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  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to AJ_Tsin for being selected for our March Reef Profile! His 47 gallon shallow reef features a beautiful array of coral in a carefully crafted aquascape. 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 AJ_Tsin's featured reef profile thread.


    I have been building reef setups for over 6 years now and some of the rocks and coral in this shallow system have been with me from day one. While learning everything I could from local reefers and online forums, I quickly became addicted to the hobby. Since I started reef keeping as a young university student it became routine to pack up and move my aquariums almost every year.


    Half a decade later I finally own the walls I now live in and this reef isn't going anywhere for quite some time. I have yet to let a system mature past the two year mark in this hobby without uprooting everything and carting it across the city, so the idea of letting the system grow is a much welcomed change. As the 47 Rimless turned one year old this February, I look to push the limits further and turn this little shallow water box into an inspiring piece of art and a thriving ecosystem in the years to come.

    Tank Specs

    Display: 30x30x12 3/8" Starphire Glass
    Biological Filtration: 2-3 in. sand bed, 43 lbs live rock
    Lighting: 8 x 24w ATI Powermodule T5
    Protein Skimmer: Vertex IN-100
    Controller: Digital Aquatics Reef Keeper Lite
    Heater: Finnex 500W Deluxe Titanium Heater
    Water Motion: Eco-Tech Vortech MP10, Nano Koralia, Mag 9.5 Return Pump (7 ' Head Lift)
    Filter Media: 1.5 L Vertex ZEOvit Reactor w/ Korallen Zucht ZEOlite, Filter Floss, 250 ml of ROX Carbon
    ATO: D.I.Y. auto top of using a gravity fed, float valve and a 15g AGA.

    Plumbing is drilled into the basement "Fish Room" where all sump, top off, heating, plumbing, and equipment etc. is stored.


    Established February, 2010


    Maintenance Routine

    I maintain these parameters by both manual dosing, water changes ATO etc.

    • Salinity Level: 1.025
    • Temp: 77- 78
    • pH: 8.2
    • Calcium Level: 450
    • Alkalinity: 7 dKh
    • Potassium: 430
    • Ammonia: 0
    • Nitrite Levels: 0
    • Nitrate Levels: <0.2
    • Phosphate: <0.00


    In addition to Calcium and Alk Buffer Two Part supplements, on alternating days I add 1 TSP of Mg Weekly, two capfuls of Purple-Up and a 1 tsp of Potassium Supplement. All of my dosing is done manually except for my top off water which is a gravity fed ATO. I will be looking into automatically dosing Two Part in the future via my Reef Keeper Lite controller and a some sort of dosing pump.


    As of right now in order to establish a ZeoVit Powered Ultra Low Nutrient System (ULNS) my dosing regiment is as follows:



    • 0.4 ml ZEOStart
    • 3 drops of ZEObac
    • Spectrum Pellet fish food (sometimes rinsed PE Mysis shrimp)


    • 1-2 Drops Brightwell Aquatics CoralAmino
    • 2 Drops of ZeoFood7
    • 2 Drops of Coral Vitalizer
    • 3-4 ml of Pohl's Xtra
    • 2 Drops of Sponge Power 3-4 x Weekly
    • I also Feed Cyclopeeze Rotifiers and ReefRoids Soaked in Selcon
    • 1 Tsp Strontium
    • 1 Tsp Potassium
    • 1-4 Drops Kent Lugols Solution
    • 3 ml K-Z Coral Snow 1-2x Weekly


    For those of you who haven't read much about this, the goal here is to dose a carbon source e.g.: ZeoStart, Vodka, Sugar, or Vinegar. This carbon source feeds bacteria which will grow rapidly consuming Nitrate and Phosphate, and as they consume N/P the bacteria gets skimmed up, quickly ridding the system of just about all waste.

    SPS Coral

    • True Bali Tricolor Acropora
    • Acropora Tenius
    • Neon Green/Blue Acropora
    • Purple Millipora
    • Green Millipora
    • Blue/Green Tipped Acropora
    • Pink Birdsnest
    • Purple/Green Acropora
    • Red Montipora Cap
    • Hydnophora Rigida
    • Green/Yellow Digitata
    • Blue/Green Tortusa
    • Purple Polyp Green Digitata
    • Red Polyp Digitata
    • Aussi Delicate
    • LA Lakers Scroll Tubinaria Coral

    LPS Coral

    • Red Blastomussa
    • Diploria Brain
    • Acans
    • Echinophyllia
    • Caulastrea Candy Cane

    Soft Coral

    • Yellow Tonga Leather
    • Assorted Zoanthids
    • Assorted Ricordias
    • Green Star Polyps


    • Hawaiian Strawberry Crab
    • Snakeskin Crocea Clam
    • Squamosa Clam
    • 12 Blue Legged Hermit Crabs
    • Several Astreas and Nassarius Snails
    • 3x Margarita Snails
    • Cleaner Shrimp
    • Maxi Mini Anemone


    • 2 Lyretail Anthias
    • 2 ORA Black Ice Snowflake Clowns (QT)


    Having filled the tank after an upgrade from a 29G Biocube, the 47 started off with some great color and inhabitants from day one. The system has evolved and matured tremendously over the past year as I have invested a lot in providing a stable nutrient free environment for the tank inhabitants, and it really pays off. Although I have seen frags and corals come and go, many of the colonies in this tank started as frags with a few polyps.


