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  • cnseekatz

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to community member cnseekatz and his 45 gallon nano reef for being selected for our July Reef Profile. Below is the aquarium profile cnseekatz has written for us sharing his experiences in the hobby and this aquarium's progress over the past two and a half years. See what he's been up to and share your comments and questions in cnseekatz's featured reef profile announcement or in the comments section below. Be sure to also check out his aquarium journal for more photos and information about this awesome reef tank.



    Tank Specs

    Display: CAD Lights 45 Gallon Artisan II – 36” x 24” x 12”
    Lighting: Ecotech Radion XR30W Pro – Tank mounted with RMS

    Flow: Maxspect Gyre XF230 (4 second pulse @ 40%), 2 x Vortech MP10 (reef crest mode @ 20%), 500 gph return pump.

    Sump: 30gal – 3 Chamber

    Refugium: 15g center chamber of sump, AI Sol Blue light.

    Heater: Eheim 200w

    Skimmer: Vertex Omega 130

    Media Reactor: BRS Single Chamber Reactor running with Carbon & GFO.

    UV Sterilizer: Coralife Turbo Twist

    Dosing: 2 x Bubble Magus T01
    Top Off: Autoaqua Smart ATO


    Established November 24, 2014


    • 2 x Black Ocellaris Clowns (Amphiprion ocellaris) – Mated Pair
    • 1 x Blue Star Leopard Wrasse (M. Bipartitus) – Terminal Male
    • 1 x Azure Damsel (Chrysiptera hemicyanea)

    Soft Coral

    • Pulsing Xenia (Xenia elongata)
    • Green & White Striped Mushrooms (Discosoma)
    • Assorted Ricordeas (Ricordea Yuma)
    • Green Toadstool Leather (Sarcophyton)
    • Zoas & Palys: Hallucinations, Utter Choas, Goblin’s Fire, Space Monsters, Rose Nebula, Rainbow Yodas, BBEB, Blue Hornets, Red Hornets, Rastas, Fire & Ice, etc.

    LPS Coral

    • Branching Hammer (Euphyllia ancora)
    • Green Torch (Euphyllia glabrescens)
    • Assorted Acans (Micromussa lordhowensis)
    • Tyree Agent Orange (Acanthastrea echinata)

    SPS Coral

    I have more than 40 different SPS colonies in my tank including:

    • Montipora (Capricornis and Digitata)
    • Pocillopora 
    • Acropora (Millepora, Tortuosa, Valida, Tenuis, etc.)
    • Stylophora
    • Anacropora


    • Snails (Nassarius, Nerita, Turbo, Cerithium, Trochus, etc.)
    • Hermit Crabs (Paguristes cadenati & Calcinus laevimanus)
    • Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni complex)
    • Bullseye Snapping Shrimp (Alpheus soror)
    • Fighting Conch (Strombus sp.)
    • Sand Sifting Star (Astropecten polycanthus)
    • Maxima Clam (Tridacna maxima)


    • Electric Blue Maxi Mini (Stichodactyla tapetum)
    • Rose Bubble Tip (Entacmaea quadricolor)


    • Mermaid's Fan (Udotea sp.)
    • Shaving Brush (Penicillus dumetosus)
    • Halimeda sp.
    • Gracilaria sp.
    • Red Grape (Botryocladia sp.)
    • Halymenia sp.
    • Red Finger Sponge (Ptilocaulis sp.)

    Maintenance Routine

    I’ve found that the better my tank is doing, the more I pay attention to it. The opposite is not always the case. I tend to take a more lackadaisical approach to reef keeping. I feed heavily, I filter hard, and I dose. I tend to slack off on water changes, 10% a month is optimistic. When it comes to testing parameters, I pretty much only test if something is wrong, or if someone asks me about my numbers. Besides that, I rely on my system to maintain its own equilibrium.


    Feed Heavily: I feed the tank at least twice a day. I switch it up between frozen mysis, brine shrimp, rotifers, SFBB Coral Cuisine and my personal favorite PE Calanus (frozen zooplankton). I broadcast feed because I’m too lazy to target feed anything. I also toss in some pellets whenever I think about it, and I give freeze dried shrimp as treats to my wrasses, anemones and (don’t judge me) my shrimp. I’ve found that cutting back on feeding as a reaction to an algae bloom or nutrient spike usually does more harm than good.


    Filter Hard: My skimmer and UV sterilizer are rated for tanks twice as big as mine, and they run 24/7. I run a media reactor with a boatload of high-grade carbon and a handful of GFO for good measure. I change the carbon once a month (which is probably half as often as I should).


    Probably the most important filtration I have is my refugium. I would never have a tank without a ‘fuge. Mine has a shallow sand bed and live rock to provide surface area for beneficial bacteria and microflora/microfauna. I always have filter feeding corals (mostly xenia) in my ‘fuge as well. I don’t know how efficient they are at nutrient export, but the theory is sound! The most important piece of my refugium is the macroalgae. I love having a rich, vibrant crop of macroalgae in my fuge. It does a great job at sucking nutrients out of the water, and it provides a perfect habitat for pods, worms, stomatella snails, etc. Not only do all these little critters eat up detritus that fouls my water, but they provide a constant stream of fresh, delicious eggs and larva to the fish, corals and inverts in my display.


