Nano sapiens

Nano Sapiens 12g - Ye Olde Reef (closed)

1,949 posts in this topic

CADLights 12 gal. Nano (most current FTS pic will be posted directly below, scroll down for tank specs):

 

Dec 2016:

 

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Jul 2016:

 

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Mar 2016:

 

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Dec 2015:

 

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July 2015:

 

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April, 2015:

 

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Jan 2015 (before the weekly cleaning):

 

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Oct 2014:

 

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Sept 2014:

 

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July 2014:

 

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April 2014:

 

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Feb 2014:

 

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Dec 2013:

 

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July 2013:

 

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June, 2013:

 

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Mar, 2013 ('Royal Blue' LEDs/yellow filter):

 

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Jan, 2013:

 

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Oct, 2012:

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June, 2012 (4th Year Anniversary!)

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Feb, 2012

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July 2nd, 2011

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March 27th, 2011

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June 29th, 2010

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March 25th, 2010

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January 24th, 2010

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November 2009

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July, 2009:

 

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Early pic of the tank at around 1 month (August 2008):

 

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SPECIFICATIONS (as of June 2017)

TANK

  • CADLights 12g Bowfront Glass AIO (All-in-One)

LIGHTING

  • CADLights Stock Canopy:
  • DIY LED (Solderless) w/Coralux 5-up board and STORM controller):

CH 1 ('White', STORM 112): (4) Cree XML-2 'NW', (1) Cree XML-2 'WW'

CH 2 ('Blue', STORM 172): (4) Cree XT-E 'RB' (450nm-455nm), (2) Cree XP-E2 'B' (465-470nm), (4) Exotic 'B' (475nm)

CH 3 ('Violet', STORM 162): (6) Exotic 'HV' (428nm), (2) Exotic 'V' (403nm)

CH 4 ('Cyan', STORM 25): (4) Exotic 'Cyan' (495nm)

CH 5 ('Red', STORM 20): (2) Exotic 'Deep Red' (660nm)

  • Total lighting duration: 10 hrs.
  • 'Blue' channel: 10 hrs. (incl. ramp-up 120 min./ramp-down 120 min.)
  • 'Violet' channel: 9 hrs. (incl. ramp-up 120 min./ramp-down 120 min.)
  • 'White'/'Cyan'/'Red' channels: 8 hrs (incl. ramp-up 120 min./ramp-down 120 min.)
  • All LEDs on together at their highest programmed 'peak' settings: 4 hrs.
  • All days 'cloudy' (STORM setting = 1)
  • Spectral description: ~ 14k
  • PAR (all LEDs on together at their highest programmed settings): ~160 (center, mid point of tank)

EQUIPMENT

  • Tunze Silence 1073.080 (210 gph) Return Pump
  • Hydor Rotating Water Flow Deflector Nozzle
  • (1) Eheim-Jager TruTemp (50W)
  • (2) Large 'Pet Bottle' ATO units
  • Analog Thermometer

FILTRATION

  • Live Rock
  • Live Sand

MAINTENANCE

  • Water Changes: 1/2g, 2x/wk (1g total) - (Tropic Marin 'Classic'/Red Sea Blue Bucket mix + RO/DI water)
  • Evaporation Control: RO/DI
  • Alkalinity: Kalkwasser (added to ATOs)
  • Calcium: Kalkwasser (added to ATOs)
  • Magnesium: ESV B-Ionic Magnesium
  • Iodine: Kent Concentrated Iodine (3-4 drops/wk)
  • Cleaning: Weekly sand bed/back chambers vacuuming (occasional use of a filter sock), back wall algae/bio-film removal & live rock blasting with a turkey baster. Break down/cleaning of return pump and Hydor water flow deflector every month. 2x/year cleaning of heater. Vacuuming under each base live rock every few months on a rotational basis over a year's time.

