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Quote of the moment: The true test of character is not how much we know how to do, but how we behave when we don't know what to do. - John Holt


       Welcome To The Glass Reef


Aquariums have been a lifelong interest - I can still remember my first. It was just a mason jar which held a couple of tadpoles I had captured at a local farmer's irrigation pond. That was quite a few years ago, but I haven't lost a bit of the fascination I felt watching those "wanna be" frogs swimming around in that one quart glass.

Over the years the mason jar turned into a ten gallon aquarium. A little later it was a twenty, then a fifty gallon tank. I graduated from one aquarium to two - soon I had four. During those years it was only fresh water aquariums. I had heard from "the experts" that marine aquariums were just too hard for normal people to maintain. Then in the early 70s, while living in Europe, I happened to visit a store that specialized in saltwater aquariums. I remember that I couldn't believe my eyes! What an unbelievable world. The colors, the shapes, the life! There was a living tropical reef right behind that glass - I knew that I had to try my hand at this!

The years following that visit saw the demise of my fresh water hobby and the flowering of my interest in marine aquariums. I started slowly, reading every bit of literature I could find on the subject. My first couple of attempts were not exactly total successes. After a while though, I had gathered sufficient knowledge and experience to allow me to overcome most of the pitfalls that can (and will) plague the beginning marine aquarist. In the interim, I've had a number of marine aquariums.

The experience and knowledge gained through the years finally led me to attempt the crowning jewel of the saltwater aquarium hobby - the reef tank. The maintenance of stony corals (SPS) over a period of many months and, indeed, years is the dream of many a beginning hobbyist. Now, in recent years, technological advances, such as high efficiency protein skimmers, stream pumps that provide the necessary, in tank, flow, and appropriate light sources, combined with new knowledge about exactly what is required to nurture the corals we want to keep have made the dream into more than a possibility. It has become a reality.

My wife and I recently had a house built - the perfect opportunity to integrate a fish room and large "in the wall" reef tank. I did most of the work on the installation myself. I thought it would be a lot of fun to keep a journal of the process of creating the new system - and what better way to do that than this website.

So, what will you find here?

My website contains pages describing my 375 gallon glass reef, it's components, and many of the projects I've worked on during it's completion. I have tried to present the projects that tend to lend themselves to a DIY effort in a way that might provide a "nudge" to the reader in the direction of trying such projects for themselves.  In addition I've added any information I thought might help to complete the  picture of reef keeping, as it exists, today.  I hope my efforts can be of some help to other hobbyists striving for success in this wonderful hobby.

I've tried to set up the site's menus in a logical way:

An Overview - concentrates on system design, procedures, methods, and maintenance

Projects - articles describing the why and how of the many DIY projects that required completion

Equipment - short descriptions - and some reviews - of the equipment used in the glass reef

Livestock - some information about the creatures living in the glass reef and their needs

Photo Gallery - an exhibition of of some great, reef related, images from various talented hobbyists

Reef Stuff - a collection of tips, tricks, my thoughts on particular subjects and general reef related news

So - all in all - it's been quite an experience building my glass reef, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the knowledgeable participants of Reef Central (where I started a build thread about the glass reef), and all the great folks at the Tampa Bay Reef Club (where I am fortunate enough to be a member). Without their considerable help, I never would have been able to get this sizable project off the ground. 


Tom White - January 2009


Steven M says...
Great websiteGrin
GlassReef: Thanks, Steve. Very kind of you to say so. How's your tank doing?

BTW - will you be switching over to LEDs, like so many others in the club?
6th April 2011 8:01pm
canyousee says...
Great site full of very useful information,thanks for sharing. Tom have you tried or read about the new DC pumps like the Abyzz if so what is your opinion of them?
GlassReef: I have been following the news clips about the pumps. Assuming what has been written about them is accurate, they would seem to be a very interesting innovation. I have to admit however, prices between $1500 and $2000 are in a region I personally would never dare to tread.Smile
25th January 2011 9:38am
Ted Justeson says...
Tom , Your Website is awesome . Very well thought out , with so much useful information . Your pics really show how much work , and planing , you have put into this project .
GlassReef: Thanks Ted. BTW - looks like I'll be starting the split chiller project soon. Your help will be much appreciated. I think we should document the project well with pics, etc. That way we can turn it into a project page. Should be a lot of interested out there from large tank owners.
24th November 2010 6:25am
Juan Siekavizza says...
Hello Tom,
Really glad you keep updating this incredible website!

I did post a thread but in Reef Sanctuary about a plenum; it achieved it's objective which was reduce nitrates from the water, I never had a problem with this readings, really easy to assemble and free-of-maintenance.

Keep updating us, it's an excellent job you're doing for the entire aquarium community. Take care.

GlassReef: Hi Juan Pablo! I had a feeling you were the plenum man. Smile I was considering using a plenum in my refugium
23rd November 2010 8:45pm
Mark says...
Great site Tom! I like the layout a lot. Very clean with a good color scheme. You've made an awful lot of progress in the last couple of months. I especially liked the article on key hole flanges.

By the way it was great talking to you and your wife at Macna. Take care.

GlassReef: Thanks, Mark! Yeah, I have managed to get a little done, although I have a long, long way to go.

The flange page is one of my favorites also, because learning to make keyhole flanges seems to have been a turning point for me on the subject of DIY. When I finally managed to turn out a decent flange, seems like I had picked up enough skills to tackle most things reef related. Smile

21st October 2010 11:08am

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Please also take the opportunity to ask any questions you might have. I'm always glad to go into more detail about anything related to my favorite subject.

Here's a link to a page that has had the comment system installed. Go to the bottom of the page - that's where you'll always find the comment section. And please, give it a try:



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