Congratulations to HeyLookItsCaps for being selected for our January Reef Profile! His 29 gallon nano reef is marvelously diverse and features beautiful anemones. Below he has written a profile of his aquarium's progress over the past two and a half years, and shares his experiences in the hobby. Check it out and share your comments and questions in HeyLookItsCaps' featured reef profile thread.
Display: Open top 29 gallon BioCube 20.8" L x 19" W x 20.1" H
Lighting: CurrentUSA 150w Sunpod with Radium 20k (previously had Ushio 20k)
Filtration: Weekly water changes, live rock, filter floss, CPR skimmer (no longer using)
Equipment: Custom ATO, MagFloat, Jager 100w heater, scrapers, brillo pad, toothbrush, syringe, and turkey baster
Circulation: MJ1200 return pump, modified Koralia 1
Established July 16th 2007.
• Bi-Weekly feedings on Tuesday and Saturday
• Tuesday – Mysis/Brine/Cyclopeeze
• Saturday – Pellet and Algae wafers
• 5 Gallons of Calcium Dosed R/O changed every Thursday
• Frequent glass scrapings with scraper, toothbrush, or brillo pad
• Fill ATO every 4 days
• Two Picasso Clownfish
• One 6 Line Wrasse
• One Bi-Color Blenny
• One Pygmy Angelfish
• Two Green Bubble Tip Anemones
• One Long Tentacle Anemone
• One Flower Anemone
• One Crocea Clam
• Multiple Hermits
• Multiple Turbo Snails
• Three Nassarius Snails
• Thousands of Mini Brittle Stars
• One Large Serpent Star
• One Sand Sifting Starfish
• Multiple Feather Dusters
• 5 (and breeding) Nano Conch
• Montipora Capriconus
• Plate Coral
• Florida Ricordia
• Pink Yuma
• Montipora Digitata
• Kenya Tree
• Pom Pom Xenia
• Sunset Montipora
• Blue Mushrooms
• Green Mushrooms
• Multiple types of Zoanthid and Palythoa
• Neon Green Candy Cane Coral
• 16 Heads Frogspawn
• Toadstool Leather
I started this hobby in July of 2007. I moved to the beach with a friend and we met some reef aquarium hobbyists. After hanging out with them all the time, I became more obsessed with their tanks than even they were, I had to have one! After discovering Nano-Reef.com and asking advice from these new people, who would later become some close friends of mine, I went to OC Aquatic and bought my first tank, The BioCube 29 gallon. Within minutes of getting home it was all set up and cycling. I couldn't wait to get things in there, and made the usual mistake of adding a few corals too soon. My frogspawn survived, you can still see it in its glory today, but my first batches of no name zoanthids were gone. After taking the advice from other hobbyists on here I didn't touch the tank beyond maintenance for almost a month. Once my parameters evened out, I made the second biggest mistake, and started adding fish without research. This was a travesty in my first 6 months of reefing, and I ended up losing a lot of nice fish and some corals that they ate along with it. This required me to completely break down my tank at certain points just to catch the fish that was eating my prized softies.
Once I learned those two valuable lessons, and got my tank how it should be, I decided to pick up some more powerful lighting. I never liked the look of T5 personally, so I opted for the 150 watt Sunpod by CurrentUSA, and I could not be happier. This light, with bulb changes once every 12 to 18 months has provided my tank with excellent growth and a gorgeous look. While at the store, I noticed they had a Koralia 1 in stock, and I picked that up as well. I attribute a lot of my success to the addition of this secondary pump, because one return just isn't enough flow for my liking and coral choices.
After those two major purchases, my tank really exploded with growth. In a few months, I didn't even worry about the tank anymore except a weekly water change. I hit the "auto-pilot" in my tank where everything and everyone was doing their jobs and it worked out marvelously. I went from using my skimmer, which didn't seem to produce much in skimmate anyway, to just purely natural filtration and regimented water changes. On top of that my skimmer was very loud and would gurgle, it annoyed me horribly.
Over the course of 2 years this tank has had some catastrophic occurrences that should have probably killed everything, including my passion. I have been through a 4 day black out with this tank, which involved me stirring it with a fork. I've moved it over 100 miles in the back of a jeep. I've had the LED moonlight adapter fall into the tank and electrocute the whole system. I've had the wall outlet short for three days while vacationing with no heat or circulation coming home to my prized pair of 2-year-old occellaris that would lie in my hand to eat, floating upside down. Needless to say, I am amazed and delighted even through all of those horrible occurrences I still have my little piece of heaven.
