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  • teenyreef

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to community member teenyreef and his 10 gallon nano reef for being selected again for our January 2020 Reef Profile! This vibrant nano reef aquarium has evolved into a true masterpiece in its 5th year, a testament to the results of unwavering care and dedicated husbandry, even in the face of challenging setbacks. In this article teenyreef shares his experiences in the hobby and this aquarium's journey over the past five years. 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 incredible nano reef tank.

    TeenyReef's 10 Gallon IM Fusion Nano


    Tank Specs

    Display: Innovative Marine 10 Gallon NUVO Fusion Nano all in one aquarium, 12”x15”x13”
    Lighting: Nano Box Mini Reef Tide Plus with Bluefish controller
    Heater: Finnex 50w titanium

    Chiller: 80mm Enermax computer case fan
    Circulation: Jebao DCS-1200 with IM Spinstream, Aqamai KPS

    Skimmer: Eshopps Nano

    Filtration: InTank media basket with filter floss and carbon
    Top Off: Tunze Nano Osmolator 3152
    Dosing: Bulk Reef Supply dosers with ATI Elements Pro (two part that includes mag and trace elements)
    Controller: Neptune Systems Apex Lite controller with Energy Bar 8

    Established November 2014



    Maintenance Routine

    • Weekly: 2-4g Water change depending on how much water I have made up at the time. Siphon detritus off the bottom. Refill the 2g ATO container. Every other time, I drain the water from the back chambers instead of the display chamber.

    • Monthly: Run 1 tbsp carbon for 5-7 days (or longer if I forget about it).

    • As needed, usually every 4-5 days: change filter floss and empty skimmer cup, scrape glass.

    • Clean and vinegar soak pumps every 6-12 months.

    • Clean and refill dosing containers every 3-6 months as needed.

    • Check alkalinity weekly, other parameters every 1-3 months unless something doesn't look right.

    • I feed daily with about half a cube for frozen food. I currently use a mixture of PE Mysis shrimp, PE Calanus Shrimp, San Francisco Bay Emerald Entrée, and Ocean Nutrition Prime Reef. Once a week, I add a pinch of Reef Roids to the mix.


    • Golden Assessor Basslet (Oswalt)
    • Green Banded Gobies (#1 and #2)

    Soft Coral

    • Zoanthids
    • Florida Ricordea Mushrooms

    LPS Coral

    • Hammer (Euphyllia)

    • Sun Coral (Tubastrea)

    • Green Blasto Merlettis

    • Aqua San Diego Rainbow Knock Out favites

    • Green/Blue favites

    • Acan Lords (Micromussa Lorhowensis)

    • Blue Chalice

    SPS Coral

    • Idaho Grape Montipora

    • California Tortuosa

    • ORA Pearlberry Acropora

    • Blue/White Acropora

    • Katropora (Acropora Subulata)

    • Jason Fox Brainfreeze Encrusting Montipora

    • Bubblegum Digitata

    • JF Red Hot Setosa

    • WWC Honeycomb Lepastrea

    • Cyphastrea


    • Snails: Ceriths, Dwarf Ceriths, Nassarius, Astrea

    • Brittle Stars (living in the Aqamai pump)

    • Pom-Pom Shrimp

    • Peppermint Shrimp

    • Sponges and Tube Worms


    I started this tank as a graduation exercise after keeping my first tank, a 4g pico, alive for more than a year. My goal for the tank was to have a mixed reef with LPS and SPS.


    I started this desktop tank in November 2014 with uncured live rock with lots of interesting hitchhikers, coralline, macro algae, sponges, worms, and even SPS corals on them. I added a pair of clown fish early on, along with a pink streaked wrasse and a couple of green banded gobies. After a few years, I added a leopard toby puffer, moved the clowns to my 40g tank, and added a tail spot blenny and a golden assessor basslet. Over the years, some of the fish have moved on to other tanks, and others have moved on due to old age. I still have the golden assessor along with a newer pair of green banded gobies.


    1 Year Old, November 14, 2015


    The tank has changed a lot since I started it, but the basics have remained constant: the same rockscape, a mix of lps and sps, and fish that I find interesting in a nano tank setting. After successfully careening from one crisis to another, everything came together long enough for a monthly reef tank feature in 2016. It was great to be featured, and it gave me a valuable opportunity to review my progress and encouraged me to keep the tank going for the long term. Now five years after starting the tank, I’ve learned that persistence in the face of disaster is the real key to long-term reefing success. 


    September 4, 2017


    Early setbacks included crabs and starfish eating everything and taking over the tank, an alkalinity swing that killed all the sps except for the monticaps, and a bleaching event due to my attempts to use a overly powerful light. After the first tank feature article, I learned that alkalinity swings are bad (again!), and then almost lost the tank as nutrients climbed higher and higher in spite of using tons of carbon dosing. Eventually, I did a “soft reset” by doing large water changes, cleaning the rocks with a toothbrush, and removing the sand bed. This approach worked great, and now I really enjoy having the bottom of the tank covered with corals instead of sand.


