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  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to community member WV Reefer and her 12 gallon "Long and Dirty" nano reef for being selected for our September 2018 Reef Profile! This beautiful nano reef is built on a foundation of natural simplicity, foregoing all mechanical and chemical filtration to rely on water changes alone. In this article WV Reefer shares her experiences in the hobby and this aquarium's journey over the past two and a half years! Share your comments and questions in the comments section below. Follow her aquarium journal for additional photos, history, and information about this wonderful reef tank.

    WV Reefer's 12 Gallon Long and Dirty

    September-2018-TOTM-Full-Tank-Shot.jpg

    Tank Specs

    Display: Mr. Aqua 12 Gallon Long (35.4” x 8.3” x 9.4”)

    Lighting: 36” USA Current Marine Orbit Pro

    Heater: Tetra 100w

    Wave Maker: Jebao WP-10 x 2

    No Mechanical Filtration

    No Sump

    No Skimmer

    Established February 4, 2016

     

    Current-Full-Tank-Shot-Other-Angles-1.jpg

     

    Current-Full-Tank-Shot-Other-Angles-3.jpg

    Maintenance

    • 30% water change every other week with Reef Crystals salt.
    • Manual top off as needed with RODI water.
    • Scrape the glass and clean equipment as needed.

    Feeding

    • I feed the fish a variety of frozen foods once a day. 
    • A few times a year I replenish the pod population so that there are always live food options for the fish. 
    • I do not feed corals.
    • No Dosing of any kind.

    Livestock

    Starring:

    Nemo Ocelaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocelllaris)

    Rico Scooter Blenny (Synchiropus ocellatus)

    Buffalo Bill Left-handed Zebra Hermit and murder aficionado (Calcinus)

    The Guy Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)

     

     

    Also Featuring:

    Sexy Shrimp, Money Cowrie, Keyhole Limpets, Cerith Snails, Nassarius Snails, Glowing Marginella Snails, Brittle Starfish, Asterina Starfish, Bristleworms, Spaghetti Worms, Peanut Worms, Feather Dusters, Bivalves and Sponges.

     

    SPS Corals

    • Montipora Capricornis
    • Cup Coral
    • Green Montipora Digitata
    • Neon Birdsnest Coral

    LPS Corals

    • Favia
    • Platagyra
    • Ice Blue Leptastrea
    • Frogspawn
    • JF Spit Fire Leptastrea

    Soft Corals

    • Clove Polyps
    • Rasta Zoanthids
    • Everlasting Gobstopper Palythoa
    • Green Hairy Mushrooms
    • Cotton Candy Mushrooms
    • Grandis Palythoa
    • Purple Gorgonian

    History

    I have been a keeper of freshwater aquariums for 20 years.  I have had many types of freshwater aquariums including South American Cichlids, African Cichlids, Community Aquariums, Low Tech Planted Aquariums and High Tech Planted Aquariums.  

     

    Freshwater-Planted-Tank.jpg

     

    One day while surfing Craigslist, I found a 12 Gallon Long tank for sale and wondered, "what in the world could you even grow in that thing?”  I did a quick search online and found videos of a reef belonging to @Scorched, which in turn led me to Nano-Reef.com.  I was amazed!  I had never really considered a saltwater tank before but the possibilities were swirling in my head because I knew I had the perfect place for this skinny little tank.

     

    Build-February-2016.jpg

     

    In my experience, one thing that can quickly ruin the fun and relaxation of keeping an aquarium is maintenance.  So I knew that this reef had to be simple.  Simple in care and simple in terms of equipment.  After much research, the Long and Dirty Reef was created.  Long because, well, that's obvious. Dirty because it uses natural biological filtration only, which provides for a high nutrient environment.  A dirty reef requires only three things: light, flow and heat. That’s it. Really.

     

    I had my concept, now I needed to plan my equipment. I knew from reading other threads that the biggest challenge for a tank this long and shallow was proper flow.  I decided that a powerhead at each end would be the best solution and picked the Jebao wave makers because they were small and economical. The heater was easy to choose, it just had to fit!  The light was going to be more difficult because of the location of the tank in between the bookshelves.  The USA Marine Orbit Pro was perfect because of the slim profile and its ability to grow just about anything at  8” deep.  The last thing I needed was rock and sand.  As a beginner, the thought of live rock scared me. Instead, I chose dry CaribSea base rock because it was small enough to easily work with and I chose the CaribSea Fiji Pink sand because I thought it was pretty.

     

    Build-February-2016-1.jpg
    February 2016

     

    After gathering all of my supplies and filling up the tank, I began a testing schedule of twice a day.  I wanted to get a feel for the tanks natural ups and downs by knowing how much the parameters fluctuated throughout the day. After the livestock began to trickle in I continued testing to see how each new addition affected the tank overall. I found that as long as the new additions or changes in general, happened slowly there was not much impact on the parameters.