I wish I would have listened to the hobbyists on this site from the beginning and not lost all of the specimens I put in there originally. I feel horribly guilty for it.
This tank has just about reached capacity with very little room to add anything new. Before too long I feel like I will need to upgrade to a larger tank to accommodate all of the growing coral. I am considering a 50 or 60 gallon tank next.
Words Of Wisdom
Be careful with anemones. I started with one, and it has now split four times. Luckily I was able to remove them, but they are quite difficult to remove from your tank. My Flower Anemone is by far the largest specimen in my tank with no signs of slowing in growth rate. Without these specimens in my tank, I would have much more real estate for coral and not have to worry about corals getting stung and killed. Watch out for people telling you what you can put in your tank. I have fallen for this trick too many times starting out and it cost me a lot of money, time, and the lives of some animals.
Advice To New Hobbyists
I am going to sound like an old record here, but read, read, read. Learn from my mistakes. You have to have tough skin sometimes in hobbies because being the new guy you want to fit in with the "old dogs." Older hobbyists can sometimes come off as arrogant or condescending sometimes, but they really are here to help.
Tips & Tricks
Frequent water changes are the key to my success. When all else fails, change the water! A good filter pad can save you lots of money in mechanical filtration. Think of live rock as a filter as well, the more the merrier (while remaining aesthetically pleasing of course).
- Lighting: I prefer Metal Halide or LED for the shimmer, it reminds me of the natural environment. T5 is a great option, but not for me. Make sure you pick a light that will work for your needs. Overpowering light can be just as harmful as an underpowered unit.
- Skimmers: I had one and it pulled some stuff out sometimes. I stopped using it and noticed no ill effects. I keep a filter pad along the water line from chamber 1 to chamber 2, and I think that does all the surface skimming I need. I have a pretty heavy bioload and weekly water changes have kept my parameters always in check.
- Sandbeds: I have always had a moderate sand bed of about 2 or 3 inches. I like it aesthetically, and have snails and starfish that maintain its cleanliness. I did replace my sand when I moved my tank 100 miles. I heard it can be a detritus trap and played it safe. I have many unusual worms and small things crawling around in there.
- Dosing: I only recently started dosing SMALL amounts of calcium into my system. I have never dosed up until 2 months ago and am still recording the effects of it in my tank. I believe a good solid water change will provide enough trace elements for most nano reef aquariums.
- Feeding: I had a habit of feeding every other day for a long time. I noticed over time a lot of food was on the sandbed and luckily my clean up crew handled it. The fact that I noticed it on the sand bed the day after feeding made me leery about doing it, so unless I have a new coral or see something out of the usual, I try to feed twice per week routinely. My clownfish have learned what feeding time is and go crazy when I walk up and turn off my pumps.
- Foods: There are so many products out there it can be overwhelming. I just use mysis blocks with cyclopeeze and add a few drops of garlic for one feeding and Hikari pellets and Hikari algae wafers broken up for the other feeding. I don’t think it matters much as long as the animals in your tank are eating.
- Coral Fads: I never got too much into the fads beyond some "designer" zoanthids or palys. The one time I tried to get into acans or a chalice, the acan died and was buried, and the chalice fell into my rockwork after a big hermit tried surfing on it. In the end pick what YOU like, not what other people are picking.
- Clean Up Crews: Large snails are heavy, they will knock your corals off their spots. I do feel that a good CUC is an invaluable resource, and between my small hermits, crabs, and literally thousands of mini brittle stars, if if a snail dies, or I over feed it is consumed and taken care of almost immediately. Don’t think that your clean up crew will keep your glass clean, I am still waiting for mine to do that.
I would love to thank ALL of my N-R.com friends. To Pickle010 who helped me from the very beginning of my tank. To el_fabuloso for always answering my questions and helping me build my ATO. To Evilc66 for teaching how to build LEDs and being patient through it all. To ALL of you guys who have cheered me on, encouraged me, and made me feel like I had a home in this hobby. And finally to Christopher Marks, this website is quite possibly the most valuable reef resource on the Internet.