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  • KuruptPixel

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to community member KuruptPixel and his 21 gallon nano reef for being selected for our December Reef Profile. Below is the aquarium profile KuruptPixel has written for us sharing his experiences in the hobby and this aquarium's progress over the past year and a half! See what he's been up to and share your comments and questions in the comments section below. Be sure to follow his aquarium journal for additional photos, history, and information about this beautiful reef tank.




    I want to thank Christopher Marks for thinking my tank is even remotely worthy of such an honor! This forum and everyone who joins in is such an awesome source of info and inspiration, and I am truly grateful to be in the Tank of the Month club. I am by NO means a ‘pro’ and very much consider myself a ‘noob’ so my techniques and routines may be out of whack to some! I try to learn as much as I can to run my tank and would honestly not be here, or even have a tank, if it wasn’t for all of you! Thanks for the support!

    Tank Specs

    Display: Red Sea Reefer Nano 18”x18”x18” display - 21G - (7G sump, 1.2G ATO, 28G total)

    Lighting: Kessil A160W, Gooseneck, 90 Degree Adapter

    Heater: NeoTherm 75W

    Circulation: 2 x EcoTech Vortech MP10wQD, Sicce Syncra Silent 2.0 return pump, 3 x Hydor Koralia Evolution 425’s (2 in the sump, 1 in the ATO/Refugium reservoir)

    Skimmer: Bubble Magus Curve 5

    Filter Media: BRS ROX 0.8 Carbon and GFO, 14 MarinePure Spheres, 2 MarinePure Plates

    Substrate: Carib Sea Arag-Alive Reef Sand (20Lbs.)

    Dosing: By hand every few weeks: 1ml - Red Sea N03:P04-X, Red Sea Trace Colors A, B, C & D.

    Top Off: Neptune Apex ATK

    Controller: Neptune Apex, WXM Module, LSM Module, EB8

    Established April 2016.


    Maintenance Routine

    Water Changes

    Every week I do a 5 gallon water change. I turn on the water station the night before to let it mix and get the temp where it needs to be. Oh yeah - I built a 40 gallon water station on the back balcony of my apartment. Two 20 gallon Brute’s stacked, Spectrapure RO/DI unit fills the top and is gravity fed into the salt mix tank that’s circulated by a Sicce Syncra 3.0. Inside the salt mix there’s a submersible 100w heater, digital thermometer and additional small powerhead. There’s an airstone in the RO/DI tank just aerate it a bit. I attached a ½” hose off the pump with a Two Little Fishies ball valve at the end so I can easily refill the tank with no bucket lugging.



    I scrape the glass, clean the filter sock, replace the floss and clean out the skimmer cup. While I drain the display water I vacuum the sand bed and blow off rocks and dead areas. I double check the salinity and temperature of the new salt mix, run the hose to the tank and fill ‘er up! I rebuilt the water station back in the spring and added the hose which I have to say is a much better way to do things. No lifting, pouring from a heavy bucket.


    Over the last 2 months I have switched up the routine a bit and do my water changes every 2 weeks. Everything tests stable and in fact the corals seem even happier than ever. I will stick with this plan and maybe extend it even down the road. I don’t want it to become a chore with tasks I am always having to do so I am trying to simplify the tank in general and just let it be as much as possible.




    I honestly don’t test a whole lot. That may sound bad but this tank is in our bedroom so it’s the first thing I see when I wake up, and it’s the last thing I see when I go to bed. I look at it and inspect it many times a day so if there’s something fishy going on and someone is acting strange I will test, but it has been running pretty smooth. I do test at least once a month though just to make sure! I try to test the ALK once a week or so as well but with the Hanna it’s a breeze.



    I feed a variety of Mysis, Krill and Arcti-Pods. Once a week or so I mix up a small batch of Reef Roids, with 1ml Red Sea Reef Energy A & B. 



    I inspect the display and sump daily just to make sure nothing is acting up and do a quick glass scrape if it needs it during the week. I might tinker with something here and there but the bulk of the cleaning is done during the water change.



    I only dose 1ml Red Sea NO3-PO4-X a few times a week by hand. I also throw in a drop of ZEOvit ZEObak and ZEOfood 7 once a week which is more of a ‘feeding’ thing I guess but it feels more like a ‘dose’ so I’ll keep it here.  I do plan to set up a dosing pump at some point. Probably around the same time my baby boy arrives haha:lol:  


    • Full Moon Crater Clownfish
    • Picasso Clownfish
    • Tailspot Blenny

    Soft Coral

    • Assorted Zoas
    • Star Polyps
    • Mushrooms
    • Yuma Ricordia
    • Green & Purple Hand Leathers

    LPS Coral

    • Hammer
    • Torch
    • Duncan
    • Trachyphyllia
    • Bubble
    • Frogspawn


    • Green & Rose Tip Bubble Anemones
    • Hermits
    • Snails
    • Anemone Crab
    • Cleaner Shrimp


    I always wanted a reef tank but it seemed very intimidating to jump into so I pushed it off and pushed it off. I crept around Nano-Reef for years, daydreaming and building a tank in my head. Finally I decided to just do it. I picked up a Fluval Spec V and basically went with the ‘Fluval Spec V’ blueprint everyone else on Nano-Reef was going with. I got the InTank insert, upgraded the pump, threw in some Chemi-Pure and Purigen and off I went. Down the road I installed an Eheim canister filter and it was a good addition. It was a bit of a pain to change the media inside but other than that I think it worked better overall and gave the entire system a few more gallons which I think helps when it’s a small tank to begin with.


