Jump to content
  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to Steely185 for being selected for our February Reef Profile! His 40 gallon nano reef features a widely diverse collection of inhabitants and has seen tremendous growth since it's beginnings. Below he has written a profile of his aquarium's progress over the past year and a half, and shares his experiences in the hobby. Check it out and share your comments and questions in Steely185's featured reef profile thread.


    As a child I found nothing more captivating than the life contained in a coral reef. I would read as much information as possible and watch any program on the subject. When saltwater aquariums hit the local pet stores and I wandered into Richmond's oldest local fish store I was instantly hooked. I began my first reef around 1994 with a 55 gallon aquarium. It was a present from my mother and to this day I thank her for it. I attended some of the earliest reef clubs as a teenager and learned so much from local members like well known author and clownfish breeder Joyce Wilkerson. These meetings at local libraries were the first I can remember of people fragging corals and trading them. It's amazing to watch the advancements in the hobby over the years especially since the advent of the internet. The wealth of knowledge that is out there now has helped bring about some amazing reef aquariums. I began my aquarium thread with the intention of documenting my tank from its inception. I'm thankful for doing so because it has been fun to document and has introduced me to so many other great reefers as well as photography.

    Tank Specs

    • Display: Standard Glass 40 breeder drilled.
    • Sump: 15 gallon aquarium
    • Lighting: 2 x 150 watt Sunpod with Phoenix 14 K bulbs.
    • Skimmer: Reef Octopus NW 110.
    • Filtration: Vertex Reactor with Bio Pellets (only in use for a couple weeks)
    • Circulation: Vortech MP40, Koralia 3, and a RIO 2100 return pump
    • Equipment: Apex Controller
    • Dosing & Top Off: Tunze Osmolator with Kalkwasser in my top-off water


    Established September 4th, 2009.

    Maintenance Routine

    The tank has been upgraded over time with better equipment but has always been kept very simple. I believe in not complicating things and tend to maintain this tank that way. I don't add anything other than Kalkwasser. The Kalkwasser is added to my top-off water and my osmolator does the work as water evaporates. The Kalkwasser keeps my calcium in acceptable ranges but more importantly keeps my Alkalinity and pH stable with small additions of Kalk. I will occasionally add some amino acids. Water quality is maintained by ten gallon water changes every other week that replenish enough of the nutrients in the water to maintain good water quality. I believe that reefers can have good results by keeping things simple and decrease the chances of a crash caused by too many variables changing. Good water flow and good lighting added to stable water conditions go a long way in this hobby.

    SPS Coral

    • Mint chocolate Montipora
    • Pink Montipora Cap
    • Idaho Grape Cap
    • Cali Tort
    • Pink Millipora
    • Blue Millipora
    • ORA Red Planet
    • ORA Joe the Coral
    • ORA Pearlberry
    • ORA Hawkins Blue Echinata
    • ORA Marshall Island Purple and Green
    • Green Birdsnest
    • Pink Pocillipora
    • Various other acroporas

    LPS Coral

    • 3 variations of Lobophyllia
    • Frogspawn
    • War Coral Favia

    Soft Coral

    • Kenya Tree
    • Ricordia mushrooms
    • Green Lantern Palythoas
    • Ring of Fire zoanthids
    • Green Star Polyps


    • Cleaner Shrimp
    • Fire Shrimp
    • Tuxedo Urchin
    • Clams: 2 maxima, 1 crocea, and 1 derasa clam
    • Red legged hermit crabs
    • Cerith Snails


    • Pair of gold stripe maroon clownfish
    • Orchid dottyback
    • Green clown goby
    • Tailspot Blenny
    • Blue Damsel
    • Purple firefish


    I've had my fair share of pests over time. I've had zoa eating nudibranchs, montipora eating nudibranchs, and acropora eating flatworms. The biggest thing to do when you encounter these pests is to take a step back and breathe. Don't panic and research a solution. Isolating the corals in question, dipping them in the appropriate dip, and keeping them quarantined tends to do the trick. Observe your aquarium on a regular basis for pests because, just like in the ecosystems we try to recreate, there is a good chance that these natural predators will pop up sooner or later.

    Disasters & Regrets

    I've managed to avoid any major disasters. I have had a heater's thermostat get stuck and stay on heating the tank to near 90°F. I didn't lose anything as a result. I've also had an AC adapter for my osmolator fall in my sump for a few hours while plugged in, sending low voltage to the tank. This didn't kill anything but caused enough stress that my SPS lost some of their color and vibrance for about two months. I regret not getting control of a few types of algae earlier, I've had a few varieties of zoas smothered out by algae and lost.

    Future Plans

    I'm currently experimenting using bio pellets in a fluidized reactor and I'm looking forward to the results in a couple months. I'm also planning on purchasing a larger aquarium in the very near future so that I may combine both my shallow reef and 40 breeder. I have a ton of coral between the two aquariums and would like to enjoy it all in one place and ease maintenance.

    Tips & Tricks

    • If you have problems with Dictyota algae use Algae Fix by API. It doesn't harm anything other than algae and does a great job of killing Dictyota algae in a fairly quick amount of time.
    • Observe your aquarium each day and take pictures every so often. The growth you document in pictures makes all that patience much easier and worth it. It also allows you to see the impact of changes made to your aquarium.
    • Don't give up on a dying coral. With the right conditions they will often grow back. If algae starts to grow on the skeleton then it probably won't grow back for you.
    • Acan lords can touch other acan lords but not other species of acans. They will eat almost anything as well.
    • Periodically clean the sensors on your auto top off. This will prevent your auto top off from either not refilling water or flooding your tank with fresh water.
    • Ask questions no matter how stupid because it can save you time, money, and most importantly save the lives of what we stock in our aquariums.


    I want to thank everyone for nominating my tank for TOTM and Christopher Marks for selecting it. I never expected to be selected but feel honored to have been chosen. I want to thank the help of the Richmond Reefers reef club and all the local fish stores that have helped me through the years. Last but not least thanks to my fiancé for dealing with me and this hobby even though she is not an enthusiast.



    • Wow 1

      Report Aquarium

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    There are no comments to display.

    Dive in and share your thoughts!

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now

Community Announcements