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Pod Your Reef
  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to this month's Tank Of The Month recipient, Cyber! His 18 Gallon Via Aqua tank has come a long way since its inception, and it has definitely become one of the more inspirational Nano Reefs here on Nano-Reef.com. Here are some words from Cyber himself about his setup, and how it has come along.....

    18 Gallon Via Aqua Curved Glass Tank



    Tank Of The Month!

    When I first got the email from Gilman informing me that I was selected as the April TOTM, I was so excited. After all, nothing can make a reefer more happy than sharing his/her reef with everyone. I would like to thank everyone for enjoying my tank. I would like to thank Chris Marks who makes all this become possible. I also would like to thanks DeskJockey who often help me on a lot of reef-keeping issues.


    Current Tank Specs and Details:

    • 18 Gallon Via Aqua Curved Glass Tank
    • 1x36W 7100K and 1x36W 12,000K
    • Prizm Deluxe Skimmer
    • Millennium 2000 Filter
    • Carbon and Phosban
    • 150W WON Titanium Digital Heater
    • 20 Pounds of Fiji Live Rock
    • 20 Pounds Live Sand


    Tank: The tank and light fixture are the production of Via Aqua. It’s very common today. Almost all the local fish stores carry them or can order them for you. The cost is around $160-200. The tank holds 18gallons and has 20”x10”x18” (LxWxH) dimension.


    Lighting: The stock light and fixture came with 1x36W 7100K and 1x36W 12,000K bulb. After a year, I changed the configuration to 1x36W Combo (50/50) and 1x36W 12,000K. This configuration gives me bluer tint on my corals and deep-water feeling when I turn off all other light sources. Beware of the 36W Actinic 03. It gives a purple-pink look on your tank. If you like purple-pink look then it’s ok for you (pink sea doesn’t make sense to me, so does pink nano). The benefit of Actinic 03 is that your green corals will glow while 12,000K will make your red and orange corals glow.


    Filtration: It’s important that every reef tank has all 3 filtration methods. However, it’s not a requirement. I personally feel more comfortable if I use all 3 of them.


    Mechanical: For mechanical filtration, I have a Prizm Deluxe skimmer and a Millennium 2000 filter. The Prizm Deluxe version has a surface-skimming device that is very useful in removing the “film” on the surface. Millennium 2000 filter has its media removed so I can toss in a bag of Carbon or Phosban whenever I want to.


    Biological: Consists of 20 pounds of Fiji and 20 pounds of live sand. Live sand consists of 2 layers of sand. Bottom layer is the 1” thick ultra fine sand (powder-like). Top layer is 1” thick of aragonite sand with buffing capability (Calcium). This setup allows the worms/pods on the top layer to consume any leftover food that falls down. The bottom layer allows bacteria to thrive (less air down there) so it will become a “living” filter. I got the technique through some reading on some reef keeping books. I do a lot of feeding (Sun, plate, and brain corals require feeding a lot) and have no problem with keeping the tank clean and algae free so I think it must have done something to the nutrient.


    Chemical: Carbon and Phosban. Carbon absorbs thing that we can’t see. Phosban removes phosphate, which is algae’s Hi-Octane fuel. Phosphate got in the tank through flake food, tap water top off and some salt. Chemical filtration is not as important as the other two but it’s to have. I just toss in a new bag of Carbon and Phosban every time I change the water.


    Heater: 150W WON titanium digital heater. I like to toss my heater at the bottom without worrying about breaking it. WON titanium is perfect for my nano. It includes a digital display of the current temperature of the tank too so I don’t need to get a separate thermostats. Notes: the temperature on the digital display is the temperature of the area around the heater. It’s often +2 degrees compared to the actual temperature.

    How Did I Start?

    Unlike many reefers, I skipped the freshwater stuff and went directly for saltwater. I don’t think it’s harder than moving from freshwater to saltwater anyway. So, I got my first 29gal fish only saltwater tank up and running for a few months. Fishes were nice but after a while, I knew that reef was the ultimate challenge for this hobby. Since I had no actual experience how a reef starts, I did some research on many sites (nano-reef and reef-central). I follow the basic formula and the basic “cycle” voodoo stuff. I got 18gal Via Aqua (light included, 2x36W, 1x7100K daylight and 1x12,000K actinic), 20 pounds of “live rock” (looked pretty dead to me at first, $6/pound, what the???), 20 pounds of “live sand” (packed with some “bacteria”), air-pump (hahaha), heater, a powerhead, and a HOB aqua-clear filter. Mixed some salt, put the rocks in the tank, set the photoperiod to 7-8hrs per day. After a week or two, slime algae started to grow on the bottom of the tank. Great! Something actually happened in there.



    • Six Line Wrasse
    • Brittle Star Fish
    • Peppermint Shrimp
    • Sally Lightfoot Crab


    Many Different Colored Zoanthids (25 - 30 Varieties)
    Reds Purples Hot Pinks Blues
    Oranges Yellows Peachs Pastel Greens
    Other Corals
    Plate Coral (fungia) Neon Green Ricordea Orante Montipora
    Sun Coral
    3 Different Types of Mushrooms (Red, Green and Blue)


    My Mistakes and What I Have Learned

    At first, the tank looked like crap. Not only that, I bought an anemone, a clarkii, a scooter blenny, a and cleaner shrimp and tossed them all in there the third week. Only the clarkii and the cleaner shrimp are still alive today. Anemone and scooter blenny require a mature tank to survive. The fluctuation in water parameters doomed the anemone. Also the lack of live food in the new tank starved the blenny in a month or so. Patient is the key to success in reef keeping. New tank should be stock with ONE hardy fish AFTER it cycled (Damsels, clowns…). Then it should be kept running for at least another month until the tank is clear of algae (slime, hair…) before the real stocking can begin. Within that month, there are many things that reefers can do to ensure their success in the future such as rearranging rocks, changing filtration system, removing pests and unwanted hitchhikers. These tasks can be impossible in the future when the tank is fully stocked. Algae can be removed by getting cleanup crews (hermits, sally light foot crab). Reducing the salinity level to 1.022-1.023 or using Slime Remover chemical can remove Red Slime.


    Early On Shot & Current Filtration and Lighting




    The only thing I dose in my tank is Lugol’s Iodine. Since my nano contains mainly zoos, iodine helps them to keep up the color nicely. One drop a week is plenty.


    10% of water change every 2-3 weeks. I mix drinking water (25cent/gal at vending machine) with salt a day before I change the water. I used to have problem with algae a year ago but when I switched to drinking water, the algae was gone. The tap water in my area must be loaded with “algae’s fuel”. I also use drinking water to top off everyday.


    Some Inhabitant Photos




    When purchasing equipment, I ask myself the following:


    Purpose: Do I actually need the device? Do I have something similar in the tank that does that same job? I don’t just put a 150W MH on my tank just because it looks cool on someone else’s nano. I’ll put a 150W MH on my tank if I have some corals that need high light.

    Cost: Cost of the item (one time only) and cost of the electric (add up month after month). For example: I rather buy a $50 powerhead that uses 10W to pump 300gph than a $20 powerhead that use 50W of power to pump the same 300gph.

    Heat: Heat can kill the livestock. Especially during the summer when the ambient temperature is high. High heat can lead to many things such as algae bloom or worse, death of the corals.

    Noise: My tank is in the bedroom. Noise is my greatest enemy.


    Some Zoanthid Photos



    In Conclusion

    If you have any question about the setup or this and that, please send me an email here. Also check out my website at www.haivphan.com.

    Once again, I would like to thank Nano-reef staff for a wonderful site they have so that we can share our experience and information.



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