Hien's 225 Gallon iPad Compatible Saltwater Aquarium

Not everyone knows about the subculture of aquarium hobbyists. They're a passionate bunch who juggle science, mechanical know-how, a bit of artistry, and a lot patience, all with the goal of setting up miniature, precariously balanced living environments inside acrylic boxes...enthusiasts with a hobby ripe for the Christopher Guest/Wes Anderson treatment, if you ask us.

But there's nothing "miniature" about this 225 gallon setup I recently got to check out in person inside a suburban just east of Los Angeles. A daylight bright LED lighting system, wireless controls via iPad app, and most importantly, a beautifully calming underwater world of colors and textures grace Hien's immersive setup sitting in the center of his living room. He was kind enough to share the details of his setup.

The Setup:
  • 225 Gallon LeeMar Euro-Braced 3-Sided Starphire glass tank
  • Custom designed 60 gallon sump with 3 compartments
  • Herbie style overflow for super quiet plumbing
  • Corals: mixed reef with some LPS, SPS (high lighting demands), and soft corals
  • Fish: Anthias, clownfish, pyramid butterflies, wrasses, tangs, and cardinalfish.

Some tank goals:
Simple maintenance process to ensure it would get done. (if it's too hard or complicated, you're gonna get lazy and not want to do it and eventually quit)
Ability to monitor the status while away on long vacations (notify the house sitter to do exactly what needs to be done as a result from the email/text notifications)
A beautiful tank both adults and children can enjoy and interact with (kids love to feed the fish and the fish eat right out of their fingers).

Aquarium Controller:
Neptune Systems - AquaController Apex System: an aquarium controller that allows you to monitor pH, temp, ORP as well as control individual components that are plugged into each outlet. Has the ability to send email/text message alerts and is fully programmable to what you want it to do. Does a bunch of other things, but those are my primary needs.

It may look like it's making you a smoothie, but the last thing you'd want to drink is the contents of the Avast Marine Swabbie attached to an ATB 10.5 Deluxe skimmer, which comes on for 1 minute every 4 hours to keep Hien's setup clean.

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The Apex is connected to a wireless gaming adapter (TEW-647GA) via Ethernet (so I can access the device wirelessly) and port forwarded (dyndns.com, back when it was free) so it can be reached by the public internet via a web browser and or iPad/iPhone (useful while on vacation). There's a native app, AquaController Apex, that allows you to fully control and monitor the system on your iPhone/iPad.

Next steps:
Unfortunately, in this hobby you're constantly wanting to upgrade and for us this is the largest tank size we can accommodate tastefully. I would love to get something square shaped and viewable from all 4 sides so we can actually walk around it. But in the short term, maybe pick up a Foscam wireless IP camera to use for the nursery and monitor the baby through the iPad/iPhone and then when we don't need it anymore... webcam for the tank.

Thanks to Hien Tran for the photos and details. Many more photos of his setup can be seen over at his Flickr page.