Congratulations to community member @Snow_Phoenix and her 10 gallon nano reef aquarium for being selected for our December 2021 Reef Profile! This incredibly diverse mixed reef is the culmination of years of reefkeeping, showcasing a stunning collection of coral. In this article Snow_Phoenix shares her experiences in the hobby and this aquarium's journey over the past 12 months. 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 lovely nano reef tank.
Snow's 10gal Critters of Chaos Nano Reef
Display: Rimless 18” x 12” x 11” (10.23G) 6mm-thick Crystal Glass Tank (Custom)
Water: Tap Water (DI) + Dechlorinator (Nutrafin/Prime)
Rock: Mature, established LR taken from my previous 2.6G's picoreef, 60G's refugium & 10G's nanocube in the library --> Rocks were between 3 to 5-years-old prior to addition to the tank
Sand: 4.5kg Aragonite Live Sand --> Seeded with a small cup of live sand taken from the sandbed of my previous 2.6G picoreef
Lighting: Aqua Knight Spectra M029 (30W)
Circulation: Jebao SOW-4 Wavemaker (4000L/Hr) running at ~60% capacity
Filtration: H300 Dophin HOB (440L/Hr) Filter
Filter Media: Filter Floss & Activated Carbon
Lid: DIY Modified Acrylic Plastic Tank Dividers + Mesh
Dosing: 2ml of Alkalin 8.3 buffer (Brightwell), 2ml Calcium buffer (Aquacraft) & 1.5ml Magnesium Buffer (Aquacraft) daily. 2x drops of Vit. C (Brightwell), 2x drops of Iodine (NYOS) and 5ml of Phytoplankton (ReefServe) once a week.
Top Off: Manual by hand once every 3 to 4 days.
Salt Mix: Fritz RPM
Established November 2020
Feed the shrimp.
Do an overall wellness-check on all corals and livestock.
Check on all equipment to make sure everything is functioning optimally.
Dose buffers every evening and turn off the pumps for 1 to 2 hours to prevent overheating, and to allow the corals/shrimp to eat at their leisure.
- Replace the Floss and Carbon in the HOB filter compartment.
- Scrape the glass twice a week using a bladed algae scraper.
- Stir the sand bed using a pipette and wooden chopsticks.
- Baste the rocks.
- Water Change 8G (80%) once a week; can be prolonged to once a fortnight if necessary.
- Check salinity prior to every water change using a refractometer.
- Wash the lids.
- Frag overgrown corals.
- Completely rinse out HOB filter with vinegar and diluted soap, before drying it out under the hot sun.
- Seed the tank with live copepods and live rotifers.
- Ocean Nutrition Formula One and New Life Spectrum (NLS) pellets for the shrimp daily.
- Frozen Copepods (ReefServe), Frozen Phytoplankton (ReefServe), Frozen Brine Shrimp (ReefServe), Frozen Rotifers (Reefserve) & Frozen Mysis (Reefserve) with Garlic Oil (ReefServe) cocktail for all corals once a week, a day before the water change.
- Reef Roids, Zooplankton (Brightwell) and Phytoplankton (Continuum) twice a month.
- Chopped market prawns (frozen) for the larger LPS (eg. brain corals etc.) twice a month.
- Live Copepods and/or rotifers once a month.
I only test when needed, but I usually do make an effort to test my water once every 3 to 4 months at least. Since I feed heavily, I perform large water changes to keep the nitrates and phosphates down to a manageable level.
My water parameters do not fluctuate much (except for temperature), and usually are:
- Salinity: 1.024
- Temperature: 25°C to 28°C <-- Has hit 31°C on extremely hot days
- Alkalinity: ~8.0
- Calcium: 425ppm
- Magnesium: ~1300ppm
- Nitrates: 2ppm
- Phosphates: 0.25ppm
Interestingly, the tap water that I use to top off this tank as well as mix up fresh batches of saltwater has 0ppm PO4 and 10ppm NO3. I have a large outdoor distiller plugged into the main pipes that supplements all the other smaller pipes at home, so the ‘tap’ water that I use is actually DI. The distiller is serviced once a year and both the filter cartridges as well as resin and carbon are replaced during this time.
None at the moment, but coming soon!
