Congratulations to Tashayar for being selected for our May Reef Profile! Now over 6 years old, her 10 gallon nano reef aquarium is a great example of a simplified and mature nano reef. Below she has written a profile of her nano reef's progress over the years, and shares her experiences in the hobby. Check it out and share your comments or questions in Tashayar's featured reef profile thread.
I am honored to be chosen as tank of the month! I hope I can inspire others and show how easy, simple, and enjoyable the hobby can be, even for a busy person!
10 Gallon AGA
Current USA 80 watt Dual Satellite Compact Fluorescent on a 13 hour photoperiod
Aquatech 10-20 HOB filter (currently running empty, surface agitation only)
Rock & Substrate
20 lbs Live Rock
2" coffee ground sized aragonite bed
Pair of tank-raised false-percula clowfish (my kids named them "Nana" and "Swimmy", from the Leo Leonni book)
1 Sixline wrasse ("Stripe")
1 Skunk cleaner shrimp
Several scarlet hermits, 1 zebra hermit
1 Hitchhiker pistol shrimp
1 Hawaiian feather duster worm
1 Emerald crab ("Oz")
Green Button Polyps, My First Coral
Green Striped Mushrooms, Purple Mushrooms, Green Zoas, & Armor of God Zoas
1 Neon toadstool leather
Green button polyps
Small sun coral
Green striped mushrooms
Green star polyps
Unidentified finger-type leather
1 gallon water change once a week, feeding, and occasional glass scraping!
Where It All Began
Sometime around 2000, a friend went on a business trip to Florida and returned with some seashells for us. One of the shells contained a thin-striped hermit, clibanarius vittatus. I couldn't bring myself to let it die, so we bought some Instant Ocean, some aragonite, and a cheap 2 gallon all-in-one tank. I mixed the salt per box directions (no hydrometer/refractometer!), put a cheap aquarium ornament in for "Crabby" to climb on, fed him algae wafers, and hoped he'd live.
"Crabby" got bigger and bigger, going from a shell about the size of my fist to a shell about 8 inches wide. I wanted to set up a real saltwater tank for him. After some searches, I found this site, and Chris Marks gave me simple directions on how to get started. I thought I'd be happy with just some live rock, some clownfish, and the big hermit.
As the clowns and the crab thrived, my confidence grew and I wanted corals. I am reluctant to try to raise creatures that I might kill or at least cause the demise of, so I stuck to easy soft corals. Also, I needed an easy to maintain tank because I had two small children. We like to go on vacation several times a year, so it had to be set up in an easy way, so that a neighbor could come in and maintain it while we're gone.
I am suspicious of additives and chemicals when I don't understand exactly how they work, so I don't add anything to the tank - it gets what it needs from water changes. I also keep the equipment as basic as possible, I don't even use a heater. Since I've read that softies like "dirty" water I don't use a skimmer, as that takes out nutrients that they need. I try to think about what the animals would have if they lived in the ocean - light, water, and water movement - and replicate that, trusting that nature will do its job and keep everything in "balance."
For about 3 years my clown pair did nothing but chase and twitch at each other. Finally, with the arrival and spread of some anthelia, they began using the anthelia as an alternate host, and the relationship restored peace to my tank! This is my female clown grasping the anthelia with her mouth so she doesn't get blown away in the flow!
My clowns are the original pair, now 6 years old. About year four I added my third fish, a royal gramma. Unfortunately when we moved this summer, the royal gramma jumped, so since then I've added a sixline wrasse. The sixline is always on the move, hunting for pods and things to eat!
Little by little, the mushrooms, anthelia, green button polyps, and zoanthids spread and "filled in" the tank. Now that my kids are bigger and I have a little more time I'm working on my second tank, a 30 gallon Caribbean biotope that I hope to have a tank thread for soon!
My filtration is completely biological, just lots of flow for oxygen exchange and 20+ lbs of live rock, plus the clean-up crew, and of course water changes.
Thoughts On Clean-Up Crews
After 6 years of observation, I don't really think hermit crabs do a whole lot except provide some movement and a little detritus cleanup. My emerald crab does an excellent job of cleaning the algae, and I rely on some little snails that I know of only as "strombus grazers" (sold by IPSF) for my glass cleanup. I like these snails because they continually lay eggs and self-propogate. They also provide a source of food for inverts in my tank.
I've had two discouraging times, the first was about year 2 when I had a green hair algae outbreak. After about 2 months of water changes and continually ripping out the algae, I finally beat it. The second disaster was last September, with an outbreak of zoanthid eating nudibranchs. I dipped all my zoanthids in fresh water and saw no more of them.
Advice, Tips, and Tricks
- I can't stress enough the importance of patience - nothing except disaster happens quickly in this hobby! Learn to enjoy and appreciate the process.
- Don't skimp on live rock to save money! It's the most important source of filtration and stability for your tank.
- Share and trade with fellow reefers! Nearly all of my coral came from fellow nano-reefers. I've noticed that tank raised coral grows better than wild harvested. I also get a huge kick out of seeing my corals in other people's tanks. Don't be afraid to frag! It's easier than it looks, and corals are usually pretty tough.
- Set up a tank for a child, or with the child's input. Nothing will give you more gratification than seeing your tank through a child's eyes. They learn so much about fish, invertebrates, and why we need to conserve our oceans by watching, maintaining, and interacting with a reef tank.
Special Thanks To...
My husband for supporting me, helping me "fix" or setup equipment when I need him to, and explaining a lot of the scientific aspects of this hobby to me, my fellow N-Rers for many moments of levity and encouragement, and Christopher Marks for everything this site gives us all.
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