Congratulations to community member hypostatic and his 15 gallon nano reef aquarium for being selected for our May Reef Profile! Below is the aquarium profile hypostatic has written for us sharing his experiences in the hobby and his aquarium's progress over the past four years. See what he's been up to and share your comments and questions in hypostatic'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.
Display: 12" x 12" x 24" 3/8" 15 Gallon Glass Tank
Biological Filtration: ~1" black sand, ~20 lbs live rock, Marina S20 Slim Power Filter – Filled with chaeto
Mechanical Filtration: Marineland PC-ML160 Multi-stage Canister Filter – Filter Floss, Bio Balls, Carbon, GFO
Lighting: ATI Coral Plus + ATI Blue Plus T5s (24W x2)
Heater: Hydor 50W submersible heater
Circulation: Hydor FLO Rotating Deflector for alternating flow, ~150 GPH from filters, ~200 GPH from Hydor Pico Centrifugal 200+
Established January 2011
• Salinity Level: 1.025 +/- 0.003
• Temp: 76-81°F
• pH: ???
• Calcium Level: ???
• Alkalinity: ???
• Potassium: ???
• Ammonia: ???
• Nitrite Levels: ???
• Nitrate Levels: ???
• Phosphate: ???
Wow. So yeah, what do I do, and why does it work? I almost NEVER test my parameters. I've actually never tested for potassium, phosphate, and calcium. Testing was pretty useful during my first year, while I was still getting the hang of things, but now I basically only look at the temp, and check the salinity when I do water changes.
I feed pretty heavily and often. The result is that the water is TEEMING with life. The tank is packed with copepods, ostracods, and phyto. It actually can get hard to take a decent picture of the tank with all these things churning around in the water. I believe that all these nutrients have led me to have good success with some traditionally hard-to-keep corals like goniopora. The water is packed with all sorts of good things – I don't know why people would want to get rid of all these things with skimmers or by starving their tanks.
• Feed fish: Currently using Cobalt Aquatics Mysis Flakes
• Feed zoas and gonis: Reef Roids (about ¼ tsp)
• Feed suns and anemones: Hikari Spirulina Brine Shrimp (1 cube)
• A water change would be nice. (2 gallons)
• OK, A water change is usually done at least once per month.
• Tubastraea (Yellow Sun Coral)
• Tubastraea (Dwarf White Sun Coral)
• Dendrophyllia (Branching Dendro)
• Goniopora (Red with green eyes)
• Goniopora (Glittering Goni)
• Goniopora (ORA red? planulata?)
• Goniopora (Pink with black spots)
• Goniopora stokesi
• Catalaphyllia jardinei (Elegance Coral)
• Turbinaria peltata (Pagoda Coral)
• So many Zoanthids (like, around 10 varieties)
• Briareum (Green Star Polyps)
• Blue Tipped Hairy Mushrooms
• Pseudocorynactis (Ball-Tip Anemone)
• Tubipora musica (Pipe Organ)
• Amphiprion ocellaris (Ocellaris Clownfish)
• Micro Mini Carpet Anemone
• Anemonia gracilis (Graceful Anemone)
• Epicystis crucifer (Rock Flower Anemone)
• Neopetrolisthes ohshimai (Porcelain Anemone Crab)
• Calcinus laevimanus (Dwarf Zebra Hermit Crab)
• Ciliopagurus strigatus (Halloween Hermit Crab)
• Calcinus elegans (Electric Blue Hermit Crab)
• Babylonia formosae (Butterscotch Snail)
• Asterina spp. (Starfish)
So the underwater flower garden started as a 2011 Christmas present for my girlfriend. She likes Disney/Pixar and Finding Nemo, so I thought that she might enjoy some "nemos" of her own. Like most girls, she really loves flowers, but most real flowers only last so long before they die or stop blooming. I decided to populate the tank with perpetual coral "flowers" so that she could always have some flowers to look at. The girlfriend also really like things "that flow" in the aquarium, so I've also tried to bring things that either move on their own or with the water flow, in order to bring a more dynamic and animated feel to the tank so that everything always looks alive. The girlfriend picked out the rock work, and it was arranged to look sort of like a house or cave maybe LOL. My tank thread was really started as just a way to log my progress and parameters, but it's evolved into a nice place to share ideas and get some great input from fellow reefers – thanks everyone!
