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Wild Man
481 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So I guess I will start at the beginning and do a little bit of background work before I jump straight into my newest tank.

A long long time ago in a galaxy far away... Wait that is probably copy righted... My junior year of college was the start of a new lifestyle for me. I just finished the chapter of my life that I like to call "The Haze". I had done my partying and "women's studies" as me and my boys used to call it, and I was starting to calm down a bit. (Getting old isn't so terrible)

When my cousin offered me a free 35 gallon Hex tank with stand and a light I thought "Well since I am spending more time at home now that might be nice. Besides its FREE... what could go wrong?...right?" So I took the tank and put it in my dinky little one bedroom apartment. I set it all up, and got everything running.

I was always amazed by the aquariums my dad kept when I was young and had a 20 gallon freshwater tank in my room as a kid. The largest of the tanks my dad kept was a 175g with freshwater fish. He had a Clown Knife that was about 25 inches long, an African Pike Cichlid, a Hook Silver Dollar, a Florida gar and probably the biggest Placo I had ever seen. I loved that tank!

I remember watching the fish and loving them. I planned on having a decent little freshwater set up, "nothing too elaborate" I told myself.... RIIIIGHT...

So I headed to Aquarium Adventure in Columbus Ohio, with the intention of finding a few guppies and mollies and throwing them in the tank. (Keep in mind my tank hadn't even been set up for 24 hours yet.)
Since aquarium adventure is a wonderful establishment, they told me to bring water in so they could test it, and turned me loose in the store. No fish could be bought that day but they certainly weren't going to tell me I couldn't look around.

Aquarium Adventure is a absolutely phenomenal LFS. It has a huge area in the front full of beautiful tanks and cabinets that would make even a skeptic fall in love. Serious pieces of furniture that could be a center piece for even the finest of homes. A large stone Koi pond greets you as you enter the front doors, and all the dry goods follow shortly. In the back there are rows and rows of gorgeous livestock tanks.

When I saw their 300 or so gallon peninsula reef I FELL IN LOVE! I decided right then and there that I was going to do a salt water set up. "Yea its a little bit more expensive but it is soooo much cooler" I told myself. "Besides it will only be a little tank so how much could it cost?"

With the help of the Aquarium Adventure sales staff I picked out my salt, live sand, a heater, and a whole heap of information. and found out exactly how much it was going to cost... A LOT!

I think I paid about $200 for all of my purchases and left with a head full of mixed emotion. I was a college kid who sometimes didn't have enough money to eat, and I just spent $200 bucks for some salt and sand. But this was going to be AAAAAWWWWWESOME!!!!

Wild Man
481 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
The awesome got even more awesome when I found out that a friend of mine actually worked at Aquarium Adventure. She agreed to talk to her boss about using her discount to help me set up my tank. She explained that she knew little about saltwater since she had only kept freshwater tanks, and this would be an excellent learning opportunity for her.

Her boss agreed so I got hooked up with all sorts of neat stuff over the course of the next year or so. Discounts on supplies, Live rock, fish, and equipment really came in handy. I knew that corals were out of my price range, so I opted to go with a normal florescent tube.

I spent some cash on some fake coral, and some clown fish, a fire fish, and a blue spot watchman goby. BUT FIIIIIIIRST I had to kick it old school. I bought 2 black mollys and acclimated them to salt water. Just to help the tank get through the cycle.

Keep in mind I was new to the hobby so I didn't really comprehend the damage I was doing to the mollys. Eventually I lost interest in them and started to slowly add the fish I listed above. Over the course of 6 months or so I built my 35 gallons of freedom.


The tank survived a move to a new apartment, and I decided to try my hand at some corals. I bought a Coralife 2x95w PC set up from a friend. It was 36 inches long and the top of my tank was only about 24. For about 3 months I had a crazy over hang of light. It really looked terrible, but at the time I was very proud of myself. I just used the over hang of the light to help house plants and mint plants grown in my living room. It actually worked out well.

Just as I started to think about buying corals, I met the love of my life. Since she actually kept her apartment nice She and I spent a good portion of my time at her place. It was nice to have a place that didn't have dirt on the floors, empty japanese take out containers, and the foul odor of stale beer in it.
Since I wasn't home much I decided that keeping corals at that time was out of the question. Shortly after we met Shelby accepted a job in Washington DC and I decided to move with her. Since her job was paying for the move, and they wouldn't pick up items from two apartments I had to move everything to her place before the big move.

