Congratulations to RollaJase for being selected for our July Reef Profile! His 30 gallon nano reef aquarium is incredibly diverse, housing an impressive array of soft, LPS, and SPS coral. Below is the aquarium profile RollaJase 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 RollaJase'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.
Display: Custom Made 500mm X 500mm X 450mm (20" X 20" X 18") 110L (30 Gallon) Display Tank, Custom Made Tank Stand.
Lighting: AI Sol Blue with Gen 2 Controller
Filtration: 2x FistaFiltration Nano Reactors
Skimmer: Tunze 9004 Protein Skimmer
Heater: Fluval 200w & 150w Heater
Circulation: Ecotech Marine Vortech MP10ES
ATO:Tunze Osmolator Nano
Equipment: APC BK650-AS (650VA) UPS Battery Backup
Established September 2012
- Salinity = 1.025-1.026
- Temp = 25-27 Degrees Celsius
- pH = 7.8-8.2
- Alkalinity = 7.6dKH (aiming for 8.0dKH)
- Calcium = 400-420ppm
- Magnesium = 1260-1300ppm
- Ammonia = 0
- Nitrite = 0
- Nitrate = ~0.2
- Phosphate = (not sure, untested)
Salinity taken using a refractometer, all tests are conducted using RedSea test kits (Alk, Cal & Mag are RedSea Pro kits).
• Change GFO and Carbon in media reactors, I run each media in their own reactor for ease of maintenance.
• 25% water change using RedSea Coral Pro salt
• 5ml of Salifert Coralline Aminoacids
• Clean and empty skimmer cup
• Refill ATO reservoir
• Clean/scrape glass (sometimes twice a week)
• Clean MP10 wet side of slime
• Agitate substrate with turkey baster
• Blow off rocks with turkey baster (twice a week)
• Seachem Reef Complete (Calcium and Magnesium buffer, dose as needed)
• Seachem Reef Carbonate (Alkalinity buffer, dose as needed, add some to ATO)
• Salifert Coral Food (every few days)
• Microbe Lift Phyto-Plus A, B and Zoo-Plus (every few days, alternate)
• Ocean Nutrition Marine Mix (one cube daily)
• Ocean Nutrition Frozen Rotifiers (one cube every few days)
• New Life Spectrum Marine 1-2mm pellets (feed when I'm around throughout the day, typically weekends, sometimes mix with daily feedings)
• 1 Orange & White Ocellaris Clownfish
• 3 Longspine (Threadfin) Cardinalfish
• 1 Bicolour Blenny
• Various Blue, Purple, Orange & Red Actinodiscus sp. Mushrooms including some spotted varieties.
• Green & Neon Green Rhodactis sp. Mushrooms
• Purple/Blue and Green Ricordea sp. Mushrooms
• Assorted Zoanthus sp. & Palythoa sp. arranged in a garden.
• Pink Body, Green Polyp Leather Coral
• Pink Pulsating Xenia
• Green and White Catalaphyllia Elegance
• Green With Pink Tips Catalaphyllia Elegance
• Tan & White Branching Torch
• Green Hammer
• Green Tentacle Frogspawn
• Neon Green/Yellow Trachyphyllia
• Fluro Green Tentacled, Powder Blue Bodied Fungia Plate
• Fluro Orange Fungia Plate
• Purple, Blue and Yellow/Green Chalice
• Blood Red Chalice
• Pink with Yellow Polyp Acropora
• Red/Brown Body, Pale Blue Tipped, Green Polyp Acropora
• Tri Colour Acropora (Garf Bonsai)
• Neon Green Acropora
• Blue/Purple Acropora
• Red Millepora
• Blue Staghorn
• Green Pocillopora
• Pink Pocillopora
• Rainbow Stylophora
• Green Plating Montipora
• 1 Red Fromia Sea Star
• 15 or so Turbo Snails
• 3 Hermit Crabs
I have kept fish in some form on and off for probably close to 17 years now. I remember as far back as the age of 4 having my first goldfish bowl in my room and smashing it all over the floor. From there the tanks got larger and the fish changed, but the passion always lingered.
