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  • NanoTopia

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to community member NanoTopia and her 7 gallon nano reef aquarium for being selected for our January Reef Profile! Below is the aquarium profile NanoTopia has written for us sharing her experiences in the hobby and her aquarium's progress over the past year and a half. See what she's been up to and share your comments and questions in NanoTopia'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 nano reef tank.


    Tank Specs

    Display: ADA 30C, 30cm x 30cm x 30cm (27L / 7.2 gallons)
    Sump: DoAqua 25cm x 25cm x 25cm (15L / 4 gallons)
    Circulation: Tunze Silence 1073.020 return pump (634 GPH) 
    Lighting: NanoBox Custom LED with 4 Channel Storm controller.
    Skimmer: Innovative Marine Skimmer
    Reactor: Custom reactor running All-In-One Bio-pellets
    ATO: Tunze Osmolator Nano ATO 3152, DoAqua 25cm x 25cm x 25cm (15L / 4 gallons) reservoir.
    Heater: Aqueon 50w Heater
    Controller: Digital Aquatics RKL with SL1 module, temperature and pH probes.
    Cooling: 2 x 120mm Fans in the stand.


    Established October 2013

    Maintenance Routine

    • I test basic parameters once a week and perform a 20% water change weekly with RedSea Blue bucket Salt. I supplement Brightwell Aquatics alkalinity, calcium, magnesium, potassium when required and GAC changed every 3 weeks.
    • I supplement Zeovit Amino Acid LPS, Pohl's Xtra, Sponge Power, Coral Vitalizer, Coral Snow, Zeozym, ZEObak, Biomate, Potassium Iodide Fluoride, and Iodine Concentrate.
    • I feed twice a day, frozen PE Mysis in small amounts. I also feed New Life Spectrum small pellets and Reef Nutrition Oyster Eggs occasionally. 


    • 1 x ORA Sharknose Goby (Elacatinus evelynae)
    • 1 x Yellow Coral Goby (Gobiodon okinawae)


    Montipora tuberculosa.
    • Various Gorgonian sp.
    Axinella spp.
    Blastomussa wellsi
    Blastomussa merletti
    Cyphastrea japonica
    Goniastrea spp.
    Goniastrea palauensis
    Echinophyllia spp.
    Favia spp.
    • Armor of God Palythoa
    • Eagle Eye Zoanthids
    Cirripathes spirals
    Euphyllia glabrescens


    • 2 x Anemone Shrimp (Periclimenes brevicarpalis)
    • 1 x Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)
    • 1 x Porcelain Anemone Crab (Neopetrolisthes ohshimai)
    • 1 x Dwarf Blue Leg Hermit Crab (Clibanarius tricolor)
    • 5 x Banded Trochus Snails (Trochus sp.)


    I set up my first saltwater nano 20 gallon aquarium in 1979, under gravel filters were all the rage back then along with standard aquarium light bulbs. A lot has happened since those days and my love for the ocean has taken me on many journeys over the years. Diving on reefs around the world, working at sea, and performing aquatic shows under water at the Vancouver Aquarium come to mind. Yet, I feel I have only touched the surface when it comes to understanding the ocean and all it's life. This hobby allows me to stay in a constant state of learning and it is what keeps me so interested over the years.


    I woke up one day with the urge to design a small display tank that was free of equipment clutter and could be viewed at eye level. Key to the design of this system would be an oversized return pump that would drive enough water flow through the tank that circulation pumps would not be necessary. I also wanted to hide the return plumbing in the rock work. In order to do this I had to piece together over a hundred small pieces of ruble rock, concealing the return tubing which originates from the bottom center of the tank. As it turned out, I needed to modify almost every component of this system to achieve my goal, crafting new parts and altering existing ones. What I though was no more than a months work, ended up being eight months from design to running water. It also ended up costing me six times my original budget, but it was worth every dime.

    I really didn't know for sure at the time of design if this system would work effectively. Thankfully it has, but there have been a few small changes over the 15 months. Initially, I was only running carbon and a filter sock in the sump. I later initiated "All-in-One" bio-pellets and some GFO to tackle rising nutrients. I did remove some of the original substrate to minimize detritus build up. I had two of my Apogon margaritophorus jump so I designed a screen cover for the tank. This takes away from the clean lines of a rimless tank but it was the ethical thing to do.

