwater Ich (Cryptocaryon Irritans) is almost impossible to treat in a reef tank - anything which kills it is highly likely to kill corals as well. I am particularly paranoid about this). My plan was to leave fish in this tank for 12 weeks to ensure no diseases came into the tank, but I didn't want to work hard at it, so LFS suggested, instead of fake corals, that I try growing what you guys call plants, and the reef community refers to as Macro Algae.


This is what it looked like at LFS

I got myself a second-hand River Reef 94 from LFS. This has 4 chambers in the back, for putting heater, filtration, pumps etc in. It comes with one stock pump, but I got a second added - no idea what LPH, sorry. It also has 4 T5 bulbs in it, so plenty for growing soft corals, but absolutely plenty for growing plants.


I added sand and water

And then I turned the lights on


Then I added some Live Rock

(Live Rock is rock that has come, more or less, straight from the ocean. In significant part, it is dead coral, which means it is highly porous, and therefore an extremley good breeding ground for both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria - it therefore doesn't just turn ammonia->nitrite->nitrate, but then actually consumes the nitrate. It is therefore the main filtration mechanism for most hobbyist marine tanks. In this tank it is the only filtration).

Live Rock also comes with freebies - in addition to the bacteria, you will get snails, crabs, worms, sponges, and Macro Algae - like this, starting to grow out.


This is the third piece of rock - the intention being to give the fish something to hide behind. It is also as close as I get to Iwagumi-style perfection!
PS Most of the plugs you can see to the left of the tank are supporting my large reef tank, not this one - I think this uses 3, one for lights, two for 2 pumps.
Wow, that is far more interesting than most reef tanks I've seen. The colours of the plants are fantastic and I love that fish!

Thanks - it is certainly different, through an entirely unintentional evolution! The fish is a Mandarin - difficult to keep, and sadly didn't last long :(

Very nice, back in my marine days I had quite a bit of the scinaia complanata absolutely stunning stuff you must be very happy with the tank

I would be much happier if I could deal with the Flatworm...we are never satisfied :)

Very nice. I would like to see a full tank shot. Did not notice that much flow, which is what I usually associate with reefs.

Also, I would be interested in technology: light, filtration, etc.


Sorta-FTS above (Though not that interesting). I've put in such technology as I remember - which is pretty vague. Reefers can get very hung up on testing for Nitrates and Phosphates (I would be amused to see Clive discoursing on a reef forum :)) - Phosphates, in particular, are regarded as inhibitors of coral growth. The typical use of Macro Algae in reef tanks is in the sump to absorb phosphate/nitrate, rather than in the display. Because I was putting plants in the display, I was very unworried about filtration - the plants themselves would be the filtration - and I was trying to encourage excess PO4/NO3.
Very nice mate, not an easy thing to keep such a healthy looking suncoral and big fat mandarin... shows real care and diligence to husbandry :thumbup:

Its a shame so few people keep planted marines as they can look amazing, there is a lovely display refugium in ultimate marine magazine this month... the fact its attached to a beautiful 6ft reef with bandit angels will always help i guess.
I went to a LFS in July 2011 to get some fish food, and came back with Shaving Brush algae (I think Penicillus capitatus - I hadn't researched them and they didn't last long. More interestingly you can see that the algae on the LR is starting to grow out a bit.

I then got Cyano - not sure if this is the case for FW tanks, but it typically presents itself as a fairly bright red in marine tanks -

I used Chemiclean to get rid of it - I'm not entirely sure I approve of this now, but it was certainly effective.

Cyano before Chemi-clean

Two days later
The Bryopsis started to get good growth going - this is with nothing whatsoever happening in the tank other than light - no feeding or dosing at all. However, there will have been dieback from the LR losing some life - which would generate PO4 and NO3.

You can see my main tank has some Dinoflagellates coming in on the substrate - it took a while to get it upstairs

Just for giggles, and nothing to do with this tank - here's how it got up to the first floor -


I then managed to source this bamboo algae - it's the sort of plant that Seahorses/their keepers like to have - lots of hitching posts for the little geegees.

This guy spent 3 months in the tank as part of the quarantine regime - he's a Purple Firefish.

You can also see Coraline Algae growing on the glass. On Live Rocl in most tanks this is very pretty. On glass it's a pain, and on the curved glass on this tank a PITA to get off

There are a couple of Bangaii cardinals in here - also if you watch the video to the end, a pair of juvenile clownfish


You can see considerable growth coming out of the rocks - there is Halimedia (The flatter browny-red at the front), which I purchased but the rest is 'natural'


The Bangaii are fascinating and boring in equal measure. They are very static by marine fish standards (hence lots of easy photos), but their lifecycle is fascinating - they are mouth-brooders, and more specifically the male is the mouth-brooder. The female lays eggs, male fertilizes, and then takes them into his mouth until they are ready to come out as fully-formed mini-bangaii. If the male is unfortunate, the female will lay another load - the male cannot eat while he is 'pregnant', so he can end up literally shagged to death.


Full-tank shot, Novemer 2011 (tank was 5/6 months old at this point).

Apologies for poor glass (and photo) quality in these shots - the tank was meant to be low-maintenance, but I did get very lazy at times.
I then put in some clean-up crew - quite a bit had emerged from the rock (Stomatella snails), but nothing very visible, so I added these:

They are Thor Amboensis, popularly known as Sexy Shrimp, because they "wiggle their butts"

Next 2 fishes to go through the quarantine period in the tank were a Royal Gramma (The yellow and purple), and a Magnificent Foxface. The only problem with that is that the Foxface is an algae eater (typically gets fed Nori)...so the plant life got diminished.

In this picture he had demolished the green, but had barely started on the red...most of it went before he left the tank.