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  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to community member Felicia and her 40 gallon reef aquarium for being selected for our December Reef Profile! Her nano reef aquarium features a unique mix of predator fish in a community reef environment. Below is the aquarium profile Felicia 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 Felicia'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 this reef tank.


    Tank Specs

    Display: 40 gallon breeder glass aquarium 36" L x 18" W x 17" H
    Sump: DIY 20 gallon long glass aquarium 30" L x 12" W x 12" H
    Lighting: Maxspect Razor R420R 27" 160 watt 16k
    Filtration: Filter sock, Phosban 150 media reactor with TLF NPX biopellets
    Skimmer: Reef Octopus NWB110 
    Heater: 125 watt Eheim Jager heater, Finnex Max-300 digital heater controller
    Circulation: 2 Vortech MP10's
    Auto Top-Off: JBJ ATO controller, Tom Aqua Lifter pump
    Dosing: Jebao DP-4
    Biological Filtration: 28 lbs cured live rock, 10 lbs Real Reef rock, 40 lbs Fiji Pink sand



    Established February 15, 2015

    Maintenance Routine

    Currently my routine is a bit sporadic because life has been hectic, but I try my best to stick to once a week water changes and maintenance. During the weekly cleaning, I test the water parameters (Alkalinity, Calcium, Magnesium, Nitrates, Phosphates), change 10 gallons of water, replace the filter sock, clean the skimmer cup and neck, refill dosing containers, scrape the glass, manually remove any algae growth in the display, turkey baste detritus off the rocks, and siphon the sand bed.


    In between these cleanings, I add biopellets to my reactor as needed and refill the auto top-off reservoir. I am currently auto-dosing E.S.V. B-Ionic 2-Part (Alkalinity and Calcium) and Magnesium several times per day. My doser also adds Two Little Fishies Acropower every other day.


    Two of my lionfish were only eating live food when I first purchased them, so they had to be weaned from live ghost shrimp to frozen mysis. Now all of my tank inhabitants are exclusively eating frozen food. I feed the lionfish and eel 2-3 times per week, since this is how they would eat in the wild. I purchase a selection of fresh seafood from a local seafood market and make my own frozen cube blend that includes prawns, squid, scallops, salmon, and silversides. At each feeding, I feed one cube of my homemade blend along with one cube of PE Mysis.


    • Fu Manchu Lionfish (Dendrochirus biocellatus)
    • Dwarf Zebra Lionfish (Dendrochirus zebra)
    • Antennata Lionfish (Pterois antennata)
    • Snowflake Eel (Echidna nebulosa)
    • Darwin Ocellaris Clownfish (male) (Amphiprion ocellaris)
    • Standard Ocellaris Clownfish (female) (Amphiprion ocellaris)


    • 6+ Bubble Tip Anemones
    • Squamosa Clam (purchased May 2015)
    • Squamosa Clam (purchased October 2013)
    • Derasa Clam (purchased March 2014)
    • 2 Fighting Conchs
    • Ruby Red Mithrax Crab
    • Serpent Starfish
    • Scarlet and Blue Leg Hermit Crabs
    • Turbo Snails


    I have tried to create a truly mixed reef in this aquarium. I prefer not to focus on coral names or their rarity, but instead, I've purchased the corals that appeal to me and that I believe will thrive in my system. My focus has been on creating a very natural-looking and serene environment for the predator inhabitants. I have a wide variety of corals including many gorgonians, soft corals, zoanthids and palythoas, large polyp stony corals, and small polyp stony corals.

    History & Growing Pains

    I've been involved in the aquarium hobby ever since my dad helped me set-up my first freshwater tank when I was four years old. I've had freshwater aquariums all my life, but being an avid scuba diver, I've always wanted a saltwater tank to be able to have my own piece of the ocean in my home. The discovery of Nano-Reef back in 2011 made me realize that it was possible to keep a successful reef tank that was small enough for my apartment and my budget. I've been hooked on the saltwater reef aquarium hobby and have had several different tank set-ups over these last 4 years.

    After my 30 gallon reef, which was featured back in July 2013, crashed due to a new wrasse disturbing the two-year old sand bed, I had many struggles and set-backs trying to get that system back to its original glory. At the beginning of this year, I finally decided it was time to start from scratch with a new system. I didn't have the space for a large size upgrade, but wanted to focus on designing a system that would overcome the flaws of my previous system. After all of the set-backs I was very discouraged and burned out on the hobby, so I wanted to try something new and exciting to reignite my passion for reef aquariums. After some research, I decided to try something unique and house dwarf lionfish in a mixed-reef environment.

    Thoughts On Lionfish

    I have had the lionfish for a little over 6 months now, and they are doing great and have become my favorite fish species. If you're looking for something unique or different, I really recommend the dwarf lionfish species. They're able to be housed in nano aquariums, are very hardy, and have amazing personalities! They're also beautiful fish and are so much fun to feed. A lot of people keep predator fish in FOWLR systems, but I highly recommend keeping them in a mixed reef environment. They live on reefs in the wild, so it is much more enjoyable to see them in a beautiful, natural environment. They are completely reef safe and do not harm any corals or clams. However, they can eat anything that is ¾ of their size or smaller, so you have to be willing to not keep any shrimp or small fish. The only other consideration is to make sure you have very good filtration because feeding predator fish creates a lot of excess nutrients. As long as you take these requirements into consideration, lionfish are a great addition to a reef aquarium and I highly recommend them.

    Future Plans

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    I am very happy with this tank, so I do not have any immediate plans for an upgrade. I'm going to enjoy the tank while I give it time to mature and continue to fill in. At some point down the line though, I would like to upgrade to a larger system to house the lionfish and eel as they grow. I'd also like to be able to add more species of lionfish.

    Advice For New Hobbyists

    At the risk of sounding cliché, my main advice is to do your research and read, read, and read some more. However, you should always consider the source and don't believe everything you read online. Make sure you're finding experienced and reputable sources of information. Utilize Nano-Reef.com to its fullest. It's a great place to get advice and make tons of connections in the reef aquarium hobby. Finally, don't be afraid to go against the grain and try something new! Just make sure you do your research first, and make sure you have a plan to help you succeed.


    First off, thank you to Christopher Marks for creating such an amazing reef forum and for selecting my tank for TOTM. It is truly an honor! It was so unexpected and completely made my holidays. What a great present! I'd also like to thank all my friends on this forum for the advice and support. Finally, a special thanks to my seahorse buddy and amazing boyfriend, Eddie (aka Zia) for spending Valentine's weekend with me setting up this tank and for his continuing support and advice.



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