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Richard Durso (aka Reefland)

Member's Tank Talk

Mirrored from - September 22, 2002

Speaker's Biography

Richard Durso has been in the hobby nearly 10 years (as of 2002). He joined the on-line reef keeping community 5 years ago and has been a member of since 1999.   Richard is well known for the "Durso Standpipe" design he published in March 1999.  He recently published his first Featured Article in Advanced Aquarist on-line magazine   He currently has two tanks: a 180 gallon tank that is documented in painstaking detail at , which was started in 1998 and a 10 gallon nano tank started this year. The 180 gallon tank is currently Advanced Aquarist’s September 2002 Issues "Featured Aquarium".



I’d like to thank and Advanced Aquarist on-line magazine for selecting my tank as the "Featured Aquarium" and offering me this opportunity to present this "members talk". I'’ve been on #reefs for many years and spent many Sunday nights enjoying the on-line chats. I’'m honored to join the long list of talented reef keepers before me. Hopefully you will find this chat interesting and informative.

First off, I’d like to say that my alias of "reefland" has nothing to do with the web site of I’'ve been using my alias long before that site existed.  I’m also known as "original-reefland" on bulletin boards where "reefland" has already been taken.

I'’ll be linking to several pictures of specimens in my tank; hopefully the URL’s will not be too distracting. My apologies up front to dial-up users. I’'ve done my best to provide accurate species names, but as many of you already know species identification is extremely difficult even for experts. I’'ve included them as a courtesy. They are not confirmed, and it possible some of them may have been reclassified since I originally looked them up.


Oceanic 180 gallon glass tank (72x24x24 inches) with a 55 gallon acrylic sump, an Iwaki MD70RLT connected to two ¾ inch Sea Swirls provides the primary circulation. A MAK4 is used on a closed loop. Two Gemini 950 GPH power heads attached to a wave maker are the only in-tank power heads. Lighting consists of an Aqualine Bushke’s Aquaspace Light fixture which features three (3) 250w AB double-ended HQI bulbs and dual 24w power compact actinics. A custom built Beckett based skimmer made by Brian at Reef Sciences (you may all know him as "fergy" in #reefs) is powered by a Iwaki MD55RLT pump. Calcium demands are handled by both a K2R Calcium Reactor and a DIY Nielsen Reactor for a 24x7 kalkwasser drip. The tank evaporates just short of 5 gallons a day.


The tank has about 220 lbs of Fiji Jumbo Show Rock, Tonga Branch Rock, and a little bit of TBS live rock from years ago which started out in one of my previous tanks.  About 200 pound of sand is used; about 80% purchased as live sand. Some from my previous tanks but most of it was purchased as 20 lbs here and 10 lbs there from the various LFS’s I’ve visited over the years.  On average it’s about 4 to 6 inches deep and it is loaded with life.

I have more fish than I like for my tank, it is a trade off with my wife who likes fish more than corals. 

Mated pair of Percula Clownfish (added 1997), Amphiprion percula, Picture of the mated pair.

Engineer Gobie (added 1998), Pholidichthys leucotaenia, Engineer gobie's picture

Purple Tang (added 1998), Zebrasoma xanthurum, Purple tang's picture

Fox face (added 1999), Lo vulpinus, Fox face's picture

Sailfin Tang (added 1999), Zebrasoma veliferum, Sailfin tang's picture

Chevron Tang (added 2000), Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis, Chevron tang's picture

And three Lyretail Anthias (added 2002), Pseudanthias squamipinnis, An anthia's picture

I'’d like to say the tank is primarily a SPS/LPS tank with a few clams however the tank is being overrun by anemones of various types. The only welcomed anemone is my long tentacle anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis), which I’'ve had since 1997. It hosts my mated pair of Percula clownfish and the anemone itself spawns regularly. The other unwelcome anemones include the typical red, blue and green frilly mushrooms and several species of colonial zoanthid anemones. I literally do not have a single square inch of free rock.


Another example

Rocks are covered by mushrooms and zoanthids — which would be beautiful if that was my goal. Unfortunately, these are smothering and killing my prized SPS colonies. They are currently growing up into the branching structure where they are impossible to remove. I fully expect to have to take the tank down and start over in a year or so to remove the mushrooms and zoanthids.


Some of my oldest corals really have become beautiful specimens:

A pair of Knobby Sea Rod Gorgonian’s (Eunicea sp., added 1999), top the rock structure these are about 12 inches tall and 15 inches wide. Picture

The centerpiece of the tank is a large pink tipped Elegance coral (Catalaphyllia jardinei, added 1999), which is about 9 inches wide and 6 inches tall. Picture

On the left side is a very large Octobubble coral (Plerogyra sp., added 1998), which measures 15 inches around. Picture

Hiding in and under the rock work are several sea stars, a few tigertail sand cucumber (all split from a common parent), two blue tuxedo urchins, and a stunning bright orange sea star, which resembles a linkia.

Notably missing from the tank are your typically cleanup crew. I have absolutely no hermit crabs and have not had any since around 1999. I only have a single Tiger Trochus snail left from the early days (fairly large).  

I’'m pretty proud that almost all of the corals I currently have are 2nd and 3rd generation captive breed corals. I would guess about 90% or higher of my corals came from fellow aquarist including several from #reefs including "Sanjay", "RichK", "MiNdErAsR" and many other hobbyist.  Hey Microchip — never did get your yellow porites!!