     

    Build-June-2016.jpg
    June 2016

     

    Now that the tank is mature, I no longer feel the need to test at all. I know this reef so well that I can tell if something is off usually just by looking.  I think that one of the biggest mistakes some hobbyists make is chasing that “perfect” number. When testing, do not overreact to the results. How does the tank look? Are the corals open and happy?  How much algae do you see?  Unless you are having an actual problem, do not worry about the numbers.

     

    Build-January-2017.jpg
    January 2017

     

    With a dirty reef, you must rely on regular water changes to import and replenish nutrients and export waste and detritus.  The golden rule of dirty reefing is: what goes in must come out.  A dedicated water change schedule helps to keep the parameters stable and stability is the key to any reef.  A water change can also solve most problems including overfeeding which is usually the cause of most algae problems.  I have had no major algae outbreaks of any kind so far in this reef.  Currently the algae has been so minimal, even on the glass, that I have been feeding my clean up crew extra food for fear they will starve. In the beginning, the water was changed religiously once a week but recently I decided to move the water change schedule to every other week. I have not yet noticed any affect at all on the tank from making this change and will continue to experiment with the schedule.

    The Future

    Natural reefing has served me well so far and I have accomplished the goals I set for this tank. The reef is now 2 1/2 years old and I intend to keep it running as long as possible.  It is currently in a state of transition due to the removal of some of the larger corals but I will continue to make changes as needed and I look forward to sharing my progress.

    In Memoriam

    The following characters were an essential part of my reefing journey and therefor must be acknowledged.  

     

    "The Creep” Eunice Worm (Eunice aphroditois)

    In-Memoriam-The-Creep.jpg

    #makingkillerwormscuteagain

     

    "The Hulk” Green Legged Hermit (Paguristes sp.)

    In-Memoriam-The-Hulk.jpg

     

    "The Clam” Crocea Clam (Tridacna crocea)

    In-Memoriam-The-Clam.jpg

    Words of Wisdom

    Take it slow. You are building an ecosystem… it takes time.

    You don’t need all that “stuff”!  Keep it simple. Don’t make your tank a “to do” list. 

    Don't be distracted by labels.  Cheap corals are just as pretty as corals with fancy names.  

     

    I feel that it is important to note that all of the photos in my thread and in this feature were taken with my iPhone.  I do not use filters for my photos, I make an effort to only use photos that are a “real life” representation of my reef so that it looks the same in photos as it does in person.  

    Acknowledgments

    Thank you to Christopher Marks and Nano-Reef.com. It has been a great experience creating my first reef and I am honored for it to be named TOTM. It is awesome to know that this reef will live on for future hobbyists to enjoy. Thank you to the people that have followed along and that have spent many hours talking and laughing with me about nonsensical things while still managing to fit in talk of fish and corals once in awhile!

     

    -Christy @WV Reefer

     

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    Congrats! I always loved this tank, been reading about it since I joined this sight. Since I also have a long tank, it's been a good reference and inspiration point for me. Love how clean and simple it is. 

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    2 hours ago, Jono said:

    Congrats! I always loved this tank, been reading about it since I joined this sight. Since I also have a long tank, it's been a good reference and inspiration point for me. Love how clean and simple it is. 

    That’s so nice, Thank you! 😊

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    Congrats!  Love your approach to a natural simple tank.

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    16 minutes ago, markalot said:

    Nicely done, very cool little tank.

     

    1 minute ago, ninjamyst said:

    Congrats!  Love your approach to a natural simple tank.

     

    Thank you. 😀

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    Love the write-ups. So many good notes for newbies here. And it’s not just your opinion/saying, it has a proven track record of 2.5 years - and I’m sure it got plenty more to go. 

    Between yours and @Nano sapiens‘s examples, I really hope that newer members truly spend time to learn the importance of the basics in the mini-ecosystem that we all love.

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    Awesome and I applaud your decision to provide true-to-life photos 👍

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    An inspiring tank for sure.  I like your approach.  I hope people will recognize the value of a mature tank.  Excellent write up.  Continued good luck to you and your cast of characters.

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    8 hours ago, micoastreefing said:

    Love the write-ups. So many good notes for newbies here. And it’s not just your opinion/saying, it has a proven track record of 2.5 years - and I’m sure it got plenty more to go. 

    Between yours and @Nano sapiens‘s examples, I really hope that newer members truly spend time to learn the importance of the basics in the mini-ecosystem that we all love.

     

    8 hours ago, Duane Clark said:

    Congrats!  Love the tank.  

     

    3 hours ago, seabass said:

    An inspiring tank for sure.  I like your approach.  I hope people will recognize the value of a mature tank.  Excellent write up.  Continued good luck to you and your cast of characters.

     

    6 hours ago, Nano sapiens said:

    Awesome and I applaud your decision to provide true-to-life photos 👍

     

    1 hour ago, xellos88 said:

    Congrats!

    Thank you! 😊

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    The simplicity of this tank is what makes it super-special. I like dirty reefing, budget reefing or anything that employs the 'KISS' method. And I do agree with you on one major bit - cheap corals are just as good as the 'expensive' ones. Looking forward to more pics of this tank in your thread. Congrats once again on the totm. 🙂 

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