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  • ReeferBoo

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to community member ReeferBoo and his 15 gallon nano reef aquarium for being selected for our August Reef Profile! Below is the aquarium profile ReeferBoo 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 ReeferBoo'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: 15 Gallons; 24" x 13" x 13" with curved front glass.
    Lighting: Maxspect Razor Nano 16000K
    Filtration: AquaClear 110 HOB Filter with refugium mod.
    Filter Media: Seachem Seagel, filter floss.
    Heater: Eheim Jager 50w
    Circulation: Hydor Koralia Nano 240
    ATO: AutoAqua Smart ATO

    Established December 2013

    Maintenance Routine

    When it comes to reef keeping, I always adhere to the KISS Principle and try not to get too caught up in chasing numbers and "optimum levels." After all, this is a hobby and I'd rather spend more time gazing at the tank and the critters, than tinkering with dosers and chemicals to get the perfect parameters. This also means that I do not dose anything and generally rely on water changes to replenish trace elements. I do however check salinity and temperature at least once a day, clean the glass as needed, change the filter floss weekly, and renew the chemical media fortnightly.


    Salinity is maintained at 1.025, and temperatures are kept between 75 to 77°F in the winter and 77 to 78°F in the summer. The following parameters were only tested for the sake of this article; pH: 8.2, Nitrate: <0.25 ppm (Red Sea), Phosphate: <0.04 ppm (Red Sea). Water changes are done every 2 to 3 days, usually between one half and one US gallon at a time.

    Feeding Schedule

    • Various pellets every 2 days for the clownfish and goby.
    • Frozen food every 2 days for the banggai cardinal.
    • Broadcast feeding of Reef Chilli once a week the night before a water change.
    • Manual feeding of prepared frozen food to the LPS 1 to 2 times a week.


    • 1 Captive bred misbar Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)
    • 1 Yellow Clown Goby (Gobiodon okinawae)
    • 1 Captive bred Banggai Cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni)

    SPS Coral

    • Various Acropora sp. – Green, red, purple tip, blue
    Seriatopora – Yellow
    Seriatopora – Pink/purple polyps
    Montipora digitata – Orange
    Montipora digitata – Red/orange
    Monitpora Capricornis – Sunset red
    • Encrusting Montipora – Mint green
    Stylophora – Purple

    LPS Coral

    Acanthastrea – Red/blue
    Trachyphyllia – Rainbow
    • Short tentacled plate (Fungia repanda) – Orange with yellow-green rim
    Scolymia australis – Red/blue/turquoise
    • Sun Coral (Tubastrea) – Yellow
    • Branching frogspawn (Euphyllia paradivisa) – Purple tip
    • Branching hammer (Euphyllia paraancora) – Purple tip

    Soft Coral

    • Finger leather (Sinularia sp.) – Pink
    • Tan gorgonian
    • Pulsing Xenia
    • Various zoanthids
    • Various mushroom corals: discosoma, coralimophs, actinodiscus


    • Rose BTA (Entacmaea quadricolor)
    • Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni complex)
    • Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)
    • Blue-legged Hermit (Calcinus elegans)
    • Tridacna Crocea Clam


    Ever since having to break down my shallow cube tank back in the Philippines to move to New Zealand, I knew that I could not stand a prolonged hiatus from reef keeping. My lovely girlfriend must have known this as well because among other presents, she got me a glass tank for Christmas! So off I went to plan the new build right away.


    The goal from the start was to make the system as simple as possible without sacrificing water quality and aesthetics. I also wanted setup that would be easy to transport in the event of another move, so I decided to go with an AquaClear 110 hang-on-back filter instead of a sump and simply modified it to house a refugium with various caulerpa sp. For the lights, I started with a DIY 3w LED kit which I just recently upgraded to a Maxspect Razor Nano.

    This being the smallest aquarium setup I've ever built, I wanted to maximise every bit of space for corals and have adequate live rock for filtration without making the tank look just like a wall of rocks and coral. So I did a bit of research, tried a dozen different configurations, and ended up with my current aquascape. The aim is to make the tank look slightly bigger than what it really is, so I tend to buy smaller colonies and mount them accordingly on different stages of the aquascape to create a bit of depth and size illusion. Now, this isn’t always easy when working with such limited coral real estate while having to take into account the individual compatibilities, flow preferences, and lighting requirements of the corals, so I had to frequently rearrange the frags until I find a spot that works for both the corals and me.


    Being a country with many unique flora and fauna, New Zealand has very strict biosecurity protocols, which means that a lot of livestock that are quite common in other parts of the world are not allowed in the country. This presented me with more than a few challenges, mainly because it limited my options for the tank's clean-up crew. Many of the CUC members that were staples in my past tanks like Nassarius snails and Halloween hermits are now impossible to access. This forced me to rethink my stocking plans and adapt it to whatever is available here. The tank is a constant work in progress, but isn’t that why we enjoy the hobby so much anyway?

    Inspiration & Goals

    Many of the tanks in this forum have served as inspirations for this build. I've always been a fan of Rehype's tanks and my aquascaping was heavily influenced by his builds. I also try to recreate what I see in the wild whilst snorkeling off the islands of Cebu and Palawan in the Philippines.

    It is my goal to someday be involved in aquaculture projects, to breed and grow livestock that are hardier and well-adjusted to aquarium conditions, thereby slowly eliminating the need for wild caught specimens.

    Disasters & Regrets

    The biggest mistake that I made in this build was not being careful enough when choosing my live rock, this gave the tank a bad case of bubble algae infestation on its early stages. Patient manual removal and regular water changes eventually got rid of the algae but it hindsight, it could have been prevented earlier in the cycle and saved me a lot of trouble.

    Future Plans

    An upgrade is already on its way; I am just finishing up the plumbing on a 30 Gallon shallow cube and will be starting that tank up in the next few months!

    Advice For New Hobbyists

    • Keep things simple. The more straightforward you set things up, the easier it is to find a solution when things go wrong.
    • If you are planning to purchase livestock, do tons of research first before pulling the trigger. Read articles, go through forums, and learn from others' mistakes so you don't end up doing it yourself.
    • Invest in high-quality equipment right from the start even if it means waiting a bit more before setting up. Changing out faulty hardware with a fully stocked tank can be incredibly frustrating and a massive waste of time and money.

    Thoughts On Coral Fads

    We've all seen our fair share of coral fads, and it has always astounded me how high prices can shoot up just because a particular coral is currently hot. I, for one, have no problem paying premium prices for rare pieces that I happen to really like, but it's just ridiculous how some corals would have highly inflated prices just because they've got a fancy name attached to them. The good news is you don't have to have expensive corals to have a beautiful reef tank. With a bit of layout and colour palette planning, even common corals can look stunning, what's important is making sure that you provide all that your livestock need to thrive.



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    Congrats! You have an amazing KISS system! I love your final thoughts at the end. That's exactly what I'm trying to do with my current setup.

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