Congratulations to Urbaneks for being selected for our December Reef Profile! His 28 gallon nano reef is brilliantly well maintained and has seen beautiful growth. 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 Urbanek's featured reef profile thread.
Display: Stock 28g Nano Cube
Lighting: 20" Current Nova Extreme Pro with stock replacement bulbs.
Filtration: 32lbs of Live Rock, Pure Nano Media Basket stocked with filter floss, Chemi-Pure Elite and Phos Lock
Equipment: Jager 100W Heater, JBJ Auto Top Off Unit, Accela Wave Maker
Circulation: Two Maxi-Jet 1200's as return pumps. One Maxi-Jet 900 positioned in display behind live rock.
Established November 19th, 2009
- Daily: Observe live stock, verify temperature at 78-80 degrees, verify that all pumps are operational, clean glass with MagFloat. Dose tank for calcium and alkalinity as needed.
- Biweekly: Use turkey baster to clear debris from live rock and rinse filter floss.
- Weekly: Measure and record salinity. Clean glass and back wall with cleaning pad. Clean glass at the gravel line with a tooth brush. Use turkey baster to clear debris from live rock. Clean light cover and wipe off any salt creep. Complete a 6g water change.
- Monthly: Frag or thin out corals as needed.
- Quarterly: Replace Chemi-Pure Elite and Phos Lock. Strip and clean powerheads and inside pipe work.
- Annually: Replace heater, T5 bulbs and filters for home R.O. system.
• Green, Red and Brown Monti Caps
• Green Birdsnest
• Green Porites
• Blue Chalice
• Branching Hammer
• Misc Acans
• Cup Coral
• Open Brain
• Misc Zoanthids and Palythoas
• Green Star Polyps
• Ricordea Mushrooms
• Tridacna deresa
• Rose Bubble Tip Anemone
• Pistol Shrimp
• Pair of Clownfish
• Flameback Angel
• Six Line Wrasse
• Black Ray Goby paired with Pistol Shrimp
While I use to have several fish only tanks and owned an aquarium maintenance business, I had left the hobby more than 15 years ago after graduating from college. Over that 15 year period, I would see reef tanks and consider getting back into the hobby. I would quickly dismiss the idea after recalling the amount of work involved with maintaining aquariums. In a casual phone call with my brother he mentioned to me that he had seen a mini reef tank that was just amazing. When I got off the phone with him, a Google search revealed several nano reefs and more importantly Nano-Reef.com. It was at this site where I started reading about using live rock as filtration and the drastic changes to the hobby that had made small reef tanks possible. I knew from that day that I was going to get back into the hobby and that a nano reef was the compromise that I needed with my family and work commitments.
I started my stock Nano Cube up on November 19th, 2009. Over the last year I have made four upgrades that I consider a must on any Nano Cube. First was the upgrade to the stock media basket, the basket that comes with the tank is undersized which leads to constant particles floating around the tank. I chose to upgrade to a Pure Nano Media Basket. The second upgrade was from power compact lighting to my Current Nova Extreme Pro. Living in Arizona, temperature is a major concern and I did not want the extra noise and energy usage that comes with a chiller. Because of the temperature concerns, I went with T5 lighting over Metal Halide and have been very satisfied with the decision. I'm able to keep the corals that I want while maintaining stable tank temperatures without a chiller. The third upgrade was to change the stock Accela return pumps with stronger Maxi-jet 1200's. The change in flow and filtration makes this a great upgrade for very little money. The last upgrade that I consider a must is an auto top-off unit. The amount of time saved along with the flexibility of leaving town for a few days is well worth the $100 for this upgrade.
Feeding: I feed my entire tank once per day with a mixture of Cylopeeze and Roti-Feast. The size of the Cylopeeze makes a great food for the LPS and soft corals while the size of the Roti-Feast makes a great food for the SPS. All of my fish seem to thrive off of the Cylopeeze. Twice per week, I spot feed my larger LPS and my anemone a combination of mysis shrimp and silver side. I also supplement the fish's diet twice per week with a pellet food from Ocean Nutrition.
Dosing: Based on research, I started my tank believing that my weekly water changes would be adequate in keeping my trace elements where they needed to be. While this approach was successful early in my tank's life, it started to break down once I started adding stony corals. After extensive testing over several months I have settled into a regiment of dosing for calcium and alkalinity. For calcium, I use Sea-Lab #28 tabs and for alkalinity, I use Reef Pure Marine KH Buffer. For my tank, one Sea-Lab #28 every 3 days keeps my calcium at 425ppm and 1/4th tsp of marine buffer/day keeps my alkalinity at 3.5 meq/L. Again, this regiment is the result of testing and record keeping over the course of several months, don't assume that this regiment will work for you.
Skimmers: I come from the school of keep it simple and in tanks with less than 30 gallons a skimmer just adds a component to your maintenance schedule that is not necessary. With or without a skimmer, weekly water changes are the key to success. With that said if you keep up with your weekly water changes you will also keep up with the removal of harmful waste from your tank. Save the money on the skimmer and buy yourself that coral you can't stop thinking about.
Advice To New Hobbyists
Maintenance is #1: The key to success in this hobby is to maintain your tank. Of all the maintenance schedules I've read about, I would say that the one I utilize is the most comprehensive of any I've seen. With that said, I spend less than 2 hours a week doing maintenance on my tank. It's a very small price to pay to keep a healthy reef. A small amount of time up front will save you huge amounts of time, frustration and money.
Keep good records: I utilize an excel file to track my maintenance and water tests. I have found that keeping these records allows me to have a better understanding of what is going on in my tank. I'm able to see the utilization of trace minerals over time which has helped with my dosing regimen. The couple of minutes it takes me to document the status of my tank has been a big help in the progression of my tank.
Find a trusted resource and stick with it: There are many different ways to start up and maintain a successful reef. If you ask 20 people for advice you are going to get 20 different answers. Find someone who is successful in the hobby and is willing to share and stick with them. Contrary to many of the horror stories I've read about, I have a local fish store that is great. Unfortunately, its 40 miles from my house and I drive past 3 other stores to get there but the advice they give and health of their live stock has been great for me. For those reasons, I continue to drive the 40 miles.
Be patient: You read about it and you know it's the right thing to do but still you find yourself wanting to make rapid changes to your tank. The cycle takes time; resist the urge to add fish and corals until you have seen the nitrogen cycle run its course. Once your tank is cycled, take is slow when adding live stock. After adding live stock, test your water to see what impact the additions have made to the bio-load on the tank. Once you understand the impact on the bio load, then begin to research your next tank inhabitant.