Congratulations to community member @LazyFish and her 20 gallon nano reef aquarium for being selected for our July 2021 Reef Profile! This soft and LPS dominant mixed reef has beautifully evolved over time into an incredible collection of coral and inverts. In this article LazyFish shares her experiences in the hobby and this aquarium's journey over the past five and a half years. Please share your comments and questions in the comments section below, and be sure to follow her aquarium journal for additional photos, history, and information about this beautiful reef tank.
LazyFish's 20gal Peninsula Mixed Reef
Display: Innovative Marine IM Nuvo Peninsula Pro 20 Gallons, 11.8"L x 30" W x 13" H
Stand: Custom build I made the stand myself. Its all made of 2x4.
Lighting: Two AI Prime HD led lights with AI prime hard mounts.
Pump: MightyJet 15W/24V 326 GPH DC Return Pump w/ Controller (no nozzle)
Filtration: Innovative Marine Media Basket
Filter Media: Floss, then a 5.5 oz ChemiPure Blue bag in basket, and approx 3.5 oz bag of carbon sitting in the filter chamber.
Skimmer: Eshopps Nano Skimmer with Sicce Micra.
Rock: Approximately 18 lbs of live rock most came from previous 10gal nano tank.
Sand: About 20 lbs mostly CaribSea Ocean Direct Caribbean live sand.
Established March 2021 (Tank Upgrade)
My Favorite View
- Glass cleaning every 3 or 4 days depending on how it looks.
- Top-off about 1 cup of water every 3 days. If I don’t have RO/DI on hand I use well water (I’ve used my well water for years with no issues, a perk of living in the middle of nowhere. I don't recommend most people try this unless they have a deep well system that produces reliable quality water.)
- Filter floss changes usually weekly, sometimes twice a week if it looks nasty.
- Empty the skimmer cup about once a week, sometimes twice.
- Test once every week between the water changes, more often if something seems off.
- 5 gallon water change every 2-3 weeks, depending on how the tank looks. Many years ago I had been mixing my own saltwater using well water and reef crystals but I started buying my saltwater at the LFS. More recently I have been mixing my own using Tropic Marin Bio-Activ salt with RO/DI water and its been working out very well.
- Scrape the glass just prior to water change to remove any hard algae.
- Stir up sand bed & vacuum out the yuck during water changes.
- Clean out the skimmer sponge every few weeks.
- Change filter media every other month.
- Seachem Reef Fusion Part One & Two, only if my levels are off.
- Seachem Reef Plus, I add one ML with water changes.
- Kent Marine Iodide, only if it tests low.
- New Life Spectrum Optimum Flakes every other day.
- Every three days I have been feeding a scoop of Reef Blizzard O & L, this feeding doesn’t fall on a flake day.
- I feed the LPS Fauna Marin LPS pellets once a week.
- Occasionally I broadcast feed the tank with frozen foods like mysis, ocean plankton, or brine shrimp. I also only do this right before water change maybe once or twice a month.
Female Davinci Clownfish (Amphirion Ocellaris)
I have had her more than 5 years now. She even eats from my hand.
Male Wyoming White Clownfish (Amphirion Ocellaris)
I’ve had this guy about a month & he has me worried, still hardly eating but was eating fine at the LFS, & had been there 4 months before I got him. I am currently using garlic extreme & entice on its food trying to get him to eat. I have tried a variety of foods, also...he bites!
Yellow Sea Whip
Green Kenya Tree
Various Palys & Zoas
Zoanthids Glowing Under Blue Light
- Green Star Polyps (Pachyclavularia violacea)
- Encrusting Tan Gorgonian (Briareum sp.)
- Spiny Silver Gorgonian (Muricea laxa)
- Rusty Gorgonian (Muricea elongate)
- Grubes Gorgonian (Pinnigorgia flava)
- Yellow Sea Whip Gorgonian (Pterogorgia citrina)
- Gorgonian (possibly Eunicea flexuosa)
- Gorgonian Hitchhiker: It's small and its open at night ~NPS?
