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  • holy carp

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to community member holy carp and his 12 gallon nano reef aquarium for being selected for our February Reef Profile! This beautifully designed aquarium system features a unique open aquascape fostering an awesome array of coral types. Below is the aquarium profile holy carp has written for us sharing his experiences in the hobby and his aquarium's tremendous progress over the past year and a half. See what he's been up to and share your comments and questions in holy carp'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: Mr. Aqua 12G Long Serene (Low iron glass)
    Lighting: Current USA Orbit Marine
    Heater: Cobalt Aquatics Neotherm 75W
    Chiller: Home Air Conditioning
    Circulation: Reef Octopus VarioS 2 return pump (Apex controlled)
    Skimmer: Tunze 9004
    Filtration: 10G Aqueon Sump with sock, skimmer, MarinePure 8x8x4 block, and media bags.
    Filter Media: ROX 0.8 carbon, Phosguard, Polyfilter
    Top Off: Tom's Aqualifter on timer (Apex)
    Dosing: 2 Bulk Reef Supply Dosers for ESV two-part
    Controller: Neptune Systems Apex
    Rock: Pukani

    Established June 15, 2015


    Maintenance Routine

    • Daily: Feed fish and NPS a rotating menu of frozen mysis, LRS, cyclops, calanus, and San Francisco carnivore mix.
    • Semi-weekly: Clean glass and change filter sock
    • Weekly: 4 gallon water change, empty skimmer, add magnesium, bacterial supplement, feed corals aminos and reef roids. Test alkalinity and phosphate
    • Monthly: Replace carbon, test calcium and magnesium
    • Bimonthly: Replace Phosguard and polyfilter (alternating months)


    • Bruce Jenner the female Ocellaris Clownfish
    • Lenny the male DaVinci Ocellaris Clownfish
    • Bandido the Orchid Dottyback

    Soft Coral

    • Ricordea Yumas
    • Rock Flower Anemones
    • Bam Bam Zoanthids
    • Radioactive Dragon Eye Zoanthids
    • Blue Hornet Zoanthids
    • Purple Death Palythoas
    • Utter Chaos Palythoas
    • Emerald Protopalys

    LPS Coral

    • Elegance Coral – Catalaphyllia Jardenai
    • Torch Coral – Euphyllia
    Dendrophyllia (Non-Photosynthetic)
    • Acans – Micromussa Lordhowensis
    • Red War Coral – Favites
    • My Myami – Chalice
    • Spitfire Leptastrea

    SPS Coral

    • Green Slimer Acropora
    Montipora Setosa
    • Jack-o-lantern and Tangerine Juice Leptoseris
    • Spitfire Leptastrea
    • Darth Maul Porites
    • Rainbow Montipora


    • Porcelain Crab
    • Scarlet Hermits
    • Randall's Pistol Shrimp - Alpheus Randalli
    • Plate Coral


    I came into reefing quite by accident. I had a betta fish before this, and when he died I went to the pet store to look for a nice replacement. They had moved the bettas next to the saltwater section of the store. "What the $%#& is that, a coral?" I yelled far too loudly, considering the children in the store. The manager was right next to me and laughed, so I inquired what it would take to set something up at home. When he told me a minimum 55 gallon tank, my heart sank. In a tiny Manhattan apartment, that seemed overwhelming, so I set out to see how I could do something smaller.


    I spent a couple months researching and came across the Mr. Aqua tank at Manhattan Aquariums. It seemed perfect, and an employee there was nice enough to explain how I could set up a sump and directed me to Nano-Reef.com to find reference information and get questions answered. Once I got to the site, I was inspired by scorched's tank, since he had the same tank and a spectacular reefscape.


    I started planning my tank and had a few key points I really wanted to accomplish:

    • Instead of looking like an entire system, the tank should appear to sit on top of a regular piece of furniture like my betta fish always had.
    • It should have concealed plumbing and wiring without supplemental powerheads obstructing the viewing panes.
    • It should be silent since it's in a bedroom.

    I'm not that much of a DIY person, but I was pretty excited (and a bit nervous) to get this started. I was really captivated by the variety of elements that go into a hobby like this. Design, engineering, construction, biology, art... it seemed to involve a bit of everything.