Since space prohibited my current fish tank set up, I broke everything down, and took my livestock back to Aquarium Adventure. I bleached the live rock and dried it, did the same with the sand and put everything inside the tank to be transported.

Wild Man
481 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
After moving I set up the 35g hex tank again and started over. I bought a couple of new piece of live rock to seed the tank and away I went. The LR that I bought came with a few button polyps, some blue mushrooms, and some red mushrooms. I thought "Oh yea! FREEEEE STUFFF ROCKS!" (My opinion on that has not and likely will not ever change! )

Still had the same over hanging eye sore PC lights. I bought some black clowns, a yellow watchman goby/pistol shrimp pair, and a sea cucumber over the course of 3 months.

I thought to myself "Man, I have a pretty sweet set up now! Can't get much better than this!

Since the bulbs were getting old, I started battling Green hair algae, red slime algae, and all sorts of nasty critters. So I went and got new PC bulbs, and watched everything come alive in my tank. After many long hours of research and scouring forums I realized that my parameters were out of wack and that was what was causing the algae, not just the lights. I worked hard to make sure the parameters came back to normal and (I guess I didn't realize I had never given my tank time to fully cycle.

As you can imagine, my enthusiasm for reef keeping filled my 35 gallon tank pretty quickly, and since I was unemployed at the time I had plenty of time to check craigslist for awesome deals. Then I found it.

I made sure that my preparation was flawless. I was well aware that my girlfriend was not wild about my new obsession, but tolerated it. When Shelby came home from work that evening I made her food, told her how great of a girlfriend she was, and told her how very much I loved her. Little did she know I was already aware that the space between the dining room table and the wall where my fish tank stood was just over 48 inches.

My execution as flawless as my preparation I smoozed her until she was in a great mood then popped the question.
"Hey baby, you know how the light hangs over the edge of my tank and looks really bad?"

"Yes Rylan and...? "

"Well I found a solution for that! I found a great 55 gallon tank with stand on craigslist for only $75" My lights will fit on top, and i already have a filter so I won't have to spend much money on it at all."

She immediately realized my antics earlier, the food the sweet talk, and the smoozing had all been a set up for this moment. She agreed that we could get a tank that size and we headed to Maryland to get it.

So I set up my 55g aquarium with PC bulbs that were 12 inches too short to fit it, 2 HOB filters, a HOB protein skimmer, and enough LR for a 35g Hex tank. I broke the hex tank down and tried to give it to anyone and everyone that was remotely interested in aquariums. Nobody wanted it. I put it in the closet for about 3 months.

At about this time I got a job at the LFS where I was spending all my time anyway. It worked out pretty well. I got discounts on corals and fish and got myself started. I worked night and day on that tank for another 4 months.

I ended up upgrading my lighting to the set up I have now 2x296wPC 2x250w Metal Halides and some blue Panorama EcoExotic LEDs for an accent.

A pic of my 55 gallon aquarium with PC lighting:

Now a pic of it with the Metal Hal/ PC/ LED setup I have now.

I guess now is a time to mention that generally speaking I am a really lucky guy. I tend to be in the right place at the right time, and tend to get some amazing opportunities that others only dream of. I have been given free VIP rooms in clubs in Japan that were WAY too high class for me, simply because I knew a guy. I have dated girls that model for a living though I am mediocre at best in looks, and I have spent a good portion of my college life doing things that could have very easily put me in jail.

That being said I swear the next part of this story is absolutely true right down to the last syllable.

I was at the Marine Scene which is the LFS I used to work at. I was looking for some new coral for my 55 gallon tank. I ended up running late meeting my girlfriend and left the store in a rush. I got a call a few minutes later. It was Melissa at the Marine Scene telling me that I had left my coat at the store.

When I returned to the store to get my coat it became apparent that my luck was still running strong. I over heard a customer trying to give his livestock back to Marine Scene. I heard him saying that he was moving and couldn't take his tank with him so he needed to give his fish and corals back.