- Slit Pore Gorgonian (Plexaurella nutans): fragged from my mother colony on the other 20
- Green Kenya Tree
- Cabbage Coral (Sinularia dura): fragged from the mother colony on my 20
- Various Mushrooms (Actinodiscus sp.)
- Various Zoanthids: I have a lot!
- Various Palyotha
- Grandis Paly (Palythoa grandis)
- Reverse Prism Favia
- Favia sp.
- 2x Chalice Coral (Echinopora sp.)
- 3x Acan Frags (Acanthastrea lordhowensis)
- 2x Trachyphyllia geoffroyi
- Blue Legs Hermit Crab (Clibanaris tricolor)
- Orange Claw hermit Crab (Calcinus tibicen)
- Mexican Hermit Crab (Coenobita species): This thing is ancient, more than 6 years old
- Dwarf Cerith Snails (Cerithiidae sp.)
- Florida Cerith Snails (Cerithium floridanum)
- Nassarius Snails (Nassarius vibex)
- Tonga Nassarius Snails (Nassarius distortus)
- 3x Money Cowrie (Monetaria moneta): I seriously love those things! Hardest working things in the tank and I have one that’s about 6 years old.
Spotted Cleaner Shrimp (Periclimenes yucatan): Very fun to watch but hard to photograph. It hosts my two face RFA.
- Hawaiian Feather Duster (Sabellastarte sp.)
- Derasa Clam (Tridacna derasa): It’s growing so fast!
- Rock Flower Anemone (Epicystis crucifer): 2x small adults & about 6 babies. One is a two face the other I raised from one of my spawns in my other tank.
- Red Bumpy Sponge Hitchhiker: No idea what it is but it’s pretty!
- Asterina Starfish (Asterina sp.)
- Micro Brittle Starfish
- Collinista sp. Snails
- Various Small Feather Duster Hitchhikers
- 2x Green Muscle Hitchhikers
- *PEST!!* Aiptasia: Still trying to kill these things!
- Short Codium (Codium taylorii)
- Red Pompom (Gracillaria hayi)
I have always been fascinated by the aquatic world. I’ve been told I could find fish in a desert. I have had various freshwater tanks around since I could say the word "fish!” I was so fascinated by fish that my parents got a tank for me when I was just two years old. I got a 55 gallon cichlid setup for my sweet 16 birthday even. I started my first reef in 2006, and I have had eight different reef tanks over the years. I currently have two reef tanks going, and two planted freshwater tanks. Unfortunately where I live there are only 2 local fish stores that even carry saltwater fish or supplies, and neither one is close. I don't get to go to any of the nice ones that often because they are too far away, so I order a lot of my livestock online.
My 4 gallon Pico Reef in 2014
Some of the things in this tank originally started off in a 4 gallon nano reef that I ran for about 4 years. It was eventually taken down and upgraded into a 10 gallon IM Nuvo tank, which ran for over 5 years. The 10 gal Nuvo was started November 20, 2015 and taken down on March 26, 2021, when I upgraded to this 20 gallon IM Nuvo Peninsula tank. The IM 10 Nuvo was my first AIO system, and I fell in love with them. The corals eventually filled up the tank and began looking over grown. I had an accident about a year ago with a magnetic cleaner, and had gouged the front glass, it motivated me to decide to upgrade to a larger tank.
I had originally looked at the Lifegard Aquatics 14g Peninsula for the upgrade. I also looked at the Fluval Evo 15g, but I didn't care for the design of the filtration area. After looking at the dimensions of the IM Nuvo 20g Peninsula, I decided on it. I didn't have to buy new media racks or skimmer because the old ones from the 10g fit it. The only other things I needed for the upgrade was a stand and a second light.