Orange Clove Polyps
Green Bullseye Rhodactis
Ricordea Yuma Mushroom
- Orange Clove Polyps
- Brown Toadstool Leather Coral
- Green Weeping Willow Toadstool Leather Coral
- Red Finger Leather Coral
- Metallic Green Star Polyp
- Neon Green Star Polyp
Zoanthids & Palythoas
- Purple Death Palys
- Nuclear Death Palys (Blue/Green Morph)
- Nuclear Death Palys (Green/Yellow Morph)
- Rainbow Infusion Palys
- Metallic Green Palys
- Sunny Ds Palys
- Starburst Green Implosion Palys
- Captain America Palys
- Gold Maul Zoas
- LA Laker Zoas
- Butt Muncher Zoas
- Incinerator Zoas
- Incredible Hulk Zoas
- Devil's Armor Zoas
- Purple Monster Zoas
- Rainbow Yoda Zoas
- Blondie Zoas
- Blue Hornet Zoas
- Red Hornet Zoas
- Purple Hornet Zoas
- Rasta Zoas
- Peacock Blue Zoas
- Green Bay Packers Zoas
- Gorilla Nipple Zoas
- Red People Eaters Zoas
- *Unidentified Brown/Pink Zoas
- *Unidentified Purple/Blue/Green Starburst Zoas
- Teal Green Discosoma Mushroom
- Green Leopard Discosoma Mushroom
- Superman Discosoma Mushroom
- Watermelon Discosoma Mushroom
- Red/Green Discosoma Mushroom
- Ironman Discosoma Mushroom
- Red Discosoma Mushroom
- Blue Discosoma Mushroom
- Tricolor Spotted Discosoma Mushroom
- Green/Light Green Bullseye Rhodactis Mushroom
- Forest Fire Rhodactis Mushroom
- Tricolor Rhodactis Mushroom
- Violet Rhodactis Mushroom
- Tricolor Orange/Blue/Beige Rhodactis Mushroom
- Neon Green Ricordia Yuma Mushroom
- Teal Green/Orange Ricordia Yuma Mushroom
- Rainbow Yuma Mushroom
- Yellow Yuma Mushroom
- Blue Hairy Mushroom
- Meteor Shower Cyphastrea
- John Deere Leptastrea
- Orange Leptastrea
- Red/Green Favites
- Purplish-Gray Blastos
- Purple/Green Blastos
- Purple/Blue Whiplash Blasto Merletti
- Malayan Rainbow Acans
- Green Candy Cane/Trumpet Coral
- Red Fungia Plate Coral
- Bicolored Red/Blue Lobo Brain Coral
- Rainbow Brain Coral
- Duncan Coral
Red Pavona & Jack-O-Lantern Leptoseris
GARF Bonsai Acropora Valida
Forest Fire & Chili Pepper Montipora
- Red Pavona
- Garf Bonsai Acropora Valida
- Purple Montipora Digitata
- Forest Fire Montipora Digitata
- Neon Yellow/Purple Montipora Spongodes
- Chili Pepper Montipora
- *Unknown Purple/Green Montipora
- Jack-O-Lantern Leptoseries
- Turban Snail
- Yellow Coral Banded Shrimp (Stenopus cyanoscelis)
- Saron Shrimp (Saron marmoratus)
- Hitchiker Collonista Snails
- Hitchiker Microbrittlestars
- Hitchiker Spaghetti Worms
- Hitchiker Stomatella Snail
- Hitchiker Limpets
My first foray into fishkeeping began at six-years-old under the guidance of my father. We started off with a simple freshwater setup full of tetras, mollies, tiger barbs and guppies. My interest in fish burgeoned from there, although I eventually gave up my aquariums in favor of pursuing my degree at university. Once I graduated and returned home, I decided to pick up where I left off, only to learn that a lot has changed in terms of equipment, disease and pest management, and even the availability of certain fish species in general.
With information now freely available online, I could conduct more in-depth research regarding proper fishkeeping and keep up-to-date with all of the ‘upgrades’ in the hobby. Despite setting up several freshwater fish tanks which did bring me joy at first, saltwater fishkeeping and reefing was what truly piqued my interest, and I dove straight into this hobby around early 2012.
Needless to say, my first jump into reefing was rough. My research was inadequate and I made many classic newbie mistakes which resulted in a crashed tank, expensive losses and a lot of heartache. Despite the setback, I strived to try and try again – and discovered there were multiple ways to reef within a limited budget that didn’t strain my wallet too much.
Budget reefing presented its own share of challenges and limitations, and I had to be extra selective in choosing my equipment and even livestock. This included outright refusal to chase after the ‘trendy’ branded stuff that other local reefers often used, or even picking out any overly expensive fish and corals.
