Ben Rigas

Downsizing The Reef


A little more than a year ago I set up my first saltwater aquarium. After a couple months of research and picking Ernie’s brain about it, I decided on a 55 gallon display tank with a 29 gallon sump. Unfortunately it’s not easy to get a single answer on what to do, there are tons of conflicting opinions on various internet forums. Over time I learned a lot about what I needed, but more importantly about what I didn’t need. It really doesn’t need to be as complicated as it seems.

I built my own stand and my own LED lighting with an Ardiuno to control the brightness of the lighting. If you’re interested in the source code, it’s here on github.

As I noted in The Move, we no longer live in Fort Myers so I had to tear down the aquarium. I gave the fish and corals to Ernie and then drained the tank with much sadness.


We’re living in a place with hardwood floors, so keeping an aquarium on that is basically out of the question. It would be way too easy to have a disaster that would cause permanent damage. So, I got a little 8 gallon cube aquarium and put it in the bedroom. It’s a pretty nice looking tank, I like the all-in-one setup with the filtration in the back and the built in LED light isn’t bad.

I’m using some of my equipment that I had on the bigger tank, like my Neptune Apex Jr. Controller to control the lighting, heater and pump. The apex has a companion iPhone app that lets you control the power outlets and view current temperature/pH. I’m also using a Vortech MP10 pump for extra flow, it’s totally overkill but I keep it on a low setting and it keeps the flow randomized. Another benefit to living on the east coast of Florida is that I can buy natural sea water from the local fish store, no more mixing up saltwater myself.