Congratulations to community member Cannedfish and his 10 gallon nano reef for being selected for our January 2019 Reef Profile! This mixed reef aquarium is home to an incredibly diverse array of coral, showing tremendous growth and the most vibrant colors. In this article Cannedfish shares his experiences in the hobby and this aquarium's journey over the past year and a half. Share your comments and questions in the comments section below, and follow his aquarium journal for additional photos, history, and information about this wonderful reef tank.
Cannedfish's Les Bon Tanks Rouler 10 Gallon Nano Reef
Display: Innovative Marine 10 Gallon NUVO Fusion Nano all-in-one aquarium, 12" x 15" x 13"
Lighting: Two AI Prime HD with a custom wall mount
Heater: Colbalt Neo-Therm 75watt (controlled by an Inkbird temperature controller)
Return Pump: Innovative Marine MightyJet 326gph DC pump with an Innovative Marine SpinStream nozzle
Wavemaker: Aqamai KPS
Skimmer: AquaEuro Nano Protein Skimmer II
Filtration: Innovative Marine Media Basket
Filter Media: Filter Floss (cut to size), Media Bag (3 Tbsp. Carbon; 1 Tbsp. Phosguard), Purigen
Top Off: AutoAqua Smart ATO Micro
Dosing: Jabao DP-4 pump dosing ESV B-Ionic 2-part
Suppliments: KZ Sponge Power, KZ Acroglow, KZ Pohl’s Extra, KZ Coral Vitalizer, KZ LPS Amino Acids, Brightwell’s Microbactor 7
Established April 2017
Daily Dosing (AM)
- KZ Agroglow: 1 drop
- KZ Sponge Power: 2 drops
- KZ LPS Amino Acids: 3 drops
- KZ Pohl’s Extra: 3 drops
- KZ Coral Vitalizer: 3 drops
- Microbactor7: 2 drops
- ESV 2-part: dosing solution (A & B) is diluted with distilled water (50:50 ratio) and is dosed every 2 hours (with a five minute delay between part A &B); currently I am dosing 6.5ml daily of each solution.
Daily(ish) Routine (PM)
- Change two layers of filter floss every other day or so.
- Blow off rocks and stir sand with acrylic baster. I have slightly bent the tip of the baster for better access around frags and rock work. This not only keeps the tank clean but also feeds the coral.
- Change roughly 2 gallons of water every other day or so (water change write-up below).
- Use the Flipper Nano to remove film algae on glass when necessary.
- Target feed Sustainable Aquatics pellets to Lorp (possum wrasse) and the dendros (daily) and, every other day or so, broadcast feed a mixture of Reef Roids (1/8 tsp.), Reef Nutrition Mysis, ROE, and Artic Pods for 20 minutes with the return pump off.
- On Sunday’s (or randomly if the tank isn’t looking happy) I do a roughly 40-50% water change.
- Change out the activated carbon/Phosguard Media Bag and blow out the rear sump chambers.
- Fill the ATO reservoir.
- Although I own test kits for most of the major parameters, I only generally test for alkalinity and salinity. Everything else is managed through water changes.
- Every five to six months I change out the Purigen bag with a new one (I don’t recharge).
- Occasionally add a nano bag of Chemi-Pure Blue if I’m noticing more than normal film algae.
- Every month, or so, I soak and scrub the skimmer, return pump, and wave-maker in vinegar.
- I do a 10-20% water change every two(ish) days and a 50% water change every Sunday (or randomly if something is looking unhappy).
- Water change process: I mix five gallons at a time in a five gallon bucket that has a spout drilled and attached to it. The bucket contains a pump and a heater. The bucket is elevated (in a creepy unused back stairway that had been converted into my fish room staircase) so when I want to do I water change I just place a gallon jug (that has the top cut off) under the spout. Although, due to acro growth, I now use a siphon and bucket (with markings on the indicating gallon jugs), for most of the tank’s life the jugs also served as “scoops” that allowed me to remove water from the tank quickly. I start the syphon and at the same time begin filling a jug or two with NSW. This process lets me complete a 10-20% water change in less than two and a half minutes.
Tailspot Blenny (Blenwood)
Tanaka’s Pygmy Wrasse (Lorp)
Blue Leg Hermit Crabs
Scarlet Leg Hermit Crabs
Pom Pom Crab
Blue Porcelain Crab
Randal’s Pistol Shrimp
Green Star Polyps
Blue Clove Polyps
Zoanthids and Palythoa
Red Dragon Acropora
Orange Passion Acropora
Black Sun Coral
Yellow/Pink Sun Coral
Like many other hobbyists I had a fish tank as a child. It was an under-gravel filtered 55 gallon saltwater fish only system that housed a large yellow tang and a cast and crew of other oddities. The tank came down when I went away to boarding school, but since then I’ve always had a repressed fascination for fish. Fast forward a decade or two, and after hearing that a grad school roommate of mine had gotten a saltwater tank, I began perusing tanks on the internet and subconsciously plotting my return to the hobby. I quickly became enamored with the beauty and art of planted tanks and decided that my office at work needed one, so I went out and bought a cheap Petco 3.7 gallon AIO.
Not wanted to bring an ugly tank to the office, I decided to grow it out in our kitchen, it would on be a temporary thing. After couple months the simple planted Pico had morphed from simple to a full blown high-tech planted tank (CO2, dosing, upgraded lights) and was ready to go to the office. But after taking it out of the kitchen, we quickly learned that we missed the tank and the various anthropomorphized hijinks of its sole inhabitant, Murderburger, the betta fish who loved nothing more than to eat expensive cherry shrimp. At that point I decided that I need another tank.