FEEDING

  • Reef-Roids
  • Frozen Mysids
  • Frozen Spirulina Enriched Brine Shrimp
  • Ocean Nutrition Prime Reef Flakes/OSI Spirulina Flakes
  • Rod's Food (original)

 

TESTING (~3x/Wk)

  • Alkalinity (~9.0 dKh - Salifert)
  • Specific Gravity (1.026)

TESTING (every 2 weeks)

  • Calcium (~430 ppm - Salifert)
  • Magnesium (~1350 ppm - Salifert)

TESTING (Occasionally)

  • pH ( 8.4)

TESTING (Discontinued)

  • Phosphate ('undetectable' w/current maintenance schedule)
  • Nitrate ('undetectable' w/current maintenance schedule)

 

TANK INHABITANTS

 

 

CORAL:

 

 

Acropora:

  • Vivid 'Northern Lights' Granulosa (A. granulosa) - VIVID Aquarium, Oct 2012

 

Seriatopora:

  • Green Birdsnest (Seriatopora hystrix) - Diablo Corals, July 2015
  • 'Bird of Paradise' Birdsnest (Seriatopora caliendrum) - Diablo Corals, July 2015
  • 'Ponape Birdsnest' (Seriatopora aculeata?) - Diablo Corals, July 2015

 

Montipora:

  • 'Superhero' (unknown species) - Reefkoi, Sept 2009
  • 'Sunset' (M. danae?) - Neptune Aquatics, June 2009
  • Orange Setosa (M. setosa) - Member 'Purpleup', Sept 2009

 

Others:

  • Metallic Gold Pavona (Pavona maldivensis) - Neptune Aquatics, June 2009
  • Metallic Purple Stylophora - Member 'Buddythelion', Aug 2012
  • 'Fallen Horizon' Leptoseris - Legendary Corals
  • 'Strawberries and Cream' Leptoseris - California Reef Co
  • 'Molten Lava' Leptoseris - Legendary Corals
  • 'Pumpkin' Leptoseris - California Reef Co
  • Pink Stylocoeniella - California Reef Co
  • Red-orange Blastomussa wellsi - California Reef Co
  • Rainbow Acan - Legendary Corals
  • Mint-Green Pavona (Pavona descussata?) - Sacramento Frag Swap, Sept 2009
  • Leptastrea (Leptastrea pruinosa) - Standard neon-green center/reddish outer - ?, 2001
  • 'Ironman' (possibly Lithophyllon sp.) - Legendary Corals
  • Assorted Ricordia Mushrooms (Ricordia yuma, Ricordia florida) - Aquatic Connections, Legendary Corals, Coralmorphic, Unique Corals
  • Various Rhodactis inchoata sp. Mushrooms (purple, orange, green, red, etc.) - Aquatic Collections, Unique Corals
  • Assorted Zoanthids/Palys (Speckled Fire & Ice, Oxide, Sparkling Apple Cider, Sunny D, Mohawk, Petroglyph, Rasta, Blue Hornet, Utter Chaos, Bloodshots, Vampires, Shadow Prince, Gambits, Ding-Dangs, etc.) - California Reef Co,, Legendary Corals, Diablo Corals

 

Fish:
 
  • Yellowline Goby (Elacatinus figaro) - 1
  • Two Spot Bimaculatus Blenny (Ecsenius bimaculatus) - 1
  • Green Banded Goby (Tigrigobius multifasciatus) - 2

 

Crustaceans (non-CUC):

  • Peterson's Anemone Shrimp (Anclyomenes petersoni) - 1

 

Inverts (CUC):

  • Collonista snails (Collonista amakusaens)
  • Limpet snails (unknown species - white, small 3/8" max)
  • Bristleworms (Eurythoe complanata?)
  • Dwarf Zebra Orange/Black Hermit Crab (Calcinus laevimanus)
  • Mexican Red Leg (Clibanarius digueti)
  • Mini Brittle Stars (Amphipholis squamata?)
  • Mysid shrimp

 

Thought processes that went into the setup and description of the day-in/day-out activites that keep this little reef tank functioning properly over the years. My hope is that the information presented here will be thought-provoking and possibly insightful.

 

Starting with a quick run-down of the equipment and why I use what I use:

 

Tank:

 

Cadlights 12g glass AIO (all-in-one)

 

Good little tank, but unfortunately no longer produced. Much prefer glass over acrylic in a reef tank since it is much harder to scratch. The downside is that glass is much harder to fix scratches, so I try to be careful with it. Rear chambers are a bit small to work with, but acceptable if one doesn't have large hands.