    Dose Schedule

    • Channel 1: ESV B-Ionic Calcium Buffer System – Component 1 – Alkalinity – 45ml/day
    • Channel 2: ESV B-Ionic Calcium Buffer System – Component 2 – Calcium – 50ml/day
    • Channel 3: ESV B-Ionic Magnesium – 5mg/day
    • Channel 4: Two Little Fishies Acropower (Amino Acid supplement) – 5mg/day

    History - Getting Into It

    My first exposure to saltwater was the tank at my dad’s insurance office when I was really little. I remember there was a great big green moray eel named Neil, and a HUGE volitan lionfish named Burt Lahr. I loved watching Burt eat goldfish!


    I’ve kept a couple of tanks in my saltwater career. The first was a 30 gallon in my fraternity house, which sported a Fluval canister and an under-gravel filter! This was before Nano-Reef.com, so I just didn’t have the knowledge to make it work. It’s funny to think how little I knew, and how little I thought to ask about this stuff back then.


    My first reef tank was a 5 gallon pico on my desk at work, which was quickly replaced with a 12.5 gallon shallow. I was learning a ton about reef keeping, and was inspired by tanks I saw on various forums. When I got my first private office, I decided I needed to upgrade to a bigger, free-standing tank that I could be proud to display to coworkers and associates. I found this tank at Reef-a-Palooza in 2014, and filled it up that November. I’ve been chasing the dragon ever since!

    The 45

    I took a lot of care developing the tank. I cycled slowly and added livestock methodically. I studied everything before I put it in my tank. I had minor losses and setbacks, but was always moving forward and my tank was getting better and better. My corals were growing like crazy, and I even experienced some success with a few easy SPS. About 8 months into it, my tank was humming on all cylinders and I reached what I considered to be the pinnacle of my reefing career when I acquired a stunning, bonded pair of yellow fuzzy dwarf lionfish. I couldn’t be happier.


    Not one week later, my MP-10 controller pulled off the wall in my cabinet and fell into my sump. The circuit breaker didn’t break, and the electricity destroyed my tank. I lost a lot of corals that day, and sadly my prized lionfish. It was heartbreaking. All that time, energy, enthusiasm (not to mention $$!) literally flushed down the toilet...


    Having a dead tank stinking up your company’s corporate office is not acceptable, so I broke the whole setup down and moved it home. The survivors needed a place to live, so I set to rebuilding my tank. I re-filled the tank with water on my birthday, July 23, 2015.


    Since then, I’ve continued trying to learn and grow as a reef enthusiast. This hobby can be frustrating and emotionally trying, but if you’re patient, and stay at it, things come around. I’ve done my best to find and replace the corals that I lost in the crash, and to keep improving. As is par for the course, I’ve had successes and failures. I’ve grown to love leopard wrasses, and to hate how difficult they are to successfully introduce into my tank. I’ve lost too many fish due to carpet surfing, but still struggle to keep the lid on because the top-down view is the reason you get a shallow tank. I’ve upgraded equipment, tinkered with my refugium, battled cyano, and bryopsis, and dinos, and rescaped my tank a hundred times. Now, almost 2 years later, my tank is far beyond where it was before the crash. 

    Looking Ahead

    My tank is pretty much on auto-pilot right now. I don’t really have much room to add more corals (though I continue to try and squeeze things in), and I’m pretty much resigned to letting things grow. I haven’t been able to add any new fish either. The four that are in there now have a tenuous peace between each other, but there is absolutely no tolerance for new neighbors. So my plan is to enjoy the tank and watch the corals grow. I am on all the watch lists for the rarer leopard wrasses, and will jump at the opportunity to pick up a yellow fuzzy dwarf lion if I ever find one again. If I come across any of them, I’ll have to swap out some of my current residents. They’ve all been with me since before the crash, but if I can find someone with a bigger tank to adopt them, I won’t feel too bad!

    Words Of Wisdom

    I don’t pretend to be an expert about this stuff, but you do learn some things as you make your way through this hobby. If I were to offer some advice to someone getting started it would be this:


    • Nitrogen Cycle – If you’re starting a new tank, learn what the Nitrogen Cycle is, what it does, and what it looks like while it’s happening. Don’t rush it, don’t skip it, just be patient and let it happen. It’s worth it in the long run.
    • Don’t Be Impulsive – Don’t put anything (living or otherwise) in your tank unless you really understand what it is, and what it will do in your tank. The wrong fish, coral, additive, medication, etc. can ruin everything. Discipline!
    • Be Curious – Everything that happens in your tank, good or bad, makes sense if you play close attention. This forum is busting with knowledge and really nice people who are happy to help. No matter what’s going on, chances are, someone has experienced the exact same thing.
    • Be Creative – There’s much more to reef keeping than clownfish!


    – cnseekatz

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    Love it!  It's beautiful.  

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    Lovely tank, enjoyed yr write up. Btw I almost electrocuted my tank when my mp10 controller also peeled off my sump cabinet wall, I found it off the edge of inner sump,  just held by cables. 

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    Sk8n Reefer


    Congrats- beautiful tank! Love the mixture of coral ! 

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    Thank you for the kind words! John... YIKES!

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