Celebrating the Awesome Beauty of the Lord's Tropical Reef in a Home Marine Aquarium

How We Started


In late August 2003 Cathy and I decided to go ahead with our marine reef aquarium.  We'd talked about doing this off and on for the last 10 years... and the moment had finally come.  I had decided it was time to start a project that involved the whole family, that was educational, and that had some long term significance.  Since I spent my first 17 years growing up on the island of Aruba, the whole tropical reef environment was in my blood and seemed fitting to recreate here at home in Woodstock, Georgia.

Research began immediately with the purchase of a couple excellent books; "The Simple Guide To Marine Aquariums" by Jeffrey Kurtz and "The Marine Aquarium Problem Solver" by Nick Dakin.  Both books did a fine job of getting us motivated, but there were more questions than answers.  While reading the books I was also surfing the web looking for good marine reef aquarium resources.  It was a great day when we were led to Reef Central and Cathy and I have been there ever since!  There is an absolute ton of excellent [and often contradicting :) ] information in their forums... a gold mine of useful nuggets that helped guide Cathy and me.

One of the very first decisions we had to make was how BIG!  We started with 75g, then went to 90, 125, then finally settled on an Oceanic 135 RR tank with a cherry colored canopy/stand.  The advice from practically everyone we asked was "the bigger, the better!"  Due to constraints in our home, a 135g tank (72" L x 24" H x 18" W) was the max we could fit in the living room against the load bearing center wall.  The spot was ideal... perpendicular to 2" x 12" floor joists below with appoximately 1.5 to 2 feet of overlap at the load bearing wall, positioned really well for excellent viewing from everywhere in the living room and kitchen, out of a direct traffic pathway, and completely in the shade with zero sunlight.

In addition to selecting the tank/stand, we also decided to go with as large a sump as possible in the stand.  Most of the research I did on sumps was at Melev's Reef, a website hosted by Marc Levenson, a very knowledgable reefer in Fort Worth, Texas.  After learning sump basics at Marc's website I designed our sump based on one of his creations (Model "E") and then emailed him to see if he would consider making the sump.  He agreed and the rest is history!  What a magnificent job he did!  The final sump has three sections from L to R; drain/skimmer, return, refugium.  The total running volume is about 36 gallons, but it will hold about 48 gallons when filled to the top.

Now that we had settled on most of the big stuff we turned our sights on the remaining equipment needed to complete the setup.  For a full listing of equipment for our entire setup, please select the "Equipment" link located along the left hand panel on our website.