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  • Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to Gilman for earning the tank of the month award for November. His nano reef is an outstanding example of what keeping hands off of your Nano Reef and dedication to this hobby can bring. Information and photographs of his Minibow Nano Reef are below, direct from the man himself.


    7 Gallon AGA Minibow

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    Wow! Nano Reef of the month! Very cool indeed, and I am now totally consumed with Nano Reef glory. With the hobby becoming as popular as it has in the last year, there are ALOT of great looking tanks out there so this truly is cool to have been chosen by Chris Marks to have our tank featured on Nano-Reef.com. Hard to believe our tank is following an act like JDSabins masterpiece. Thank you.


    Tank Specs

    • 7 Gallon AGA Minibow (Glass Removed Between Light and Water)
    • Single 32watt Custom Sea Life Power Compact with Smartlight 50/50 Bulb
    • CPU Fan installed into lightstrip to help with cooling
    • Whisper 5-15 HOB Filter (No filter media)
    • Mini Jet 404 Powerhead
    • Tronic 50watt Submersible Heater
    • 8.75lbs Fiji Live Rock
    • 8.5lbs Live Sand


    In the beginning.....
    When I started out purchasing supplies to create our little reef, I had no idea how important this hobby would end up becoming to me. Now, well over a year later, I have the scientific name of many corals burnt forever into my memory, and Liza (my girlfriend and auto topoff) can also resite many of them off of the top of her head as well. At the Fish Store, I am familiar with the Saltwater side now, which is the side of the Fish Store that I avoided for YEARS since I thought keeping anything in Salt Water was really difficult. It is really great knowing about what I used to be leary/scared of.


    So, one day I am surfing the net, (I don't even remember what I was looking for) and I stumble upon a page that someone nicknamed "Contempo Reefs" had setup that showcased their Minibow Nano Reef. I instantly knew I needed something like that. Strike that, I knew I needed THAT! It just stunned me that someone could keep a tank that was that small, colorful, and nice looking. I was instantly enamered with the lines of the Minibow, and made it a goal immediately to begin figuring out exactly how get one myself. Thankfully, it didn't take too much convincing to get Liza to back the idea either, and the tank has made a great addition to our bedroom. We still both stare at it on a regular basis, and we still can't believe how far it has come since the beginning.


    Early Beginnings

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    Nano Reef Theory 101
    In my quest for Nano Reef Nirvana, I have chosen the lazy reefer or (Hands Off) path to reefing. This is mainly due to the fact that I guess I am lazy when it comes it reefing. This system has worked well for me however, and I promote the Hands Off theory as much as possible. Keep in mind that we are not really keeping anything in our little reef that would be considered overly difficult in the hobby. The Hands Off theory basically consists of testing when you start the tank followed by no more testing once the tank has been running for about a month or so. Sure, I own the CA, Alk, PH, Nit, Amm, and refractometer test kits, but they are all collecting dust in our Fish Cabinet. I actually do occasionaly use the refractometer to make sure that the Specific Gravity is in the zone (1.025 preferably), and I regularly check the temperature to make sure its around 80-82. During the summer months it can get up to 84 with no undesireable effects. The reason I don't really need to test for specific gravity much is because Our LFS has been very reliable with the Specific Gravity of premixed salt water.



    • 1 Clownfish
    • 1 Peppermint Shrimp
    • 3 Blue Legged Hermit Crabs
    • Numerous Stomatella Snails
    • Numerous Bristle Worms
    • Numerous Brittle Stars (some white, some with brown/grey bands)
    • Tulip Anenomes
    • Bubble Tip Anenome
    • Squamosa Clam
    • Small Green Pest Anenomes



    Orange Ricordeas Yellow Polyp Rock Green Montipora Digitata Red Mushrooms
    Red Sea Xenia Tree Leathers Green Star Polyps Green Mushrooms
    Many different color morphs of Zooanthids



    The Website Projects
    Since I do alot of web design, when I setup our Minibow Nano Reef, I made it a goal to create a website that would help others with Minibow Setup by showing how I created mine. I found that when I was looking for information on setup, it wasn't really all that easy to come by, and I hadn't found Nano-Reef.com yet. Well I did end up creating that website and it has a Getting Setup section that explains how I originally set the tank up, and also has a detailed section dedicated to our current maintenance routines. There are also almost 500 photos of our Minibow Nano Reef dating back to when there was just sand in the tank. If you go to the Nano Photos section and search for Live Rock, you will see........ I have also created a website dedicated to Minibow Websites at Minibow.com. There are currently 21 active Minibow Websites listed there, and it is constantly growing. The Minibow Gang has definitely been getting stronger over time.


