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  • matth6761

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to matth6761 for being selected for our June Reef Profile! His 20 gallon nano reef is diverse with life, featuring a wide array of boldly colored 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 matth6761's featured reef profile thread.


    Tank Specs

    • Display: 20 Gallon 24" x 12" x 16", back painted black
    • Lighting: 24" WavePoint 4 Lamp T5 HO System w/ ATI Aquablue Special x2 and Blue + x2
    • Circulation: VorTech MP10es and a Hydor Koralia Nano 425
    • Heater: Marineland Stealth 150W
    • Skimmer: Reef Octopus BH-1000
    • Refugium: Modded AquaClear 70 with Chaeto and a bag of Chemi-Pure Elite

    Maintenance Routine

    • Daily: Make note of the temperature, manually top-off with water from a ZeroWater pitcher, manually dose Kent Marine Tech CB two part in the morning. Feed fish Omega One flakes and give the tank a good looking over to observe the health and behaviors of the reef in the evening.
    • Biweekly: Clean the glass and empty the skimmer cup.
    • Weekly: Change 5 gallons of water with Instant Ocean Reef Crystals mixed in supermarket RO water, which I test regularly with a TDS meter and it is almost always at zero, test calcium and alkalinity levels and adjust dosing levels accordingly. Feed corals brine shrimp.
    • Monthly: Trim chaeto, clean the filter intakes and impellers.


    • Various zoanthids
    • Hammerhead coral
    • Spotted mushroom rock
    • Red & green ricordeas
    • Orange & green montipora capricornis
    • Acanthastrea lordhowensis
    • Favites
    • Acropora
    • Green polyp duncan
    • Ponape birdsnest
    • Chalice coral
    • Clove polyps


    • The clean up crew consists of a few red & blue hermits, various snails, several brittle stars, and a ton of stomatella snails


    • 1 Ocellaris clownfish
    • 1 Blue/green reef chromis


    My journey into the reef keeping hobby began in August of '09 with the purchase of a 14 gallon BioCube. After six months of learning from my mistakes and getting the hang of reefing in general, I hit a ceiling with the BioCube and decided it was time to build my own system. After days of research, and drawing inspiration from past monthly reef profiles such as masterbuilder's, Lalani's and plainrt's, I chose to build something easy to maintain, simple and budget friendly. I put a lot of thought into the equipment that I put on the tank, focusing on keeping the tank as uncluttered as I could. I also figured the less equipment I had on the tank, the less chance something could go wrong and screw everything up.

    My biggest upgrades have been powerheads and filters. The addition of the MP10 has probably been my favorite upgrade so far. Not only do I like the sleek look, but also the various settings have allowed me to really dial in the flow to most benefit my corals. The other significant change was the addition of my modded AC70 refugium lit with a clamp on desk lamp. I noticed a dramatic positive change in the health of my tank when it was added, with nuisance-algae growth in the tank diminishing to almost nothing.


    The only event that I would consider a disaster was when the timer for my refugium malfunctioned and got stuck in the ON position the while I was on a week long vacation. That, coupled with the fact that a cleaner shrimp had eaten nearly my entire stomatella snail population, as well as a bit of over-feeding on my part, provided the perfect conditions for a serious GHA outbreak. I returned home to a completely green tank and corals that were being smothered by the algae. This was fixed, however, with water-changes, manually removing any algae I could see, and adjusting my feeding routine. The cleaner shrimp was also removed, allowing the stomatella snails to repopulate. I haven't seen any algae in the main display ever since.

    Future Plans

    I'm not quite sure what the future holds for this tank. I think this reef has a lot more maturing to do, so part of me wants to stand back and let the reef do its thing. The other part of me really would like to transfer the contents into a new 50 gallon reef that I'm planning on building as soon as I buy a new house.

    Advice To New Reefers

    • Never use tap water for top-offs or water changes. It's full of stuff that can harm livestock and grow undesirable algae. Reverse osmosis/deionized water is probably one of the most important factors in maintaining a healthy reef, so whether you get it from your LFS or your own RO/DI unit, make sure that it's all that you use.
    • Streamline your water change process so it's quick, efficient and convenient. Spend the money on an extra heater and powerhead, as it makes mixing salt less messy and much easier.
    • A UPS provides invaluable insurance in the event of a power-outage, and it will most likely pay for itself many times over. A reef can die in a matter of hours without a heater or circulation, so a small investment up front can save you from the expense and heartbreak later on should the power ever go out. Amazon has them for less than $100.
    • Don't stress over algae outbreaks. Algaecides just mess up your water chemistry and can harm reef inhabitants. Fix what's fueling the algae in the first place, manually remove as much as you can and the cleanup crew will take care of the rest.

    Words Of Wisdom

    It may seem silly, but have an evacuation plan.  I live in an area of California that is prone to wildfires, so I've got a clean ice-chest with a spare powerhead, heater, and 5 feet of flexible tubing sitting in a closet. In the event of an emergency, I can quickly put all the coral, live-rock and fish into the ice-chest, siphon out some water and have everything in the back of the car in 90 seconds. This will at least keep everything alive temporarily until I can get it all into another system.

    Thoughts On...

    Lighting Technology: I chose T5 over MH primarily for the energy savings and absence of temperature issues, as well as the ability to customize and fine-tune the color temperature. Being able to configure different intensities of lighting with different bulbs has allowed me to create several 'light zones' within the reef, accommodating a wider range of corals in a smaller space. I'm not sold on LEDs mostly because of the expense, but also because of the mixed results that I've observed. Some people I talk to swear by it, while others think it's worthless.


    Skimmers: I chose the Reef Octopus BH-1000 after a lot of research and reading online reviews. It's the best HOB skimmer, in my opinion, mostly because the pump is external, which helps keeps the main display uncluttered and eliminates any added heat. It also has a very small foot-print and is almost maintenance free. After installing it, the reef began to look a lot healthier and coral growth rates seemed to improve so I feel it was worth the investment.


    I would like to thank Christopher Marks for the honor of featuring my reef and providing a website that has done so much to make reefing an enjoyable and rewarding hobby. Also, thanks to everyone in the forums for all the compliments, encouragement, and advice that has helped make my reef what it is today.



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    Haha, awesome. I was wondering who would win this month's honors earlier and then found his tank that I hadn't seen before and made a comment that he should be featured, then boom.


    Congrats Matt, brilliant tank.

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    I like your aquascaping and the different zones you have for different types of coral. Looks clean and uncluttered.

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