Living in an old house Uptown in the Big Easy (New Orleans), we were limited in both space and structural integrity, and the interior decorating scheme of our house wasn't suited for an aquarium, but after some light convincing, the lady approved another small tank in the kitchen! I knew I wanted to dip my toes back into saltwater, and this once again led me to the Google machine and down an internet rabbit-hole that ultimately ended with Nano-Reef.com. For several months I stalked the site and read countless tank journals. But specifically, I was inspired by @teenyreef's IM10. His tank demonstrated the potential that even a small ten gallon cube could have, and provided the final push I need to go out and begin a tank build. After collecting the tank, light, sand, and live rock from a LFS, at the beginning of April 2017 the tank got wet and the real adventure began.
Initially, my goal was to maintain just a simple mixed reef: zoas, a hammer or two, maybe some montis. In the beginning not only did I not believe that I would ever able to keep acros, but I honestly didn’t see what all the hype surrounding them was all about. For the first six or so months the tank ran relatively smoothly. Unfortunately, 2017 was the year MACNA was held in New Orleans, and my significant surprised me with tickets. It was there I got my first real look at the potential of SPS, and where I fell in love with two types of coral that now largely define my tank: acros and NPS. At MACNA I bought my first acros and two head frag of fat head dendros (all of which I still have), and the addiction began to set in. The week after MACNA I officially started a tank journal.
Though I still maintain a mixed reef, the focus has shifted to being a SPS, specifically acropora dominant tank. As that shift has occurred I have had to upgrade to the tank to accommodate it. For example, after being unable to keep parameters stable through daily water changes, I upgraded to an auto-doser. The summer heat meant I couldn’t use a glass top to keep fish and condensation in, so I had to finally add an ATO. Lastly, and most significantly, SPS growth started to cause shading so I added a second AI Prime. Overall, and shockingly, in the little under two years that I have had the tank, I have yet to experience a major setback. I have made many mistakes—over-dosed (causing a brown-out), run-out of 2-part while on vacation (causing a brown-out), I’ve done a 50% water change with fresh water (brown-out)—but nothing that has been catastrophic.
As mentioned above, our house isn’t suited for a larger tank so this is it. I will continually be upgrading the tank and adding more corals, but there won’t be a larger tank in the foreseeable future.
Words of Wisdom
- It’s cliché but Take it slow, nothing good happens fast. This may be the least fun, but most important adage in the hobby, and the hardest for new reefers to follow. This not only applies to making positive changes to your tank but also to fixing problems. It’s just as important to slowly acclimate the tank to new lighting as it is slowly lowing alkalinity after a dosing problem.
- Stability, Stability, Stability: stability with less than ideal parameters is much better than yo-yoing between good parameters and bad parameters.
- Get to know your tank. I feel that getting to know the personality of your tank is one of the biggest factors or tank success. Understanding how various inhabitants react when both happy and sad tells you a lot about what’s happening with the tank and can prevent many problems. I don’t test much because at this point I feel just by looking at few corals I can tell something is wrong. Even if I have just done a large water change, if the tenuis aren’t looking fluffy or the Microlados is retracted, I will do another water change. At the same time, even if I am scheduled to do a water change, if everyone is looking really happy and the Cali Tort and Slimer are showing great PE I will put it off a day or two.
- A simple water change can solve many issues. The current fad seems to be to see how long you can go without water changes or set up a system that doesn’t need them. I understand those goals with large systems, but with a nano tank things can go wrong really fast, simply doing a quick water change when things aren’t going well can cure many ills.
I am a big fan of LED lighting. The one downside I have experienced with LEDs, however, comes with shading. Especially, if the lighting source is a single LED puck and once corals begin to grow in. I believe the optimal solution would be the T5 LED hybrid unfortunately that is not possible with this size of tank.
Although, it’s definitely possible to successfully keep just about any coral in a low flow environment, I believe flow provides added cushion against problems. I have found my corals (even LPS) have always looked better as I have increased flow.
Skimmers aren’t necessary on a nano tank, but I do believe they provide several benefits. Specifically, they help aerate the water and remove nutrients. I have never been able to pull thick skimmate out of my tank but I do believe the skimmer has been worth it.
I believe stability is more important than necessarily aiming for a high or low nutrient system. Because of the large amount of NPS in my tank, I have always heavily fed. As a result, my tank has always run really dirty. For most of the tank’s life, the nutrient levels were well above thresholds where people said you could successfully grow acros (the ultra-low nutrient fad). Now the trends have switched and many people are trying to raise nutrient levels. While you don’t want nutrients too high or too low, I believe corals will adapt to your specific system as long as it’s stable.
Setting up the auto-doser was the single scariest thing I did, but looking back it might have been the most necessary. I could not maintain my tank without it. For most tanks, a dosing unit is not necessary, rather you can get away with just water changes.
I am a big proponent of stocking a tank with working inhabitants, and believe clean-up crews are an important part of keeping a healthy pest free systems. Also they can be really entertaining. Additionally, choosing fish that “work,” is another underrated aspect of the hobby. For example, blennies make great nano fish and they also help control algae. The same goes for the small wrasses (six-line, pygmy, and possum wrasses) which are not only beautiful but spend their days scouring the rocks eating micro-inverts and pests.
I’d like to thank Christopher Marks for featuring my tank. I would also like to thank the entire Nano-Reef community. This is truly great place with many dedicated and amazing people. Whether it’s Secret Santa, grow-out contests, surprise boxes of beer, or just the hanging out in the lounge, this site, and its people, make reefing more than just a hobby that involves taking care of a cubic foot of water in your kitchen. There are too many people to individually thank, but I would also like to specifically thank @teenyreef for the inspiration to get into this hobby and also the vast amounts of invaluable advice he has given along the way.
Laissez les bon temps rouler,