There were a lot of trial-and-error periods, but after several years of diving in and out of different online social media groups and even forums, I eventually found one that I truly liked – this one (!), and tried to learn as much as I could by skimming through the Q&As traded back and forth between new reefers and more experienced senior forum folk.
I ‘lurked’ for the longest time, and slowly saved up some cash to start my first proper reeftank – a simple 30G mixed reef full of beginner-level corals:
30G Mixed Reef Nanoreef
Circumstances were quite different almost a decade ago. There was only one LFS close to my home that specialized in marine animals, and the hobby was mostly dominated by men on a local front. As a woman reefer from a conservative country, I found it incredibly difficult to truly fit in, but I was pleasantly surprised when the international reefing community here on Nano-Reef.com consisted of many women reefers – some of whom have created truly beautiful and exquisite reef setups.
So I took heart that this hobby was indeed open to everyone and anyone, and I wouldn’t be left out. I engaged with more reefers on this site over time and constantly asked for guidance and advice on various things. By this time, I admired the smaller nanoreefs showcased by various members on N-R, so I decided to try downsizing and set up smaller tanks which were still budget-friendly, but never exceeded 16G.
I developed a strong interest in certain ‘pest’ creatures of the reef – including the infamous mantis shrimp. After browsing through the build of other reefers that had created nanoreefs dedicated solely to this unique species, I tried my hand at keeping these incredible shrimp, although none of my setups lasted beyond 1.5 years.
8G Nanoreef (Mantis Shrimp Tank)
I was mostly vested in ‘getting things right’ back then, without realizing part and parcel of the hobby involved making mistakes and learning from them. Over time however, I learnt there’s no sure-fire recipe for success in reefing. I was chasing numbers and constantly trying to emulate setups of more successful reefers, without truly understanding that I needed to set smaller and achievable goals for my tank.
When I shifted houses several years ago, I had to sell off most of my tanks, except for an old AIO nanocube which I managed to lug over in the backseat of my car. However, my interest in anything marine was dwindling at that time – mostly due to the spike in local livestock and equipment prices, which further curbed my options for budget-reefing.
In the past, I have always found a way to work around my monetary limitations, whilst still being able to enjoy reefing. Even though the hobby has evolved with the introduction of more equipment choices and better livestock options, I still could reef – but I just had to find a new way to do so.
I started by revisiting some of my older albums online, even going as far back to the first disastrous setup that ended badly. And I made a choice. I had gone smaller in the past few years, why not go…tinier?
Thus, I decided to push the boundaries of my reefing skills and set up a tiny tank – a 2.6G picoreef – in my bedroom.
2.6G Picoreef from 2019 to 2020
The picoreef was probably one of my favorite tanks. Its small and compact size made water changes incredibly easy – but there was one glaring problem: I stuffed easily 60+ species and morphs of various corals in that tiny tank – everything from SPS to LPS and softies, and by the end of it, I simply had no room to put more in.
Around October 2020, I decided to upgrade the 2.6G picoreef to a 10.23G nanoreef and set it up in the exact same spot – by the foot of my bed, against the wall. The new tank would have ample room to accommodate more frags and satisfy my growing desire to build a Zoa Garden, but it remained small enough that water changes would be simple and I could still reef within a stipulated budget.
During mid-November 2020, I shifted all the occupants of the 2.6G picoreef to their new home using the Tank-Transfer-Method (TTM). I yanked out several pieces of mature, established live rock from various pre-existing tanks in my household to set up this nano, and even seeded the new live sand with a cup of old live sand from the stripped-down picoreeftank.
I also transplanted several cherry red spaghetti worms from the sandbed of my 60G reeftank to this one, and worked on adding macroalgae harvested from the refugium of my larger reef to boost the biodiversity of microfauna in this new tank. My main goal at this stage was to seed the nano with as many types of critters as possible – stomatellas, copepods, amphipods, microbrittlestars, limpets, bristleworms, collonista snails, asterinas and even acoel flatworms.
Once the seeding process was complete, I made a choice. I had several pre-existing coral frags from two other reeftanks in the house – all of which were bleached, unhealthy and in desperate need of care. The nano was a fresh start – so why not convert it into a ‘hospital’ tank too?
My mind was set, and a new goal was formed – this nanoreef would not only host a random assortment of corals pulled over from the pico, but it will also serve a dual purpose – growth and recovery.
