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  • teenyreef

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to community member teenyreef and his 10 gallon reef aquarium for being selected for our August Reef Profile! This nano reef aquarium is home to some very unique specimens including a rare Leopard Toby pufferfish. Below is the aquarium profile teenyreef 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 teenyreef'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 reef tank.


    Tank Specs

    Display: Innovative Marine 10 Gallon NUVO Fusion Nano all-in-one aquarium, 12" x 15" x 13"
    Lighting: NanoBox Reef Tide Plus with Bluefish controller.
    Heater: Finnex 50w Titanium
    Chiller: 80mm Enermax computer case fan.
    Circulation: Stock NUVO Fusion return pump, VorTech MP-10w QD.
    Skimmer: Innovative Marine AUQA Gadget Ghost Protein Skimmer Desktop Size
    Filtration: InTank Media Basket
    Filter Media: Poly Filter Floss (cut to size), ROX 0.8 carbon, GFO.
    Top Off: Tunze Nano Osmolator 3152
    Dosing: Bulk Reef Supply Dosers with Seachem Reef Fusion two-part and Red Sea NO3:PO4-X.
    Controller: Neptune Systems Apex Jr. controller with Energy Bar 4.



    Established November 2014

    Maintenance Routine

    • Daily: Scrape algae if needed, usually every three days or so. I feed pellets once a day, along with a mixture of Reef Roids, mysis shrimp, calanus shrimp, liquid phyto, Polyp-Booster, and Red Sea Energy A and B.
    • Weekly: Turkey baste the rocks and sand, change filter floss and two gallons of water, empty/clean skimmer cup.
    • Monthly: Siphon out the rear chambers, clean media basket, replace carbon and GFO.


    • Clownfish Pair (Humphrey and Dilbert)
    • Green Banded Gobies (Lincoln and Roosevelt)
    • Pink Streaked Wrasse (Fitzgerald)
    • Leopard Toby Puffer (Doug)

    Soft Coral

    • Zoanthids & Palythoa
    • Florida Ricordea Mushrooms
    • Lava Flow Rhodactus Mushroom
    • Blue Plating Sponge

    LPS Coral

    • Hammer (Euphyllia)
    • Sun Corals (Tubastrea)
    • Green Blasto Merlettis
    • Evil Green Favites
    • Angel Eye Favia
    • Acan Lords (Micromussa Lorhowensis)

    SPS Coral

    • Green, Red, and Idaho Grape Montipora
    • Miscellaneous Acroporas
    • Tyree Minefield Cyphastrea
    • Green Stylophora


    • Snails: Ceriths, Dwarf Ceriths, Nassarius, Nerites
    • Sponges and worms that came with the live rock.
    • Copepods and amphipods (Not many, the wrasse and puffer keep them under control)


    I started this tank as kind of a graduation exercise after keeping my first tank, a 4 gallon pico reef, alive for more than a year. My goal for the tank was to have a mixed reef with LPS and SPS. I needed a little more room to keep some of the corals that had outgrown the 4g tank, and I wanted to keep fish that just can't fit in a 4g tank, like clowns. I also wanted take advantage of what I'd learned with the 4g tank to start off better by doing things a little differently, like using uncured live rock with a soft cycle.

    I really loved the uncured live rock. There were lots of interesting hitchhikers, coralline and macro algae, sponges, worms, and even SPS corals on the rock. It was a great way to start off – I never really saw a cycle occur. And the clownfish have been great, even though my plan for them to host the hammer coral never worked out – the silly things live in the zoanthids instead!

    This tank has changed a lot since I started it. Although most of the corals and fish have been happy (mostly), sometimes it feels like this tank has been barely staying alive, careening from one near-disaster to another.

    My first setback occurred when I bought some mithrax crabs to get some of the nuisance macro algae (Dictoya) under control. They did such a good job that after about a month, I no longer had any algae at all. And eventually I had to give up the crabs because they kept stealing all the food out of the corals' mouths. The same thing happened with my red brittle starfish, it just got too big for the tank.

    Later, just as I had succeeded in getting my acros and montis growing and coloring up nicely, a combination of sudden alkalinity swings and lighting changes caused many of the SPS corals to lose color and die almost overnight. Fortunately, all of the monti caps recovered, although most of the acroporas eventually died as a result.


    More recently, in an effort to make things "even better", I tried going to a more powerful light, an AI Hydra 26. But instead of making things better, the increased lighting made my acans lose their color, while my acros turned brown at the same time due to swings in the tank's parameters. To top it off, I could never get the color of the new light to look as good as the old one. So I went back to my old NanoBox light and the acans are much happier now, although I'm still working on improving my water parameters so the acros will color up again.

    Currently I have too many acros, too close together. In the future I'm going to start reducing the number of corals in this tank to make more room to the others to grow out. I have a new 40 gallon tank set up now, so there's plenty of room in there for some of the frags from this tank. First and foremost however, I want to get my parameters back in balance so the acros will look as colorful as they used to!

    Tips & Tricks

    I have learned a lot with this tank, especially about how quickly and easily things can go downhill! Stability in water parameters, lighting, and feeding is the key to success, and is one of the biggest challenges with a small tank like this one. I've learned to change one thing at a time, and to make those changes slowly! On the other hand, I've also learned not to procrastinate when something needs to be fixed. I used to only dip corals just when I first got them, but I've learned that a quick dip right away when something looks wrong can head off a lot of problems.


    In this tank, nutrient control has always been a challenge. Keeping nitrates and phosphates low while giving fish and corals enough food to thrive is really hard to do in a small tank. It would be easy to keep nitrates and phosphates under control by reducing feeding, but I've found that my corals really respond much better to regular heavy feeding. Over the past several months, I've had a lot of success using Red Sea NO3:PO4-X (carbon dosing) along with traditional carbon, GFO, and skimming to keep lots of nutrients in the water for the corals to consume, while also breaking them down quickly before they become a load on the tank. I also am a firm believer in keeping a shallow sand bed and stirring and vacuuming it at least once a week.


    Finally, I think the most important thing is to be actively engaged here on Nano-Reef.com. When I first started this tank, the IM10 was new on the market and there weren't very many other IM10 owners yet. I was one of the first participants in the IM10 owner's thread here on N-R, and we've all learned so much from each other. Today, almost every question someone asks about the IM10 has already been answered in that thread. Any time I do my research on almost any topic, I find the answer to my question already posted someplace here on N-R. Every time I've experienced a setback, others here on N-R have been so helpful in suggesting things to try, and more importantly, encouraging me and keeping up my spirits when things go wrong!

    Final Thoughts

    One of the things I love about this hobby is that there are so many ways to succeed – no matter what your personality is, there's a way to keep a tank that will work for you, everything from using advanced technical systems that give fine control over every aspect of the tank, to just doing 100% water changes in a tiny vase filled with acros once a week (go see Natalia's Picospheres thread if you don't believe me). There are many beautiful tanks here on Nano-Reef demonstrating so many ways to succeed, I encourage you to find and follow some tanks that appeal to you, and be sure to ask questions!


    I'd like to thank all those that have followed this tank and have been so encouraging the whole time, but especially Christopher Marks, who has tirelessly and faithfully made Nano-Reef.com a friendly and enjoyable place.



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