Besides the actual tank itself, not much has remained from the original setup. The lights were changed from the crappy stock ones to lighting suitable for coral growth. Salt was changed from Reef Crystals to Red Sea Coral Pro. Originally I used treated tap water (*GASP*), and now it's RO/DI water. I've added, removed, and re-added different filters, which I think I'm still not done fiddling with. I think the last major change was switching to black sand from white. The black sand reaaalllyyy brings the whole tank together. The contrast makes the colors or the corals pop so much. It also drastically changes the lighting and how light gets reflected around the tank. It draws your eyes up from the bottom back to the top. It also hides poop and detritus SO much better haha.
Disasters & Regrets
DAMN. So many, I can't even keep track of all the bad things that have happened to the tank. Fish have jumped. Some of my favorite crustaceans have just disappeared for no rhyme or reason. And of course, lost corals. Looking through the tank history, there have been a few corals that grew into nice colonies, only to disappear very quickly. For example, I had a very large pipe organ colony that fell prey to a mysterious "something" when I introduced another colony – the original colony was TOTALLY wiped out, and I managed to save 2 polyps from the second introduced colony of 100+ polyps. Also I had a huge battle with algae in 2012/13. I had to scrub the rocks with those metal brushes that are used on grills in order to remove it (and they still didn't remove the short red hair algae!). This battle was finally won with GFO.
Words Of Wisdom
Reefkeepers aim to keep some of the most exotic and unusual animals that come from the farthest corners of the Earth inside their little glass boxes. This is no small endeavor. These animals usually have very specific requirements, and sometimes two animals that look very much alike have completely different requirements. Corals are animals. In order to have a nice looking tank, you have to keep our corals happy. If you want to do your corals justice and take good care of them, you need to be well educated about their care and natural history. So do some research and read up. STAND ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS. For some of the reef animals we keep, not much is known about them – you'll be putting yourself in the best possible position for success if you learn as much as possible.
Advice For New Hobbyists (Based On My Mistakes)
- Get a RO/DI system – you're gonna need a steady, reliable source of pure water.
- If you wanna keep photosynthetic coral, you're gonna need some half decent lights.
- Cheap coral is usually the best: it's been aquacultured for a good amount of time probably, and will generally be hardier and more forgiving.
- Be CONSISTENT. If you're constantly changing things in your maintenance, dosing, and etc, you'll never know what changes are causing what.
- Research, Research, Research. And then research some more.
The only reason why we keep our fish and corals is because they're so colorful and beautiful. In order to actually see all these colors, you need good lighting. You also need good lighting in order to stimulate the corals to produce bright colors. As to what actually is "good lighting"... well, there's a whole forum dedicated to that.
They take away all the good stuff! All the bacteria, and plankton, and food left in the water! You don't actually KNOW what it's taking out.
FEED YOU CORALS!!! They're animals! The have mouths and digestive systems! They are literally COVERED in mouths and things designed so they can eat. Feed them please. Feed as much and as often as humanly (or mechanically) possible. Your fish and corals are eating throughout the day and night, I find it cruel to only feed them like once a week or something.
ESSENTIAL. Completely and utterly necessary. My tank has thousands of amphipods and hundreds of bristleworm jerks. There's hermits in there, but they don't actually clean much. The CUC is essential in keeping everything in balance.
Fads are pretty stupid in general, and they all come and go. I'm looking at you ULNS! FEED YOUR TANK!
Local Fish Stores
A lot of people will scoff and laugh at LFS's, and it's not uncommon on the internet to read on how stupid and unknowledgeable they often are. But I love them. Every single one of them is way out of the way for me, and it's totally cheaper and more convenient to buy things online and have them shipped, but I almost always go to the LFS. I like the personal touch of talking to a person. I also like how everything at the LFS is WYSIWYG – things on the internet seldom are.
You know, I'd really like to thank the Nano-Reef.com community for all their advice, information, and pretty photography. You've all been an inspiration for me. NR is such an incredible compendium of knowledge, and I really could not have put this thing together and kept it alive without all your help and wisdom – it has been invaluable, and I'm still learning from all of you.