Post Tank-Transfer-Method November 2020
But I ran into several pressing setbacks – my main HOB filter unit had gone kaput the very first night I set up the tank, and the only internal circulation was from my Jebao SOW-4 wavemaker. Another issue popped up then – I had acquired what I presumed would be an inexpensive, but ideal LED light for this tank – a high-intensity 50W PAR-38 LED, which ended up functioning more as a spotlight and bleaching a lot of coral pieces in the upcoming week.
I learnt very quickly that I needed to correct these two key issues ASAP. My first priority was the light – I had to source one out that was compatible for the miscellany of critters in my tank – something that wouldn’t fry anything, yet remain within my budget and still be able to grow corals. After some quick research and digging, I came across the AquaKnight M029 Spectra (Hipargero) for sale online, and immediately purchased a unit.
The filtration was the next to be addressed. I rummaged through my old storage cupboard and found a very old HOB filter with a low flow output, so I hung it over the back of the tank, all whilst ramping up the speed of my Jebao to compensate for the lack of proper flow.
By the time the Hipargero LED light arrived, I had a hodge-podge of corals and random mess of inverts in the tank which were 50/50 health-wise.
Tank on 12/12/2020
Nurturing the sick corals back to full health incorporated weeks, if not months of prudent care. While waiting for the unhealthy frags to recover and grow out, I decided to add a new goal – build up my zoa collection and create a mini Zoa Garden on the left side of the tank. My previous picoreef already harbored a small garden which was restricted by space, but with the 10G, that limitation had been eased significantly. My vision was to achieve an ‘overlap’ effect of various zoas and palys of different morphs – a small attempt to create a starburst of varying shades and hues of color.
To a certain degree, it seemed like I had accomplished this small goal in the first few months and everything did appear as if it was smooth-sailing at first…until the tank was hit by a nasty case of Zoa Pox. The Pox destroyed morph after morph of my collection. By the time the Furan-2 arrived within a week of the Pox first rearing its ugly head in my reef, and the treatment phase was completed in a further 2 weeks, I had lost a sizeable chunk of my carefully cultivated garden and was left completely crushed.
Zoa Garden Before Being Hit by Zoa Pox #1
Some of the morphs I had acquired were by pure chance – tiny, unseeming browned out frags purchased at a bargain from the discount rack of the store, only to be nursed back to health after weeks of careful care, and to redevelop interesting shades and striations of colors. These were the morphs I missed the most, because there was a high possibility I’d never be able to acquire them again. I learnt a very valuable lesson during my battle with the Zoa Pox – always, always dip any and all frags prior to adding them to the tank.
I eventually worked up the courage to rebuild my Zoa Garden for the second time, making overzealous attempts at dipping everything and anything before adding them to the tank – to the point that some coral polyps would become moody and refuse to open up for days. Despite my best efforts, this didn’t prevent the nano from being hit by a second round of Zoa Pox, and I watched half of my collection perish – again.
Zoa Garden Before Being Hit By Zoa Pox #2
Eventually I learnt to flow with the current on this one, and accept that pests will be a resounding issue during the acquisition of corals with unknown origins from certain stores. My only strategy to reduce the chances of Zoa Pox from recurring a third time was to perform prolonged coral dips before introducing them into the tank.
But as the tank progressed over the months, I noticed vast improvements in various corals. While leaving my garden to bounce back and re-grow on its own, I performed regular, weekly water changes of 80% of the tank’s capacity. Growth was explosive and color changes were swift at this point – including in the few random SPS pieces I had picked up to add a more chaotic blend of shapes and sizes in the center of the tank.
Once the sticks had began to encrust on the live rock below, I decided I would expand my zoa collection for a third time. But (!) this time, I ventured to my primary LFS, which has a stellar reputation for showcasing healthier, pest-free frags at reasonable prices.
Unfortunately, I decided to get a little ahead of myself and hoard sticks too while going Zoa-shopping, without taking into consideration how this would severely deplete my Alk and Calcium levels. By the time I did figure out what was wrong and started dosing the tank daily to keep up with the overall demands of the system, I did lose some of the older SPS pieces, including an expensive orange passion tenuis and a unique neon green tenuis.
Eventually, I decided to not abandon the notion of keeping SPS entirely, but rather stick to simple, beginner-type SPS such as montis and pavonas.
It was only in the middle of this year I realized this tank was shaping out to be a fully mixed reef, and I had no qualms of keeping it that way. I didn’t have the best track record in keeping mixed reefs long-term in the past – mainly because I wasn’t prepared for their stringent requirements in terms of stable parameters.
My current goal is simple: long-term stability.
