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  • trueisb2

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to trueisb2 for being selected for our September Reef Profile! trueisb2's 20 gallon nano reef is a testimony to the power of simplicity, beautifully evolving over time and through multiple relocations. Below is the profile he's written for us sharing his experience in the hobby and his aquarium's progress over the past three and a half years. Check it out and share your comments and questions in trueisb2's featured reef profile thread.


    Tank Specs

    Display: 17" L x 17" W x 16" H Elos Mini system
    Filtration: 1" Sand bed, live rock, filter sock
    Lighting: AI Sol Super Blue LED
    Controller: Digital Aquatics Reef Keeper Lite
    Heating: 200w Eheim Jager Heater
    Circulation: Vortech MP20 (Lagoonal Mode @ 50%)
    ATO: JBJ ATO System
    Chiller: Current USA Prime Chiller (If needed during summer)


    Established December 2008

    Maintenance Routine

    • Salinity Level is stable at 1.025
    • Weekly water change with 2.5 gallons Catalina Real Ocean Water (@ my LFS)
    • Weekly refill R/O water for top off which is performed by the JBJ ATO System
    • Weekly dosing Kent Tech M (If necessary)
    • Filter sock is replaced every 2 weeks
    • Temperature runs from 77-78 degree Fahrenheit, Current USA Prime Chiller is installed during summer (if needed)


    • Ocean Nutrition Formula Two Flake + Pellet Food every other day
    • Mixture of frozen brine shrimp and coral food blend weekly
    • Ultimate lighting powered by AI 24/7


    11:30 AM Duration 60 minutes (W055 / B060 / R050)
    04:00 PM Duration 60 minutes (W065 / B055 / R045)
    08:00 PM Duration 35 minutes (W026 / B043 / R055)
    09:10 PM Duration 40 minutes (W000 / B002 / R001)


    Soft Coral: Ricordea, Yumas, Magician Polyp, Grandis Palythoa, Various Mushrooms
    LPS Coral: Various Acanthastrea, Brain Coral, Torch Coral
    SPS Coral: Unidentified fluorescent green hitchhiker


    • Purple Sea Rod (Plexaura flexuosa)
    • Purple Blade (Pterogorgia guadalupensis)
    • Purple Plume Gorgonia (Muriceopsis flavida)
    • Purple Feather Gorgonia (Pseudopterogorgia bipinnata)
    • Harlequin Serpent Starfish (1)
    • Yellow Banded Shrimp (1)
    • Astrea Snails (6)
    • Scarlet Hermit (1)
    • Mini Carpet Anemone (2)


    • Masked Goby *went MIA on recent tank move
    • Blue Chromis *camera shy

    Macro Algae

    • Halimeda
    • Dragon Breath *removed
    • Green Grape Algae Caulerpa *removed after it overtook the tank
    • Red Palm Macro Algae


    First, I want to say thanks to Chris at Nano-Reef.com for choosing my aquarium for the September featured reef. I have never thought that my little cube would ever become TOTM someday. When I was eighteen, a local fish store tricked me into an AIO 10 gallon saltwater setup that, according to the owner, "required little to no knowledge to run." I went home with a tank, a tang, a clown, and well, a lighter pocket. With as little as I knew, the setup was a disaster, and ended up empty in the storage. Three years later, I stumbled across Nano-Reef.com. It was an "Ah ha" and "oh wow" moment. Every day I found myself reading one topic after another for hours at a time. After gathering all the information, I encouraged myself to start what I failed to accomplish years ago. I just want to thank Nano-Reef.com and its members for all the helpful advice throughout the years. Without the knowledge I have learned here, I would have never re-ventured into saltwater aquariums.

    My goal was to create a self-run and low-maintenance system, due to my on-the-move working schedule. I started out with too much equipment, it was impossible to manage, let alone instruct my friends who occasionally house sit to keep an eye on them. I had to simplify. The Elos Mini System was the perfect fit. The tank is controlled by a Reef Keeper Lite, controlling the heater, lighting, Vortech, and return pump. I swapped out the original LED unit with a 150W MH fixture until the AI Super Blue Sol LED came out. The tank runs without a skimmer, reactor, or refugium. I realized that good lighting, good flow, and weekly water changes are the only things I need to have a thriving nano reef environment.


    My maintenance routine:
    - Feed my fish every other day
    - Feed my corals and invertebrates once a week
    - Change water weekly
    - Enjoy my tank daily


    My house-sitter maintenance routine:
    - Feed the fish, corals, invertebrates once a week with frozen reef food
    - Change water weekly
    - Check to see if all the equipment is running correctly


    I have moved four times within the past three years, and my tank has survived every single time with minimal loss. I keep my sand bed 1" deep with egg crate underneath the live rock for stability and safety. When I move my tank, I siphon out half of the tank water into a big plastic container that is roughly the same size of my tank. Then I remove all of the corals and smaller rocks. After that I work to catch all other livestock, and then move the remaining live rock into the container. The sand bed is discarded, and now the system is ready for the new location. I always move my tank on a separate day from the move itself. I try to put the system back together with a new sand bed as soon as it arrives. Then I place everything back in the tank, fill it up with the old and new mixed water, and the rest is up to nature. Make sure you keep your livestock separate from each other during the move, sometimes they can fall into each other and get damaged.

    Disasters & Regrets

    Nothing is perfect. My tank has had plenty of natural disasters, things such as flatworms, dinoflagellate, zoanthid-eating nudibranch, etc. However, I always managed to put my tank back on track from time to time with the help of the reefing community here. Manual labor is a plus before trying any chemical solutions. It works like a charm.

    Advice To New Hobbyists

    Research heavily on what type of system and livestock you want to keep, and how much dedication you want to give to maintain your tank on a regular basis. For me, it works to keep everything simple, and just enjoy my 25 gallon underwater view. Nano-Reef.com is a great community to seek and share reefing advice and experience. Don't hesitate to participate!

    Future Plans

    With the possibility of relocating to the East Coast, I might have to take down this system or find it a rightful new owner. It is a difficult situation to put my hobby on hold. I can't imagine myself not having a fish tank in the near future, but I will save that for another time.


    I would like to thank everyone at Nano-Reef; the community is a great resource for information and inspiration. Last but not least, thanks to Christopher Marks for giving me this opportunity to be featured as September TOTM.



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    Love EVERYTHING about this tank. Super big congrats to you...it's so well deserved :happy:


    +1 on loving the gorgonians :wub:

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    Party in the NANO GOBIES

    congrats! the gorgs and macro make it look nice and natural :happy:

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    Party in the NANO GOBIES

    congrats! the gorgs and macro make it look nice and natural :happy:


    Thank you!!!!! I'm still partying hahahaha :D

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    Beautiful tank. I'm surprised I haven't seen it before. Congrats on TOTM!

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    Absolutely stunning tank. Its nice to see some gorgonians and halimeda making a totm. Your unidentified sps is a pocillopora, they have an aggressive sting, so give it room:-)

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