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  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to Gena for being selected for our May Reef Profile! Her 45 gallon nano reef aquarium has seen a tremendous amount of growth in its first year with a vast array of SPS, LPS, and soft corals all growing harmoniously together. Below is the aquarium profile Gena has written for us sharing her experiences in the hobby and her aquarium's progress over the past year. See what she's been up to and share your comments and questions in Gena's featured reef profile thread, or in the comments section below. Be sure to also check out her aquarium journal in the members aquariums forum for more information about her nano reef tank.


    This tank is an upgrade from an upgrade. It started with my JBJ Nano Cube 12g tank, which became a 28g Aqua Euro USA tank, and is now this 45g custom Visio cube tank. I have always heard the bigger the tank, the easier it is to maintain. I have to agree with this. This 45g cube has been my easiest and most enjoyable tank so far.

    Tank Specs

    Display: Custom 45 gallon Visio 24" x 24"x 18", front panel Starfire glass.
    Sump: Trigger Systems Crystal sump 30" x 12" x 15"
    Return Pump: Eheim 1260
    Lighting: Maxspect Razor R420R LED 16K 120W
    Controller: Neptune Systems AquaController Apex Lite System
    Skimmer: Reef Octopus NWB110
    Reactor: BRS GFO & Carbon Reactor Single
    Circulation: MP10, Eheim 1260 Return pump
    Biological Filtration: 2" sandbed, KPA live rock
    Water: Filtered at home with BRS 4-Stage Economy RO/DI System
    Saltmix: RedSea Coral Pro



    Established June 2013

    Maintenance Routine

    Parameters are maintained by a 10% twice weekly water change, Kalkwasser dripping, and manual dosing.

    • Salinity Level: 1.025-.026
    • Temp: 79-80F
    • pH: 7.9-8.4
    • Calcium Level: 460
    • dKH: 9-10
    • Magnesium: 1380


    I believe the stability of my tank comes from dripping Kalkwasser daily. I purchased a DIY Kalk dripper kit from Bulk Reef Supply along with BRS bulk Kalkwasser Aquarium Supplement. I mix 2tsp/gallon into RO/DI. It takes about 24 hours to go through one gallon at a drip rate of 1 drop per second. This takes care of my ATO needs as well. I do have a backup ATO for really dry days when the Kalk dripping is not enough. It's a rare occasion that the ATO kicks on.  Within the last 2 months, I've needed to manually dose 2 part to keep up with my alkalinity needs as well. 


    • Kalk drip
    • 8 drops Brightwell Aquatics Iodion liquid iodide.
    • 6 drops Brightwell Aquatics Strontion liquid strontium.
    • 2-Part ESV B-ionic 6ml each.
    • Feed fish Reef Nutrition R.O.E, frozen cyclopeeze in the morning. Reef Nutrition R.O.E, Frozen cyclopeeze and live blackworms in the late afternoon.


    • Dose Reef Nutrition Phytofeast and Reef Nutrition Oyster Feast 3 x weekly.
    • Alternating dose Marine Snow and Reef Chili.
    • 2x weekly water change.
    • Clean glass.
    • Clean skimmer cup and neck.
    • Change GFO and Carbon in reactor.
    • Test alkalinity.


    • 2 Ocellaris Clownfish
    • 1 Pink Streaked Wrasse
    • 1 Firefish
    • 1 Mandarin Dragonet
    • 2 Neon Gobies
    • 1 Masked Goby

    SPS Coral

    • Season's Greetings Montipora Cap
    • Grape Montipora Cap
    • Bali Green Slimer
    • Orange Digitata
    • Magenta Birds Nest
    • Bird of Paradise Birds Nest
    • Black Coral Spiral Wire

    LPS Coral

    • Pink Open Brain
    • Turquoise Trumpets
    • Assorted Acans
    • Plate Coral

    Soft Coral

    • Green Toadstool
    • Cabbage Leather
    • Assorted Zoanthids and Palythoas
    • Assorted Mushrooms
    • Purple Gorgonian


    • Blue Spot Squamosa Clam
    • Gold Maxima Clam
    • Emerald Crabs
    • Hermit Crabs
    • Boxer Crabs
    • Harlequin Serpant Stars


    I keep running out of room, so I keep upgrading. This is the end of the road though as I don't want to go any larger than this. I chose the cube shape because I absolutely adore the shape. In fact, I have a miniature version of this tank in an 8g size as well. This tank had that matured look very quickly since it was an upgrade from a previous 28 gallon tank. I tend to choose corals with fast growth rates as well. 


