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.

new sand

Welcome to this most obscure of blogs, my dear reader. The aquarium is a bit of a mess at the moment for a variety of reasons. First of all there are a lot of algae growing; I have a bag with Rowaphos hanging in the back compartment to remove phosphates but this does not seem to help much (I have had good experiences with before though). Second, one of my pumps broke and so filtration runs at half capacity. Third, the mixed success of planting many different seaweeds has left loads of detritus in the tank. I have made large water changes which helped a bit. An additional tank for experimenting would be nice to have… Fourth, I have been unlucky with some of the seaweeds: the Wireweed grew really well, but the large size meant it caught a lot of the current and was easily dislodged. The Dudresnay’s whorled weed Dudresnaya verticullosa was growing really well (see here) but broke off from the rocks and could not be replanted:


I could not attach the fine red seaweed (see last post) either and did not want to have it floating around so I have removed it. My nice red seaweed streaming from the pump outlet, most probably Devil’s tongue weed Grateloupia turutu (as the name indicates, another invader from the Pacific), broke of. A crap picture of both weeds:


I changed the white gravel with finer, beige Maerl gravel (Cornwall’s equivalent of coral sand, see previous post) here placed in a bowl for contrast:


I released my Shanny as well as the largest of the two Rock gobies. The former attacked to many of the snails (it was getting a bit of a mollusc graveyard) and the latter was just too voracious in general. The final straw was seeing it swimming around with half a Worm pipefish sticking out of its mouth (I still have a bunch of those). The Shore rockling did not survive, but I caught a glimpse of the Shore clingfish when I removed some of the rocks from the aquarium. The juvenile albino Edible crab (if that’s what it is) and the European sting winkle Ocenebra erinaceus I recently caught both still do well, as is a juvenile Shore crab Carcinus maenas:


The Netted dog whelk Hinia reticulata is not one of the most impressive looking snails, but they do very well in the aquarium, burrowing and moving around:


I am not sure whether replacing one of the actinic lamps with the daylight lamp was such a great idea, the tank looks too yellowish now, especially with the Maerl sand…However, I will stick with it and see whether it helps future attempts to successfully keep Bushy rainbow wrack Cystoseira tamariscifolia (i.e. to retain it’s iridescence). If not, I’ll go back to the original lighting. I will not do too much with the aquarium in the near future as I want to get rid of the algae first. There are not many critters in the tank, which should help (I have only introduced a nice big Snakelocks anemone Anemonia viridis recently). I will do some more water changes and order a new pump. Only then will I slowly start experimenting with seaweeds again.

I am still unsure about the chiller, but with the weather getting warmer it might be more than just a luxury to have one. Apart from the price, it standing on the floor next to the aquarium with tubes sticking out is what I don’t like about the idea though. It will also not be silent, but perhaps I could get away with disabling the noisy hood fans, resulting in an overall quieter aquarium. The stripped-down tank (note that the red encrusting algae/seaweeds at the top of the tank have died (turned white) as they were exposed for a couple of hours when changing water):