The 55 gallon acrylic sump has several baffles which divide the sump into chambers. The central chamber is used as a refugium for growing various non-Caulerpa macro algae including Chaetomorpha, Halimedia, and Sargassum. The refugium is loaded with various pods and worms. I do not have a sand bed in the refugium as the current is too strong and I don’t want sand getting sucked into the return pump. The substrate in the refugium area is mainly rock and rock rubble.  Dual Lights of America 65w power compact units light the refugium.


I feed the tank pretty heavy, sometimes two or three times a day if I happen to be home. I make my own frozen food slurry based on shrimp, scallop and clams.Supplemented with Vibragrow, Spirulina flake, various planktons, and nori all mixed into the slurry and given a good squirt of Selcon. During the morning hours before the lights are on, the tangs are given a sheet of nori to graze on. I’'ve tried the live phytoplankton and pastes and I honestly saw no difference — with a possible side effect of increased algae growth at the time. I haven’t bothered with them in about a year.


Watching critters not only survive, but thrive to the point that the animals reproduce is just amazing. I have a long list of items of that spawned or reproduced in the tank including: a plate coral (sperm release), long tentacle anemone (eggs), mated pair of clownfish (eggs), various snails (sperm), blue tuxedo urchins (egg & sperm), blue mushrooms (eggs), green frilly mushrooms (egg bundles), cleaner shrimps, multiple asexual splittings of the tigertail cucumber.

Some links to spawn pictures:

LT Anemone

Clownfish Eggs

Snail Spawn


The tank is currently providing a steady supply of frags and cuttings. In fact I’'ve had enough frags that I haven’t paid cash out of pocket for dry goods in nearly a year and I have over $100 in store credit still!! I'’ve recently removed 3 corals that were so large they had to be busted up to fit inside a 5 gallon pail to be transported to the LFS. I’'m simply stunned at the growth rates I'’m currently getting. It is saddening to see the mushrooms reproduce at a much faster pace however.

Future Upgrades:

I’'ve finally found my ideal lighting. I’'ve used VHO, PFO, IceCap, Iwasaki, Ushio, some at 250w some at 400w over the years. I just love the performance and color from the AB Aquaspace light unit. My corals are showing how much they love it with stunning colors and the fastest growth rates I have ever had. Being that it is a fully enclosed unit (ballasts too) it is so nice not to have a tangled mess of wires behind the tank. And the fixture just looks cool.

As the corals grow larger the effective flow rates in the tank get reduced. I plan on removing the Iwaki MD70RLT (which spins my electric meter at 3 amps). I'’ll make the MAK4 the main return pump and redo the plumbing on the closed loop to make use of a newly purchased Amp Master 3000. I haven’t decided on the details of the plumbing work yet.

I have no plans for additional livestock unless I can find something that eats mushrooms. ;c)

I'’d like to thank everyone for showing up tonight, and thank and #reefs ops for giving me the chance to present this. I'’d be glad to answer some questions now. If you happen to think of questions later I can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or a private message to "reefland" on (or original-reefland on Reef Central).

Questions & Answers

How many versions of the standpipe you have?

I only have the original prototypes I made years ago. Been running fine. I've have built pipes for many people, I only make the ones for the internal overflows.

What do you feed this anthias and how often? Do you find this a hardy species? How long have you had the anthias? Have they presented any problems?

I've had the anthias since June. They feed on my frozen slurry mix which is mainly chopped shrimp. They seem hardy, but aggressive. no problems yet.

Do you ever have any problems with the Fox Face in the Reef, I have heard they are not reef safe?

Been a great fish, not a single valonia bubble in the tank thanks to that fish. I have noticed it picks on a SPS now and then but nothing major.

You said only 1 snail in a 180 gallon tank? In some of your early pictures you show the addition of several snails to combat a hair algae outbreak. What do you think is controlling your nuisance algae now? How did you maintain such a lush algae growth in the early stages of your tank?

I made several changes at once. I'm not positive which did the trick. I upgraded the skimmer, changed the lighting, and replaced the RO membrane in the RO/DI unit. All of these changes were done within a short period.

Durso, I'm curious why do you like the Ampmaster 3000 and not a lesser Iwaki?

I love the Iwaki pumps. But electricity around here is about 13 cents a kilowatt which adds up to a few hundred a month once you add in the AC's and such. I'm a bit worried about the AmpMaster 3000 as they are known to have a seal issue.

What is the biggest problem that people have with the standpipe and if you could a quick fix answer?

Well everyone seems to think they followed the directions exactly. After a few questions is seems they made several changes or modifications. So each case is different. Typically the main issue is having the drain pipes in the sump submerged to deeply. Which leads to water levels problems such as the commonly reported flushing effect.

Did the addition of your Nilsen reactor coincide with the changing of your lighting before your recent coral growth explosion? How fast would you say your frags grow? What is your fastest growing coral?

I thought the CO2 from the calcium reactor was feeding the algae. I turned that off for about 6 months and used the Nilsen alone. Acropora tortuosa is the fastest grower I have. I removed 90% of it in July and it has already grown back about 6 branches over 2 inches long.

Is the calc reactor running 24/7? What about the Nilsen reactor? There was no mentions of heating or cooling or temp. in general (unless I missed it). What temperature range do you maintain and what devices do you use to assist you?

Nilsen and calcium reactor are running 24/7. I have a room AC to cool the tank, a typical sump fan, and two 250w heaters.

Thanks for the great talk, Richard

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