Congratulations to community member jstuver and her 42 gallon reef aquarium for being selected for our September Reef Profile! This nano reef aquarium showcases the beauty of a mixed reef with a special focus on LPS and soft coral. Below is the aquarium profile jstuver has written for us sharing her experiences in the hobby and her aquarium's progress over the past year. See what she's been up to and share your comments and questions in jstuver'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 reef tank.
Display: CAD Lights 42 Gallon Versa series 30" x 18" x 18"
Lighting: ATI 24" 8 Bulb dimmable, 5 Blue Plus, 2 Purple Plus, & 1 Aquablue Special, 24" Reef Brite Blue XHO LED strip.
Heater: 100W Fluval
Circulation: Return sump pump is a Jebao DCT-8000. I also run a Jebao RW-4 for extra circulation.
Skimmer: AquaC Urchin Pro-S In-Sump Protein Skimmer
Filtration: All natural with a bunch of live rock and macro algae in my 20gal long sump.
Filter Media: Filter Floss
Top Off: Custom automatic top off system.
Dosing: Jebao DP-4 doser
Controller: Apex Aquacontroller
Established August 2015
I used to feed my fish once every three days, but since the addition of my anthias I now feed every day. I switch it up between the two or three different pellet foods I have on hand, along with LRS Frozen Frenzy. At the beginning I did about a 10 gallon water change every month. Around the six month mark I started doing weekly 10gal water changes, but I also started to see more algae. As the months went on I was dealing with some hair algae, bubble algae and bryopsis so I cut my water changes back to just 10 gallons once a month again. Right now I don't think I have done a water change in probably two or three months.
I own an RO/DI unit so I make my own water. Through most of the year I used Instant Ocean purple box salt, but on my last water change that I did a few months ago I switched over to Instant Ocean Reef Crystals. I haven't used it enough to form an opinion on if I think it's better or not, but I had heard it gave better results, and it was on sale so I bought it. It does have pretty high Cal and Mag so I have to watch that when changing water.
I clean out my skimmer cup when I do water changes or as I see it get full. Same with changing out the filter floss. As for dosing I have a Jebao doser that doses my Calcium, Alkalinity, and Magnesium in small intervals throughout the day. Calcium and Alk get dosed daily, but I recently had to shut off the Mag because of a Kent Tech M treatment I did for a bryopsis issue I was having, along with the new salt, so my parameters were still running high. I try to keep my Calcium in the 430 range, my Alk around 8.5, and my Mag normally around 1300, but as of right now it's still hitting 1600. As the tank has matured I have admittedly gotten a little lazy about things and I need to change that again.
• Pair of Spoticinctus Clownfish (Amphiprion bicinctus)
• Pair of Bangaii Cardinals (Pterapogon kauderni)
• Sixline Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia)
• Starry Blenny (Salarias remous)
• Lyretail Anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis)
• Pinkish Pulsing Sinularia
• Unknown Green Polyp Finger Leather
• Green Sinularia
• Bright Green Unknown Leather (maybe sinularia?)
• Pulsing Xenia
• Lots of Ricordea Mushrooms
• A few of my favorite zoanthids
• Teal Hammer Coral (Euphyllia sp.)
• Bi-color Frogspawn (Euphyllia sp.)
• Frammer with frogspawn and hammer tips (Euphyllia sp.)
• Wall Yayemensis (Euphyllia sp.)
• Octospawn (Euphyllia sp.)
• Gold Torch Coral (Euphyllia sp.)
• Brain Coral (Trachyphyllia sp.)
• Orange Plate Coral
• Bubble Coral
• Duncan Coral
• Maxima Clam
• Emerald Crab
• Hermit Crabs
• Halloween Crabs (3)
• Blue Sponge
I have been a "fish freak" as my family so affectionately calls me for over 15 years. I started with freshwater, keeping everything from guppies to breeding Discus. When I got bored with that I decided to try my hand at saltwater, that was about 7 years ago, and I haven't looked back!
I love all of the interesting species that comes with owning a saltwater tank. I would have to say coral is my favorite part about it. I keep mostly LPS right now because I love the movement it provides in the aquarium. I'm not the biggest fan of SPS not because they can be more difficult to maintain, as I have kept a lot of SPS in the past. I just like the fact that LPS and softies have more flow to them with the water movement. Anemones are another favorite of mine, and here soon I plan to do a revamp on this tank and move a lot of my LPS out and a bunch of cool anemones in!
