Mike’s 120 Gallon Custom Mixed Reef Tank

About the Owner

I set up my first saltwater tank in the early 1980's but after a few years the demand of time from my family made it necessary to take down my tank. Some 18 years later I got back into the hobby, starting with a JBJ 28 gallon nano tank. I then graduated to a 50 gallon cube and finally the 120 gallon tank featured in this video. I don't think you ever loose the desire to keep a saltwater tank once you have had one.

My retirement gift to myself was the 120 gallon tank, so the first few months after I retired was spent largely planning and building the tank.  Many aspect of the tank including the cabinet, canopy, sump and top off reservoirs were hand built by me.  I love to spend my evenings sitting in front of the tank reading or relaxing.

-Mike G. (thegrun)


Display Tank Volume120 Gallons
Display Tank Dimensions48" x 24" x 24"
Glass or AcrylicGlass
Sump Volume70 Gallons
Stand Type or MaterialCustom built White Oak Stand and Canopy


Main Return PumpEheim 1262
Water Return Type1" Sea Swirl
Powerheadsx2 Neptune Systems WAV Pumps

Controllers & Monitors

Aquarium Controller

Apex Classic Aquarium Controller System

Heaterx2 300W Eheim Jager
Auto Top OffQuadruple Float Switch Custom ATO system integrated into Apex Controller

Three 4" cabinet fans blow air across the sump and then up the backside of the tank for cabinet ventilation and heat removal. One 4" fan runs constantly, the other two are programmed to turn on when the tank water reaches 78.8 degrees via the Apex. Two additional 8" fans are mounted between the lights that turn on when the tank water reaches 79.9 degrees.  These fans keep the tank below 82 degrees even if the house temperature reaches 90 degrees. 


Protein SkimmerAquaMaxx CO-2 Protein Skimmer
Chemical FiltrationDual media reactors that are fed with the return pump.  One contains carbon and the other contains phosphate resin.
Biological Filterx2 Brightwell Aquatics Xport NO3 - Dimpled Brick
RefugiumChaetomorphia algae
Live Rock in DisplayMarco Rock
Live Rock in SumpMarco Rock
SubstrateCaribsea Sand

System Parameters

Temperature75° F - 82° F
Specific Gravity1.026
pH7.9 - 8.2
Calcium425 ppm
Magnesium1350 ppm
Test Kit BrandsSalifert and Hanna Instruments
Nitrate5-8 ppm
Phosphate0.02 ppm
Resins or Devices Used to Control Nitrate/PhosphateBlueLife PhosFx resin inside a media reactor

Dose calcium, alkalinity and magnesium 24 times a day via the Apex controller and dosing pumps.


Maintenance & Dosing

Water Exchanges10% weekly water changes
Water TestsWeekly
Resin ReplacementsMonthly
Salt MixInstant Ocean Reef Crystals


Fish3-4 times a day with a variety of frozen food, flakes and pellets
Coral3 times a week wtih Reef Roids and Red Sea Reef Energy A and B


  • Flame Angel
  • Kole Tang
  • Purple Tang
  • Starry Blenny
  • Yellow Coris Wrasse
  • (3) Flame Wrasses- 1 male, 2 female
  • Royal Gramma
  • Purple Firefish
  • (2) Black and White Ocellaris Clownfish

Stony Corals

  • Miami Orchid
  • Frogskin
  • Tri-Color Valida
  • Purple Monster
  • Oregon Tort
  • Aussie Lorikeet
  • Joe the Coral
  • Garf Bonsai
  • Purple, Green and Orange Montipora Capricornis
  • Green Slimmer
  • Neon Green Bird's Nest
  • Red Bird's Nest
  • Pink Floyd
  • Red Planet
  • Strawberry Shortcake
  • Turquoise Fire
  • Violet Femmes
  • ...a few unknowns


  • Frogspawn
  • Candy Cane
  • Hammer
  • Duncan

Soft Corals

  • Assorted Zoanthids and Palythoa
  • Ricordia
  • Assorted Mushrooms
  • Gorgonians


  • Cleaner Shrimp
  • Orange and Black Sea Urchin