Hi, I am Scott Morell, a volunteer here at GARF. My 120 gallon was taken down in 2007 in preparation for my new 150 gallon tall. Here is the history page for that 120 gallon "Bullet Proof" reef tank.


I have been in Austin for the last 5 weeks working on my regular job. I have been a member of the Reef Central site for over a year now. Reef Central and the GARF site projects have kept me from going nuts in the hotel room, If you have never been to Reef Central, check them out. It is worth the visit: Reef Central


A couple of months ago I went over to a buddies house and saw his tank.  Overall, his tank is the best looking SPS tank I have ever seen.  He has been selectivly trading with others around the country for great looking SPS corals.  I have many SPS corals but for the most part they are  dark in color.  He has some awesome lighter colored corals that really stand out in his tank.  I decided to go for broke and do some major remodeling.  I had all ready removed many of my soft corals and decided to do some major fragging of the SPS to make room for some new lighter colored SPS.

I had an SPS fragging party on Monday and we made over 100 frags from the SPS corals.  Below is the after picture.  Many of the frags went home with members of the local reef club.  I traded for some lights and a pump.  The rest seen in the sump picture on the right, will be going to GARF. 


I have made some pretty good coral trades lately.  Below are four of my favorites that I got recently.  The top two came from GARF and the bottom two came from Mike Paletta.  The white one below is not dead... if you look closely you can see the polyps.  I mounted on plugs so I can move them around and find out where they like it best.  I hope they maintain the colors they have now. 



I have been thinking of adding a single Metal Halide bulb on one end of the tank where there is 12 inches that the flourescent bulbs don't cover.  I might get that done this next week......


It has been fun watching the coral grow. The two pictures below show five months of growth.

I saw a buddy's tank this week end and was very impressed with it. He has mostly SPS corals with very few soft corals and the tank looks awesome!!! I showed Monica some pictures of it and she liked it too. So I have now have permission to remove many of the soft corals, rebuild the ends of the tank and add different SPS corals. I decided to have a "Soft Coral" fragging party this afternoon and my Sump/Farming unit has over 100 cuttings of different Sarcophytons and Capnella corals. I fragged a total of 6 in all. The cuttings will attach to the substrate rubble during the next couple of weeks. Below are the before and after pictures. You may need to look close, the mother colonies were all placed back in there original positions except for one. Have some mighty mad corals right now.


Individual pictures of the corals!

During the last couple of evenings, I have been taking close up picture of different corals in the tank. All of the pictures were taken with a Kodak DC-240 camera.

Here is a link to those pictures.


The precariously balanced tumbling of rock!

Due to a problem with "Precariously balanced" rocks tumbling down (2/5/02), I have done alot of rearranging with my tank starting on 2/6/02. Here is a link that details the process.

Below are the latest pictures of the tank. Things are pretty ugly compared to what they were a week ago with all the glaring white aragocrete. Within the next couple of weeks the whiteness will go away as the bactreia starts to grow on and cover the new rock. The two large zoanthid covered rocks, that filled the middle of the tank, went to GARF because they no longer fit with the new design.

Click on the images to view the original larger image.


Let'em Grow She Said!

The tank has gone through many changes since June of 1999. I used to have many different types of corals. No one coral was larger than the size of my palm. I was propagating coral monthly to keep them from growing into each other.

Last summer, my wife Monica and I saw a tank that had fewer corals, but the corals were much larger. We were very impressed with this setup. Monica convinced me ( I fought it) to let the corals in our tank to grow larger. As the corals grew there were many colonies taken back to GARF to be used as brood stock. Others were either traded or given to friends. The choice, of which corals to remove, was tough because I wanted to keep them all. We ended up removing most duplicate corals and those that were similar to each other.

We are even happier with the tank's looks (Monica was right as usual) and I am being selfish and refuse to remove any more corals to make room. However, we are back to doing the monthly propagation to prevent over growing and shading.

It's a hobby! Let's change something! Let's add more lights!

Until January 25, 2002, the lighting, in this tank, consisted of seven - 40 watt normal output (NO) bulbs. There were eight bulbs at one time but I discovered water and electricity don't mix well but that is a different story...