 

Heating:

 

Eheim-Jager Tru-Temp 50W

 

I check temps twice a day using a simple, reliable old style analog thermometer. I had very inconsistent results in the past with digital thermometers and as a result I don’t use them or recommend them. This simple temperature checking procedure has saved the tank twice within its lifetime when the heaters malfunctioned. Unfortunately, many heaters that have been on the market in the last decade or so have proven to be unreliable over time. I’ve had many different makes/models over the lifetime of this tank and I’ve been lucky to get 2 years (often much less) out of them. Currently trying an Eheim-Jager 50W from Germany (one of the few made outside of China) and I’m hoping for a much longer life. Heater is set at 76F, but it tends to fluctuate upwards occasionally to 78F. 81F is the hottest I've seen in the tank in summer during a heat wave.

 

Flow/Circulation:

 

Tunze Silence 1073.080 (210 gph) return pump with a Hydor Rotating Water Deflector Nozzle.

 

The live rock/corals are arranged in the center to allow for a circular flow pattern. Back chambers are as unobstructed as possible to allow maximum flow-through (no filter floss, chemical media, etc.). I believe that flow-through is important as it keeps food particles, larvae, bacteria, etc. in suspension so as to be consumed by the filter feeding organisms. Pump is quiet and the random, yet still somewhat linear flow from the Hydor unit has been beneficial, IMO.

 

Lighting:

 

DIY ‘Complete Spectrum’ Solderless LED Array (LEDGroupBuy):

 

Over the years I have experimented with a number of different setups since I enjoy the challenge of creating my own lighting systems. The last and final array features solderless chips from LEDGroupBuy (and 'Lime' from RapidLED) set very close together to help eliminate ‘color-banding’ (aka ‘Disco’ effect). Not a fan, of fans, due to noise and reliability issues so I use efficient LEDs (wherever possible) and a large heat sink to passively remove heat. A 48v power supply, CoraLux 5up board, (5) Meanwell 700mA Drivers and a STORM controller make up this 5-channel setup.

 

DIY LEDs are a great way to really get deep into the 'meat and potatoes' of the nature of light. Since one is creating the array instead of just accepting what a manufacturer gives you, one must pay attention to what is known about the type of light that corals need in order to be healthy and produce good coloration. With these multi channeled arrays, there is a temptation to constantly fiddle with the different colors, relative positions, etc. However, too much of this and the corals will have difficulty coping and not do well.

 

I always make changes in spectrum and/or intensity very slowly. I used to allow one week between changes, but I find it better to allow two weeks. Also, I don't change spectrum and intensity at the same time if it can at all be helped. I am especially mindful of any violet or hyperviolet emitters since our eyes are relatively insensitive to the wavelengths that they produce, but the corals are not! I use a very small amount of true 'violet' (~405nm) LEDs in my system since I seem to have a sensitivity to the near UV wavelengths, but I do incorporate a good amount of 'hyperviolet' (~430nm).

 

In the past, I've always given the tank (corals) a 'rest' day once a week by turning down the lights to about 3/4 of normal. WIth this new setup, I set the STORM controller to have random 'clouds' every day.

 

Automated Top Off (ATO):

 

PETCO Large ‘Pet Bottles' (2)

 

I use a simple gravity-fed ATO filled with a RO/DI and Kalkwasser (Limewater) mix which supplies needed alkalinity and calcium (see pg 2). The modifications required to these pet bottles are removing the balls in the stainless steel tube and altering the nozzle length so that it can be immersed at the water surface level (or one can raise the bottles to a level where the tube end is immersed). A very simple, inexpensive, reliable and effective way to maintain a water level. Proper functioning is however dependent upon tightly closing the cap to prevent air intrusion into the bottle.

 

…and that’s all the equipment that this small tank has needed.

