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  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to Chadf for being selected for our September Reef Profile! His 26 gallon bow front nano reef aquarium has seen a lot of growth over the years, it's packed with a vibrant array of coral and invertebrates. Below is the aquarium profile Chadf has written for us sharing his experiences in the hobby and his aquarium's progress over the past two years. See what he's been up to and share your comments and questions in Chadf's featured reef profile thread, or in the comments section below. Be sure to also check out his aquarium journal in the members aquariums forum for more information about his aquarium.


    I started this hobby back in 2006 with a 55 gallon reef aquarium. Soon after, I upgraded to an 85 gallon tank, which was eventually upgraded to 150 gallons. As time went by I began to grow tired of the extra maintenance involved with keeping larger tanks, so I left the hobby in 2009. However, as many of you may already know, the saltwater bug never really leaves a person. So in late 2011 I decided to get back into the hobby with an aquarium where maintenance is a breeze, and the 26 gallon aquarium was born.

    Tank Specs

    Dimensions: 24" x 15" x 21"
    Lighting: 4 x 24w Coralife Lunar Aqualight T5 with ATI and KZ bulbs supplemented with two Ecoxotic Stunner LED Strips
    Biological Filtration: 4-5" deep sand bed and 25 lbs of live rock
    Protein Skimmer: AquaC Remora
    Heaters: 2 Aqueon 150w (One is a backup)
    Circulation: 2 Vortech MP10's set at 75% reef crest mode
    Controller: Digital Aquatics Reefkeeper Lite Basic

    Established October 1st 2011

    Maintenance Routine

    • Feed the fish daily.
    • Blow off detritus daily with a turkey baster.
    • Manually top-off water every morning, evening, and night.
    • 15% weekly water change with distilled water and Instant Ocean Reef Crystals salt mix.
    • Dose 2 capfuls of Seachem Reef Fusion Part 1 every night, followed by 3 capfuls of Reef Fusion Part 2.
    • Dose 1 capful of Kent Tech-M twice a week.
    • Clean the glass 3 times a week.
    • Test specific gravity once a week with a freshly calibrated refractometer.
    • Test magnesium, calcium, and alkalinity once a month with Salifert test kits.


    Temperature: 79.0° F
    SG: 1.025
    Mg: 1440 ppm
    Ca: 425 ppm
    Kh: 9.3 dKh

    I have never been able to detect nitrate or phosphate with Salifert tests, so I stopped testing for them about six months ago.


    • Pair of Occellaris Clownfish that recently started spawning
    • Coral Beauty Angelfish
    • Yellow Tang
    • Black Axil Chromis

    SPS Coral

    • Green Montipora capricornis
    • Red Montipora capricornis
    • Forest Fire Montipora digitata
    • Sunset Montipora
    • Pink Purple Polyp Birdsnest
    • Sour Apple Birdsnest
    • Tyree Pink Lemonade Acropora
    • Yellow Acropora suharsonoi
    Acropora sp.
    Acropora austera
    Acropora tortuosa

    LPS Coral

    • Blue/Purple Chalice
    Blastomussa merletti
    • Leptoseris
    • Hydnophora

    Soft Coral

    • Assorted Palythoas & Zoanthids
    • Green Star Polyps
    • Assorted Ricordea florida


    • Crocea Clam
    • Feather Duster
    • Mexican Turbo Snail
    • Cerith Snails
    • Dwarf Cerith Snails
    Nassarious vibex Snails
    • Tongan Nassarious Snail
    • Nerite Snails
    • Blue Leg Hermit Crabs
    • Limpets
    • Bristleworms
    • Spaghetti Worms
    • Brittle Starfish


    When I began purchasing equipment for this system, I didn't stray far from my past setups. Back then deep sand beds, AquaC Remoras, and Koralias were all very popular. When it came to lighting, I had SPS in mind. In the past I had been a metal halide user, but I figured heat would be an issue with a nano reef. I decided to try out a T5 fixture and I'm glad I did, never before had I been able to get the color out of corals that T5s gave me.


    The deep sand bed and protein skimmer work exactly as planned to keep nitrates and phosphates at undetectable levels without the use of chemical filtration. This system has however had some upgrades since the initial setup. As mentioned, it was originally started with Hydor Koralias. They eventually became an eyesore to me, so I upgraded to an MP10. I loved it so much that a second MP10 soon followed!

    As time went by and I had more money invested in livestock, I figured it would be a good idea to invest in a controller. Piece of mind that your heater won't stay on and cook your aquarium is priceless! Next came a generator to keep the system running in case of power outages; it has been a life saver on more than one occasion.


    As I started placing more SPS towards the back of the tank, they weren't coloring up like they should have been, so I decided to add some Ecoxotic Stunner LED Strips to my light fixture. Two strips were just what I needed to get better light coverage from front to back, and the corals are thanking me with impressive colors.

    Future Plans

    I would like to give this tank at least another year of growth before I start really considering an upgrade. Who knows, maybe a 36" x 24" x 22" 85 gallon tank is in my future?

    Advice For New Hobbyists

    My biggest and basically only regret is not drilling the tank. The ability to utilize an in-sump skimmer would be amazing. In my opinion, hang on back skimmers aren't so great to have to look at and are quite loud. It would also be nice to be able to install an auto top-off system. Since I want to keep the equipment looking as minimal as possible, installing an ATO on my display is out of the question.


    New hobbyists, research as much as possible before buying anything! Too often people jump the gun and purchase equipment, only to have to upgrade that equipment after learning more about the critters they want to keep.


    Take it slow! The saying "nothing good happens fast" in this hobby is absolutely true. Take the time to make sure your aquarium has properly cycled before adding any livestock. Wait at least a week or two between additions to allow your tank to stabilize.


    First and foremost I'd like to thank my wife. She actually encouraged me to get back into the hobby and lends a hand with maintenance whenever I need it.


    I'd also like to thank all of the other hobbyists out there. Without their knowledge and amazing captive grown frags I wouldn't be where I am today.

    Last but certainly not least, I'd like to thank Christopher Marks and the rest of the nano-reef community. It is an honor to be featured along side the previous featured reefs on this wonderful website. Without your support, this would've never been possible!



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    Lookie lookie Chad finally got his cookie. Congrats man

    I love cookies.




    Awesome tank! Definitely deserves TOTM!

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