Congratulations to StevieT for being selected for our November Reef Profile! His 34 gallon nano reef has inspired many members as it has grown into a mature ecosystem. Below he has written a profile of his aquarium's progress over the past two years, and shares his experiences in the hobby. Check it out and share your comments and questions in StevieT's featured reef profile thread.
Display: Red Sea Max 130 24"L x 20"W x 24"H, 29 gallons display, 5 gallons filtration
Lighting: CurrentUSA Outer Orbit, 150W HQI Geissman 14.5K, 4 T5s (2) 460nm (2) 420nm, 6 blue LEDs 6 White LEDs
Filtration: Tunze 9002, inTank Media Basket, inTank Custom skimmer cup, Filter Floss, 100ml Purigen, 11.74 Chemi-Pure Elite
Equipment: ReefKeeper Lite L3, JBJ Auto Top Off with custom magnetic float mount, UPS battery back up, Stealth 150W heater
Circulation: Vortech MP20, Stock return pumps
Established August 19, 2007.
• Feed every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
• The corals and fish get fed Rods Food, Formula One flakes for entertainment
• Dose A&B two part solution M, W, F ½ capful
• Testing as needed
• Bi-weekly water changes
• B&W Darwin Clownfish
• Green Mandarin Dragonet
• Banggai Cardinalfish
• ORA Canary Blenny
• Common orange starfish
• Maxima clam
• Crocea Clam
• Green star polyp
• Kenya trees
• Plate coral
• Assorted Ricordea
• Superman Monti
• Clove polyps
• Montipora Caps
• Birdsnest (green, pink, orange)
I started out in this hobby June 2006 with an Eclipse 12 aquarium and no research. I had my first real job with a large office and some spare time with aspirations of having a saltwater aquarium. After finding Nano-Reef.com in December of that year I realized most of what I was doing was wrong. I soon upgraded just about every piece of equipment I had. Tired, I finally concluded the money I was dumping into the system was to a losing battle. I debated giving up the entire hobby all together, but I purchased the Red Sea Max in August of 2007 in hopes of stabilizing a coral reef aquarium.
After hours of research on this web site I launched my aquarium. As much as possible was transferred from the Eclipse. New equipment was purchased to make it reef ready from the start. The RSM was still a new tank on the market and there was little information on the right equipment, only a handful of members here owned this all-in-one.
I continued to grow my livestock collection piece by piece, keeping up with weekly water changes and sticking to the simple method of filtration. Fed up with the stock protein skimmer, other members figured out that the Tunze 9002 sort of fit into the RSM filtration area. I purchased one with the hopes of better skimmate and to quiet the jet engine noise the pump added to the environment. I had no idea this purchase would spawn an entire business.
After introducing the Tunze I realized that a media basket would work perfect under the intake grate. This would give me room to suspend chemical and mechanical media without dropping them in chamber three. For those who aren't familiar with this tank, we call it "the chamber of death." You have to remove both stock pumps and somehow fit your hand down a tight space to access media. It was a huge design flaw.
The Tunze 9002 has one major flaw which is the round skimmer cup. This prevented the hood from opening properly during maintenance. After making a few media baskets and realizing the demand I figured I would try my handy work at a skimmer cup. This was the start of inTank. The skimmer cup was rectangle in shape, allowed for hood clearance with no cutting. Red Sea Max tanks around the world now utilize both of these pieces.
The largest change to "The Officemax" was in April of 2009. For almost two years this tank resided in an office in Illinois. After though times with the economy it had to be moved to a new office in Wisconsin. I tried to replicate the aquascape with no success. After countless hours of setting up and re-scaping you can see the tank as it is today. Now I can share this aquarium with more coworkers and educate them on the hobby, but the downside is the tank is no longer near my work area. Sharing this hobby with others has brought me the most joy and it makes up for the lack of viewing.
Not finding nano-reef sooner. Every failure and set back is only a learning experience.
Starting another AIO aquarium in my new house. Finish setting up my ReefKeeper and finalize the custom work. Continue to watch this aquarium grow.
Words Of Wisdom
Leave room for growth. I have seen so many new hobbyists come here and want an instant-reef. Corals grow and they do fight. Give them space and they will fill your tank with little maintenance. Keep it simple to start with. Weekly water changes go a long way. Progress with equipment upgrades when finances and experience dictate. As everyone says, research everything before you buy. A few minutes searching on this site can go a long way in achieving your goal of a successful long term nano-reef.
- Lighting: Light your tank to your comfort level. Before you start, have a plan of what corals you would like to house. Realize that the stronger the light the more heat is produces. Ensure your tank can stabilize temperature before upgrading.
- Skimmers: In a nano-reef they are helpful but not necessary. Water changes are the gold standard and should not be under estimated. If you heavily stock SPS corals a skimmer is recommended. Clean, smart filtration methods are the key to a successful nano-reef aquarium.
- Sandbed: Optional. Unless you have 4-5" of depth it is purely aesthetic. It does provide a cement for your live rock and gives a place for waste to break down. Rarely disturb it.
- Dosing: Never dose without testing to determine when your trace elements drop. After you establish when major elements are needed (calcium, alkalinity, magnesium) you can dose accordingly. Weekly water changes are often all you need to dose your tank, but this depends on coral stocking.
- Feeding: Feed every other day at the most. Do not feel bad that your fish is begging for food. Turn your filtration pumps off when feeding. Depending on type of food turn a circulation pump on after introduction to allow the corals to feed. When the water is clear you can turn the filtration pumps on again. You want to limit the amount of food waste that is introduced into a rear chamber or sump. Never overfeed.
- Foods: Keep it simple. There are so many out there to choose from and the marketing can blind what is really needed for your tank. I enjoy Rods food because it provides nutrition for my fish as well as my corals.
- Coral Fads: I have never been wrapped up in the must have coral of the day. This tank has grown frag by frag from trusted members and vendors. Don’t get wrapped up in the names of corals, that supergalacticraregreenneverbeforeseen polyp is still just a coral that came from a huge colony in the ocean.
- Clean Up Crews: If I were to do it again I would not have the larger hermits. They never seem to sleep and walk over everything. All food is theirs for the taking and they provide very little benefit. Smaller crabs are the way to stock if you like movement. Keep snails for algae and detritus breakdown.
Thank you Christopher Marks for creating, maintaining and reinventing this web site. You have expanded this hobby in so many ways and I appreciate the past and look forward to the future. I would be dead in the water without Nano-Reef.com. Thank you to all the members here for continuing to provide information and experience. Last I would like to thank my employer for allowing me to keep a piece of ocean in the workplace.