    Some Inhabitant Photos

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    Daily Routine (Taken from www.oc-creative.com/reef)
    Liza is in charge of daily freshwater topoffs gaining her the friendly nickname of "auto topoff unit" which she has definitely earned over the months since our Nano has been setup. We use RO water that we purchase by the gallon at our Local Fish Store for 40cents/Gallon.


    Weekly Routine (Taken from www.oc-creative.com/reef)
    Every week I perform a 1 gallon Saltwater change on the tank using premixed Saltwater that we purchase by the gallon at our Local Fish Store. Our Local Fish Store mixes their RO/DI water with Tropic Marin salt mix, and I would recommend this salt to others since it has worked so well in our tank. Our salt is mixed to a specific gravity of 1.024. When removing the 1 gallon of water from the tank, I vacuum out Planaria, Coralline eating Starfish, and excess deitrous if it is obvious. The vacuum I made is simply a piece of Rigid Airline Tubing and a piece of regular Airline Tubing as a small aquarium vacuum. The rigid Airline Tubing is great for vacuuming planaria from rocks. (YES WE HAVE FLATWORMS!!) I am a bit scared to try flatworm exit. Maybe one day.


    To get the replacement water closer to the tank temperature, I just put the gallon container in a sink with some hot water in it. After I am done with the tank vacuuming, the water temperature has usually come up nicely in the gallon container.


    Also, weekly we decide if anything needs pruning. Corals and Macroalgae need pruning in such a small environment. Xenia for instance is almost invasive by nature since it grows so quickly and needs to be pruned regularly so it will not take over neighboring corals. If Liza is around, I always ask her very nicely to hold the light up for me when pruning the tank or moving corals. I also remind her every time she holds my life in her hands.


    Feeding Routines (Taken from www.oc-creative.com/reef)
    We feed our Clownfish a couple times a day with small food pellets (not sure on the maker) and also the red type of frozen Formula One every few days to switch it up. We feed a small pinch of the Frozen Formula One food directly into the tank and it gets around. We purchase the Frozen Formula One as a flat piece in a bag so it is easy to pinch off small amounts. We received the small food pellets in a foil pouch with no name or logos from a local reefer. The Clown seems to like the Formula One much better than the pellets.


    Our Squamosa Clam gets fed live Phytoplankton that we purchased from Marine Depot. Some local fish stores stock live Phytoplankton, but ours doesn't. I dose approximately 3ml of live Phytoplankton twice weekly.


    Our Bubble Tip Anenome gets fed once a week or so a small piece of seafood. So far we have fed shrimp, scallops, and Formula One. It seems to eat them all, but spits out the shrimp pieces after many hours. It does not spit out the scallops or formula one.


    More Inhabitant Photos

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    Onward and forward....
    Well it's now almost a year and a half later, Liza and I have now met a bunch of local reefers (where we have gotten most of our corals) and have found that the reefing community is full of really cool people. I also have made many online friends on Nano-Reef.com and in Nano Reef chat, in addition to the Minibow Forum on our website as well. Some of these folks are local, some a world apart. In the real world, I have yet to meet a reefer face to face that I didn't like. Liza and I periodically go on local reef adventures and take photos of Local Reefers mostly larger reef systems (see friends tanks section on our site). I don't believe that I will ever keep one of these larger systems, unless my life becomes alot less busy. I have been asked on many occasions when I will "upgrade" our tank, and get something larger. I am honestly quite happy with our tank, and what we have accomplished in such a small volume of water.


    In conclusion, I am looking forward to our Minibow Nano Reef doing well growing for years to come, and now I can't imagine not keeping a Nano Reef no matter where life takes me.


    Good luck and happy reefing,



    ps. A little background on my aquarium experience in case anyone cares... For years (since I was a child) I have kept freshwater aquariums, and we currently keep a 44 gallon FW pentagon tank with a breeding pair of Angelfish, and a 350 gallon pond (nano pond) that has a bunch of 3rd generation goldfish and lots of pond plants in it.



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