 

Equipment Philosophy 101:

 

‘Simplicity and redundancy’ pretty much sum things up. There is an old saying attributed to my good friend Murphy that states: ‘If anything can go wrong, it will.’ As much as possible, I attempt to run my equipment in such a way as to limit any one single point of failure. A pump or a heater going out is possible, so spares are kept near at hand. If power goes out I have a battery powered pump and a small propane camping stove to heat tank water, if necessary.

 

Cost and the Nano Tank:

 

I see quite a few posts from beginners that start with; "I just spent 2K (or more) on my nano tank". My first reaction is "Wow, really?". If I add up all the costs associated with this tank's initial setup it's well under $500. The biggest purchases over time have been coral and upgraded lighing. Supplies and test kits are not cheap, but with a small tank like this they tend to last a long time. However, I do have to watch out for the expiration dates.

 

My advice to new reefers is to carefully research what a typical small reef system needs (fairly basic, really) and be very cautious of the commercial marketing hype shouting at you that you 'must have' this or that product/gizmo in order to succeed. Research carefully and it'll become clear that only a few parameters are critical to successfully keeping coral and most of these can be met relatively inexpensively (quality lighting typically being the highest cost).

 

Water Changes:

 

5g plastic utility bucket (no heater or circulation), RO/DI water and a mix of various salt brands. 10%/week total (5%/2x week).

 

Since I change water 2x/wk, circulation of the newly made salt water is not necessary. I also don’t waste energy heating the whole bucket of water 24 hrs/day. Unless the water is quite cold, I don’t heat it up to tank temp since the volume being replaced is so small it has very little effect on the tank temperature. If the water is very cold, however, I place my 1g water change container in a south facing window for a few hours if the sun is out…or use a spare heater when it is not.

 

Early on, I found that changing 10% of the water all at once (even with temperature matched water) sometimes would result in mildly stressed corals. 5%/2x week resulted in no visible stress to the animals and is what I have used for years. In the last year or two I’ve been mixing various left-over salts (Red Sea Blue Bucket, Reef Crystals, Instant Ocean, Tropic Marin) without any ill effects.

 

Time Managment:

 

One question often asked is 'How much time do you spend on your tank?'.

 

1. 5% water change on Tues., Mag-float glass cleaning (15 min.),

2. 5% water change on Sat, sand bed vacuuming, Mag-float/credit card glass cleaning, back wall cleaning, detritus removal from back chambers, overflow slots and rear seams cleaning with toothbrush (3x/month, 1 hr. each week)

3. 5% water change, sand bed vacuuming, Mag-float/credit card glass cleaning, back wall cleaning, detritus removal from back chambers, overflow slots and rear seams cleaning with toothbrush, pump and hydor rotating device disassembly/cleaning (1hr 30 min, 1x/month)

4. Water change makeup (5g): Once every 5 weeks (30 min.)

5. Vacuum under a base live rock every 2 months (extra 15 min added to a Sat. water change).

 

Substrate and Associated Microorganisms:

 

I use a relatively fine mixed grade of aragonite. I vacuum the substrate to remove detritus twice a week with my water changes and clear the live rock of detritus with a turkey baster a few times a week. I also stir up the sand bed a few times a week to suspend detritus and it's associated microorganisms (food for the filter-feeders).

 

All the best equipment and technology is not going to be effective if the microscopic organisms that we rely upon for many different processes are not functioning properly or are not in the required abundance. Microscopic bacteria, benthic algae, protists, etc. are literally the backbone of our systems and will develop naturally over time if they are introduced into the system (live rock, live sand, etc.) and we keep acceptable, stable conditions. Some commercial products can cause harm to these micro-organisms in our systems and is something to keep in mind due to how important they are to the system. In our small tanks when the sand bed is not cleaned (especially), many people experience rapidly increasing nitrate levels even when feeding and bio load are relatively low. To put it simply, the bacteria responsible for completing the nitrogen cycle are literally being choked and are not receiving the continuous nutrient flow (especially carbon) they need to function effectively due to the detritus buildup. To encourage bacterial health, I perform a number of tasks: Stir the sand bed a few times a week. A few times a week I blow off sediment in and on the live rock with a turkey baster. I vacuum the sand bed 2x/wk as well as remove detritus that has settled in the back chambers. In addition, every 2 months or so I vacuum underneath one of the base rocks so that in about a year I will have vacuumed under all of them. To put the effectiveness of these simple procedures into context, even with two adult Ocellaris Clownfish (moved on due to growing too large), a bunch of gobies and crustaceans fed heavily twice daily plus weekly target feeding of the corals the tank maintaines a nitrate reading of below 1 ppm (Elos, Red Sea test kits).

