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  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to community member Matteo and his 40 gallon nano reef for being selected for our November 2020 Reef Profile! This beautiful nano reef is home to an incredible collection life, with a special focus on LPS coral and Bubble Tip Anemones. In this article Matteo shares his experiences in the hobby and this aquarium's journey over the past year and a half. Please share your comments and questions in the comments section below, and be sure to follow his aquarium journal for additional photos, history, and information about this gorgeous nano reef tank.

    Matteo's 40 Gallon LPS & BTA Reef



    Tank Specs

    Display: 40 Gallon IM Nuvo AIO 

    Rock: LFS Live Rock and Reef Saver Rock

    Sand: CaribSea Fiji Pink
    Lighting: ATI T5 with 2x Actinic Current USA Lumen Pro Strips (Bulb Combo is 3 Blue + and 1 Coral +
    Heater: Boxtech 300watt Ceramic Heater attached to a Finnex Thermostat
    Circulation: MP10 and Nero 5
    Skimmer: Innovative Marine Midsize Nuvo Skimmer
    Filtration: Innovative Marine Mighty Jet 538GPH with Spin Stream
    Filter Media: Media Baskets w/Filter Pads, Carbon, and Purigen
    Top Off: Tunze Nano
    Refugium: Chaeto Algae powered by Innovative Marine ChaetoMax LED

    Established June 2019




    Maintenance Routine

    My maintenance is standard. I try and maintain a 5 gallon water change every 1-2 weeks with the occasional wiping and scraping of algae on an as-needed basis. I manually eyeball dose Calcium Carbonate, Redsea ABCD Color Kit, and an Alk Buffer. Besides that, coral feeding includes Reef Frenzy along with using Polylab Polyp Booster and ReefRoids. I feed daily Omega One Reef Pellets to the fish, and the BTAs get fed also about once a week a mix of either Reef Frenzy or Mysis cubes.


    • Lighting Maroon Clown Pair

    • Yellow Watchman Goby

    • Flame Angel

    • Purple Dottyback

    Soft Corals

    • Toadstool Leather

    • Mushrooms

    • Zoanthids

    LPS Corals

    • Favias

    • Torches

    • Lobos

    • Candycanes

    • Leptos, etc.


    • Bubble Tip Anemones

    • Cleaner Shrimp

    • Pistol Shrimp

    • Harlequin Mated Pair

    • Basic Clean Up Crew

    My History

    My first tank was when I was 10 years old. A 1 gallon Hexagon with under gravel bubble filter and dwarf frogs. Reason behind it was I was tasked to take care of my neighbor’s frog tank at that time and really wanted one for myself, so boom, parents hooked me up. Soon that was upgraded to a 10 gallon, then a 15g, then a 30g, eventually I made it up to 55 gallons when I was about 13! But you know what happens next… I got bored with freshwater after seeing so many cool saltwater fish at the LFS, so one day I scooped up all my fish, traded them in at the LFS for credit and got salt, rock, sand, and leftover money for some fish later on. I started my cycle and eventually started with a predator tank and eventually moved to damsels and clownfish. 


    Later once I was in high school, I got more into coral and nano tanks. In college I always had a saltwater tank, and some of you may even remember my tanks during those days, but recently being out of college with a place of my own, I picked up the Nuvo 40 and set it up June 2019, so its relatively new still of a tank!


    June 2019 Day One

    Tank History

    I decided on the IM Nuvo 40 when I got a great deal on one from a local reefer, and decided to go with all Innovative Marine products and gear for the most part, as they are literally made for the tank. So far, no regrets on gear choice. The biggest piece of gear to change was my lighting. I had an Aquaticlife T5 Hybrid with 4x Nanobox LED pucks in the middle. The light was a beast, but I wanted to try something different, with a more aesthetically pleasing fixture. So, I bought an ATI T5 florescent light from a local reefer and I was so impressed with the color it gave my tank. Of course then I missed the shimmer and pop from LEDs, so I added some CurrentUSA Pro Lumen Strips to the light for that extra pop and color. Works perfectly for what I want, but maybe would have been cool to try some Orpheks… 



    July 2019


    As you can see in the pictures the tank has gone through many changes and different scapes. Many of the corals in the past FTS are gone as I have done A LOT of trading, selling, buying etc. Its sort of the most fun part of the hobby for me, getting something new, seeing a local reefers tank, having a local reefer see you tank, its just a more fun transaction than most in life. 


    April 2020


    The biggest milestone was probably moving away from SPS to focus on LPS and the BTA garden, and really pinpointing which corals I wanted to keep. With the flow, temp, and lighting I felt these were better suited for what I have going on, and it keeps the maintenance down a smidge not having to worry about calcium as much. Now it is just simple water changes, feeding and that is really it. Pretty easy peasy of a reef tank now as it is simply chugging along and growing well.


    Night Time - October 2020

    Future Plans

    Probably a few more LPS pieces to be added, i.e. prize piece lobos and torches mostly as the tank is pretty full. At the end of the day however, the breakdown of this tank is inevitable. Not in the near future by any means, but I do want to upgrade to something bigger and give the fish more room. Mostly likely a sumped tank, with the same same livestock, and same coral, but MORE coral! Again, not for another year probably unless I win a lotto ticket. 😄

    Words of Wisdom

    • As always make sure you really do your research and do not impulse buy on something. Cannot tell you how many times I impulse bought a fish or coral only to realize it would not work long term in my tank.
    • Take things slow, my tank went through like a 2-3 month ugly phase until it started to clear up and look clean. Now it is just general wiping the algae off the glass and good to go!
    • Also, don’t get distracted by other people’s tanks and trying to mimic theirs. Really do what makes you happy and what you like because its your tank and you’re looking at it every day.
    • My biggest advice though is if you genuinely want to collect coral, DON’T SETTLE ON PRICE. Really grab what you like and if the one frag you want is $$$ well save up and wait because it’ll be way worth it in the end. Also go quality over quantity in this hobby.

    Hope you enjoyed the read up on my Nuvo 40 and if you have any questions please feel free to post in my journal, here, or even shoot me a PM! 


    Shameless Plug: for almost daily photos of the reef tank and my FW tanks follow me @pdxaquarist on Instagram!



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    Congratulations! Wonderful looking box of water you have some very beautiful coral with just the perfect sway. Your words of wisdom make some great and true points. I wish you continued success with this tank and the next one.

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