Growing up living in Australia we are fortunate to be graced with beautiful beaches and abundant marine life. When I was about 12 or 13 I went on a family holiday to the Great Barrier Reef and was lucky enough to spend an entire day snorkeling on the reef. I was in awe at the colours and diversity of life that existed a mere arms length beneath the surface of the water. This trip made me seriously consider Marine Biology as a career path, a career that to this day has me intrigued and has made me consider becoming a student again on more than one occasion.
Reefing for me started about 3 years ago while I was at university. A good friend of mine started up a business and I worked for him part time while he was still working out of his parents house. His family had been into reef keeping for a number of years but had stopped when they moved interstate. While on a trip back home to visit family and friends they picked up one of their old tanks (a Biocube 29) and brought it back with them. Over the next 12 months I saw the tank grow from a barren pile of rock to a reef teeming with life and colour. When my friend eventually moved into a shop front for his business we went on a road trip to collect his old 55G tank and stand for the shop. The moment we started cycling this tank I was sold, I knew I had to have my own piece of reef in my life. It was about this time that I discovered Nano-Reef.com and when the fun truly began.
As this was my first ever marine tank (and the largest aquarium I have ever owned) I spent a great deal of time researching dimensions, materials and standard conventions that tie these things together. In the end I settled on a cube style tank as it would best suit my available space and I really liked the look of this particular form factor. I decided on a custom built tank as cube style tanks weren't overly popular here at the time, and it allowed me to get the exact measurements I wanted while still working to my budget.
Disasters & Regrets
This tank has had its fair share setbacks since its establishment. After battling an algae bloom that lasted a few months in early 2013, come the middle of the year the tank was starting to come together. A faulty power board caused the tank to run without a heater for 2 days causing a few pieces of coral to die off, accompanied by a large ammonia spike, but miraculously none of the fish died. Not long after that my BTA blended itself in my MP10 causing a tank crash that killed all but one of my fish at the time, leaving me with a single clown fish and a lot of unhappy corals. Most recently Alk swings and low calcium have played havoc with my SPS with a lot of my pieces dying back substantially.
I would be lying if I said I had any regrets regarding this tank. Would I have gone larger? Of course! But would I have learned how correct husbandry plays a crucial role in tank stability? Would I remove my original sump again? Probably not, but would I have learned how to make the most of my current tank? I could go on for hours. I don't like to look back at my adventure and regret what I have done. Yes there are decisions I would have made differently a second time around but without those choices (right or wrong) the tank wouldn't be where it is today and I wouldn't have learned the critical lessons that make me who I am today as a reefer.
There are a number of aquariums on this site that have inspired me at one point or another, whether they be from when I was doing initial research or when I was close to throwing in the towel. Rehypes 'Hypes Archipelago' was a huge inspiration during my initial research, as was IIX/Illu/Benjho's creation at the time. The elegant execution and beautiful colours was everything I wanted to achieve in my own creation. Hypes shallow tank was what initially drew me into that style as previously I had only really seen your standard long style tank.
In more recent times, Zia and Gena's works of art have spurred me to do better and try new things, I was absolutely ecstatic when they both received TOTM honours earlier this year. Their willingness to share their knowledge and take the time to answer questions has been greatly appreciated.
Work from the likes of Felicia, TheDoogan, 4x5, Giga, AJ_Tsin, Markalot, urbaneks, NanoTopia, Tron, Arkayology, Mr. Microscope, Veng&Tailes, metrokat and Gramaphone (to name a few) have all inspired me when making changes to my scape, livestock and equipment over the past 12-18 months.
I'd like to say that in the there are plans for a bigger tank, a larger build, a new blank canvas but sadly I don't see there being one on the cards anytime soon, not within the next 12 months anyway. I will be adding a sump to this system for the second time, it has been in development for a little over 6 months now but things are slowly drawing to a close. I also plan on eventually purchasing the AI Sol to Hydra upgrade kit for my light and will move to an automated dosing system once the sump is installed. I have considered pulling out most of my soft corals and establishing an SPS dominated aquascape a number of times. Once I get the hang of dosing trace elements this may be an evolution of this tank but for now I am enjoying the diversity of the mixed reef.
