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    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to imisky for being selected for our February Reef Profile! His 30 gallon nano reef is a brilliantly engineered aquarium system housing a vivid and diverse ecosystem. Below is the profile he's written for us sharing his experience in the hobby and his aquarium's progress over the past year. Check it out and share your comments and questions in imisky's featured reef profile thread.


    I've kept freshwater aquariums throughout the last seven years or so, and for the first two years was mostly fascinated with selective breeding crystal red shrimps. I jumped head first into saltwater when I saw my first pico sized sexy shrimp tank at a LFS. A week later I found myself with a saltwater pico and that's when my journey into the saltwater aquariums began.

    Tank Specs

    Display: 36"x13"x13"
    Sump: 24"x12"x14"
    Biological Filtration: ~15lbs of liverock, 250 ml of bio pellets
    Lighting: 6x PAR38 XPE-LED (5 royal blue, 4 cool white) + 4x 24W T5HO
    Protein Skimmer: SWC Extreme Cone 160 with pin wheel
    Heater: 50W Hydor + 150W Jager
    Water Motion: 2x Eco-Tech Vortech MP40WES, quiet one 3000 (return)
    Filter Media: 100ml black diamond carbon
    ATO: D.I.Y. dual switch with 3g reservoir


    A vertical Herbie overflow system is plumbed to the sump within the stand.


    Water Parameters

    • Salinity Level: 1.026
    • Temp: 77-79°F
    • pH: 8.0-8.2
    • Calcium Level: 420
    • Alkalinity: 8.5-9 dKh
    • Ammonia: 0
    • Nitrite Levels: 0
    • Nitrate Levels: 0
    • Phosphate: ~0.02
    • Ethanol dosing: 1ml a day (95% Ethanol)

    Maintenance Routine

    In order to keep the parameters at the levels that I desire, a 30% water change is performed weekly. This replenishes all the elements that I can't test for. In addition to the water change, I add roughly 1/4 tsp of magnesium chloride, 10mls of potassium, and 4mls of iodide to my ATO weekly. Calcium and alk two-part supplements along with the ethanol are all set on auto dosing pumps to keep the parameters as stable as possible.

    Weekly Schedule

    • Monday: 1ml Zeovit Amino
    • Wednesday: 1ml Zeovit Pohls Xtra
    • Friday: 1ml Zeovit Amino
    • Sunday: 1ml Zeovit Pohls Xtra


    Zeovit Amino Acid and Pohls Xtra are the only two Zeo products I use on a regular basis. I do have ZeoSpur2 on hand, but with the switch to 95% ethanol I find myself using it less.

    SPS Corals

    • Marshall Island Tricolor Acropora
    • ORA Hawkins Echinata
    • ORA Ice Tortuosa
    • ORA Borealis
    • ORA Birds of Paradise
    • ORA Oregon Tortuosa
    • ORA Rose Millepora
    • ORA Pearl Berry
    • Ponape Birdsnest
    • Pink Birdsnest
    • Blueberry Montipora (Branching)
    • Tyree 20K Leagues Lokani
    • Tyree Pink Lemonade
    • Tyree Lime in The Sky
    • Tyree Sunset Montipora
    • Tyree Apple Berry Montipora
    • Blue Berry Cheesecake Montipora
    • Superman Montipora
    • Green Slimer
    • German Blue Polyp Acropora
    • Strawberry Shortcake Acropora

    LPS Corals

    • Gold Rim Red Blastomussa Wellsi
    • Green and Pink Blastomussa Wellsi
    • Green and Purple Blastomusa Merletti
    • Orange Fungia
    • Ultra Grade Acans

    Soft Coral

    • Assorted Ricordea Floridas


    • 1 Peppermint Shrimp
    • 5 Money Cowries
    • 4 Conches
    • 1 Yellow Tang
    • 2 Chrysiptera Talboti (Tracys Damsels)


    After being in the saltwater aquarium hobby for 5 years, I firmly believe that a protein skimmer is the heart of the system. It is what helps the system breath, and it allows the owner, in this case me, to be able to provide as pristine of a water quality for as long as he/she can before a water change. This has been my take from the day I stepped into the hobby, and it has helped me quite a bit in controlling the nutrient levels.


    The beginning of this tank started out in 2007 with my first 30 gallon aquarium, which wasn't actually 30 gallons. It was sumpless and used only HOB equipment, which I thought was the way I wanted to approach my first "big" nano reef. I built the 30 gallon tank to reduce my maintenance time over 3 smaller picos tanks, taking all the contents from each and combining them into a single system. This reduced the time it took to do water changes, etc., but it also provided me with greater stability in my water parameters. After the change I quickly realized my corals were much happier.

    The journey for that 30 gallon aquarium ended around January 2011 when I decided that I wanted to clean up the way the system looked. Coming from a very hands-on work and personal background, and having built countless rimless tanks for other friends, I decided it was time to venture into a sump based system, which brings things to today. A full year later, the corals have settled in and colored up. Little did I know all of the simple changes I had made would make me enjoy this reef tank even more, particularly with the addition of less maintenance work.

    Inspiration & Goals

    We all got into this hobby through some form of inspiration or another. Many of the changes I made to the new setup have been the collective knowledge of many reef keepers, both locally and on the forum, and it really feels surreal to be featured among all the other great tanks out there. Since the start, I have always had a goal to have this tank be featured, and even though it's now complete I'll still keep things going. After all, this tank is only one year old. I can't imagine what it will look like in a few more years once the corals grow bigger!

    Advice To New Hobbyists

    There's a lot of advice that I can probably give, but if I were to give a few that stuck to me the most it would be: In order to achieve what you want your tank to become, a clear goal of what you want to do with it needs to be made at the beginning. Whether its SPS only or LPS/mixed reef, once that is set, the equipment choices start to become more clear, and a clear path can be laid down in order to get there.


    But regardless of the tank type, a skimmer will be one of the most worthy investments any reef keeper can put into their systems. This was once told to me when I first started the hobby, and it has stuck with me since, and to me, it is the biggest advice any new reefer can take away with them, along with the collective knowledge of everyone on Nano-Reef and other forums or local reef friends.


    Thanks to everyone who has helped me since the first day I got into the hobby. I also would like to thank everyone who has been following my posts on Nano-Reef, and of course Christopher Marks for selecting my tank to be featured and making this possible.



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