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  • Arkayology

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to Arkayology for being selected for our April Reef Profile! His 40 gallon nano reef aquarium packs an incredible collection of SPS corals and an impressive selection of fish and clams. Below is the aquarium profile Arkayology has written for us sharing his experiences in the hobby and his aquarium's progress over the past year and a half. See what he's been up to and share your comments and questions in Arkayology'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 nano reef tank.


    Tank Specs

    Dimensions: 24" x 24" x 16" Rimless Glass Aquarium
    Sump: Custom 15" x 15" x 16" Acrylic
    Lighting: EcoTech Radion Gen3
    Equipment: Super Reef Octopus INT 1000 Protein Skimmer
    Heater: 150w Ehiem-Jaeger
    Return: Mag7 Pump
    ATO: Tunze Osmolator 3155
    Circulation: EcoTech MP40w, EcoTech MP10w
    Dosing: BRS 1.1ml/min Dosing Pumps using B-Ionic 2-Part
    Controller: Neptune Apex

    Established October 2012

    Maintenance Routine

    I generously feed my fish daily with what amounts to about 1.5 blister pack cubes a day. I alternate with Rod's Food, NLS pellets, flake food, spirulina loaded brine shrimp, mysis, bloodworms, and unroasted nori, all soaked in garlic juice. I feed my corals and microfauna Reef Nutrition Oyster Feast, Reef Chili, as well as KZ Sponge Power and Coral Vitalizer.


    I check my Ca and dKH levels weekly and make adjustments to my dosing as needed. I used to worry a lot about my phosphate levels and chased those perfect numbers. I have since stopped testing for phosphates and using various filtration methods to try and reach ULNS. I don't believe that the hobbyist test kits have the level of accuracy to be useful when keeping a good SPS system. I think the corals in my tank have responded well to the change.


    Every 1-2 weeks I preform a 5 gallon water change with filtered ocean saltwater from the marine biology department at my university. If I don't have the time for that, I use RO/DI filtered water and Tropic Marin Pro reef salt.

    Water Parameters

    • Salinity: 1.025 (Refractometer)
    • Temperature: 77.5-78 (Apex Temp Probe)
    • Ca: 420 (Salifert)
    • dKH: 7.8-8.5 (Salifert)
    • Mg: 1350 (Salifert)
    • Nitrates: <5ppm (Salifert)
    • P04: I do not test for this anymore.


    • 2 Percula Clowns
    • 1 Solon Fairy Wrasse
    • 1 Yellow Coris Wrasse
    • 1 Friedmani Orchid Dottyback
    • 1 Yellow Eye Kole Tang
    • 1 Yasha Goby
    • 1 Midas Blenny

    SPS Coral

    Acropora – ORA Hawkins Echinata, ORA Red Planet, ORA Joe the Coral, ORA Pearlberry, Purple Bonsai, Cali Tort, Green Mille, Pink Poccilapora, Green Poccilapora, Palmer's Blue Tort, Tyree Ultimate Blue Stag, Tyree Pink Lemonade, Green Slimer, Red Dragon, Strawberry Shortcake, Green Tabling Acropora, Purple A. Valida, Edgar's Acro, Steve Elias Blue Stag, Golden Nasuta, FF Red Robin Stag
    Montipora – Montipora setosa, Montipora capricornis, Sunset Monti
    Seritopia – ORA Green Birdsnest, Pink Birdsnest

    Soft Coral

    Zoanthids – BBEB, Armor of God, Kedd's Reds


    • Green Bubble Tip Anemone
    • Crocea Clam
    • Gold Maxima Clam
    • Derasa Clam
    • Cleaner Shrimps
    • Crabs
    • Snails


    I started reefing in 2009 when I moved across the country to pursue a Ph.D in archaeology (go figure!). After starting with a 20h mixed reef in 2009, I set up a very successful SPS dominated 60 gallon cube for a year before it had to be dismantled by my very lovely fiancé, while I was off doing my research in Peru in during the summer of 2012 (I love you babe!). I returned wanting to build a shallow tank that was a little more manageable for my apartment lifestyle. I also wanted to incorporate some safety measures, including an aquarium controller, so that I would hopefully avoid any disasters that had caused the dismantling of my 60gal tank.

    I set up this 40 gallon tank in October of 2012. This system has definitely been a learning experience. I have battled RTN/STN and slow coral growth for the majority of the life of the tank. I was heavy into carbon and bacterial dosing. This approach of chasing "perfect" numbers and maintaining an Ultra Low Nutrient Stable (ULNS) environment for my corals did not work for me no matter what I did.


    I have learned a lot from this experience and now believe that keeping things simple is the best way to move forward. I keep up with my dosing, do my water changes, and provide strong light, flow, skimming, and time. These are my secrets.


    There have been many inspirations for me on this site, too many to mention. I got my start in reef tanks here and have really benefited from the online community. I have enjoyed every minute of it!


    I try not to have many regrets when it comes to my tank. Everything that I have done with the tank has given me more knowledge and experience. I try to learn from my follies and enjoy my triumphs.

    Advice For New Hobbyists

    Go slow, do your research, ask questions, and have fun! It is a hobby after all. Little bottles of special substances will not speed up tank maturity, nor take care of the many problems that one comes across in this hobby. Only good husbandry and patience can make your tank beautiful.

    Words Of Wisdom

    Don't buy into the latest fads wholesale. That is not to say that you should not journey to unexplored territories, or push the envelope of what can be done with a reef, but that you should be critical of what people are selling you. It will save you a lot of time, money, and heartache in the end.

    Thoughts On...

    When I can, I prefer to get all my SPS from locals who frag their colonies. I believe that SPS that have been fragged, grown out, and fragged some more, are much better suited for our aquariums.


    Cleanup Crews
    I have said it before and I will say it again, I like hermit crabs! They are awesome little things that I will always have in my tanks. Also, Banded Troches snails are the best snails ever.



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    Positively beautiful, and an inspiration to boot. Well done!

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