Besides sexual reproduction, the pinnacle of reef keeping is and has always been a display tank full of tank-grown stony corals and Juan Gabriel Grajales’ reef tank is a shining example thereof. We’ve seen a lot of reef aquarium displays in our day but this six foot aquarium in the heart of Mexico City is truly an inspirational reef aquarium system which ticks all the boxes of excellence.
Like many of you we first became aware of this stony coral dominated reef tank through social media, seeing incredible groves and fields of small polyps and extremely curious how the corals appeared in person. Thankfully late last year we had the opportunity to travel to Mexico City to see the tank for ourselves and we don’t know what was better, the health and vitality of the corals or Juan’s ebullient hospitality.
Armed with pizza, mezcal and our camera gear we spent hours learning about Juan’s fascinating coral aquarium display which he calls ‘Reef 3.0’. While our Spanish is rudimentary at best and his English not any better, we navigated the linguistic barrier but thankfully most of the important details like water chemistry, the equipment and the corals were mostly a commonality, a language that we both spoke so we were able to learn about his reef tank and how he runs it.
Juan doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary to keep his demanding Acropora corals in peak condition but he does heavily rely on the feedback from Triton ICP testing to determine what he needs to add to his tank and how often. Several times throughout this bilingual video tour of Reef 3.0 Juan places a lot of the credit to using the Triton method to achieve these exemplary results which has enabled him to forego water changes for more than two years!
The thought of achieving world-class stony coral growth and inspiring Acropora coloration while not doing any water changes is a paradigm shift from how the world reefing community typically runs even the most progressive reef aquariums. Juan Gabriel Grajales’ Reef 3.0 is a testament to how far ICP water testing can take our understanding of complicated reef aquarium water chemistry and there is certainly a lot we can learn from what is arguably the best stony coral aquarium in Mexico.