At Reef Builders, we strive to bring you aquariums that reflect a unique perspective. Some blow us away with their sheer beauty. Others with vibrant animal growth. Still others tease us with their high-tech gadgetry and bleeding edge technology. And this aquarium strikes us with it’s sheer audacity. At 120 gallons, this bow front packs a surprisingly large amount of diversity, and reflects some adept husbandry, natural aquascaping, and some intruiging,(albeit somewhat controversial) stocking decisions. And it seems to be working-for now. We reserve judgement for the long-term, but are cautiously presenting it here as yet another example of someone taking their own path.
At first glance, the aquascape seems to be almost mundane, featuring some hardy, if not common, corals, such as Monitpora capricornis, M. digitata, a smattering of other stony corals, some Long Tentacle anemones, and a healthy growth of soft corals. Arranged in sort of “quasi-monospecific” stands, the corals appear to be well maintained, and largely well behaved. The softies are, by-and-large, located at the opposite side of the aquarium from the stonies, with a couple of anemones forming a sort of “no-man’s-land” at the top of the aquarium.
There is significant water movement provided by a Tunze Wavebox and some other pumps, and the soft corals can be seen swaying rhythmically in the current. One cannot help but wonder if the serious current has enabled this seemingly challenging animal mix to succeed thus far. Obviously, ptotein skiiming and some good water quality management skills by the aquarist are keeping this tank from becoming a quick victim of allelopathic warfare. From what we can gather, it’s been set up atmleast 6 months two years with apparently few issues thus far. I can’t help but wonder how this bodes for the long term.
The fish stocking decisions are perhaps the most fascinating: Although at odds with my personal stocking philosophies in terms of both selection and density, it appears that the owner has met with some degree of success. Can’t say I’m a fan of the Emperor Angel (can reach 15”), or the Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides sp). However, the one that blows me away is the Quoy’s Parrot Fish (Scarus quoyi). I mean, seriously? A Parrotfish in a mixed reef? At first glance, this is a recipe for disaster, yet this fish has worked in this tank for many months without apparent issues. In most cases, this family of fishes is known for-well- chomping on things- rock, sand, and even coral branches- in search of algae and other food items. Although perhaps one of the easier to maintain Parrotfishes, it strikes us as odd that this guy hasn’t figured out that there is plenty of good stuff to pick at in this tank! Only time will tell if this fish follows the predictable path towards destructive habits!
We’re not advocating that you go out and duplicate this tank. Nor are we recommending stocking the system as this one has. We’re merely presenting it as yet another example of the meeting of inspiration and skill as means of advancing the state of the hobby. Take from it what you will-perhaps elements that you could incorporate into a larger system. The aquarist made some controversial stocking decisions, yet appears to “own” them, and seems competent and vigilant. One can only hope that he finds larger homes for some of these fishes as they mature, yet I can’t help but commend him for taking a somewhat different path that may help inspire someone else with a much larger system to try some ideas that he or she may have been perusing for some time.