Thang’s Reef Tank (aka “gtareef”)

It’s hard not to be impressed by Thang’s reef tank and his basket ball sized acropora. The incredible dark blue acropora in the centre of the reefscape is definitely one of the most awesome features of Thang Nguyen’s SPS display tank. Thang (aka ‘gtareef’ on the forums) has had this system up and running for just over 3 years. Even though many of the corals were transferred from his previous system, it’s incredible to see so many large SPS colonies packed in to his 270 gallon display tank. This is definitely one of the most impressive SPS systems we’ve had the pleasure of visiting.

270-gallon eurobraced tank with external overflow box built by Miracles Aquariums
  • Setup Date: October 2013
  • Display Aquarium: Miracles Aquariums 270 gallon starphire (72” x 36” x 24”) with Beananimal coast to coast external overflow
  • Stand: Miracles Aquariums Custom Skirt / Steel Frame
  • Sump: 54″ x 30″ x 19″
  • Skimmer: BUBBLE KING SUPERMARIN 200 with Vertex Vectra Engine Universal Cleaner Unit with Lid.
  • Return Pump: Water Blaster 10,000 output to two Sea Swirl Returns
  • Internal Flow: 1 x Vortech MP60, 2 x Vortech MP40’s and RW-20
  • Main Lighting: 60” 10 bulbs ATI Power Module
  • Supplement Lighting: 2 x ReefBrite XHO LED’s
  • Reactors: Georeef CR618 Calcium Reactor with CarbonDoser Electronic Co2 Regulator , Georeef KR618 and BRS GFO
  • ATO: Gravity feed with float valve
  • RO/DI: 5-Stage Unit with a Booster pump
  • Frag Tank: 50 Gallon Rimless
  • System Controller: Apex, WXM, PM2, 3 x EB8, Auto feeder

The impressive collection of corals have grown into a dense forest that almost completely obscures the rock work behind. Thang has a 40 litre calcium reactor running at maximum capacity and still has to dose 2-part to keep up with coral growth rates. Stable calcium and alkalinity levels with the T5 and Reefbrite LED’s are a wining combination for colour and growth in Thang’s system. Many of the SPS show extensive growth tips and require regular trimmings. The sheer number, let alone size, of these colonies could easily fill a 500 gallon tank in no time.


Thang utilizes 35-gallon biweekly water changes and GFO in the sump to keep phosphates and nitrates low. He also has some Cheato (Chaetomorpha algae) passively growing in the sump which no doubt contributes to the low N03/P04 levels. But it’s the Bubble King Supermarin 200 skimmer that does most of the work, along with several large filter socks on the drain lines for nutrient export. With weekly testing of alkalinity and phosphate levels, things are kept in balance and adjusted if needed.

The denizens of this beautiful reef are equally as impressive! With a vibrant collection of rare wrasse and large tangs, its hard not to start drooling. Most notable is Thang’s success with a striking Chaoti Wrasse (Macropharyngodon Choati). No two Chaoti Wrasse have the same markings and his specimen is a perfect example of their wild colouration. We even caught a glimpse of a snowflake eel that has made the tank his home, after escaping a temporary acclimation box. Apparently he’s behaving so far.


Even the 50 gallon frag tank system that’s plumbed into the main display tank had some impressive livestock. A small, but pristine juvenile Achilles Tang can be seen swimming around some very brightly coloured zoanthids. With the many advancements we’ve had in lighting and flow technology, there are many different recipes for success. But this tank is a prime example of the level of success that is achievable when we stick to the basics and keep it simple.

Thang’s 50 gallon shallow frag tank.