Is your tank full? Bored with it? Try these ideas.

You couldn’t possibly fit more corals into your tank.  Practically every inch of your tank is covered with thriving corals, your fish are happy and healthy.  The tank looks great…but you are bored.  We’ve been there.  This is a hobby, after all, and sometimes it can get to the point where you’re not as involved with it as you would like to be.  Here’s some suggestions to keep things interesting.

Start a frag tank

So you’re a successful reefer and your tank is full of healthy corals.  Awesome!  But once corals start growing into each other, you’re going to have to do something about it.  Selling and trading frags is a great way to expand your coral collection and help fund your tank and future upgrades.  The easiest way set up a frag tank is to plumb it in to your existing system.  As long as you can place the tank in the same area as your main tank, it should be no problem for both tanks to share the same sump.


Are you completely satisfied with your aquascape?  I think most of us are not.  It seems like there are always things you can do to make your ‘scape more appealing.  Arches, caves, and ledges can add interest.  Shifting rock formations can add more depth.  Maybe you want to get that rock pile off the back glass to improve water flow?  Moving corals around and regrouping them can create better color harmony.  It’s not just about what corals you have in your tank, it’s also about where they are placed in relation to each other.

Experiment with lighting

The Coralife Aqualight Pro was cool back in it’s day.  Sadly (or maybe fortunately), those days are over.  Metal halide sales have sharply declined since the introduction of modern T5 and LED lighting…and for good reason!  Metal halides are horribly inefficient.  Much of the energy consumption you see on your power bill is wasted in the form of heat.  This heat gets transferred to your aquarium.  Then you use a chiller to remove the heat from your aquarium and pump it back into the room…which heats the aquarium.  It would be hard for this cycle to be any less efficient.  T5 and LED lighting saves you money in electricity, allows more flexibility in color composition, and frequently eliminates the need for a chiller.

LED lighting is the latest and greatest technology in our hobby.  The day is finally here when you can replace your metal halides with confidence.  Perhaps the biggest benefit of LED is the exceptionally long life.  Most manufacturers rate their bulbs for 50,000 hours…this is about 10 years of use!  The better fixtures on the market feature control options that fully simulate the sun, moon, and even weather.  Most will allow you to customize the overall light color by dimming 2-3 colors of LEDs.  If you haven’t seen the effect of high intensity blue LEDs on coral coloration, check out our display tank one night.  LEDs blow traditional actinic lighting out of the water.

High-output T5 lighting has been established a bit longer, but is still at the forefront of modern reef-keeping.  Many tanks featured on ReefKeeping magazine’s tank of the month utilize high-end T5 lighting.  With different bulb spectrums available, you can find your ideal combination of growth and color by mixing bulbs.  There is also something special about the effect of T5 lighting on SPS coloration.  By more fully illuminating coral tissue, SPS corals tend to take on a more even, “pastel” coloration.

Start a nano or pico tank

Small tanks have become a revolution in our hobby.  20 years ago, some people would think you were crazy for trying to keep a tank smaller than 90 gallons.  Not so anymore!  With the rise of LED lighting to minimize heat issues in small water volumes, nanos are more popular than ever.  A smaller tank allows you to have an entirely different style, aquascape, and livestock collection.  Many fascinating inverts you may never get to see in your larger tank are perfect for a nano.

If you already have a larger display, starting and maintaining a nano or pico tank couldn’t be easier.  You might even be able to use rock, corals, and sand from your existing system.  Water changes can be done using waste water from your main display (assuming the water quality is up to par).

If all else fails…get a bigger tank!

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