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  • naturalwonders

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to Naturalwonders for being selected for our May Reef Profile! His 15 gallon nano reef has beautifully matured into a mushroom garden packed with life. Below is the profile he's written for us sharing his experience in the hobby and his aquarium's progress over the past five years. Check it out and share your comments and questions in Naturalwonders' featured reef profile thread.


    Tank Specs

    • Display: 15 gallon glass tank, 20"x10"x18", with with glass top cover.
    • Lighting: Jebo 2 x 36W 50/50 PC
    • Filtration: Skilter 250 (been running well for the past 6+ years).
    • Heater: A small glass 50W heater.
    • Biological Filtration: About 25+ lbs of live rock, and 1.5" of live sand. This is my main biological filtration.


    Established July 2006

    Maintenance Routine

    I follow a constant water change schedule of about 15% (~2 gallons) every week (almost!) and don't use reef additives. I clean algae on glass whenever I see it, top off with RO water when needed, and clean or change out the filter pads when necessary. I do test my pH and salinity occasionally before a water change. That's all the work I have to do on this tank, besides the daily feeding of course.


    • 5 types of mushrooms. Only 2 of these types that I actually introduced into the tank, the other 3 "magically" appear from live rocks!
    • Frogspawn
    • Green bubble tip anemone
    • Green star polyps
    • Palau Nepthea
    • Clove polyps
    • Random zoanthids


    • 1 pair of Cleaner Shrimp: they are about 2+ years old now.
    • 3 kinds brittle starfish who have been in the tank since forever.
    • Various types of snails.
    • 1 strawberry crab.


    • 1 pair of Ocellaris Clownfish, they were 2/3" about 3 years ago. They have been spawning in my tank regularly for a few months now.
    • 1 pair of Firefish (my favorite fish), they have been in the tank for 2 years.
    • 1 Royal Gramma, added at the same time with the clownfish.


    I've long been a freshwater aquarist; most of my aquariums are small and house freshwater plants, fish, and inverts. Though the fascination of marine life was always in my mind, the thought of complicated equipment, chemicals, and extra work kept me away from it. In mid 2006, after much reading and researching, I took a chance and purchased a small 10 gallon set up from someone that was moving away. This set up was simple with some live sand, live rock, a few inverts, and a clown fish.


    With a mindset of keeping things simple, natural, and functional, I upgraded the tank from 10 gallons to a 15 gallon tall aquarium with the same footprint, so there would be some extra space on top for corals to grow and fish to swim around. All of the equipment is from the original set up, except the light, which I upgraded a bit to 2x36W 50/50 PC to accommodate the extra depth. I modified the little powerhead with a cut-out water bottle to function as a surface skimmer as well.

    Words Of Wisdom

    Be patient. Don't ever rush. Read and learn as much as you can. It's so easy to get caught up with technology and trends and "collecting habit" that you forget to let things mature and reveal their natural beauties.


    • In both freshwater and saltwater aquarium keeping, I've learned that once you take care of your water, the water will take care of everything else.
    • Keep a few gallons of your aquarium's water whenever you do a water change for emergency back up.
    • Make friends and ask many questions. Never listen to one source or one answer!
    • Monitor the behavior of your livestock; they do communicate with you. The spot you choose for one coral doesn't mean it will like it there. For example, I had to move my frogspawn around at least four times until it responded "I like it here" to the current position and has been thriving since. It grew from 1 head to 12+ heads in 2 years.
    • Think biology before technology; nature has a way to work with you.


    I sincerely thank Christopher Marks for featuring my tank as the May 2011 Featured Reef Profile. This honor means so much to me as I never really thought of myself as a reefer. Thanks everyone on Nano-Reef.com community for complimenting my set up, and for helping and posting so much useful information that I've learned from throughout the years. And finally, my family for helping me feed the critters and top-off the water whenever I'm away!



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    In both freshwater and saltwater aquarium keeping, I've learned that once you take care of your water, the water will take care of everything else.


    Soooo true. Congrats!

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