    This 45 gallon tank is the largest I have ever owned, and my first tank with a sump. I was always so intimidated by having a sump, because I didn't understand exactly how they worked. My LFS set this one up for me and my friends here helped me troubleshoot, once everything was up and running. Particularly, my friend Brad (Deckoz2302). He took time out of his day to help me. Some of you may have seen, on my tank thread, the video he made at the hardware store showing me exactly the parts I needed to make my sump more quiet. He even surprised me with a phone call one day to make sure everything was working out with the sump.  I am beyond grateful for his help. Now that I totally understand how sumps work I would never be without one on a larger tank. Not only do they add more water volume, but they are wonderful for hiding all of the unsightly but necessary equipment. And as an added benefit, my particular sump has a refugium section to run chaeto and other macroalgaes for nutrient control.   

    Future Plans

    This tank is at its capacity as far as coral stocking. The green and purple monticaps are my favorite part of this tank and I will continue to let them grow. This means at some point I'll need to start removing some things. The neon green toadstool will be first to go as it's getting huge. Next, I'll need to remove some or all of the green mushrooms. With that open space I can move the clams to new positions and move some rocks forward to accommodate the monticap's growth. Eventually I want to get to the point of having just a few huge colonies of coral and my clams. I look forward to the Green Slimer filling in the upper regions of the water column. I have some small birds nests that I look forward to watching their growth as well. And I'm sure there will be lots of fragging of zoas and palythoas in the near future.

    Words Of Wisdom

    It's easy to set up a reef tank. The hardest part is remaining dedicated to all the work that is involved. And it is a lot of work! Sure we can automate most everything to do with our tanks, but you still need to pay attention to how things are working. I feel my greatest strength in this hobby comes from my 100% dedication to my tanks. I never miss a water change and I'm always testing parameters. I think it helps to be a bit OCD in this hobby. So, look at your tank everyday. Check the temperature daily (even multiple times), make sure the salinity is where you want it to be, see how the fish are doing and the corals are looking. These are delicate systems that need our dedication and attention to thrive.

    Advice For New Hobbyists

    Don't rush things. Do lots of research. Once you feel you have a strong knowledge of maintaining a reef tank, don't be afraid to challenge yourself. Last year, after nearly 2 decades of being in this hobby, I took a giant leap (for me) and added a mandarin dragonet fish and a couple of clams. I was incredibly nervous about this, but decided I had enough knowledge, proper equipment, and experience, to be able to handle these creatures at this point in my life. So don't be afraid to try something for fear of failure. With enough knowledge and dedication, chances are great for success.

    Thoughts On...

    Dosing and Feeding
    Don't be afraid to feed your fish and corals often and a healthy amount. Years ago people hardly fed their fish and corals, myself included, because it might cause a nuisance algae outbreak. I see a huge difference between the health of my previous tanks and my current tanks. Tanks that are well fed look better, imagine that.  The growth and color I have now compared to my past tanks is night and day. Your corals need more than just light to thrive. They need food. The more you feed your fish, the more your fish poop, and consequently feed your corals. However, it is important to have a good filtration system in place and remain dedicated to water changes to support heavy feeding. I'm still finding that balance between heavy feeding and nutrient control as I battle with bubble algae.


    Thank you to Christopher Marks for selecting my tank to be featured this month. It's a huge honor for me. My immense love and gratitude to my husband and son for putting up with the endless hours I spend on this hobby. They know how much it means to me and they are supportive. My husband has built me many tank stands over the years, put together music reef videos for me, and helped in other ways as well, and I appreciate that very much. Thank you to my awesome friends here. You guys know who you are. I enjoy the daily chats with you guys and think of you as my family. Thank you to everyone that nominated my tank…oh my gosh, you all are so sweet. An extra special thank you to my BFF and favorite coral trading partner, Brad (Lawnman). I can't thank you enough for all of the help, generosity, and laughs. You are awesome, Brad! And finally, to my future friends here, I look forward to meeting you, getting to know you, and sharing the hobby with you. You've come to the best place on the internet, for reefing knowledge.



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    Congrats, Gena! So well deserved! I am so thrilled to see you win again! Your tanks just keep getting better :) I was excited to see my slimer made your photos! And I had forgotten how awesome Brad was in helping you with your sump. What a great guy!

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    Such a beautiful tank :wub: Congratulations Gena!

    OMG CONGRATS GENA!!!!!!!!!

    Whoop, congrats, Gena! :happydance:

    Awesome!! Waaaay overdue but better late than never!!!

    Thanks you guys :happy:. What an honor this is. Chris did a fabulous job putting it all together. It looks like a lot of work to do it!!!!


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