In our focus groups, we find that almost everyone wants a saltwater aquarium, and preferably a basic mixed reef — some easy to keep fish, corals, and inverts.
We also found that most reefkeepers give up and quit for a variety of reasons related to the complexity, and resulting stress (lost animals, time, money, and frustration). They either quit in the planning stage, or within the first year or so.
Since to us the hobby has clear benefits versus the cost, we started thinking there has to be a better way. Over a two year period, we eliminated sub-systems, processes, and devices little-by-little, one-by-one. We operated our KIS System with minimum functions and complexity, and not a single loss of an animal (one Firefish managed to jump). In comparison, we followed “reef junkie” systems that employed every imaginable gadget and water treatment.
On balance, both systems survived and even thrived. We list here and in our blog every difference between the two approaches. The beginner to intermediate reef keeper could quite easily setup and manage a similar KIS System in our opinion.
Our aim includes low stress, less than 1 hr per week in hands-on maintenance, and an affordable monthly total cost of ownership.
Our 180 gal KIS System
Relatively low bio-load, generally easy-to-keep critters.
pair of clownfish
copper band butterfly (our canary in the coal mine)
variety of LPS and soft corals
peninsula; 3-sides Starphire glass; 2-surface drains
LED lighting, 18K
skimmer; operated a few days per week then finally removed
water changes, 10 to 20% every one to two weeks
two power heads in display tank
live rock in display tank
sump in stand underneath tank
filter sock on drain lines
macro-algae on reverse photo period (lit at night)
heater in the sump
70 gal, external, display refugium
big ball of chaeto
no special lighting, just bright ambient natural light
140 gal KIS System
Low bio-load, easy to keep critters (with exception of Copperband Butterfly)
Three Striped Damsels
variety of SPS and LPS
cube; 3 sides Starphire glass
one wave maker in display tank
live rock in display
powerhead in sump with dragons tongue macro algae
heater and thermometer in sump