I chose the CAD Lights Versa 42 because I liked the dimensions, and it fit on the stand that I had had custom built for my 100gal tank, so for me it was a win/win. I got an awesome tank and got to keep the stand that I loved. My 100gal tank was a tall tank, the dimensions were 34" long 19" wide and 35" tall so it was extremely difficult for me to work in, especially since I am only 5'3". I have come to realize over the years with many tank changes that I am just not a large tank fan. I love other peoples big tanks, but for myself I just don't like the upkeep and stress that comes along with them. I am also a very impatient person so waiting for frags to grow out in a large tank makes me crazy, and I of course couldn't afford huge colonies to just throw in there either. So for me I will stick with smaller tanks, preferably in the under 45gal range.
Over the last year I have switched corals in and out, only because I get bored. My local forum would tell you it's a miracle that I have kept the same aquarium going for over a year! Originally I moved everything from the tall 100gal tank to this tank, so it wasn't necessarily started from scratch, but I never start any of my tanks from scratch; I don't have the patience as I said before, which in this hobby can be a bad thing!
Disasters & Regrets
Luckily I haven't had any horrible experiences over my reef keeping days, at least that were my fault, other than my second reef tank that went from a nano to a 120gal 4 foot long tank and literally killed everything! I had bought it from a local reefer and he told me that I could just keep the sand in it and not need to do anything! I now know that if you plan to keep used sand to rinse it a billion times! I am pretty confident that that is what lead to the demise of that tank because as I set it back up everything just died one by one.
The other horrible incident was when my 120gal tall aquarium (several years later) popped a bottom seam and sent 120 gallons of water onto my floor within probably 10 or 15 minutes! Funny story with that one was it was during the summer and my kids were up late watching a movie after I went to bed, the movie happened to be Atlantis! My son came running in my room and said the tank was leaking, I figured it was just a little bit of water and when I got downstairs and saw the gush of water coming out I froze. Luckily my husband was right behind me and got me into gear. We worked so fast to pull everything out of the tank and I only lost one fish! We stuffed everything we could into the sump and the small amount of water we managed to save and the next day a local hobbyist was kind enough to give me a tank.
Another thing I learned as a new hobbyist is that you don't add saltwater back to top off your aquarium! This is a lesson I learned early on when I couldn't figure out why all of my corals were so unhappy in my first tank. It didn't dawn on me that just the water evaporates and the salt stays behind, therefore only needing to replenish the freshwater. Thank goodness for local and forums like this that I read up on to try and fix the problem.
Inspirations & Future Plans
I look through tanks on Nano-Reef constantly for inspiration and ways to make my tank look better, or ways to change things up. As of late I am loving the softy tanks that stellablue, Lawn, and Gena have, and I am in love with Brad's Natural Reef.
For the future as I mentioned earlier I plan to sell off a bunch of the LPS and move towards a softy/anemone tank. I get bored easily so the fact that I have left the original rock structure for over a year and only changed up some corals is a new feat for me. I always look forward to this ever changing hobby.
Advice For New Hobbyists
I think the best advice I could give is to try new things. I don't stick to the normal and love to think outside of the box. But know your limitations, just because it works for someone else doesn't mean it will work for you and vice versa. Also read as much as possible, ask questions and follow along with other peoples journeys in reef keeping, there's a lot to learn.
I have never jumped fully on the LED band wagon. I tried out a few units and never really enjoyed the way they made my tank look, for me it makes things look fake as you only see those colors with all that blue light. I was a die hard metal halide fan for most of my reef keeping experience, but a couple years ago I tried out an ATI T5 florescent light fixture and fell in love. If I were to ever change lighting it would be another ATI T5 unit or back to metal halide as I just like the color rendition I get with both of those options.
I love my clean up crew and replace them about every 4 to 6 months to make sure my aquarium stays clean. I recently added 3 halloween crabs and love the bright color they bring to the tank.
I also am a firm believer in skimmers, after seeing the nastiness that forms in those cups I would much rather have it pulling that out of my aquarium then being left in there.
I am so grateful to have this wonderful forum community of people that are willing to help no matter how dumb you think your question might be! I appreciate the opportunity to showcase my aquarium and all of the fellow reefers who give words of encouragement when you're feeling down, and praise when they see all the hard work you have put into your tank. Thank you to everyone that has followed along on this journey we all love. And a huge shout out to my hubby who tells me I can buy anything I want (he really should restrict me) and is always there to support me in anything I set my mind to!