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Pod Your Reef
  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to Podpimp for being selected for our September Reef Profile! His 34 gallon nano reef houses a beautiful collection of SPS coral. Below he has written a profile of his aquarium's progress over the past year, and shares his experiences in the hobby. Check it out and share your comments and questions in Podpimp's featured reef profile thread.


    Tank Specs

    Display: 34 Gallon Solana 20" x 20" x 20"
    Lighting: ATI Powermodule 6x24w T5HO Fixture (4 Blue+, 1 Ge 6500k, 1 Fiji Purple)
    Skimmer: Deltec MCE 600 HOB
    Circulation: 2x Vortech MP10's + Stock return pump
    Top Off: Tunze Osmolator
    Controller: Reef keeper lite
    Misc: Phosban reactor, UPS Battery Backup, Ebo Jager 100w heater

    Established July 2009.

    Maintenance Routine

    • 30% Bimonthly water changes are performed using Coralife Salt
    • 60mls of B-ionic Calcium, Alkalinity, and Magnesium added daily (manually dosed)
    • Skimmer cup and sponge cleaned every few days
    • Soak pumps and probes in vinegar every 2 months to prevent failure from calcification.
    • Phosban changed every month
    • Visually inspect the corals daily and make adjustments for maximum growth and color if necessary.
    • Feed fish 1 or 2 times per day using Spectrum flakes and pellets + frozen mysis


    • Oregon Tort
    • Cali Tort
    • ORA green Stylo
    • Blue polyp Stylo
    • Green Table
    • Red Table
    • ORA Chips
    • Purple Monster
    • Setosa
    • Pink poly cap
    • Neon green cap
    • Superman monti
    • Sunset monti
    • Various Stags
    • Palmers Blue milli
    • Blue tip Tenius
    • Saramentosa
    • Several miscellaneous acropora
    • This tank is mainly SPS with a small selection of zoos, a few ricordea colonies, and a green candy cane.


    • Black Cardinal
    • Blue Damsel
    • Flame Hawk


    This tank was setup in August of 2009, all contents were transferred completely from my previous 24 gallon Aquapod. The transfer went well and all corals and fish settled in. Initially the lighting on this reef was a 250w Sunpod, but I didn't find the spread of the light to be adequate. The center was very bright but the outer perimeter of the cube was dim by comparison. I decided to take the plunge into T5's and it turned out to be a great decision. When I first hung the ATI powermodule over the tank I couldn't believe the brightness. To my eye it appeared to be almost as bright as the 250w halide, the only difference was every inch of the reef received the same intense light. The SPS responded well and began growing quicker and more dense. Water circulation became an issue once the SPS really started to branch out, so I upgraded to two Vortech MP10's. I run them mostly on the short pulse mode because I like the swaying wave effect it gives to the SPS coral polyps. A few other upgrades have been made to the setup, such as a Reefkeeper Lite controller and a UPS battery backup.

    Success With SPS

    I have been keeping SPS since 1996 in many different tanks up to 120 gallons. I made my mistakes at first, I had a tank full of brown and dying acros. After visiting a bunch of great SPS tanks in my area I noticed many similarities. Besides a variety of quality lighting systems and good flow, most of these tanks incorporated a quality skimmer and maintained a low nutrient level. Quality SPS tanks that I have seen with lower quality skimmers relied more on water changes and chemical media to export wastes. Bottom line is that all colorful, healthy, and growing SPS reefs that I have seen, both online and in person, have an efficient waste removal method.

    The major problem I see in SPS keeping is lack of quality Phosphate test kits. Phosphate is a quick killer of SPS. SPS will survive a variety of parameters but a high phosphate level will cause browning and tissue necrosis rather quickly. At low ranges conventional phosphate test kits will read as "0" when in fact levels could be high enough to kill corals. If you can't afford a Hanna meter or similar I would recommend training your eye for the symptoms of high phosphates. Brown corals, slow growth, and nuisance algae are all signs of high phosphates. Using diatom growth on the glass is a good gauge. If you are getting a major haze of diatom on the glass in less than a few days, most likely your phosphates are too high. I highly recommend using phosban in SPS reefs to keep phosphate in check.

    SPS Pests

    I have had every pest imaginable in my reef. Red Bugs, acro eating flatworms, and monti eating nudibranchs. Red bugs are easy to get rid of but AEFW and monti nudis are a real pain. Both require constant dipping and scrubbing etc. This is very difficult in a tank with encrusted frags and colonies. Avoiding these pests is the best remedy. Dip all corals (I like coral revive by Two Little Fishes) and visually inspect as well. Many people have AEFW's and don't know. They are not apparent until the coral is badly affected. Be sure to dip regardless of where the corals come from.

    Future Plans

    I am planning to switch the lighting very soon to a 250w halide with T5 supplements. My buddy has a Maristar fixture laying around that I will try. I love the T5's but I do miss the point source intensity directly under the halide. In the past I have been able to get intense powder blue colors under halides. It will be interesting to see how the SPS respond to the change. If I don't like the response I will put the ATI back over the tank. My future goal for this reef is to allow for more growth until all SPS become sizable colonies.


    I would like to thank everyone who nominated my reef for TOTM and Christopher Marks for ultimately choosing my nano for the honor.


    Best Regards,
    @PODPIMP (Rich)

    • Wow 1

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    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Thank you very much guys.


    Pickle, I've been here for a while. More of a lurker than a poster :)


    Coraline Kati, I've had a piece of that stag in my reef over the last few years. Under 400w halides in my old 120gal it would glow a bright power blue color.


    A couple top down shots.



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