Setting up this nano has actually been a gift, because it helped me finally realize that I shouldn’t be chasing numbers or fads – but rather strive to achieve balance. And most importantly, that it is possible to keep a colorful budget-friendly reef with cheaper equipment.
Keeping different corals with different requirements can be extremely tricky, especially in a small setup, and there are some days that a single ‘sulky’ coral will tip me off that something else is wrong with my system – be it kH or calcium levels, coral warfare or even wrong frag placement in the tank.
Even after a full year, this tank is far from perfect. I still have film algae, cyano, GHA, the occasional aiptasia and…no fish. Which isn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things, given that every reefing journey is different and every step offers its own set of rewards and challenges. The most important part is that I’m able to learn from it, do the best that I can within my limitations, enjoy it, and still be able to make some good friends along the way.
Fun Fact: The most expensive coral in this tank is the rainbow brain coral, which was purchased for ~$28 USD several years ago. Most of the pieces you see in the FTS above originated from the discount rack and were either bleached or browned out, but regained their original coloration after being nursed back to health. To be fair, several SPS, mushrooms and zoas/palys were purchased directly from the regular frag tank section, but in much smaller sizes and at a discount – haggling isn’t a crime here!
Mistakes and Struggles
As I’ve mentioned earlier, not dipping my corals is what triggered an outbreak of Zoa Pox, as well as introduced several pests into my system, including red flatworms, aiptasia, vermetid snails, pest algae and even a polyclad flatworm.
Although the introduction of pests cannot be completely eliminated from a system, especially when involving the purchase of wild corals, I could reduce the chances of such reoccurrences, and have been dipping everything ever since.
Another regret that I have was introducing a red mini carpet anemone to my nanoreef.
Mini Carpet Anemone
This invert turned out to not only be gorgeous, but also packed a deadly sting. I ended up losing two fish which accidently swam into the anemone at night, and given how swimming space is greatly limited in this tank due to the heavy stocking of corals, the chances of this reoccurring was quite high. After splitting twice, all three anemones vanished before I could extract them from the tank, and I have not seen them since. Definitely not a creature meant for a small nanoreef filled to the brim with corals.
One of the minor secondary goals of this tank included fattening up dragonets before shifting them to my larger 60G system. Keeping a dragonet in a nano turned out to be much more challenging than I’d originally anticipated. The increased feedings required to keep the fish healthy also meant a steep increase in excessive nutrients such as nitrate and phosphate, which eventually led to an outbreak of cyano and other pest algae which still persists until today.
Mandarin Dragonet in Nanoreef
Even though dragonets are one of my all-time-favorite species in reeftanks, it’s definitely not suited for a nanoreef this small and I’d caution against anyone else attempting the same, even if you have an established refugium and the fish has already been trained to accept prepared food such as frozen mysis and pellets.
Perhaps my deepest regret is not quarantining any fish prior to adding them to this tank. Since most of the fish here are wild-caught and harbor diseases as well as parasites, it can be difficult to eradicate these diseases once it has been introduced to the system, unless the remaining fish are caught and treated separately in quarantine.
Previous fish in the nanoreef – an orange skunk clown and tailspot blenny
A recent outbreak of Ich wiped out the only three fish I had in this tank, and the nano is currently enduring a fallow period of eight weeks. By my calculations, the tank should be disease-free by mid-December, but I’ll be quarantining all future fish additions for at least 2 weeks before adding them to my system from here on out.
One of the struggles I’ve had is overcrowding in the tank. As coral growth accelerates with each passing week, I have to constantly trim or frag certain pieces to keep them within manageable size. This can be incredibly tricky with SPS, which are prone to breaking with an accidental nudge – and I did just that while I was scraping the glass once.
Forest Fire Digi Mini Colony (Prior to being knocked over and broken to pieces)
If knocking over things weren’t that big of an issue, then the coral wars certainly were. At one point, I woke up one morning to watch both of my brain corals attempt to devour each other and it was particularly horrific.
Eventually I kept the two separated by wedging a medium-sized piece of live rock in between them, and so far they haven’t made another attempt at trying to see which one of them fits in the other’s mouth better.
Another struggle I’ve faced is my current inability to leave the tank for prolonged periods of time since I am dosing and topping off manually on a daily basis. Vacation plans are definitely out of the window for the moment, even if it’s just for the weekend.