There are many different corals that can not only live under NO lighting but will thrive under it. I had many soft corals, small polyp stony (SPS) corals, and large polyp stony corals that were doing great. However there are many SPS corals, that I would like to have, that just require more light.

Recently, I was able to trade some captive raised corals (from this tank) for 2 VHO ballasts, 4 sets of end caps, and four 110 watt bulbs.

I have the VHO lights on their own timers and I have slowly increased the amount of time they are on each day so I didn't stress the corals. After almost a month, they are on the same amount as the NO lights were.

Currently (2/1/2002) the tank uses the following lights:

3 110 watt VHO Actinic White
1 110 watt VHO Actinic Blue
1 40 watt NO Actinic White
3 40 watt NO Actinic Blue
A fellow reefer, here in Boise, uses the same brand of VHOs that I do except he uses the AquaSun instead of the Actinic White. His tank is much brighter than mine, mainly due to the AquaSuns (and he uses 8 VHO vs. 4 VHO/4 NO). We have traded corals, during the last couple of weeks and now have at least twelve SPS corals that are the same. We are going to compare the corals over the next few months to see what difference the lighting makes. This might not be a fair comparison since he feeds differently than I do and he has almost 10 watts per gallon compared to my 4.8 watts. However, I know it will be something we will enjoy!

Who knows, in a couple of years I might change to Metal Halides. After all it is a hobby!

The Color Difference with VHOs!

The most noticable change, with the addition of the VHO lighting, was the color of an acropora GARF calls the "Paletta Blue". This coral, under NO lighting, had a redish brown body with light purple tips. With this coloring, it was one of my favorite corals in the tank.

After about 2 weeks of VHO lighting I noticed the color of the coral had drastically changed. The body of the coral was turning from a reddish brown to a deep green color. The tips of the coral was changing from a light purple to a dark purple. With this coloring, it IS my favorite coral in the tank.

The two pictures below show the changes in color. The picture on the left was taken 9/6/01. The picture on the right is of the same coral, mounted (after above mentioned tumbling problem) in a different location, and was taken on 2/11/02.

About half of the SPS coral colors have been affected by the chage in the lights. The Green Slimer is noticably darker, the baby blue tip and the Bali stag #1 have a darker body color. However I have seen no noticable color changes with the pink bird,s nest, purple bonsai, hydnapora, or the cat's paw corals.

Fragging the Green Slimer to make more room!

The picture below left was taken on 1/30/2002. During the months of January and February, I did a lot of propagating (fragging) on the green SPS (Green Slimer top right of the picture). You can see the growth on the three top branches where the frags were taken in January. Each scar has healed over and now branched into at least three tips. One tip, where it was fragged, has branched into seven tips! This has given me the idea that I might be able to trim/shape it like a bonsai tree???? You can see white scars on the bottom center of the green slimer. These were from frags taken on 1/27/2002.

The day after the picture below (left) was taken, I fragged the green slimer due to the fact it was crowding the corals to it's right. You can see many of the frags mounted on plugs in the picture below (right). The large SPS on the top left was going to be the next one fragged since it is also crowding surrounding corals. However the entire tank has since been rearranged and it was not needed.

The two pictures below are some of my favorites of the tank. These were taken in July 2001 when the tank had only 40 watt lighting. Notice how much more vivid the coloring of some corals are in the picture above, when compared with the pictures below. This color change started with the addition of the VHO lights.



Tank size - 120 gallon glass aquarium 5' x 18" x 26"

Stand " Made with 100 year old pine by closely following the directions at /news23p3.html#STAND

Hood - Made with 100 year old pine with mirrors from Home Depot glued to the top for reflectors.

- First picture of the tanks when it was a 100 gallon. Still had brackish fish



Filtration " Home made plenum following Joe Jone's directions
2 BakPak II protein skimmers with biological media removed.
Approx. 40 lbs. Live rock (traded for a custom made oak aquarium stand)

- Tank June 99 - Right after fathers day when I put in the Aragocrete the kids and I made. This is the 120 gallon tank. The 100 gallon was 30 years old and sprung a leak.



Approx. 150 lbs. Aragocrete. I followed the directions on the following pages on the GARF web site.


Approx. 20 lbs. of GARF Grunge. This is what I believe to be one of the keys to the success of my tank. The nitrate level dropped like a rock when the Grunge was added

- Tank Sept.99 - You can start to see the dark green algae forming that seem to turn into coraline algae.




