Past, Present, Future of my 180 Gallon Reef.

I hope this counts as a “build” story, even though I am not currently building a new tank. But as most hobbyists know, we are constantly making changes and tweaks to our original build, and that whatever we have originally planned seldom comes out 100% according to plan.

The Past

180 Gallon tank at old house
The 180 gallon tank during its first set up days seven years ago.

My 180 Gallon tank was first set up at my previous house, about five miles from my current one. At the time, it was already a used tank that was sold to me as a tank+stand set up. It was a good deal and at the time I did not have the financial flexibility I have today. So I wasn’t really in the position to be picky on what I want.

This was an upgrade from my previous 92 gallon corner tank. The lighting at the time was three AI blue LED. And I used a 75 gallon tank without built in compartments as my sump. It was probably the best set up I could put together under the financial power I had at the time. The only thing I had to build on my own was the canopy. I did not have previous wood work experience but was able to research and found the best way I could find to build the canopy to match the stand.

180 gallon new set up
180 gallon set up at new house.

Three years ago I purchased the house I currently live in from a friend. This house is an upgrade in size and location for me. Even though I am now at a much better financial place, I was contempt with the 180 gallon setup. The previous owner was gracious enough to allow me begin moving the set up into the house even before we close as we have to quickly turn around and empty the old house. So I was very blessed with an extremely smooth transition of moving my livestock. I lost only 1 fish during the move- a mystery wrasse had a stroke from being captured.

As you can see from the photo above, I retained the 75 gallon tank as my sump. But I upgraded my lighting from AI blue to Hydra 52, mainly because the AI light units actually began to short out.

tank stand window
I decided to use translucent glass to allow refugium light to shine through

Due to the move I actually decided to ditch the canopy and replace it with custom aquarium net cover to prevent fish jumping. But maintained the “open top” look. However, I had this idea to build a semi-see through stand to allow refugium light to shine through. I was hoping this will allow the light to decorate the room after dark. And it did not disappoint.

180 gallon tank with hydra 52
The tank’s look with hydra and semi-see through glass

You may also noticed the soft coral in this tank had really “exploded” in growth here, to the point I am actually considering trading rocks that are full of corals to someone’s bare rock of equal weight to help keep things at bay.

Over the past two years, I’ve also kept a separate system just behind the wall to this system as my dedicated SPS tank and “gem system” with higher end livestock. So when the AI blue complete went out of commission over the “gem system”, I decided to move the Hydra 52 over to the coral farm system, and brought out the plant grow light 8X48″ T5 bulbs I used to maintain my house plants over the winter months over this tank.

Here are some of my previous 180 Gallon updates showing the tank’s progress:

The Present

Plants over 180 gallon tank
180 gallon tank with plant rack in the back to help winterize them

The image above is where the “tank build” is at today. To the left of this tank I have a freshwater 60 gallon cube with discus in it. Hence you see the plants oozing out and over. There is a rack behind this tank where I plan on storing my house plants over the winter.

I have also upgrade my “sump” from just a simple 75 gallon tank to an actual trigger system.

The Future

I am not sure whether I’ll be making a lot more upgrades or changes to this 180 gallon tank before I retire it. The tank has been in use for almost ten years. The corner seals aren’t in the best condition from erosion, and from constant scraping into for glass cleaning. And the plumbing system of this reef ready is not only old and out dated, but pretty loud.

I am hoping to look for the next chapter of my main display tank option soon. Here is what I’d like the tank’s dimension to be:

96″L X 48″W X 20″H, approximately 300+ gallons.

The reason why I care more on the foot print but not so much on the height is because I have learned to put maintenance into consideration. For a tank of that dimension, even at only 20″ deep I’d pretty much have to stick my entire arm in to reach the middle bottom of my tank. Anything deeper would mean a snorkel swim for me. The only exception I might consider is if I can someone custom build a deep end for 3′ deep x 4’W x 2′ in, then leave the remaining 6′ shallow.

I’d also like to move away from the traditional wood stand and look into the new aluminum systems. I just don’t want to lose any sleep from the fear of tank stands integrity due to corrosion or moisture damage.

And lastly, I’d probably build a proper water feeding and removal loop to and from my utility sink/fish room as I am sick and tired of water spills from water changes or even top off the auto top off system.

If anyone in the upper Midwest region (I’m in Wisconsin) like to recommend a reputable, and reasonably priced service to help with the next dream build please feel free to comment or message me!

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