    January 1, 2019, 1 Year Ago


    This is still a “real” reef tank, with “real” problems popping up all the time. Currently, I’m recovering from being lazy with water changes, which caused the ricordea to shrivel up a bit, and I’m investigating something that seems to be eating away at the bottom of the acropora. I also frequently change the corals in the tank, just to keep myself interested and to avoid having individual corals take up too much space. A couple weeks ago, I replaced a large colony of Sunny Delight zoas with half a dozen new zoa frags, which was a great improvement. I also brought in a few acans that were dying in my 40g tank, and they are recovering nicely in this tank. In the future, I am considering removing the large Idaho Grape monticap and replacing it with some new acropora.

    Tips & Tricks

    After five years of ups and downs in this tank, I’ve learned is to keep things simple and easy, to keep up on regular water changes, and to be patient and methodical when making changes. I’ve streamlined my tank maintenance routine, as this helps me keep it up, and makes it easier for others to care for the tank when I’m gone.


    • Things I’ve Eliminated: Phosphate control (GFO and PhosphateRx), heavy carbon filtration (now it's only 5-7 days a month), carbon dosing, fancy coral foods; bio plates/bricks, pellet food, supplements, and manual trace element dosing.


    • Things I’ve Simplified: Automated two part dosing using ATI Elements Pro, which includes magnesium and trace elements, automated top off with RODI water, using a salt mix with parameters close to the tank, and feeding with a few squirts of frozen food once a day.


    • Things I’ve Gotten Better At: Change at least two gallons of water every week, four gallons every month or two, siphon water out of the back chambers at least once a month, clean the dosing tube holder and back tank wall frequently so the tubes don’t clog; and keep the skimmer properly adjusted.


    • Things I Need To Improve: Taking pictures and posting in my thread regularly, addressing problems right away instead of waiting to see if they go away, and replacing boring/overgrown corals with more interesting corals.


    Staying actively engaged here on N-R is critical. I learned about the IM10 Fusion from others here on N-R when I was researching tanks and it was new (some people called it a “unicorn” because it seemed so perfect and was so hard to get when it first came out). I’ve been happy to share what I’ve learned over the years through the 170 pages (eek!) of my tank thread, but I’ve learned far more from other people here. Most importantly, every time I’ve experienced a setback, gotten bored, or felt discouraged, other N-R members provide great feedback and keep me going!

    Thoughts On...

    • Equipment
      My Nanobox Mini Tide has been the perfect light for this tank as long as I’ve had it. I briefly tried a more powerful light but the colors weren’t as good and I quickly went back.

    • Skimmers
      There aren’t many skimmers that fit in the IM10. The Eshopps Nano isn’t a perfect skimmer, but it does fit and works a lot better than the old IM Desktop Ghost skimmer I started with. Automation is expensive but is well worth it to simplify and improve control of the tank. Upgrading your return pump is almost certainly worth it in the long run, to improve flow, increase reliability, and reduce cleaning frequency.

    • Sandbeds
      Nope, not for me. Getting rid of the sand bed was the single best change I’ve ever made in this tank. I can crank the flow up as high as I like without blowing sand around, and nutrient control is much improved.

    • Nutrients
      Don’t shoot for numbers. Stability and balance is the real key. Many of the problems I’ve faced with this tank have been a direct result of trying to over-control nutrients. Allow time for things to stabilize after adding a nutrient source (like a new fish) – it’s almost like cycling a new tank as things get back in balance. I’ve had beautiful corals in this tank with nitrates as high as 25 and as low as .1 – with similar ranges for phosphates. Another thing to watch out for is very low levels of nitrates and phosphates accompanied by algae growth. This may be a sign that you have high nitrates and phosphates which are being consumed by algae growth.


    Finally, one of the things I love about this hobby is that there are so many ways to succeed – no matter what your personality is, there’s a way to keep a tank that will work for you, everything from using advanced technical systems that give fine control over every aspect of the tank, to just doing 100% water changes in a cookie jar. There are many beautiful tanks here on Nano-Reef demonstrating so many ways to succeed – I encourage you to find and follow some tanks that appeal to you and ask questions.


    I’d like to thank all those that have followed this tank and have been so encouraging the whole time, but especially Christopher Marks, who has tirelessly and faithfully made N-R a friendly and enjoyable place.



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    Congratulations, Teeny!! Your tank is always such an inspiration. 💛💛💛 I really enjoyed reading about the long term experience of keeping such a beautiful nano reef... it’s cool to see what changes you’ve made vs what you’ve kept the same and I loved the idea of changing corals up a bit both to keep them from getting too big and to keep engaged.

    I was especially interested to hear about your experience switching the tank to bare bottom, and it looks absolutely amazing with the bottom glass covered in corals!! Lots of other timely wisdom as I’m starting out with SPS, so thanks for the great writeup! 🤗

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    Hooray! The double feature! And very well deserved. 😁


    I hope this tank continues to thrive and inspire other reefers (like me!) for many years to come.

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    Thanks everyone! I feel very humbled to have this tank featured for a second time, and it's awesome to hear from all the people that have been inspired by it over the years. :flower:

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    Tank looks beautiful and I really enjoyed the write up. Very detailed in the simplicity of the system.





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