Tank Upgrade Day 1 - March 26, 2021
I found a used AI Prime HD to pair with the one I already had. The lights are mounted to the stand behind the tank. I prefer a more natural looking lighting in my tanks, but they do go through first a red and then a blue phase when ramping up, then a blue followed by red phase when ramping down. This lets me see all the beautiful glowing colors of the corals twice a day without having to look at the "Windex" effect all day. The red phase also lets me observe the more nocturnal animals in the tank. Most sea life can’t actually see red light very well so they don't know they are being watched.
I built the stand using all 2x4 lumber. I wanted something heavy that would last and could be repurposed if needed later. I used black out film (the kind used for windows) to cover the back side of the tank, and mounted it to the tank with Velcro so I can change it later If I want.
May 12, 2021
Unfortunately I had let the 10 gallon reef go a bit before the transfer, and it got infested by some aiptasia anemones that I'm still fighting off. They aren’t horribly bad, but they are annoying. Shortly before the tank transfer we had a hard freeze, a loss of power, and some other complications, and I slowly lost several LPS corals in my other 20 gallon reef over several months. I had not intended this to be a mixed reef tank initially, but I ended up putting the survivors into this tank. They still don't look 100%, and the Red Trachyphyllia I'm still a bit concerned about. I acquired some new LPS corals for the tank, and discovered an Acan frag I thought was dead months ago had started growing again.
I still thought the tank was missing something and I wanted something a bit different from my other tank, so I got my first clam. I am blown away by how fast my Derasa clam is growing. When it gets too big for this tank I will probably replace it with a Maxima as they stay smaller.
The LPS and the gorgs seem to really like the flow in this tank. I have seen great growth with most of the corals. The tank is really filling in nicely now. It seems to be stable and well on its way. I am looking forward to seeing how it grows in the future.
Looking back, the transfer into this new 20 gallon tank went better than I could have hoped, and most corals were open the next day. I was really expecting a mini cycle but it never happened. I used the rocks, water, filter media rack, skimmer and a few handfuls of sand from the original 10 gallon. I also added about 8 lbs. of dry rock I had laying around. The tank was a little cloudy for about two days before it fully cleared.
The only real issues I have had with this tank are the aiptasia, and that’s totally my fault for letting them go so long in the 10 gal. Then there is the hair issue. Dog hair, cat hair, my hair, it’s everywhere! It seems like every day I see some stuck to a coral or plastered to the overflow. I believe this is from the screen top letting it in. I may eventually have to change to a glass top like on my other 20 gal tank.
I want to get a Pink Streak Wrasse as my final fish for this tank, and I want another shrimp, probably a peppermint shrimp. (Maybe he will eat the aiptasia?) I am also considering getting a yellow NPS gorgonian to try, and I would like one more LPS coral for the sand bed. I have been looking at a Platygyra for that spot. I MAY try a SPS coral some time too, perhaps a Birds Nest or a Branching Montipora.
Words of Wisdom
- Research is the biggest thing when it comes to stocking and can help prevent many costly and frustrating problems. I don't recommend impulse buying something if you don't know what it is. If you don’t know what it is there’s a chance you may not be able to meet its needs or care for it properly.
- Resources like Google, Wikipedia and forums like here at Nano-Reef.com are extremely valuable tools in this hobby.
- There are some very good LFS that are run by people who love this hobby and the animals they sell, but unfortunately not all of them are like that. If you are feeling uncertain about something, double check anything the LFS tells you. They could just be trying to sell you something. Stocking should always be done slowly. Stocking too fast can cause many issues, especially in new tanks.
- Go slow & RESEARCH EVERYTHING!
I LOVED my 10 gallon it went through many changes over the nearly six years, it had its ups and downs but it was a wonderful tank. I would highly recommend all-in-one style systems like the IM Nuvo series, the JBJ, or even Fluval and others for beginners or advanced hobbyist alike. I am looking forward to this new chapter with the Peninsula style tank. Everything in this hobby is a learning experience. With reef tanks there is never not something new to learn. Reef tanks are something that is constantly evolving growing and changing. It’s almost as if the tank is not just an ecosystem, but is also its own organism in way. I am excited to see what this one evolves into in the future.