    I picked up a piece of furniture on Craigslist and after a dozen plumbing sketches and plumbing tests, I drilled the glass. Meanwhile I worked out how I should do my aquascape. I wanted to make sure that I kept balance with negative space and avoid over filling the tank.


    The construction was a project, and at some points I thought I would drown in cardboard boxes and packing peanuts. But when everything was together, it was finally time to get wet. I picked up Bruce Jenner and then two weeks later I got my first corals at Reef-A-Palooza.

    Since it all got started, I've been overwhelmed by the number of discoveries that can be found in such a little world, but one of my favorite things has remained the incredible growth of the corals. When scuba diving, I remember being told that these corals can only grow a centimeter a year. So, by that measure, this must be a centimeter and a half.


    Disasters & Challenges

    Without a doubt, there have been problems along the way, I've had battles with cyano, unwelcome hitchhikers, dying montipora, jumping fish, algae problems, bad salt mix, peroxide overdoses, crabs eating corals, and corals eating fish. It's a wild wild world in there. While each was unfortunate, I can say (knock wood) that none of them have been insurmountable.

    Advice For New Hobbyists

    Since this is my first tank, I don't necessarily feel I'm in a position to give out advice, but I can share a few elements about my approach that I believe are working well.


    The expression that nothing good happens fast in a reef tank really holds true. Patience is important, and so is avoiding overreactions. When I got back from vacation, the valonia I had in my tank had really spread. I decided it was time to stop messing around, so one by one I pulled out my rocks and treated them with 35% H2O2, let them sit for a few minutes and returned them to the tank. All in all, I used about 30ml of peroxide. Pretty soon all the corals started retracting and sliming. I tried to do a water change to dilute it, but it was too late. Within a few hours all the SPS had bleached and overnight Sammy the blue coral banded shrimp died. Without a doubt, H2O2 is one of the best tools in our arsenal against various algae, but I should have been more patient with my approach and used the peroxide more sparingly. Now I try to make a plan before making any corrective actions with the tank.


    Bad things seem to happen in every tank. Even the most incredible and healthy tanks I follow here have some stories about problems or failures. Setbacks can be discouraging, and while I try to find what the causes are, I try not to change more than one thing at a time. My sunset montipora has been struggling for the last 6 months, and I'm still trying to find the reason. I haven't found the reason yet, but I remind myself not to risk the 30 healthy corals in the tank in search of the cause behind one coral's problems.


    Four out of five hitchhikers suck! After dealing with valonia, turf algae, digitate hydroids, boloceroides mcmurrichi anemones, flat worms, and red bugs, I am much more diligent about inspecting and cleaning corals. I don't have a QT, but every coral is removed from its plug and goes through a 2 stage dip (first Bayer Complete and then Coral Rx for 10 minutes each) before getting rinsed, re-inspected under a magnifying glass, and then going into the tank.


    Don't underestimate the value of water changes. Early on I had a number of challenges, from cyano and algae to corals turning brown. Many of these things can be addressed with supplements if you know what's missing or good nutrient export, but for a small tank, increasing my water change schedule seemed to be the simplest solution.


    And when problems happen...


    Final Thoughts

    This is a mind-consuming hobby, and has been incredibly rewarding for me. I owe a debt of gratitude to all those who helped me navigate these waters; the Nano-Reef Community has been an incredible resource of information, advice, and support. Thanks to everyone for making this such a great journey and to Christopher Marks for this honor.


    @holy carp

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    Congrats! The time lapse of your green slimer is very neat to watch!

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    Congratulations holy carp! I admit, (a bit ashamed) that I never saw your tank but its a beautiful tank. I enjoyed your write up too.

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    Congrats! The time lapse of your green slimer is very neat to watch!

    Thanks. I really enjoyed making those time lapses. I'll do the Setosa next. It's another grower (and shower)!



    Congratulations holy carp! I admit, (a bit ashamed) that I never saw your tank but its a beautiful tank. I enjoyed your write up too.

    Thanks. I love your ponies.


    Congrats! Beautiful tank!!!

    Thank you!


    Heck yes!!

    Oh yeah... :D

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    Congratulation HC, you deserve it and I'm so happy for you.

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    Very impressive system!!!! Everything is very nicely done!!! Congratulations :).

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    Congratulations! I love that slimer and the other growth pictures you've posted. This is a pretty good upgrade from a betta bowl :)

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