Advice For New Hobbyists
I know that his gets reiterated in nearly every TOTM profile but, do your research. Reefing is not a hobby that you can dive into unprepared. It can be unforgiving and little mistakes can turn out to cause huge issues, particularly when you deal with the type of water volume most of us here do.
Finding a good LFS and getting to know the staff is an excellent way to gather information, and showing your face frequently shows loyalty meaning they will be more inclined to throw in that extra frag or go out of their way to order something in that you particularly want. If the people at the LFS don't take the time to listen then they aren't worth your time. My favourite LFS is roughly a 2 hour return trip, and while I don't get there as often as I would like anymore, whenever I do stop by they greet me with a smile, they know my name, and they will immediately show me their new pieces that they think I will be interested in or that they think will suit my tank. Service like this keeps you coming back and makes that 2 hour return trip worthwhile every time.
Don't skimp on equipment, I made the mistake of trying to establish this tank on a budget initially, the only original piece of equipment that I still have (besides the tank and stand) is my heater, glass thermometer and digital temp probe. Most reefers always have the upgrade itch, I recommend looking ahead when making equipment choices for your current tank. If you are thinking of upgrading in the near future select a lighting option that is easily expandable, select a skimmer that will be able to handle the upgrade. These things not only save you money and a headache later down the track it also saves you having to try and learn how to use new equipment every other week. This may not be the cheapest option but if you're lucky you can find great bargains on the forums or local classifieds to make purchasing new equipment a little easier to swallow.
I have only been in the hobby for a short period of time but the hot topic has always been lighting. I have been on the LED side of the fence from day one due to good experiences with LED technology in other areas of my life. I have tried a variety of different fixtures and options, considered a custom build and almost went ahead with it before I ordered my AI Sol. I have had great experiences with LED lighting and the lower power consumption and long life bonuses appeal to me greatly. Being able to find a fixture that suits my tank dimensions was also something I couldn't find with a T5 unit within my price range. With that said, T5 lighting still appeals to me a lot, there is something about the colour blending and the way that corals look under T5 that a lot of LED fixtures just can't replicate. I am all for trying new things and on a future build I may play with T5 lighting, a hybrid LED/T5 fixture may even be on the cards. For now however, I am happy with my LEDs and have no intention of replacing them with another form of lighting.
I have always been a big believer in a varied diet for my fish and corals. Over the months I have tried a number of liquid, frozen, and live foods and have even tried preparing my own foods before settling on a few products that my tank seems to like, that are readily available to me and that don't break the bank. I used to alternate frozen foods on a daily basis between Spirulina Brine and a fleshier frozen mix before settling on the Ocean Nutrition Marine Mix cubes. These cubes provide a nice variety of brine, shrimp and some larger fleshier pieces that keep all my fish happy. It also keeps well in the freezer and doesn't smell like a lot of other frozen products out there. I also use the Ocean Nutrition frozen Rotifier cubes a few times a week and find that my LPS and Zoas love them, some of my larger polyped SPS pieces also show good feeding response. I have tried a number of liquid foods also, mainly aiming at feeding my SPS corals but also for target feeding other specific pieces. The Microbe-Lift products I have found to be top notch and once my Salifert coral food runs out I will stick solely with Phyto-Plus A & B as well as Zoo-Plus. I alternate these products and tend to broadcast feed the corals 2-3 times a week. I used to target feed with frozen brine once a week and while a lot of the food was consumed the ease of switching off the skimmer and broadcast feeding the entire tank is an easier solution for me and I have found for me it yields better results overall. One range of products I have been wanting to try for a while now is the Polyplab range. I have seen the ReefRoids and PolypBooster in action at my LFS and the feeding response is unreal, definitely something I will be trying when I get the chance. They aren't the cheapest products (1 small vial of PolypBooster will cost me more than the 3 Microbe-Lift products that I use combined) but if the results are there I will be happy to give it a try at least once.
I would like to quickly thank Christopher Marks and the Nano-Reef community for the opportunity to put my thoughts and experiences to paper. Nano-Reef has been an invaluable resource of information and encouragement and has greatly influenced my growth as a hobbyist. I would also like to say it's an honour to be nominated and selected for TOTM and it means a lot to me that the hard work I have put in has been recognized on an international scale. There aren't many members from Australia on Nano-Reef so that makes this all that more special to me.