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Pod Your Reef
  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to community member hey and his 50 gallon nano reef aquarium for being selected for our July Reef Profile! Below is the aquarium profile hey has written for us sharing his experiences in the hobby and his aquarium's progress over the past year and half. See what he's been up to and share your comments and questions in hey'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: Mr. Aqua Rimless Glass Aquarium, 36" x 18" x 18", 50 Gallons
    Lighting: Aqua Medic Oceanlight with a 250W Phoenix DE Metal Halide bulb, ATI Blue+ and ATI Purple+ T5's
    Filtration: Aquaclear 70 with filter floss, carbon, and Purigen
    Heater: Cobalt Neotherm 100W
    Powerhead: EcoTech Marine Vortech MP10
    ATO: Tunze Osmolator


    Established February 2014

    Maintenance Routine

    My maintenance routine isn't much of a routine. It started as one but as time went on I realized the tank will let me know when things need done. Sometimes coral will show bad polyp extension, for instance, and that's always been an alert to change my carbon to prevent coral allelopathy. With so many soft corals it's something that just has to be dealt with regularly in such a small system.


    As for my water changes, those tend to be infrequent as well with many months in between them usually. There is one big reason I can get away with that though, and that is having tons of macro algae in my display. The one thing I do in my tank regularly is trim and remove excess macro algae. This is my main source of nutrient export and is critical to the success of my system. I do test my calcium, alkalinity, magnesium, and nitrate about every other week to make sure nothing is out of whack and so far this system has worked out pretty well for me.


    My feeding schedule is to feed 2 small cubes of food daily or 1 big cube split. Some foods I regularly feed are: mysis, oyster eggs, krill, clam, cyclops, baby brine shrimp, and brine shrimp. I also keep a variety of pellet food on hand and feed it sparingly or have the tank sitters feed it while I am out of town.


    • 2 False Percula Clownfish
    • 1 Green Chromis
    • 1 Royal Gramma
    • 1 Kole Tang


    I don't want to place emphasis on any specific coral in the tank, I have never looked at reef keeping as a hobby of collecting new and unique corals, I have always looked at it as a hobby of creating something to view that is generally pleasing to the eye. What I want people to see when viewing my tank is the entire thing as a whole, and I try to only post full tank shots in my thread when I can. I have tried not to place any coral in there that would look out of place or squeezed in just because it was rare. I have also been careful to keep my color palette pretty simple and work only with corals of those shades in an effort to create a more natural looking display.


    • 2 Cleaner Shrimp
    • 1 Coco Worm
    • 1 Bubble Tip Anemone
    • Lots of various snails and micro brittle stars
    • Lots of hermit crabs

    Macro Algae

    I keep a lot of macro algaes and pest algaes in my tank, some introduced accidentally, some introduced intentionally. I have always embraced them growing out and generally all of them seem to find their place of equilibrium in the tank, never taking over the entire thing. This includes algaes such as dictyota, bryopsis, valonia, GHA, and even some chaeto. I do trim them all regularly and occasionally pick off bubble algae if it is growing in a location I find distracting.


    I started keeping saltwater aquariums about two and a half years ago, initially with an all in one (AIO) 22 gallon square footprint tank. I decided I didn't like the black background of the AIO and ultimately did very little with it as the aesthetics of it bothered me so much. I upgraded to a 50 gallon knowing I preferred rectangular dimensions and wanted a clear background to keep the tank looking bright all the time.

    I still feel very new to the saltwater hobby and am always reading new information and getting new ideas on stuff to try out. I like to think of what this hobby is for me as a form of artistic expression before anything else, but as we all know there is a lot of work that goes into maintaining this "art". I do want to give a few shout outs to people who's tanks have inspired me here; JR!, metrokat, brad908, giga, southflorida_tron, rollajase, thekleinreef, and illuix/benjho. I learned a lot from viewing your tanks and I have to thank you all for being so helpful with answering questions and offering advice.


    When I first started planning this tank I had a very specific vision for how I wanted it to look. Some inspirations I looked to that helped me eventually come to this design were not other aquariums, but other forms of art. Ikebana (an art of flower arrangement) is one big one I drew a lot of inspiration from. The other was wabi kusa (and ADA coined term) where plants are started in balls of substrate and let to grow "wild". There is a lot of beauty to be seen in the chaos that ensues from just letting nature do it's thing.

    When I set up my hardscape I did it very mathematically. The rock "triangle" is 2/3rds the length of my tank as well as 2/3rds the height and depth. I then added the tonga branches all pointing in the same direction to direct the eye from the hardscape where are the corals would be outwards into the large open "negative" space that the triangle created. I got the idea for the tonga branches from the sticks often used in ikebana. The way I added corals and macro algaes to the tank draws from the wabi kusa inspiration and I just let them kind of take over the rock work. I want nature to take its course and the dominant corals will eventually mostly dominate the tank. The way I see the tank now is it is still in it's infancy. It should look completely different 2-3 years from now if growth stays consistent and I find the constant change exciting.

    My equipment (the filtration specifically) has changed a lot since the tank first started. I got rid of the sump and skimmer because I found the macro algae takes care of most water quality issues and rendered the skimmer near useless. I removed them in favor of a hang on back filtration unit with just a bit of chemical and mechanical filtration to keep the water looking clear. I wouldn't say it is better in this configuration than it was from the start, but it suits my lifestyle with it's ease of maintenance, and that's ultimately why it is in it's current configuration. I can't emphasize enough that this hobby is as complicated as you make it. If you feel like you are overwhelmed by tank related chores and it just isn't fun anymore then simplify. There is no reason a hobby should ever seem stressful or tedious. A simple tank can be just as beautiful as a super high tech tank it just requires knowing the limitations of your system.

    Advice For New Hobbyists

    It's been said on here numerous times but I feel like the redundancy is a good thing here. Read! There is so much information on this site it can be overwhelming at first, my suggestion is to pick a build from the build thread you want to emulate and start reading from the beginning. Odds are you will find lots of good advice on what works well for them and often times you will find mistakes they made along the way, these are mistakes you can avoid thanks to their experience! I also want to emphasize a keep it simple approach to any beginner in the hobby. There is a lot that can go wrong even in a simple tank, couple that with a lack of experience and it is asking for trouble in many of the more complicated methods of reef keeping. I find a set up such as mine very forgiving and would not hesitate to recommend similar setups to others.


    I want to finish this up with the hope I can direct some more traffic to the aquascaping subforum here on the site. I feel like aquascaping in reef tanks is still in its infancy and it would be a great help to everyone in the hobby to contribute to the art of keeping a beautiful aquarium. I predict aquascaping is the next frontier for the hobby and expect to see great things in the future. I want to emphasize that aquascaping is not just the placement of the rocks in your tank, it is the colors you choose, the fish you choose, the shapes of the corals you choose, and the growth patterns of the corals. The options are limitless, and I would love to see more topics on the subforum showing what inspires you, techniques you or others have found, and color theme discussion; not just the general how is my hardscape discussion. Nano-reef right now I believe is one of the forums on the bleeding edge of saltwater aquascape awareness and progression. Join in, learn, and contribute!





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