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  • metrokat

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to metrokat for being selected for our December Reef Profile! Her 34 gallon nano reef with display refugium has incredible biodiversity, home to countless species of coral, fish, invertebrates, and macro algae. Below is the profile she has written for us sharing her experiences in the hobby and her aquarium's progress over the past year. Check it out and share your comments and questions in metrokat's featured reef profile discussion.


    Tank Specs

    Display: Red Sea Max 130D 24" X 20" X 23.8" 34G
    Lighting: Stock T5's supplemented with 2 Ecoxotic Panorama PROs & 1 stunner strip, Marineland accent LED
    Sump: Custom Sump 17" X 20" X 16" with Mag 5 and LifeReef Overflow
    Powerheads: Vortech MP10 X2
    Bioreactor: Phosban 150 running BRS ROX Carbon and BRS GFO
    Dosing: BRS Peristaltic pumps for Alkalinity and Calcium
    Skimmer: SCA301
    ATO: JBJ with a custom acrylic reservoir
    Heater: Eheim Jager

    Maintenance Routine

    Weekly water change of about 10% with Red Sea Coral Pro and RO/DI water. Test for Alkalinity, Calcium, Phosphate, Nitrate, and Magnesium every 10-15 days unless something is out of line. Dose 2-part with auto dosers. Clean out the filter sock every 3-4 days. Scrape off unwanted algae as needed. Monthly dose of Coral Amino, Aquavitro Fuel, Pottassion, MicroBacter7. I also have a little stick I beat the inhabitants with when they get out of line.


    I feed something different every day. The foods I rotate between are Reef Nutrition ROE, Dr G's Gut loaded mysis, Caviar Max, Oyster Magnifique and Copepod Max, AlgaGen's Phycopure, Greenwater and Coral Smoothie, Reef Cleaners Filter Feeder Formula, Golden Pearls, New Life Spectrum pellets, Omega One algae wafers, Hikari rotifers, Masago from the Japanese supermarket, and spirulina flakes. Occasionally I add a drop of fish oil, selcon, lugols and garlic. I am currently also culturing phytoplankton and have plans for BBS.

    Display Refugium

    My sump/display refugium is my most important upgrade. It has allowed me to keep my macro algae, grow live foods, and have an expensive night light all rolled into one. My cat likes to sump-watch with me so it also provides an outlet for quality time with him.


    The refugium holds my display macros, soft corals like mushrooms, polyps, leathers, and also has a good amount of xenia for nutrient export. It runs on an opposite light cycle from the display and the dosers dump their chemicals into here.


    I have multiple species of all kinds of corals in the tank and fuge. Hobbyists will say you cannot mix softies, LPS with SPS, but I have a little bit of everything, including macros, and they do well together. I have over 80 different corals and invertebrates, too many to list in detail, but this is a short overview.

    SPS Coral

    • Birdsnests
    • Montiporas
    • Digitata
    • Millepora
    • Acroporas

    LPS Coral

    • Acan Lords
    • Acan Echinatas
    • Leptastreas
    • Duncan
    • Brain coral
    • Favias
    • Blastos

    Soft Coral

    • Zoanthids
    • Palys
    • Leathers
    • Mushrooms


    • Clams
    • Crabs
    • Snails
    • Shrimps
    • Starfish


    • Charlie, Yasha Goby
    • Draco, Male Mandarin
    • Ruby & Max, Clownfish pair
    • Hunch & Finny, Neon Goby pair
    • Geowge, Midas Blenny
    • Grumpy Glen, Wheelers Shrimp Goby
    • Gnocchi, Bangaii Cardinal

    Macro Algae

    • Sargassum
    • Red Titan
    • Blue Ochtodes
    • Halimeda
    • Halymenia
    • Red Grape
    • Chaeto
    • Caulerpa Serrulata
    • Flame Algae


    I disguised myself as Santa and set up this tank on Christmas 2011, it was difficult to hide it under my tree for very long. I only had experience with freshwater aquariums until a friend of mine asked me to help him pick out a tank two years ago. While shopping we saw the BioCube and the reef bug hit us both, a few months later I had my own BC14. I quickly realized that it was too small, and I upgraded to this tank within six months.

    I put a lot of thought into building and defining the aquascape. Researching corals and fish became an obsession. Most Red Sea Max owners don't get a sump for their tank, but I knew early on that long term success with what I had planned depended on having the additional volume and space for reactors and a skimmer.


