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Innovative Marine Aquariums
  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to community member plainrt and his 34 gallon nano reef aquarium for being selected for our October Reef Profile! Below is the aquarium profile plainrt has written for us sharing his experiences in the hobby and his aquarium's progress over the past year and a half. See what he's been up to and share your comments and questions in plainrt'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.


    This tank was built to find what I had lost in this hobby. After many years and many different tank setups I decided to go back to my roots, back to something I knew I loved. My favorite tank has always been my old 30 gallon breeder setup that was featured here on NR back in October of 2009. I knew I had to base my new setup off this past tank, but improve it even further. Fast forward 6 years and now I can say I have found what I had been looking for.

    Tank Specs

    Display: 34 gallon Deep Blue Rimless Tank 36" x 18" x 12"
    Sump: Standard 20 gallon tall tank.
    Live Rock: All Bulk Reef Supply Tonga live rock.
    Lighting: ATI 4 x 39w dimmable T5 fixture with ATI bulbs.
    Filtration: Vertex Omega 130 protein skimmer.
    Heater: Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm 150w heater.
    Circulation: 2 Jebao WP-25's.
    Dosing: ESHOPPS doser running Bulk Reef Supply 2-part. Currently dosing 80ml each per day.
    ATO: Autotopoff.com setup.

    Established March 2014

    Maintenance Routine

    Maintenance is kept pretty simple on this system. I try to do water changes every 2-3 weeks. Sometimes life gets busy and it can go month or so. I clean the glass when needed and scrape the back glass when water changes are done. Water is tested for Alkalinity 1-2 times per week, and I test Calcium and Magnesium every 2 weeks or so. I'm not big on chasing numbers so Phosphate and Nitrates get tested as I feel necessary. Watching things with the tank lets me know when it needs to be done. I'll run small amount of GFO in a media bag if levels are up a bit. Skimmer cup gets cleaned every three days or so. It's just a pretty basic setup.


    I tend to believe my feeding habits are little on heavy side. I feed a variety of quality pellets and flakes daily. I also feed my favorite frozen food Limpit's Reef Buffet a few times per week. I'll also spot feed all my LPS and flower anemones the Limpit's Reef Buffet a couple times per week.


    • 7 year old clownfish pair that are my first fish in this hobby.
    • Yellow Coris Wrasse
    • Longnose Hawkfish
    • Fuzzy Dwarf Lionfish


    I don't want to focus on coral names as I'm not big into the name game. I believe we get caught up too much in names and forget why we really have these corals. I have wide variety of corals from simple mushrooms, zoas, dendros, goniopora, acans, and nice mix of SPS.


    • Cleaner Shrimp
    • 3 Peppermint Shrimp
    • Red Formia Starfish
    • Rock Flower Anemones and many tank raised babies.
    • Typical mix of hermit crabs and snails.


    As many who follow my builds may know, I have had many different setups. My first tank was a 14 gallon Biocube that got me hooked on the hobby. I still believe these are great little tanks to get started in the hobby. I found myself upgrading the little cube with metal halide lighting and more. The tank worked great but I needed more room. That brought me to my breeder setup which was featured here on NR in October 2009. The breeder setup was built to be a very simple low budget setup. It did so well that I became bored with it and decided I wanted to change it up some, and in process of doing so the tank crashed and came down. After years of trying to find the passion I had for the hobby, and many headaches later, I decided to build this tank. This setup has been one of most challenging tanks I have owned but that's what keeps it interesting. I wanted a true mixed reef and keeping that balance makes things interesting.

    Future Plans

    At this moment I don't really have any particular future plans. As the tank really fills in I would rather not have to give up any of my corals. I may upgrade to a new tank with little larger footprint, so that I could use my same rockscape but have more negative space that my current setup is lacking. Time will tell that story though.

    Advice For New Hobbyists

    Research, research, research!


    In the many years of being involved in this hobby one thing we see way too often is lack of research. At one point I was guilty of not doing 100%. At this point in time we have so much info out there for us to use. I find it great to use a site like here at Nano-Reef.com to ask any questions. Another great resource to have is a local reef club to get involved in. It's great to meet and have local reefers to help out when needed. Another perk is to be able to get deals on corals and trade them. I wouldn't be in this hobby without NR and my local club.

    Thoughts On...

    Coral Pests
    Lately I have seen pest become a small issue in my local club. One thing that can't be stressed enough is using proper dip and inspection methods when adding any new coral to your aquarium. It's our job in this hobby to make sure we're not spreading these pests to others. We can prevent this in many ways. If you know you have any type of pest it would be best to not transfer anything from your tank to someone else's setup. Or at the very least make it clear to others about any pest you may have. This will make hobby better for everyone out there.


    Lighting is one of most talked about items In the hobby. Right now there are many options in the lighting department. I have tried all the major types of setups and love them all for their own reasons. I believe that there are different applications that are better suited for certain types of lighting. It's best to research all available options and not get caught up in the newest trends in lighting.


    Coral Fads
    Coral fads will always come and go in this hobby. I believe we should always purchase what appeals to us and can be supported in our own tanks. You don't need to have exotic corals in your reef to have a great setup, but if there are expensive corals you love and really want, I don't see any issues with having them. Your coral selection should be based on what you like and not the latest trends. My tank is based on pretty basic stuff that doesn't break the bank.


    Thanks to Christopher Marks for this great site and making this happen along with everyone else here at Nano-Reef.com. I'd also like to thank Brian and his crew at Best Fish in Milwaukee Wisconsin and everyone in my local club, Wisconsin Reef Society. Without all of you this wouldn't be possible.


    Jason @plainrt

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    Recommended Comments

    How many pounds of live rock is that? It doesn't look like much in the March 2014 pic.


    That's just under 30lbs of brs tonga. I have another 10lbs or so of very mature live rock In the sump and maybe another 3-4lbs mature rock hiding behind rock In front of overflow I forgot about till now :)

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