    Not only the positive response from people in person, but the large volume of followers and forum members online, make all of the work worthwhile. Over the past year I added a ton of DIY's, Upgrades, add-ons, etc. all which can be seen in my build threads on our forums at N-R!

    I started documenting the growth, additions and design elements of my reef systems in hopes to have a record to look back and reflect upon. Little did I know that these documents and snapshots of the reef keeping process would become as integrated into a community as they have been on Nano-Reef.

    Inspiration & Goals

    Over the years I have been inspired by many setups, ideologies, and fellow reef keepers. Many of the systems featured monthly on Nano-Reef have offered tremendous inspiration and it's truly an honour to be featured among them. The folks over at Glassbox Design have also had a hand in changing my perspective of what makes a well designed reef. Furthermore I really admire the things companies like ORA are doing to create sustainability to our hobby. One of my goals was to have a tank featured on the front page of Nano Reef but I guess I can check that off the list now!

    Disasters & Regrets

    I spent the better part of 2010 dealing with recurring Ich outbreaks. I can attribute this to the fact that my high quality LFS closed at the end of 2009 leaving only a chain retailer within a 1.5 hour radius. This led to the purchase of unhealthy livestock which 9 times out of 10 would come home with Ich. In the past the local store owner would quarantine fish for me and they would be very healthy for months before he would send them home with anyone, so I got used to this awesome service and generally didn't have to worry about a quarantine tank until this past year. I had 2 major Ich outbreaks last year most likely due to the fact that it never actually left the system.


    I now have a solid quarantine routine and have rid the system of crypto for good. Nothing goes in this tank without first entering QT for observation and possible treatment. It's a good habit to get into, and for all of you who have had good luck in the past, one day you will catch a bad break and it could cost you the lives of many of your prized fish.


    I have no regrets at this point, I love this hobby and consider mistakes part of the learning process which only help in the long run if you correct them.

    Words Of Wisdom

    • I think that rational thought is very important in this hobby and reading is everything. Read everything you can about other people's problems so you can prevent them from becoming your own.
    • Invest some money into proper water change procedures in order to make this process as effortless as possible, it will come in handy on those days where procrastination kicks in.
    • Look at the 3 glass walls of your reef as a canvas, chose rocks and corals placement as the ink. If you apply simple rule of thirds and image composition the results will be stunning.
    • Lastly do whatever you can to find a good LFS, even if it means a bit of traveling, it is well worth it.

    Advice To New Reefers

    If I gave any advice to a new reefer I would tell them to save up and buy the right equipment from the start. It can be very frustrating buying everything to get a reef set up, only to find out you have invested in all the wrong tools.


    Don't add any chemicals to the tank you cannot test for, and when you do add something to the tank, generally the results appear 3 days later, so wait it out and monitor your results accordingly.


    Lastly if you are going to pay top dollar for anything, buy good quality test kits. They mean everything and are really the only way to tell what's really going on in your water.

    Thoughts On Coral Fads

    Like anything I think trends are impossible to ignore. The counterculturist in all of us may say we should rebel against the trends but its nearly impossible. When it comes to corals just pick colors that you like. Any time I head to the LFS I stare at my tank and then decide where I would like to add something. During this time I distinguish the shape of rocks, type of flow, and lighting and I acknowledge the surrounding colors. I then know a general size, color and growth pattern to look for at the store. I don't care how trendy the coral is, if the colors fit the look I am going for then its the right buy... and hey, if the coral I want happens to be an ultra rare piece I am certainly not mad about it.


    Thanks to everyone on N-R, all of you who nominated my system over the past few months, and Christopher Marks. You all make this site what it is.



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    Good job AJ, first time i learn about VSV is from your thread ... ;)


    Waiting for new video with T5 light ... it'll be great !!

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    Fantastic photos --> absolutely well deserved this tank and your documentation are an asset to N-R.com.


    Really beautiful stuff.

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    Good job AJ, first time i learn about VSV is from your thread ... ;)


    Waiting for new video with T5 light ... it'll be great !!


    Soon very soon!


    what kinda cameras are you using, everything looks great/ congrats!




    Video: Sony EX 1 XD Cam, Canon Mark ii 5D

    Photos: Canon Mark ii 5D, iPhone 4, Sony Submersible Cybershot



    Fantastic photos --> absolutely well deserved this tank and your documentation are an asset to N-R.com.


    Really beautiful stuff.

    Thanks D9. Means a lot.


    Thanks everybody it's an honor to be featured among such amazing reefs.


    Feel free to ask any more questions.

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