    A tank with just coral and cute fish was not enough for me, I needed display macros. My uncured live rock came with abundant halimeda which immediately gave the tank a natural look. With each re-do of the rock scape and coral placement, the tank evolved into something that I could look at with pleasure, instead of something that needed fixing.


    Over time I learned not to freak out over every little thing with my aquarium. I can laugh at myself now thinking about the sleepless night when I installed my overflow. My family loves my tank and are indulgent of the many hours I spend on it. My brother is the international "Tank Sitter" who himself evolved from watching a BioCube and reporting daily, to knowing which wire belongs to the Mag5 in the event of a sump overflow.


    Nobody ever told me that an added expense in this hobby is a good camera. For a while I was taking pictures daily and have managed to capture many progression shots of my corals to see growth, disease, and color changes.


    After hurricane Sandy killed some of my livestock, I feel I am better prepared for the next power outage. It was heartbreaking to see my Mandarin lose color and fade right before my eyes while I was holding him in my hand, but by some miracle he survived. I'm not sure if it is normal to be this emotionally attached to a fish.


    I am still finding new things in the tank, like my Frilly Limpet which has been with me for over 6 months now. Each day I get to look upon the tank is another day it mesmerizes me.

    Inspirations & Goals

    I am inspired by color and texture. It amazes me that nature has such beautiful animals. Being able to keep a little piece of reef in my home feels like a blessing. Oddly enough, I am not a beach person and have only gone snorkeling for a half second in Acapulco. I am deeply curious about every tank I see on the forum and they each fuel my imagination.


    I have 3 goals for this tank: total water stability is one. Second, to keep my hands out of the tank. Third, to find a way to hide the wires from all the equipment around the tank!

    Future Plans

    I plan to enjoy this tank grow out and hopefully learn how to frag polyps successfully. I am toying with the idea of a frag tank and I still have the retired 2G pico staring at me...

    Advice For New Hobbyists

    Read. Research. Slow down. Don't use tap water. Welcome unsolicited advice.


    Frag swaps are ripe grounds for impulse buys. After my first one, which resulted in a tank upgrade within 2 weeks, I learned to pre-buy before swap day to prevent impulse purchases, and by visiting Jason Fox at the very end. This hobby is both an addiction and an investment. I maintain a spreadsheet of all my purchases and sales to keep on track. While I have never had a budget for the hobby, it helps to look at my spreadsheet the next time a de$igner zoanthid is posted somewhere.

    Thoughts On Designer Corals

    I totally get them, in fact I have them. They are most certainly in the same must-have category as Channel, Louboutins, and Bottega Veneta. I'm rolling my eyes at myself!

    Tips & Tricks

    Two words: Uncured rock. It can be scary because of the unknown hitch hikers, but uncured rock is simply stunning. It comes straight from the sea with life on it. It gives you a mature reef look in just a few months.


    Thank you to Christopher Marks for considering me as a TOTM winner. I love this site, it is a wealth of information and fun. Thank you to all the members that contribute to my thread and indulge my love of hot shoes.


    I wanted to also mention people that I admire: Rehype for his patience and knowledge of the hobby and willingness to share. MedRed for the level of detail he shows in his tank. I want to spend like a rock star like ZephNYC, I admire him for his tireless search for a cure of PM disease, and for getting me hooked on to clams. JediMasterBen is cool in his single minded determination to beat ICK and aspiring for LED world domination. LongPig is the sweetest man for getting a tug boat toy for his Octopus and for being my forum boyfriend. KGoldy for being my first friend on NR, and IRL, and for having a little bit of everything and then adding a little bit more of everything to his tank. I miss Newman, who knew every little thing about every little thing in his little thing. I learned how to do a water change and about gluing frags from StevieT, and I wish I could keep a pico alive like Brandon429. I want to build amazing little things with the finesse that NanoTopia shows, I want to know everything there is to know about RO/DI like AZDesertRat, and I want to be detail oriented and minimalistic all at the same time like Nano Sapiens.


    These folks and others inspire me every day. This hobby has enriched my life in ways I cannot express.


    - Kat @metrokat

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    Hey now this is a family forum!



    And of course congratulations!

    Thanks!! I still might be your Santa, and after starting ESV salt yesterday I might have to send you some after all.

    :lol: The thread index has a listing for up-skirt shots of the limpet.

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    Thanks!! I still might be your Santa, and after starting ESV salt yesterday I might have to send you some after all.


    That would be funny if you sent me some.... I am so scared to do water changes you have no idea... I get so on edge every time now when I change the water it's crazy!


    :lol: The thread index has a listing for up-skirt shots of the limpet.


    I am always down for some up-skirt limpet action!

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