Jump to content
  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to Veng & Tailes for being selected for our August Reef Profile! Their 20 gallon nano reef aquarium features a very unique aquascape of encrusting coral and unique specimens. Below is the aquarium profile Veng has written for us sharing his experiences in the hobby and their aquarium's progress over the past year and a half. See what he's been up to and share your comments and questions in Veng & Tailes' featured reef profile thread, or in the comments section below. Be sure to also check out their aquarium journal in the members aquariums forum for more information about this nano reef tank.


    Tank Specs

    Display: De-rimmed 20 long all glass aquarium, 30" x 12" x 12"
    Sump: DIY custom acrylic shallow, 30" x 11" x 7.5" 10.7gal, including ATO reservoir.
    Lighting: 2x T5HO, FishNeedIt 30" 2 bulb fixtures. Bulbs are ATI Purple+, ATI Blue+, ATI Blue+, ATI Aquablue special.
    Circulation: Ecotech Marine Vortech MP10ES
    Skimmer: CAD-Lights PLS-50
    Media Reactor: IM Minimax Desktop
    Return Pump: 200 GPH, Harbor Freight
    Heater: Aqueon 200W
    ATO: DIY, float switch controlled.
    Controller: Apex Reef Keeper with Temp & pH probes.
    Filtration: Filter socks
    Dosing: MarineColorMagic dosing pump, with Red Sea Foundations, A (Ca), B (dKH), and C (Mg).


    Established December 2012, transferred from my old 10 gallon nano reef.

    Maintenance Routine

    I currently feed up to four times a day, though I average around twice a day. There is an auto feeder filled with NLS, 1mm Finicky Fish sinking pellets, and Nutri/Cel encapsulated micro feeder that feeds twice a day. I'll feed around a cube's worth a day of either mysis, Rod's Food Coral Blend, Oyster Feast, baby brine shrimp, or RedSea's Reef Energy A/B.


    I do a 50% to 75% water change every 3 to 4 months. I've always been a fan of large water changes, as I've never been good at weekly water changes. We do however take great care to carefully match salinity, temperature, and Ca/dKh with large water changes so we don't do more harm than good.


    I generally only test the water parameters when I see something going wrong or right before a water change. The doser is adjusted, if needed, based on the test results.


    • 2 False Percula
    • 1 Target Mandarin

    Soft Corals

    • Various Palythoas
    • Various Zoanthids
    • Sinularia Leather
    • Ricordias
    • Mushrooms
    • Green Star Polyps

    LPS Corals

    • Duncan
    • Acan Lord
    • Acan Echinatas
    • Maze Brain
    • Favias: Hellboy, Prisim, Christmas
    • Chalice
    • Trumpet
    • Hammer

    SPS Corals

    • Pavona
    • Garf Bonsai
    • Oregon Tort
    • Meteor Shower
    • Kelley Green Psammocora
    • Ora Spongodes
    • Various Stylophora


    • Blue Tuxedo Urchin
    • Lettuce Sea Slug
    • Emerald Crabs
    • Strawberry Crab
    • Bristle Worms
    • Dwarf Ceriths
    • Florida Cerinths
    • Nerites
    • Nassarius Snails
    • Various Hermit Crabs


    We started in this hobby about three and a half years ago, with a 10 gallon tank on Christmas Eve of 2011. Tailes wanted a FOWLR, but by the next day we had committed to corals. Needless to say, that FOWLR idea didn't last very long! We found Nano-Reef.com just a few days later. In late 2012 we were quickly outgrowing the 10 gallon and wanted something larger. After a lot of research, we settled on a 20L to give us more space, while still being able to afford to fill it.

