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Coral Vue Hydros
  • masterbuilder

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to masterbuilder for being selected for our February Reef Profile! His 30 gallon nano reef is a beautiful acantastrea garden. 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 masterbuilder's featured reef profile thread.


    Tank Specs

    Display: 24" x 18" x 16" Finnex 30 Gallon
    Lighting: 5 x 24w Aquactinics TX5 T5HO with 3 ATI Blue+, 1 KZ Fiji Purple, 1 GE6500.
    Circulation: 3 x MJ900 in Rear Chambers. Ecotech Marine MP-10
    Heater: Ebo-Jager 150W
    Filtration: 30 lbs of live rock, a mixture of Fiji, Marshall and Sulawesi. Filter pad and carbon in rear chambers.
    Dosing: Tropic Marin Bio-CA
    Equipment: Neptune Systems AquaController Jr.
    Stand and Canopy: Homemade


    Established June 15, 2008. Reborn and rescaped August 21, 2009.

    Maintenance Routine

    A 4 gallon water change each week which works out to be about 15-20% since I calculate my tank holds somewhere between 22-24 gallons, taking into account the rocks, pumps, etc. and that I keep my water level one inch from the top.


    I use 1/2 cup of Bulk Reef Supply ROX 0.8 Carbon for water polishing and chemical control (organic and from the corals). Change carbon every 2 or 3 weeks.


    Calcium and alkalinity is maintained with Tropic Marin Bio-CA, needing approximately one tsp. per day. I might be the only person here that uses a one part dosing regimen, but my levels stay exactly where needed and is in line with my approach of keeping things as simple as possible. I keep a 2-part around just in case something were to get out of balance. Magnesium is dosed on rare occasions with Tropic Marin Bio-Mg.


    The usual housekeeping chores of keeping the glass clean with a Nimble Nano Magnet, stirring the sand with a stick, scraping back wall to keep coralline at bay, cleaning out the rear chambers and powerheads are done as needed. I don’t need to top off except on rare occasions when the humidity is exceptionally low.


    I rotate through the Acans, feeding 1/3 of them every day with small pieces of frozen Formula 1, Rods Food, Nutramar Ova, or small New Life Spectrum pellets. I don’t intentionally feed my other corals. Fish are fed the same food as my Acans and I normally feed them a very small amount every other day or so. The inverts are on their own. I am very careful not to overfeed or to allow any food to go uneaten.


    • Trimma Gobies (Trimma rubromaculatus) X 7 ¾” to 1” each
    • Pink-Streaked Wrasse (Pseudocheilinops ataenia) 1” to 1 ½ “


    • Emerald Crabs (Mithrax sculptus) x 4
    • Pom Pom Crabs (Lybia sp.) x 2
    • The usual dozen or so snails (Trochus, Astraea, Cerith, Nassarius, Nerite, Baby Turbo)


    • Nuclear Green Palys (Protopalythoa sp.) Grown from a frag of 2 polyps.
    • Yellow Zoanthids
    • Pink Zoanthids
    • X-Men Mushroom (Actinodiscus sp.)
    • Pagoda Cup Coral (Turbinaria peltata)
    • Duncan Coral (Duncanopsammia axifuga)
    • Micromussa
    • Acan Corals (Assorted Types)
    • Neon Green Plating Monti (Montipora capricornis)


    I happened to stumble across a bare bones Finnex 30G in a not so local fish store. The tank had no pumps, lights or skimmer that normally come with the Finnex. Since I tend to change some of the equipment anyway, I thought this would be the perfect project as an upgrade from my 2.5 year old 12G Nanocustoms 4.24 Nanocube. The rear wall and its attached refugium were removed, leaving me with a bare tank that I could set up the way I had planned on paper. Since the Nanocube had served me so well, figured why mess up a good thing, so this tank is more or less a copy of the Nanocube design.


