Jump to content
Top Shelf Aquatics
  • metrokat

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to community member metrokat and her 50 gallon reef aquarium for being selected for our June Reef Profile! This SPS dominant nano reef has blossomed into a stunning display of aquatic life. Below is the aquarium profile metrokat 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 metrokat'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.


    Tank Specs

    Display: CADlights Artisan II 50 Gallon Long with Starphire Glass 36" x 18" x 18"
    Lighting: NanoBox custom  ATI Retrofit, 4 ATI bulbs, 6 NanoBox V3 arrays, 4 channel dimming with a BlueFish controller.
    Controller: Neptune Systems Apex
    Skimmer: Bubble Magus
    Circulation: Maxspect Gyre
    Filtration: Innovative Marine Media Reactor
    Equipment: Heater, MARS light for the fuge/frag tank
    Dosing: BRS Dosing Pump

    Established November 2014, 1.5 years old.


    Maintenance Routine

    • I gravel vac about once a week, I run the gravel vacuum into a filter sock that is hung in the sump so I don't lose water while I siphon out detritus.
    • 2-part is run on dosers controlled by the Apex. I manually dose Magnesium.
    • I test parameters once a month, more often when the tank gives me visual clues that something is amiss.
    • I feed corals daily, the fish get fed twice daily.
    • I dose a variety of supplements sporadically such as Potassium, Boron, Strontium, Manganese, Vitamin C, phyto, amino acids, bacteria.


    • Golden Rhomboid Wrasse
    • Spawning Clownfish Pair
    • Springers Damselfish
    • Royal Gramma
    • Longspine Cardinalfish
    • Lyretail Anthias
    • One Spot Foxface

    SPS Coral

    Acropora sp.
    Porites sp.
    Montipora sp.
    Psammacora sp.

    LPS Coral

    • Chalices
    • Duncans
    • Leptastrea
    • Gonioporas
    • Blastos

    Soft Coral

    • Zoanthids
    • Palythoas
    • Gorgonians
    • Mushrooms


    • Clams
    • Crabs
    • Starfish
    • Rockflower Anemones
    • Pistol Shrimps
    • Snails


    I started this tank in November 2014 as an upgrade to my 3 year old Red Sea Max. The RSM was a very full tank with lush coral growth however the rounded corners and 24" depth of the tank was bothering me. I wanted a shallower rectangular tank and a friend pointed me to CADlights sumped systems. CADlights made the tank with a custom side overflow and custom sump for me.

    The custom light Dave Fason at NanoBox built for me could not have been more perfect. The idea for it came from Jedimasterben who had a similar light being built by Dave. Benny recommended what I should get, and Dave made me a light that is probably the number one reason my corals love life. I've checked the PAR several times and the flexibility of 4 channel dimming is incredible.

    I wanted this tank to be an architectural part of my home too, so I planned a nook around it, complete with a hand carved wing chair for viewing. It helped to visualize everything in 3D on Sketchup. I was able to re-purpose a shoe cabinet to house the electricals. It keeps everything organized and out of sight.

    I had never plumbed a tank before as the RSM had a HOB overflow, so I learned quite a bit about plumbing while I planned the system with a lot of help from members of the forum. I also created a manifold for the sump which ended up partially not being used but was a good learning experience.

    My fuge goes through cycles of being perfectly manicured to being a cesspool of algae. Currently I am trying to make it work as a frag tank in order to remove the near permanent frag racks that have always been in the display. This year I also ran both a coral and fish quarantine as needed for new additions.

    Aquascape Inspiration

    The aquascape evolved over time as I added more branches for my SPS corals. I have always been inspired by color and Bonsai aquascapes. I took my rock structures from the RSM and created a new aquascape. Then I added Real Reef Branches to get a Tonga-branch look. My goal for this tank was to have an open structure that was different than my RSM. I also created a floating branch using Real Reef Rock branches suspended by magnets.

    Disasters & Regrets

    Once this tank was set up for a few weeks I began moving my corals into the display. Within about a week my prized colonies started necrosing, my zoas started melting. I lost pretty much everything except for a polyp here and there and frag sized pieces of my SPS colonies. The Katropora, which is both the crowning glory of this tank as well as my signature coral, was nothing but a few fragments. I had grown my colonies from little nubs for 3 years and the loss of so much life was hard to witness.

    I still remember having a difficult day watching the corals die bit by bit and I heard snapping sounds from the RSM which still had about an inch of very dirty cold water sitting in it. After ignoring it for a while I went to investigate and found Luger, my little Candy Cane Pistol shrimp! I was so happy I cried. I literally cried for weeks at the loss of animals that I had loved, admired and cared for. Forum members were very encouraging and I don't know how I could have gone on without their support. And with a lot of wine.

    Future Plans

    As I write this, my pistol shrimp is busy re-scaping my tank for me. This tank makes me very happy. Each day is a joy. I am thankful that luck has been on my side and I have a healthy reef. Every polyp, every little fish makes my heart melt. I am a nano girl so this is the largest tank I can see myself with. I've been looking into starting an aquaculture facility or being a part of one. I think it's mostly a roundabout way of saying I'd like to have more tanks.

    Words Of Wisdom

    Quarantine. Inspection. Caution. There are super bugs in the hobby that are resistant to medications and treatments. If you have the space, a quarantine will go a long way to help you sleep at night. Buy from reputable vendors but even then, inspect the corals and dip them.

    Advice For New Hobbyists

    The urge to buy everything in sight and cram it into a tank is very real for me just like new hobbyists. But now in my 5th year of reef keeping, I am more aware of growth patterns and space requirements of corals and can approach a tempting coral with a bit more reserve. The easy availability of beautiful livestock can be detrimental to the budget so I keep track of all my purchases via a spreadsheet.


    I'd like to thank Christopher Marks for the honor of being chosen for TOTM once again. Thank you to members that nominated me and for the support of everyone that follows my posts. I've found real friends on this forum, Benny, Arce, Veng, Tailes, NYFishies, MikeTR, Itzju, Mariaface, Boggers, TheKleinReef, Pinner Reef, to name a few. I worked hard to make this reef thrive, I've yelled at it, sang to it, I've lost sleep over it. I've learned so much from so many members of Nano-Reef and I thank them, especially Markalot, for the tireless documentation of the ups and downs of their reefs. There is a real library of knowledge here and we are lucky to have access to such a variety of husbandry and methodology for success!



    • Wow 1

      Report Aquarium

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    yaaaaay!! These pictures are good and all, but do this tank no justice when seen in person. Just gorgeous what Kat has done!

    • Like 1
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Well, that's a pleasant surprise! Congrats on the feature.


    Glad the 'moving tank blues' are over and you can now enjoy a lovely reef tank again :)

    • Like 1
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    It's an obvious choice, this tank deserves TOTM!


    Well, that's a pleasant surprise! Congrats on the feature. Glad the 'moving tank blues' are over and you can now enjoy a lovely reef tank again :)
    Thank you!
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...