- June 1999 to Sep 1999 - Two 40 watt Power Glo (12hr) and one 40 watt Blue Moon (13 hr)
Sep 1999 to Oct 1999 - Three 40 watt Actinic White (12hr) and three 40 watt Actinic Blue (13 hr)
Oct 1999 to May 2000 - Four 40 watt Actinic White (12hr) and Four 40 watt Actinic Blue (13 hr)
May 2000 to Sep 2000 - Five 40 watt Actinic blue (10hr) and one 40 watt 50/50 (10hr)
Sep 2000 to Present - Five Actinic White (13 hr)and three actinic blue (14 hr)

Heating - 300 watt heater
Cooling - 8" fan that is on the same timer as the actinic blue lights. Temp rises to 86 degrees during the day with out it.
Temp - 78 degrees.

- Tank Oct.99 - Not much different but you can see the 40 watt bulbs


- Tank Dec 99 - You can really see the growth with the soft corals. The Xenia in the middle was two months old and ready to propagate.


Additives - I follow Sally Jo's recipe at /news29p1.html#reef for the additives.
Magic Reef dust
SeaChem - Reef Plus, Reef Calcium, Reef Builder, Reef Advantage, and Reef Iodide (Formerly Reef Complete)

Water changes - 20 - 25% every 2 weeks using Ocean Pure(GARF now uses <b>Ocean Pure Pro salt</b>)
Specific gravity - 1.024 (requires 2 gallon of makeup water per day to maintain) Makeup water - Using a 60 gpd RO unit. Add Reef builder and Reef complete here.

Propagation Success
  • - Xenia - 100+ Pom-Pom, Portland, and Creeping.
  • - Capnella - 100+
  • - Sarcophyton - 10
  • - Zoanthids - a whole bunch


  • Cat's Paw
  • Pink Bird's Nest
  • Bali Stag #1 and #2
- Tank Dec. 00 - Most of the fast growing soft corals taken to GARF for brood stock to make room for the SPS and LPS corals.


Current - History -

June 1998 to June 1999 Marine fish only tank with a plenum only (No Live rock)
June 1999 to present Marine Reef
June 1999 started with Gorgonians, Zoanthids and Mushrooms
July 1999 added Sarchophytons and Star polyps. The star polyps did not make it.
Sep 1999 added Xenias and Capnella

Xenias become my best indication that something is wrong with the system.
Last week my cooling fan quit ant they told me some thing was wrong.
They don't like the temp above 80 degrees.

Nov 1999 added first SPS corals, Pink Bird's nest and Cat's paw which are still thriving. Also tried Green star polyps again this time with success



- PinkBirdsNest9-20-99.jpg - Pink bird's nest a month or so after I brought it home in September of 99.This is the first SPS coral I placed in the tank.

- PinkBirdsNest12-12-00.jpg - This is the Pink Bird's Nest coral 1 year later. It has been moved a lot but it prefers moderate current close to the 40 watt bulbs.

Dec 1999 added Acropora SPS (Bali Stag #1 and #2. Green slimer looking good)



- GreenSlimer4-15-00 - Green slimer in April a couple of months after I brought it home. You can see the growth at the base and the new branches. The more it grew the less polyps are seen.

- GreenSlimer12-12-00 - Green slimer in December. There has been a lot of growth. I only removed 2 frags to place in my wifes 6 month old 29 gallon reef which is doing well.

July 2000 Added Large polyp stony corals that are doing well and are dividing.
Aug 2000 added a star fish to the collection and it had dropped all six legs and each leg has developed into a new star fish. Lessons Learned
- Watch your animals they are your best indication something is wrong.
- Reef janitor are worth there weight in gold
- Place your system on a dedicated electrical circuit if possible

- Purple Tri Color 4-15-00 - This is a Tri-Color acropora that I had just placed in the tank

- Purple Tri Color 5-21-00 - The same Tri-Color acropora a month later. The color changed from pink to purple. This is the same time I went to mostly Actinic blue bulbs.



- Purple Tri Color 12-12-00 - The same Tri-Color acropora in December. Notice the growth at the base and the stalk both. Once the top of the plug was covered the stalk started to grow fast.

Thanks for all of your help,