The tank’s current location is both a benefit and a hindrance. I do not have a chiller in my bedroom, and during extremely hot/humid days, outdoor temperatures can swell up to 40°C, and as high as 28°C in my bedroom. Despite my room being located in the coolest part of the house, I have noted a spike in tank temp. of up to 31°C several times during the hot season, and this usually results in many unhappy corals with retracted polyps. My only consolation is that these hot periods do not stretch out throughout the year. Since I switch on both the fan and A/C every single night, the tank’s temp. can dip to 24°C during this period. Maintaining a consistent temperature range is difficult, but my livestock seem to have adapted to the usual fluctuations between day and night – and as long as temperatures do not exceed beyond 28°C consistently, the corals remain unaffected.
On a slightly personal note, I do struggle with reefing sometimes due to my disabilities. There are times when I am unable to perform routine maintenance or water changes on schedule, and this can be detrimental to the health of the tank if no water changes are done beyond a month. Since my health issues have a tendency to kick in unexpectedly, I began spacing out the water change process over a period of days, as opposed to a single hour. The gaps in time helps me rest and recharge quicker, keeps me focused and limits the number of mistakes I might do.
It can definitely be challenging sometimes, but I’m slowly learning to work within my limitations, and this way I can turn my disabilities into an ability – doing something in a calm, methodical fashion as opposed to internally screaming every time I accidently knock a stick off a rock into the mouth of my brain coral.
Long-term sustainability on a budget, of course!
I’ll most certainly keep this tank running for as long as I’m able to. And while I do so, I’ll continuously work on expanding my zoa collection by acquiring more new morphs from my primary LFS.
Sunny Ds Zoas Cluster Alongside Green Trumpet Coral
I’m also planning on saving up to get a proper ATO and doser so that I may leave the tank for longer periods of time without worrying excessively over it. And when the time comes, I’ll restock the tank with 2 or 3 nanofish, as well as 1 or 2 crabs.
Previous Porcelain Crab in the Nanoreef
Previous Pom Pom Crab in the Nanoreef
Advice to New Hobbyists
Don’t chase numbers. Instead, work on achieving stability and balance for your system. Your general parameters will need to be consistent for this to happen, so you’ll have to avoid any major swings if possible. Stability in turn can only be achieved with time and practice. It won’t happen overnight, even if you find a way to cut corners.
Budget-reefing is definitely possible, and there’s nothing wrong with picking a cheap brown toadstool coral from the discount rack over a brightly-colored stick with a hefty price tag. Don’t get caught up in trends or fads – just sit back and enjoy your tank the way you want to!
Always observe the reef for warning signs of something that might be potentially wrong in the tank. If a coral is closed up or their color is off, quickly break out the test kits and check your parameters. Also check your equipment frequently to make sure everything is functioning well.
Put a LID on the tank! No lid = crunchy fish on carpet.
Read and research always. Make an attempt to understand the requirements of each animal before bringing them back home from the store. If you don’t know the name, let alone the type of animal that has caught your eye in the store – there’s a high chance you’re not ready to keep it. If you’re having trouble figuring out what exactly you’re looking at, quickly snap a pic of it and look it up using Google Lens on your phone.
Always add animals that are compatible with your pre-existing livestock, and quarantine any new fish purchased from a store or online vendor, even if they have quarantined the animal already. Read up on disease management and treatment extensively if you think your fish is sick – @Humblefish is a great resource on this site, and his articles are incredibly helpful.
If you have a choice to purchase an aquacultured or maricultured coral piece over a wild one where you live, try your best to pick the former two options first, even if they are more expensive.
Work on establishing a good rapport with your store. There are many times my primary LFS has pulled through for me when I needed them the most, and having a good relationship with your store helps build trust and mutual respect.
Use the forums to find a good reef mentor or two. Scroll through older posts and ask questions. There is no harm in lurking if you’re shy, but once you gain enough confidence, ask openly. There are plenty of good people here on NR that will try their best to help you and guide you. Try to learn from the experience and mistakes of others as well.
I would like to give my special thanks to @Christopher Marks for selecting my nanoreef to be featured on NR this December 2021 – it truly is an honor, and I appreciate it greatly.
I’d also like to give special thanks to @kimberbee, @debbeach13, @kimdawg, @A.m.P, @seabass and many others who have helped me by providing non-stop encouragement in my journals, no matter how rough some days might seem.
Another special thank you to my primary LFS, NOA, for introducing me to this wonderful hobby all those years ago, and for being an amazing pillar of support and strength throughout my reefkeeping journey.
My greatest thanks goes all out to this wonderful forum in general for being open and welcoming to everyone, including reefers from other countries and all walks of life. This forum is a treasure trove of reefing knowledge, and I hope to continuously learn more from it in years to come.