    I had seen some impressive foam/rock wall tanks around the net and thought this tank would be just right for something like that. I found the instructions here on Nano-Reef on how to go about making a foam and rock wall using egg crate and pond foam. Not being able to find a stand or canopy (I like covered tanks) that matched our furniture it was necessary to build one myself. It took awhile but it was worth the effort. The nice part is I can keep most everything I need for normal day to day stuff in the stand and don’t have to go running around looking for every small item. There are more details on the stand in my build thread on the forum.

    My original plan was to have a mixed reef with mainly zoas, palys with a just few LPS and easy SPS. After a cycling and waiting a few extra weeks, I transferred most of my corals and fish from the old tank. Then I made my biggest mistake... purchasing a small Acan frag. Now I am completely hooked on these wonderful corals and have scrounged up as many as my wallet can withstand. To stick with my original plan, a few easy SPS were added as well. All went as expected for nearly a year then disaster struck. A colony of palys had become so overgrown I need to trim them back a bit. Out comes the x-acto knife to slice a few away... the palys slimed up slightly as they do when fragged... no problem right? Wrong! I somehow set off some sort of chemical warfare that took out 70% of my LPS corals and all of my SPS within a few hours. I had never heard of this happening to anyone before. But believe me, it can and did. Even today I have to be very careful stressing my Nuclear Greens. If they get upset from being moved or irritated and slime even slightly, most (but not all) of my Acans close up within minutes and slime up like you can’t imagine. They take a day or so to return to normal, go figure.


    During the recovery stage, with nothing better to do than daydream, I decided that since I was disappointed with the two dimensional look of the foam/rock wall and was hooked on Acans, it was time for a new theme. After seeing a few reefers here with those coral popping black backgrounds and a more open look, it was a case of "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". So here you have it, The New Butchered Finnex a.k.a. Acan Land.

    Simple Nano Reefing

    I am a huge proponent of simple nano tanks. When I first came here, almost all of the nano tanks were nothing more than live rock, light, water movement and maybe a bag of carbon. Somewhere along the way more and more equipment began creeping into our tiny tanks. Skimmers, sumps, reactors, dosing pumps, UV, the list goes on and on. Some of it arrived when people with larger tanks began setting up nanos and with them they brought all their large tank equipment thinking it was necessary for nanos. Another influence is manufactures began seeing how popular nano reefing had become started hawking their equipment as a new income source. I won’t even mention the 100’s of additives that are supposed to create miracles.

    The fact is 90% of all nano reefs can be run very successfully with nothing more than rock, light and water movement. My tank is set up this way as well as a many other reefers that have far nicer tanks than mine. Check out GobyInPeace, Karlo, plainrt, c est ma, TheCuban1040, and DeMartini just to name a few of the past TOTM’s owners that use this method. Nano reefing is incredibly easy if you keep it simple. The whole beauty of nano reefing is the elegant simplicity, something I think we tend to forget.

    Words Of Wisdom

    Keep up with your weekly water changes. 10% is absolute minimum 20% is better. Never miss one. In my opinion, this is the secret to a successful nano tank.

    Future Plans

    As far as my tank, none really. I am a true nano-reefer and have no desire for a tank any larger than I have now. In the distant future I could see how my taste in corals or fish might change, but for now this is where things are for the foreseeable future. As far as my future here at Nano-Reef.com, I don’t plan to go anywhere. My goal is to become the oldest, grumpiest member here. I am so close to achieving that goal, especially the first one.


    When I accidentally ran across this site in 2005, I just knew I had to have a nano reef. Without the help I got here there is no way I could have made it past the first few weeks. Even today, other than a couple of nano tanks I have seen in a few fish stores, I have never even seen a nano anywhere but here on Nano-Reef.com. So everything I know has come from this site and the people who have shared their experiences and knowledge. I can’t begin to thank Christopher Marks and his pal Space Dog enough for creating and maintaining this site, without it I would be lost in this hobby. Finally, a special thanks to a few friends here for your encouragement and support. You know who you are.


    Thanks again reefers,
    - Mark @masterbuilder

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