    Building this system was a huge learning experience for me. There are so many things I would do differently next time around but I have no regrets. The knowledge I have gained from building this system is invaluable. It has made me a better reefer overall and I highly recommend everyone, at some point, take on the challenge of designing and building a system of their own one day.


    I do feel I need a break from the hobby soon, I have not been on a real vacation in years and I would like to visit Norway and Britain in the near future. This means I will take down my two current tanks for a while then eventually start another nano build. I do look forward to that day.

    Inspiration & Goals

    My inspiration for this tank initially came from the design concepts of Takashi Amano who states, "Anything blocking the aquascape is unnecessary." I set out to apply this concept to a marine tank much like he has with his planted tanks.

    Disasters & Regrets

    Nutrients climbed out of control and I had a couple coral losses before I implemented the bio-pellets. I wish I was more observant of the rising nutrients, I waited far too long and it took several months to get the nutrients under control again. I blame it all on pure laziness on my part. You just can't get lazy with a reef tank, you have to keep on it 24/7.

    Advice For New Hobbyists

    I feel it's important to have, at minimum, a general understanding of the marine ecosystem as it functions in nature in order to be a good reefer. More can be learned about keeping a reef tank from a good marine biology text book than a "how to" book on reefkeeping. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of marine biology will not be time wasted.


    Avoid relying only on test kit results, train your eyes to see what is taking place in the reef. Often, you can see something going wrong before the test kit results indicate a problem. Correcting issues before they become a problem is key to the success of any tank.


    Do not be afraid of a little algae, it is a natural component to any healthy reef ecosystem. A system totally void of algae is not a healthy reef tank. Balance however, is important and a tank that is growing more algae than coral is out of balance.

    Thoughts On...

    Lighting Technology
    Until we create an artificial light source that mimics the suns spectrum occurring at roughly 30 feet under the ocean, we are forced to use the various T5, LED, and MH available on the market. All these can work well to grow coral however, it is important to use them correctly.


    Skimmer designs have come a long way over the years but the principle behind how they operate remains the same. Skimmers remove more than just detritus so be careful not to greatly oversize your skimmer for your tank size and stocking.


    Dosing & Feeding
    I have two thoughts to share with everyone on dosing and feeding. First, consider that if water changes alone cannot keep up with the demand of calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium usage in your reef tank, it only makes sense that it cannot keep up with the demand for trace elements. I am a proponent of replacing all elements, both major and minor, in my reef tanks. Secondly, corals do not fair well in a sterile environment, they need good quality food daily, much as they would get on the natural reef. Feed you corals! 


    I would like to thank Christopher Marks for considering my nano tank for TOTM, I am truly honoured. Initially, I was reluctant to accept this honour due to the fact I was honoured once before for my 20 gallon nano, but Christopher did eventually convince me to accept. I only hope my 7 gallon nano can inspire others as much as all the tanks on Nano-Reef.com have inspired me over the years.



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    Congratulations. Awesome tank for sure.








    On a side note.. didn't you start this tank around the same time you started that micro reefs temp tank, how's that doing?

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    Way to go Christine, well deserved.


    This has got to be the cleanest well though out 7 gallon tank out there, bar none!!


    Also like to give you kudos for your helpful advise for those who are interested in going the "Zeo-Vit" way!!

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    Congrats Christine!

    Thank you sunburn :)


    Congratulations. Awesome tank for sure.








    On a side note.. didn't you start this tank around the same time you started that micro reefs temp tank, how's that doing?

    Thank you kindly :)


    I started the temp tank build in Oct 2013 about the time I finished this 7 gallon build. The temp tank was taken down a few months ago, had some difficulties with keeping it cold and filtration. I still have it and was thinking to set it up again in the future, a little differently but still temperate.


    beautiful tank, congrats.

    Thank you so much hey :)


    TOTM #2! Congrats Christine!

    Thanks Matt, I am a big fan of your reef and check on your thread weekly.


    Wonderful! Congrats!

    Thank you so much, means a lot coming from you :)


    Way to go Christine, well deserved.


    This has got to be the cleanest well though out 7 gallon tank out there, bar none!!


    Also like to give you kudos for your helpful advise for those who are interested in going the "Zeo-Vit" way!!

    Thank you for the kind words. I am always happy to help when and where I can :)



    :) Thanks!

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