    The 10 gallon aquarium had resided on the counter top and we decided we wanted the 20L to sit in the same spot. We knew we wanted a sump too, but Tailes would never let me drill our counter top, so I had to change it up. I came up with the idea of a shallow sump directly behind the tank. Originally it was to be a 10 gallon sump, which required me to drill the side of the tank to accept the overflow tube. This proved to be problematic as it cracked after I installed it and had already transferred the contents of the 10G to the 20L. I tried to drill another three 10G's (yes 3) and broke them all, so I rigged up a Tupperware container as a ghetto sump for a few weeks while I set out to build a replacement out of acrylic. The final result was a DIY acrylic sump. It was a lot of fun to build and has worked great. 
    We wanted something that had some character and definitely an archway for our rock scape. The arch ended up a little larger than we thought it would, but that just meant more room for corals! I always liked the idea of a wall of GSP, so we added GSP to the back wall and let it grow on the side as well. The GSP actually covered the entire left wall, but we thought it made the tank feel crowded so it was removed as one big mat and shipped it to MetroKat for use in one of her crazy ideas. For the most part, the coral scheme has been to buy what we like, put it where it'll fit, and let it grow.


    The equipment for the tank was largely unchanged for about 6 months. I had built a DIY full spectrum LED lighting system, however about 6 months in I managed to drop it in the tank (Go me!). We replaced it with a T5HO setup and have loved the nice soft light it produces (Tailes didn't like the LED shimmer anyways). We added a media reactor and a skimmer in March 2014. The tank has really responded well to both improvements with even better colors and growth than before.

    Disasters & Regrets

    Shortly after moving to the 20L, I added a very large amount of GFO to combat some algae on the fresh rocks. At the time, I didn't know you could overdose GFO - turns out you can! The tank suffered from slow tissue necropsies (STN) and I lost a lot of the stony corals, including my centerpiece birdsnest colony. With a lot of help from the Nano-Reef community, I learned of my error and corrected it. I still run GFO, however now I run the recommended amount instead of the ~20X the recommended dose I was running when I overdosed the tank. Always read the directions, more is not always better!

    Future Plans

    For the foreseeable future, I think the tank is going to stay very much like it is today and we'll continue to let it grow out even more.

    Advice For New Hobbyists

    RO/DI water and patience are probably the two most important things in the hobby. RO/DI water because without it, most tanks end up being an algae exhibit. Patience, because rushing things in this hobby nearly always leads to disappointment. Plan, read, and research!

    Tips & Tricks

    Get your significant other excited and involved in your tank! Let them pick fish or corals or whatever tickles their fancy. If they're invested and involved, they'll start bugging you to go to the LFS instead of dreading the trips.


    Mr. Clean Magic erasers are amazing for cleaning the INSIDE of your glass, and they're pretty good on the outside too. They don't contain any chemicals so they won't harm your tank.

    Thoughts On...

    Lighting Technology
    I've tried out PC, LED, and T5HO lights over my tanks and I'm a fan of T5s. The biggest reason I like T5s is not the spectrum or the color, it's the "soft" light you get from T5s and the lack of "shimmer".


    It took me a while before I started using one, but now I'm hooked. I doubt I'll ever run a tank without one again. A quality skimmer can pull a lot of gunk out of your tank and make for a much more resilient tank.


    My original 10 gallon had a sandbed and the 20L started the first year of its life without a sandbed. I eventually added sand and don't regret it one bit.


    The longer this tank has been up, the more I've fed. Between the refugium, the GFO, and the skimmer, this tank can handle large, frequent feedings. The more I feed, the more this tank flourishes. Don't be afraid of feeding; nothing grows if you don't feed it. Furthermore, don't be afraid of a little algae. I think too often we chase sterility to the detriment of our tanks because we're afraid of a touch of turf algae or a spot of bubble.


    Coral Fads
    I'm a firm believer in buying corals based on looks, not rarity. There are a lot of beautiful corals out there that can be stunning without paralyzing your wallet.


    Tank Photography
    I've really enjoyed the photogenic aspect of the hobby. These glass boxes filled with water and colored sticks make for wonderful subjects. One of my favorite subjects is macro photography of the intricate details of coral polyps.


    We were floored when the message from Chris choosing us for TOTM. It's sometimes hard to believe it was really 3 years ago we started this hobby. We've made so many great friends in the Nano Reef community and they've contributed so much to this tank. We want to thank everyone so much for the constant encouragement and support.


    @Veng & @tailes

      Report Aquarium

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Congratulations! You guys made a gorgeous reef tank! The meteor shower on the back wall looks fantastic :)

    Thanks! I did that on a whim too, so happy with how it turned out!

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...