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Cultivated Reef
  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to PodRod for being selected for our February Reef Profile! Her 34 gallon nano reef is a gorgeous and highly diverse ecosystem. Below she has written a profile of her aquarium's progress over the past year, and shares her experiences in the hobby. Check it out and share your comments and questions in PodRod's featured reef profile thread.


    Wow, I don't even know what to say at being selected as the February TOTM. I've never considered my tank worthy of this category but, regardless, I'm happy to share some of my experiences. My tank was set up on December 1, 2007. This is my fourth tank so I used past experiences as an attempt to "get it right this time."

    Tank Specs

    Display: 20"x20"x20" 34g Solana
    Lighting: Current USA Sunpod HQI MH 250w with Phoenix bulb, compact fluorescent lamp fixture with 9W 50/50 bulb for refugium.
    Filtration: Tunze Nano Doc Protein Skimmer - 9002
    Circulation: VorTech Propeller Pump - MP40W
    Heater: Stealth Heater 100w
    Cooling: Azoo Cooling Fans
    Dosing & Top-off: Tunze Osmolator, SpectraPure Litermeter III with one external pump.
    Equipment: AquaController Jr, Neptune PH Probe for ACJR

    Routine Maintenance

    I travel frequently so it's important that my tank be as automated as possible. My automatic top-off container holds a week's worth of water, and the Litermeter III doses my two-part solutions. Each week I perform a four gallon water change and replenish my ATO water and two-part solutions as needed. During my water change I check salinity, Ca, and Alk, and clean prefilters. Mg is checked on a monthly basis and adjusted as needed. I perform a quarterly cleaning of equipment to remove any calcium buildup using a vinegar solution. During the quarterly clean I also replace the ChemaPur and Purigen filter media. I feed each day by rotating frozen mysis shrimp, frozen Formula Two with Cyclopeeze, and Prime Reef flakes.


    • Coral Beauty - 1
    • True Percula - 2
    • Orchid Dottyback - 1


    • Fire Shrimp
    • Porcelain Crab
    • Assortment of zebra and scarlet reef hermit crabs
    • Assortment of cerith, trochus, nassarius, nerite, and stomatella snails
    • Clams - 3 Crocea and 1 Maxima
    • Recent explosion of baby snails, micro brittle stars, keyhole limpets and chitons


    • Acropora - five varieties
    • Pink Birds Nest
    • Chalice (echino)
    • Pink Pocillopora
    • GARF Bonsai
    • Pink Millipora
    • Sunrise Monti
    • Bruddah's Original Superman Monti
    • Rainbow Monti

    • Orange Monti Setosa
    • Purple Monti Cap
    • Orange Monti Cap
    • Blueberry Polyped Monti Cap
    • Stylophora - Green
    • Oregon Tort
    • Cali Tort
    • Smurf blue-tipped green Tort
    • Toadstools - 2 varieties
    • Various Zoas/Palys


    My tank started as a mixture of SPS and LPS, but has slowly evolved to predominately a SPS tank. I replaced the stock skimmer and positioned it in the second chamber. I now use the first chamber as a refugium for chaeto. I also ditched the ATO bottles and use the Tunze osmolator to regulate the ATO. I removed the back wall and middle shelf of the stand to allow better air flow for the external ballast and room to accommodate the ATO water container.


    Yep, I've had a few. My biggest disaster was accidentally using fresh water for a water change. This had no negative impact on any of my corals, but I lost all my clams due to the salinity drop. I also tried to remove a large mushroom that was attached to my live rock. The mushroom polluted the water column and I lost several zoanthid colonies, including all my Tubb's Blues. I've also flooded my floor twice while performing a water change when the water back siphoned through the ATO water line.


    I regret adding mushrooms and GSP to my tank - they are impossible to remove and spread too quickly.

    Advice To New Reefers

    • Never underestimate the power of a check valve.
    • Listen to the advice of others who have been in the hobby longer - but make your own decisions.
    • Remember that no two tanks are alike and what works for one may not work for others.
    • Find someone who is at the same stage in their tank's progress as you. Sharing experiences is part of the fun.
    • Find someone local to trade with if possible. There is nothing more rewarding than fragging your own corals and sharing their growth with others.
    • Never buy corals without researching their requirements. Know in advance what your tank will support and stay within that category.
    • Invest in 10" forceps, a turkey baster, LED flashlight with red lens, magnifying glass and microfiber cloths - they will quickly become your favorite tools of the trade.
    • Most importantly, go slow and enjoy each stage of the tank's progress. It's a journey, not a destination.


    Special thanks to Nano-Reef.com for providing a forum to share experiences, help others along the way, and make new friends. I would not be in this hobby if it weren't for NR. It's the people and support on NR that keep the hobby exciting and allow me to continue learning and growing along the way.



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    it aint feb yet!!!!! nah jk! wow great tank! perfect totm!!! like cm said, great diversaty!! wow, what a sweet setup!!! congrats!!!

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    omgomgomg I want your maxima clam.



    Heck, I want all of her clams! ;) Super looking tank! I'm very impressed with your equipment selection, you definately didn't go "cheap" on it!

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