New Aquarium: Red Sea Reefer 170

I replaced my old Red Sea Max 130D tank last December with a new Red Sea Reefer 170 tank. I was not entirely happy with the design of the old tank (see this old post) and I was thinking of a new aquarium with a sump, and then my retrofitted LEDs stopped working: I was practically forced to buy a new aquarium! It is much better to have a sump to have a large skimmer in, the glass is much clearer and the (separately bought) AI prime LEDs are great (with seven different individually adjustable colours). I had a long day switching tanks and found three clingfish alive and well. I released my ballan wrasse as it was before the christmas break and I did not want to let it go two weeks without food. In the following weeks, I managed to collect some more anemones, I now have Snakelocks, Strawberries, Beadlets, Daisies, Redspeckleds and Dahlias. It is my aim to collect maybe ten or so more species this year when rockpooling and diving and turn it into a proper anemone tank. I probably won’t add any fish or big inverts as they could fall prey to the anemones. I have added some snails to help keep the algae under control, unfortunately after a a superclean first two months some green hues are starting to appear so I will add some more. These are two hasty shots; a proper update is soon to follow!

top ten animals for the unchilled aquarium: 10 – 6

As the aquarium is currently in a state of limbo, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the critters that have been most rewarding to keep in the year or so I’ve had my aquarium. Based on my personal experience, I have made an, admittedly completely arbitrary, top 10 of animals for a Cornish (or North-Western European) marine aquarium. I picked animals that were both easy to collect (i.e. common), easy to keep (not requiring live food and resistant to water temperatures up to 25C) and fun to watch. Here goes with the first part of the list!

10: Netted dogwhelk Hinia reticulata


Not the prettiest of molluscs maybe, but very easy to find and very easy to keep. Burrowing in sand, and moving surprisingly fast over the bottom when smelling food. Their smaller (and prettier) cousins the Thicklipped dogwhelk Hinia incrassata never survived for long in my unchilled tank.

9: Common hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus

IMG_1020Hermit crabs are especially fun to watch scurrying about. Mine never really lasted very long but that is probably because of predation by blennies and gobies (see below)….

8: Shanny Lipophrys pholis (or Rock goby Gobius paganellus)

IMG_0203Shannies are probably the most common fish to find in rock pools. They are very easy to keep, their coloration is not particularly vivid but not dull either and they are quite active. The only downside is that they prey on molluscs and other small critters. Feeding them a bit more might prevent this, but especially the rock gobies are so voracious that I doubt that (one was so swollen I thought it was dying, until I realized that it had gorged itself on defrosted artemia…). Montagu’s blenny Coryphoblennius galerita is prettier and smaller than the shanny but much harder to find (see this post for experiences with other fish species).

7. Thicklip grey mullet Chelon labrosus


Most rock pool inhabitants live on or near the rocks, but it looks nice if the aquarium also have some fish swimming in the water column. Mullet are very common, and small individuals form nice silvery schools (which are almost impossible to photograph as you can see). They don’t really interact with the other tank inhabitants.

6: Painted top shell Calliostoma zizyphinum


One of my favorite local molluscs: a bright purple shell with an orange colored snail inside. Shells are never covered with algae as the snail wipes it clean with its foot (the shell can still be damaged of course as seen in this individual).

The next post will feature the top 5 of animals for the unchilled aquarium.

my Red Sea Max 130D

After moving to the seaside, I was sure that I wanted to have a native marine aquarium but I was not too sure about what set-up to buy. I have quite a bit of experience with tropical fresh water aquariums¬† but marine tanks always seemed to be much more difficult with sumps and skimmers and all that. However, nowadays everyone can start the hobby with a of ‘plug-and-play’ aquarium. After a bit of online research, I decided to go for a Red Sea Max 130D. At 130 liters it is a medium-sized tank, although I guess it is still often classified as a ‘nano’ tank.


All equipment is hidden in a compartment at the back behind black-tinted glass:

130d_filtration_bigWater flows into the back compartment through a sieve, this sieve cannot be removed for cleaning which is unfortunate as it easily gets clogged, especially when you have lots of seaweeds in the tank (I do not use the extra comb (1) because I did not find it very effective and it takes up too much space). Water then flows through a filter pad (2) into the skimmer compartment (3). The stock RSM skimmer is very noisy and I only use it at night. I find that the skimmer cup is not very easy to clean either. There is an empty compartment (4, 5) for a chiller pump that I hope to fill up soon (of course I do not use the heating element (6)). Water flows then through ceramic (7)- and carbon (8) filter material before two pumps jet the water back into the main tank compartment again (9). This design is quite bad, as the filter material can only be accessed after removing the pumps and the bags are stuck in a narrow compartment. I also use a bag with RowaPhos to remove phosphates to keep algae in check.

So filtration, skimming and design could have been designed better (as well as lighting, see a previous post) and it is perhaps no surprise that internet forums abound with descriptions of RSM tank modifications and additions (e.g. this media bag and skimmer replacement option). Although I am overall happy with my Red Sea Max tank, if I would by an aquarium today I probably would assemble it from separately ordered parts.