Reefing dedication at its best
Text and images: Richard Aspinall
When Vikky emailed me last year and asked if I wanted to feature her partner’s reef in UM I was initially unsure, it was a bow-fronted model and they don’t always photograph well, due to the lensing effect of the glass, but when I saw the image she’d sent I had to say an unequivocal ‘yes’. Vikky then had to tell Scott, who being the perfectionist he is, made sure his display tank was looking its best when I arrived.
Scott started out with freshwater systems, following in his father’s footsteps. He’s clearly learned ‘the craft’ and as we chat about the state of reefing his knowledge and expertise comes across.
“I can’t take any credit for this,” Vikky says, pointing at the tank. Scott seems to disagree and as it turns out that’s not really true, Vikky has offered a massive amount of support and a continuing level of patience as tooth brushes, tea towels, toilet rolls and Tupperware are purloined from the rest of the house for reefing purposes. Whilst Scott is maybe the guy who works on the reef day-to-day, it seems like more of a partnership to me.
Scott’s aquarium started out as a Juwel 450 litre. He bought it second hand with a central weir conversion. It has been running for six years now and Scott feels he has come as far with it as he can, there’s little swimming room left for the fish and the corals are regularly reaching the water’s surface. His next upgrade will involve removing the wall behind this tank and inserting a tank into the space provided, that will have more front to rear distance.
Scott uses an ATI T5 unit at the moment and suspects at some point he will move to LEDs, but hasn’t made any decisions yet. The ATI uses ten 80watt tubes which will put a dint in the bank balance when they need renewing, but provides a great looking light with Scott’s mix and of course a very even spread of light across the entire tank meaning Scott knows just what the conditions will be at which depth across the tank.
Current is provided by an Ecotech Vortech MP40 set to run low and provide gentle but consistent flow. Scott then uses three Tunze 6025s to add more directional flow. Output from the sump, fed by an Eheim 1260, is directed into the rear of the system and adds to the water flow.
Scott believes in simplicity and you won’t see any high tech gadgetry here, no computer control and nothing more complicated than a GHL doser on a Balling regime. I ask him what’s the secret to his success (I guises a few have asked before). He tells me that it’s regular testing, sticking to a good water change schedule and observation of his livestock. If things are ‘off’, his corals will tell him. This is where his dedication and experience come to the fore. Scott feels that relying on too much gadgetry removes the aquarist from the basics and stops them learning.
Scott adds Koralen Zucht’s Amino Acids, Coral Vitaliser and KZ‘s Coral Snow. He’s also had good success with Fauna Marin’s Colour Elements and has seen improvements after several weeks in the blues in his Acropora nana and A. valida.
In Scott’s sump the simplicity continues, a simple Two Little Fishes reactor for phosphate removing media and a good skimmer, in this case the Deltec 1455. He has a simple auto top-up unit and that’s about it. Scott’s sump does have a great deal of live rock rubble in it, with a fantastic assortment of tube worms, and is unlit. This cryptic zone must produce a great deal of larvae and other zooplanktonic material for the coral’s consumption.
You can tell Scott is a coral man. We chat about how he can remember coral names and has trouble with fish, whilst I am entirely different. Having said that, Scott clearly cares for his fish and we talk about how often some species are so badly abused by profit-driven shops and aquarists who either don’t care or haven’t done enough research.
Scott’s Regal Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) is clearly the boss of the tank and at the size and age that apparently it might become a nuisance in terms of coral eating, which I must admit is something that I had never heard about. It’s a superb specimen and will enjoy the planned upgrade as it needs more swimming space. Scott also has a Yellow Tang, three happy lyretail anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis), and the fattest coral beauty (Centropyge bispinosus) I have ever seen. Perhaps shy of showing off its girth the beauty proves a difficult fish to photograph.
A pair of percula clowns (Amphiprion percula) have spawned underneath a pocillopora and are hosting in a frogspawn coral. Scott also has a coral goby (which refuses to be visible for photographs and I can hardly see for coral. I think it was a Gobiodon histrio, but apologies if it wasn’t), and a huge, if slightly forlorn looking redscaled fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis).
This isn’t the only tank in their household. Vikky has set up her own nano system in the kitchen that houses a neon goby, an alpheid shrimp/goby pair (amblyeleotris periopthalma), and a wonderful assortment of zoas and a gorgeous red goniopora.
Scott’s final tank is something rather special and goes by the name, ‘The vault’. Tucked away in a cupboard is a small tank of perhaps 100 litres, plumbed into the main SPS tank, but containing Scott’s remarkable collection of zoanthids.
Scott really has the collector’s mind set and knows all of his collection, from the easier specimens to the picky and the expensive. I hate to think just how much the contents of this tank would cost. Scott offers me a single head of a rainbow zoa and packages it up carefully. His collection has been built up from trades with other enthusiasts and by the looks of the number of boxes he has ready, Scott is a serious trader in zoas with his Gorilla Nipples, Bam Bams and Fruit Loops. I had thought that the SPS system was impressive, but this just takes it in another direction.
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my day with Scott and Victoria, its always great chatting about reefing especially with people so knowledgeable and dedicated to the hobby.
A photographic challenge
I had thought that it would be the curved nature of the glass that cause me issues with this article, but in the end that was a minor problem. We had trouble with colour though.
As any reefer knows, getting a photo of your tank that shows the colours on screen that you see in real life is a challenge. Camera sensors and human eyes can see the world very differently, especially when tank lighting comprises a great deal of the blue end of the spectrum. The upshot of this is that Scott and I struggled at first to get a series of shots that did his tank justice. He has the original to compare with and I’ve got the RAW files. We spent many an hour ‘bouncing’ attachments between ourselves, which wasn’t helped by the less than perfect service offered by a broadband company that may or may not be owned by a man with a beard.
In the end, I think we’ve got it pretty close. It won’t be bang on and if the pinks in the Seriatopora are not quite right and the fluorescence of the pocillopora is off, my sincere apologies. It’s also interesting to note that the blues on the fish are brought out with such strength by Scott’s tube mix (heavy on the Narva Blues) that they show as over-saturated on the tank shots.
For Scott, this is a labour of love and his tank deserves to be shown off as the spectacle it is, I only hope that the printers get it right now…