    The Spec V ran for about a year when I decided to move up a bit. I bought a standard 10 gallon glass tank, a couple HOB filters and upgraded to a Kessil light. This worked ok for a while. It was up and running for about a year and then the HOB’s started to act up and leak. The system overall never really seemed to stabilize but it was also pretty young when it started leaking.

    So waking up one morning and seeing a puddle of water was not a good thing. Called in sick from work and went to the LFS to see if they had any Red Sea Reefer’s. They were  tough to find locally because they were so new but I lucked out a got the last one they had in stock so I grabbed it and dragged it home. I had my eye on the Reefer series since they announced it and it didn’t let me down. It’s a solid tank and for a rookie like myself it was great to have all the plumbing worked out so I could see it in action and learn from it. It was my first sump system as well.



    Even though it was a smaller tank I wanted to run it with good equipment and overkill it a bit because I knew eventually I was going to upgrade again. The reason for the Nano was that we live in an apartment in Vancouver so space was limited and this fit perfect into the space I wanted it to go. It started out with a ton of different equipment in it but I have been cutting things out over time. I am slowly cutting down to a minimum to reduce maintenance time and having to worry about all the different parts. Keeping it simple and let it run naturally is the new course. In Sept ‘17 I converted the ATO reservoir into a refugium. I painted the bottom and sides black, then white so the light doesn’t escape and it matches the white stand from the outside. Right now there’s a small pump feeding it but I plan to run a side pipe from the return. I cut a hole to drain out into the return pump chamber and the fuge light runs all night. I installed a small Icecap fan in the roof of the cabinet and it runs off and on throughout the night just to clear the air a bit.

    I don’t know if this is just coincidence but I always had high nitrates in this system and being all softies they never seemed to mind a whole lot but since converting that refugium they are virtually undetectable. Maybe everything has grown up or maybe the Chaeto is actually helping. I wasn’t expecting much since it was such a small space but it’s a pleasant surprise for sure.

    Regrets & Disasters

    I luckily (knock on wood) havn’t had to battle anything major aside from a few outbreaks I could take care of by turning out the lights or slow down on feeding for a few days. I have been lucky.


    My biggest regret, possible disaster, was coming home one day and wondering why my wife was so interested and sitting in front of the tank. Her favorite tank inhabitant - an Orange Lip Conch, her reason for falling in love and accepting the tank, her reason for leaving me be while I ‘fish tank’ - was being ripped out of it’s shell and eaten by our insane Halloween Hermit. It was a shocking site. So violent. She was not impressed and the Halloween was banished to the frag tank immediately before his murderous rampage could continue. RIP Snuffleupagus.

    Future Plans

    I will be keeping this tank going for a while and just watch it grow and mature. I plan to re-wire everything and build out a new place to keep everything so it’s not in the cabinet. I will also be re-building my water station and plan to automate it as much as possible. With the success of the refugium so far I might plumb it out to a bigger tank on the side and have a proper, larger scale model. I am trying to simplify things so doing that complicates it a bit but might help in the end with nutrient control and it’s benefits.


    Possibly get another Orange Lip Conch.

    Words of Wisdom

    If I have learned anything in all this it’s that everyone’s tank is different. There isn’t one  way to do something or recipe to follow line by line and have the same success. You just have to do what you feel is right and pay attention to your creatures, they will show you how they feel. Research and learn everything you can about whatever you want to have in the tank from fish, inverts to corals. Treat them all with respect. They are all living creatures and deserve the best home you can give them. 


    Make your routines as organised and easy as possible. If you have to dig around for tools or go looking for test kits all the time you’ll probably lose interest quickly and it will become a chore you have no interest in completing. Next thing you know your tank is on Craigslist for 80% less than what you paid for it all! Happy Reefing!



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    Great tank! You do a wonderful job on the videos. Do you do that for a living?


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    On 12/1/2017 at 11:30 AM, DaveFason said:

    Great tank! You do a wonderful job on the videos. Do you do that for a living?


    Thanks! Haha I do visual effects for a living but I'm certainly not an editor or anything! I try to let the videos go and not worry about them as much as I tend to do with my other creative ventures where I pour over every detail and if one tiny thing is out of place I scrape it and move on. I'm trying! :) Lot's more to come!

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