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  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to dafil and his 0.8 gallon pico reef aquarium for being selected for our October Reef Profile! This incredibly small Bulgarian pico reef pushes the boundaries of reef aquarium keeping, showing what is possible with even the most simple of aquarium setups and maintenance routines. Below is the aquarium profile dafil 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 dafil'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 this nano reef tank.


    Tank Specs

    Display: 7.1" x 5.1" x 5.1" ClearVision glass aquarium
    Lighting: E27 Chinese PAR30 LED bulb (DIY retrofit)
    Equipment: 40 GPH mini canister filter with built in 25W heater and in-line air pump.
    Filtration: 3 lbs live rock, 50% of the rocks are in the display, 50% in the canister filter.

    Established July 2013

    Maintenance Routine

    The aquarium's salinity level is maintained at 1.025 with a temperature of 77-78°F. According to my last water parameter tests 3 months ago for pH and Alk I supplement daily with:


    • 10 drops of Reef Foundation C
    • 15 drops of Reef Foundation B
    • 10 drops of Reef Foundation A


    Phosphate, nitrates, potassium, and ammonia are never tested. Evaporation is manually topped off daily. Every week I feed the corals, perform a 100% water change with freshly mixed saltwater, and clean the glass with tweezers and a razor blade.

    SPS Corals

    • Red Montipora Plate
    • Red Branched Montipora
    • Green Montipora Plate
    • Pink Seriatopora Hystrix
    • Green Seriatopora Hystrix
    • Acropora Staghorn
    • Green Stylophora
    • Blue Stylophora

    LPS Coral

    • Neon Green Trumpet Coral

    Soft Corals

    • Blue Euphyllia parancora
    • Various Zoanthid Polyps


    I have been building aquarium setups for 5 years now but reef keeping... this was something new for me. I have some experience with planted tanks and aquascaping, following the Aquatic Gardeners Association and International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest. I love the challenges! Wanting another challenge and knowing the high costs of a reef tank, I got the idea to create a very small pico reef. Even better, I decided to build twins, one saltwater and one freshwater.


    All of the coral in the aquarium started off as 1/2" to 1" branches that I bought from my LFS. They were not formally fragged and established beforehand, the boy in the shop just broke off some branches and gave them to me. Coral growth is really slow and takes patience, but it suits me. It's probably because of the size of the tank, but I really do no know.

    Inspiration & Goals

    Two years ago I started to look at saltwater aquariums, they were so beautiful and full of vivid colors! Unfortunately they were also very expensive. I realized the only way for me to have a reef tank was to have a pico one. It was my goal to create this tiny beauty within just 0.8 gallons of space, if it was even possible at all.


    I found Nano-Reef.com in my research, there are so many splendid and inspirational tanks here in the community! My pico was simply intended to be an experiment in the beginning. There is no sump, almost no testing, and no high tech gadgets involved, with lots of potential disaster in such a small volume of water.

    Disasters & Regrets

    Several times I have tried to keep fish and shrimp but without any luck. My clown goby jumped out, the sexy shrimps died, perhaps because of a pH swing, and an acclimated molly survived for only two weeks. I have also had bad luck with certain corals. My very first zoanthids got zoa pox, and a beautiful blue Acropora hoeksemai did not make it.

    Words Of Wisdom

    • Water changes are excellent for such a small tank!
    • Call me Lucky, but I don't believe it when people say that "pico tanks are most difficult".
    • Keep reading, never stop learning!
    • Did I mentioned that water changes are excellent? ;)

    Advice For New Hobbyists

    When you want to build a reef at home, read and research a lot first, before you ever buy any equipment or even the tank itself.

    Thoughts On...

    Lighting Technology
    My next reef, if I ever have one, will definitely use hybrid LED+T5 lighting, the best of both!



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