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  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to Zook for being selected for our March Reef Profile! His 20 gallon shallow nano reef houses a unique mix of reef life. 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 Zook's featured reef profile thread.


    Tank Specs

    Display: Custom 0.25" clear Lexan, 24" x 24" x 9"
    Lighting: 150w/20k/DE/Radium MH Solana pendant with 460nm, Actinic PowerBrite LED strips
    Filtration: 20g refugium/sump, 30g SW planted, ROX 0.8 Carbon
    Equipment: Vortech MP20, Fluval VueTech E200, Tunze Nano Skimmer 9002, Tunze Osmolator Universal 3155, BRS 2-Part dosers
    Supplements: BRS calcium/alkalinity/magnesium, Tropic Marin Pro-Coral Iodine, Brightwell MicroBacter7, Reef Biofuel, KoralColor, Potassion, CoralAmino, Vitamin C, PhytoChrom, Zooplanktos-M


    Established March 2009.

    Maintenance Routine

    The 3-tank system holds about 50 gallons of water in total. I do a 5 gallon water change 2-3 times a week. For salt mix, I used Tropic Marin Pro-Reef with great results, but switched to Oceanic due to cost. The results were not comparable so I'm currently doing a mix of TM Pro-Reef and Oceanic at a 2:3 ratio.


    Since the tank is very shallow and has no sand, I use a long hand scraper to clean the glass when needed and siphon out debris from the substrate on daily basis.


    Calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium are automatically dosed using peristaltic pumps. Top-off is also automatic. Nightly, I dose a variety of Brightwell products at strictly half the recommended dosage.


    I feed primarily prepared frozen food. I like to feed a little bit of a variety 3 times a day. The variety includes Rod's Food Original Blend mixed with Nutramar Ova, PE and Hikari mysis, and a mix of Cyclops and Cyclop-Eeze. All food are mixed with Selcon, NatuRose, and dried Calanoid Copepods, often allowed to thoroughly soaked and refrigerated overnight. I also hatch live baby Brine Shrimp and culture Fuzzy-Phytes to feed the tank daily.


    • Green Mandarin (Pterosynchiropus splendidus)
    • Banggai Cardinal (Pterapogon kauderni)
    • Blue Reef Chromis (Chromis cyaneus)
    • Neon Blue Goby (Elacatinus oceanops)
    • Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)


    • Derasa clam (Tridacna derasa)
    • Porcelain crab (Petrolisthes sp.)
    • Sea hare (Dolabella auricularia)
    • Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni)
    • Acropora Crab (Trapezia sp.)


    • Elegance (Catalaphyllia jardinei)
    • Duncan (Duncanopsammia axifuga)
    • Torch (Euphyllia glabrescens)
    • Meat (Acanthophyllia deshayesiana)
    • Blasto (Blastomussa wellsi)
    • Trumpet (Caulastrea curvata)
    • Walking Dendro (Heteropsammia cochlea)
    • Scrolls (Turbinaria sp.)
    • Cyphastrea (Cyphastrea sp.)
    • Acans (Acanthastrea lordhowensis)
    • Chalices (Echinophyllia sp., Mycedium sp., Oxypora sp.)
    Acropora sp.
    Montipora sp.
    Zoanthid sp.
    Palythoa sp.
    Protopalythoa sp.
    Cespitularia sp.


    • Red Mangroves (Rhizophora mangle)


    My original intention was to setup a small, Amano inspired planted tank on my desk at work, but after doing some sidetracked research and stumbling onto a thread on Nano-Reef.com, I was sold on saltwater and got an Aquapod 12g with a 70w MH. Needless to say, space got a little tight very quick so I upgraded to my current system and brought it home.


    Since I'm still new to the hobby (July will be my second year), I want to try everything including making my own mistakes. My two regrets are keeping clams before the system was fully matured and not quarantining new fish; a definite don't for the former and do for the latter. I've had good success in keeping a variety of corals and getting some difficult fish to survive and even breed.


    I hope to upgrade in the near future to a Starphire glass tank that is slightly larger (29.5"x29.5"x12"). I love the clarity of the Lexan, but the scratching is visually bothersome.

    Words Of Wisdom

    In my experiences thus far, there are three things that I find invaluable: patience, research, and water changes. The water volume in our systems are much smaller than most so everything takes less time to have a greater impact; think, rethink, and ask for help before doing any drastic changes as the consequences can be very misgiving. Great revolutions have been made in the hobby and there are good chances that what you're trying to do has already been done, so learn to search for information and ask the right questions: online forums and local hobbyist organizations are great resources. And when in doubt, do a water change. Many many problems can be prevented with routine water changes and daily observation of the system for signs of distress.


    Often times, there are more than one and/or no real solution to any one problem, it's up to you to decide what's the necessary outcome. Research as much background information as you can to form your own opinion and solution. I believe this approach is a good way to learn as well as enhance the experience for other hobbyists.


    The one thing to keep in mind is to actually enjoy what you're doing; you'll encounter situations that will make things very discouraging, but keep moving forward, take it as a lesson learned, and enjoy what you've created. As a designer by trade with an passion for biology, my system is the product of two things that I really love to do, a living design that thrives and reproduces.


    I want to thank the Nano-Reef.com members for their constant support and to give praise to Christopher Marks and the others who maintain this site as it's an incredible amount of work as well as an invaluable inspiration and information resource for all of us.


    Happy reefing,


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