Knowing that Tom the owner of the Marine Scene has a reputation of being a little bit hot headed I had to decide how to handle this situation delicately. I am sure that if I had rushed up and said "Hello my new best friend. Don't give them your livestock give it to me" I would have been banned from the store, so I simply told one of the guys who worked there to give my number to the gentleman after they had chosen everything they wanted.

About 2 hours later I got a call from My new best friend. ha ha. It was the customer from the store calling to ask if I wanted to purchase a tank. I talked to him for a while, and to be completely honest I was dead broke. I really shouldn't have even been at the store looking at corals in the first place. BUT since I haven't been going to my REEF-AHOLIC Meetings lately I was there to spend every dime I had at the moment.

Hello, My name is Rylan and I am addicted to Reefing...

I felt bad trying to purchase a tank that I couldn't afford, but part of my luck seems to be attributed to knowing when I am getting a great deal and knowing to take advantage of it. I offered the guy $125 for his entire 75 gallon set up minus his lights. We negotiated and came to an agreement at $175 for the set up.

This set up included:

75 gallon aquarium drilled, a 20 gallon sump, protein skimmer, return pump, 200lbs of live rock, all the water, all the sand, about 7 power heads, a dark cherry stand, and canopy and on top of everything he helped me remove the tank from his house, loaded it on his trailer, and used his truck to bring it back to my house and helped me set everything up.


Since my girlfriend and I have different opinions on which is more important, having two awesome fish tanks side by side or having one awesome fish and an awesome dining room set (I was voting for two tanks) I had to put my 55 gallon on craigslist.

I ended up selling the tank the next day with live sand, 15 gallons of water, the stand and the filters for the same price I bought my new tank for.

Forgetting my coat allowed me to upgrade to a drilled tank with sump 20 gallons bigger than the one I already had FOR ABSOLUTELY NOT ONE PENNY MORE 100% COMPLETELY FREE! And I did a happy dance for the next 12 hours!!!!

I woke up in the morning to a tank that had cleared and was looking great. I had moved all of my corals in the night before, and was ready to rock and roll. To my dismay there were about 1000 aiptasia over running the tank.
I battled with them for weeks. Introduced 20 Peppermint shrimp, 2 berghia nudibranchs, and a Klines butterfly fish. BIG MISTAKE!
I went against popular advice on the butterfly fish and almost had to pay dearly for it. He ate 50% of my zoas, nailed my mushroom colony and nearly picked my open brain coral to death.

He went back to the store really quick!!!!

Now that the aiptasia infestation has subsided for the most part I am really enjoying my tank.
I bought a 50 eyed colony of Miami Hurricane last week along with a pink and blue stripped chalice and a really intense red chalice as well.

Today I bought 4 new frags. Some acropora, and some purple birds nest. I also go a Birds of paradise frag as well.
ORA Hawkings Echinata
ORA Red Planet
ORA Birds of Paradise
Tyree LE Ponape Birdsnest

This is my tank as of a few weeks ago.

I am currently in the process of fragging the Miami Hurricane to trade for some HollyWood Stunner Chalice. We are trading eye for an eye. (well 5 eyes for 5 eyes)

I just worked out a trade for 6 pieces of Lexan acrylic to build a sump. I am trading the guy a colony of Cabbage coral that I have been wanting to get rid of for months, and one head of hammer head coral. I am a happy man!

I plan to use it when I move to build a tank to house my fish for about 2 weeks while my DT cycles again. I will then turn it into my sump for my 75g DT.

Hope you have enjoyed reading. I will continue to post my adventures. I promise the rest wont be this long!

Wild Man
481 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I have been working on my tank. I added those frags, and took some pictures. I am pretty happy with the way they have turned out. One in particular makes me smile.

I am afraid the lexon sheets I bought will be too thin to hold themselves in shape if I fill them full of water. it is only 3/16 of an inch thick. Wonder if I can work it out.

Anyway, I look forward to blogging as close to every day as possible. Even if I don't have much to say.

Sadly, My engineer goby died yesterday. I found his body when my pistol shrimp was trying to shove him down into his cave. I think he was trying to use his body as a support for the mouth of the cave. I am not sure why but the Engineer goby seems like one fish I am not able to keep. They just don't seem to get enough food.
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