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  • sandsrfr

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to Sandsrfr (Jason) for being chosen as this months Nano-Reef.com Tank Of The Month! Sandsrfr's tank is a great example of what can be done with a tank under 20 gallons over time with patience and regular maintenance. Please take some time to read Sandsrfr's Tank Of The Month article, and to look at the great photos of his very nice Nano Reef. Now, on to the article!


    18 Gallon Via Aqua Curved Glass Tank

    full tank shot

    Tank Of The Month!

    Wow Wow Wow, I keep thinking ‘I’m not worthy’ because of all the beautiful tanks on the site lately! Its an honor and boosts me full of pride knowing that I must have learned how to do something right from all the knowledgeable people here on Nano-Reef.com! Sharing my tank experiences has been great and I thank ya’ll for the compliments!


    Current Tank Specs and Details:

    • 1x36watt 10k and 1x36watt actinic 03 fixture (modded with DIY blue moonlight led)
    • Remora hang-on skimmer (maxijet pump and skimmer box)
    • Ice-Probe in Aqua-Clear powerfilter (DIY)
    • Ebo-Jager 150watt heater
    • Rio 800 pump (as main circulation in tank)
    • Auto-Top-Off (DIY 2 switches and Rio 800 pump in 4 gallon reservoir)

    Some Background

    A good 18 months ago I started searching around on google and happened to stumble across this site. I immediately became obsessed with reading everyone’s recommendations and experiences, so I lurked around the scene. After awhile I couldn’t take the anguish anymore and I ran down to my LFS and picked up this Via Aqua 18 gallon system you see before you today. Mind you, this was my first ever fish tank/reef of any kind (but I felt confident that I had done enough research to take a leap).


    If I only had known what I was getting myself into when I bought the tank, I would have kicked my self for not doing it sooner, hehehe. Best thing I could have ever done to occupy my time, who woulda known it’s become more of a passion then a hobby!? (Not that I need tell you all this, haha)



    • (1) Tank Raised Black Percula Clowns (Lost female mate 4/20/04 to unknown reasons)
    • Cleaner shrimp
    • Red Fromia Starfish
    • (4) Red Hermit Crabs
    • Misc. Snails
    • Hitchkiker Mini White Bristle Starfish (billions)


    (6) Zoanthid Frags
    Candy cane coral Orange Yuma ricordia Blue ricordia Pink/Blue ricordia
    White Frogspawn (Euphyllia Paradivisa) Finger Leather (Crown leather?)
    (2) Hitchhiker brown polyp. Red/Green Brain
    Green Star Polyps. Red Mushrooms Yellow Gorgonian Cup coral
    Countless feather dusters and sponges


    In the Beginning

    After a few more nights/weeks of buying up equipment, I purchased some live sand and rock from a LFS down in L.A. From there, I followed the usual recommendation of going real slow! I let the sand and rock run thru the cycle while the remora skimmer picked up the slack in the background.


    A few more weeks down the road and I added some clean up crew critters and unfortunately a ‘cleaner wrasse’ (LFS recommendation for my 1st fish). One of those ‘I need something’ buys and I didn’t take the time to do my own quality research on the species and their bad success in tanks. Well, unfortunately he didn’t last (R.I.P.) and I was turned off from adding any fish to my tank for quite some time after that.


    Some LPS Coral Photos:



    Elapsed Time

    Another good 2-3 months passed, and I finally wrestled up the courage and bought my sought after pair of black percula clowns. Prior to me picking these guys up I bought a bunch of the zoo frags, the ricordias and the candy cane corals from Brian over at Logical Reef (made a couple purchases thru him now, A++ in my book!). I’ve also had a few coral casualty with a green brain and colt coral that didn’t last more than 2 months (not really sure what happened there, but ‘knock-on-wood’ these have been my only lost corals so far).


    Most of my corals have stayed in good health, but I haven’t had the type of growth I see in a lot of other tanks on the site. Likely culprit is the fact that I slacked off on my weekly water changes during the first year. After my tank cycled I tried to stick to a routine of changing out 5 gallons of water every week, but that all to easily turned into 2 weeks with it more than occasionally being longer.


    Reef Critters:



    Fighting the Good Fight

    Between the preparing of the water, mixing the salt, testing the salinity, yada yada yada, I got burned out on the time and accuracy of mixing it myself. So the lazy bum that I am opted to get it from my LFS (which has recently installed a 24x7 self dispenser outside making it perfect for the night person that I am).


    One of my new years resolutions was to keep up on the water changes and so far so good. Also this year I’ve really started paying attention to the tanks health. I struggled a lot with heat issues and didn’t like having to run a loud fan across the surface all the time. All in all I’ve solved this with the addition of an ‘ice-probe’ thermo-electric cooler placed in a hang-on powerfilter and a DIY auto-top-off system.


    Some Inhabitant Photos:



    In the beginning I didn’t dose anything. I did the normal testing during the cycling period, and then I would only test if something looked ‘off’. I checked my salinity while adding my top-off water (before the auto-top off), but didn’t do much of anything else. Recently I’ve started testing for all sorts of things in the tank like alk, calc, mag, strog, etc (some of which I found to be quite low even with my weekly w.c.’s). To get the parameters back into to the proper spec I’ve started using some of the Seachem line of liquid additives and Sea-Lab #28 automatic replenisher (surprisingly this works well so far). Hopefully this diligence will pay off with some accelerated growth of the corals I have in the tank.


    More Inhabitant Photos:



    In Conclusion...

    Like every other reefer out there, I’ve had my ups and my downs, but the good has pretty much outweighed the bad! I’ve learned so much and I’m constantly looking for better ways to make my little part of the ocean even happier.


    Thanks to everyone here at Nano-Reef for all the education, advise and countless hours of enjoyment you’ve given me over the past few years. I’ve come to believe that reefing is not a hobby but rather a part of my life now. Now if I can only take a vacation w/o worrying about my tank every day... hrmmmmm ;)



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