 

Phosphate deserves a special discussion. Inorganic phosphate (aka ‘Orthophosphate’, ‘PO4’) levels in this tank are checked monthly and they are consistently undetectable (Salifert test kit) despite the relatively heavy feeding and moderate bio load. No phosphate removers have ever been used. The question may arise as to how does this work for one tank when many other tanks have difficulty controlling this element without having to resort to large water changes and/or phosphate reducing media? The standard answer seems to be "Each tank is different", which is really an acknowledgement that we don’t have a good handle on what exactly is going on. Trying to pin down phosphate usage in an aquarium is an ever moving target and is complex. What we do know is that Phosphate, in all it’s inorganic and organic forms, is ever in motion in our systems and the competition amongst the organisms for this life sustaining nutrient is intense. I stir up the sand bed often which has multiple effects that I believe directly, or indirectly, influence phosphate levels. The thought process goes like this: Whenever detritus is suspended so are countless microorganisms (detritus, benthic algae, protists, fungi, etc ) which then become food for filter feeders (phosphate usage/sequestering). The remaining bacteria in the sand bed naturally repopulate in short order (again, phosphate usage/sequestering). Vigorous bacterial activity in the substrate liberates some phosphate that is bound to the calcium carbonate sediments which in turn is used by other organisms. When detritus/bacteria are removed bi-weekly, this exports some of the phosphate out of the system and maintains a balance in the system. One key point in all this is that this constant cycling naturally stabilizes phosphate as long as inputs (foods, mainly) are kept relatively moderate and constant. I have noticed that inconsistent feeding results in a ‘boom or bust’ type scenario that can compromise system stability.

 

Condensed version: Feed your bacteria/other organisms, but don’t forget to clean up the mess :)

 

WARNING: If a sand bed hasn’t been disturbed for some time, best to begin cleaning only small sections at a time. Cleaning the whole thing all at once can crash a tank!

 

'Optimal' Nitrate (NO3) and Phosphate (PO4) Levels - Is there such a thing?

 

If you've been in this hobby for even a little while you most likely have seen various recommendations for 'optimal' nitrate and phosphate levels backed up (hopefully) by successful reef tanks with colorful, healthy corals. This should immediately raise an eyebrow or two in skepticism. So what is going on here?

 

Corals are mixotrophic (multiple feeding modes) so they can utilize different sources of nutrition. In a tank that has undectable NO3 (nitrate) and PO4 (inorganic phosphate/orthophosphate) via good test kits, the corals must typically be fed frequently to remain colorful and healthy. This environment is most similar to a pristine coral reef where the majority of nutrition obtained from the environment (excluding photosynthetic products from the coral's zooxanthellae) is derived from organic sources (phytoplankton, zooplankton, bacteria, marine snow, etc.).

 

The other end of the spectrum is a system with relatively high levels of inorganic nutrients. Typical recommendations are NO3 of 5pmm or less and PO4 of around 0.03ppm, but note that many healthy reef tanks can have higher levels. In this type of system less direct feeding (or none at all) can produce good results and is perhaps closer to conditions encountered in an inshore reef environment due to nutrient run off from land based sources or a lagoon.

 

Many reef tanks can fall somewhere in between these levels and be successful.

 

So, which is 'better'? That question sparks heated debate on the forums, for sure. On the one hand, low inorganic nutrients in the water typically results in slower algae proliferation. However, this also means that the aquarist must be diligent in supplying food regularly to keep the coral healthy long term. Conversely, a more inorganic nutrient rich system runs the risk of becoming overly enriched (eutrophic) leading to increased algae and poor coral health.

 

This 12g tank tends to be in the LNS (low nutrient system) category with less than 0.5ppm NO3 and undectable PO4. However, my take is that it doesn't really matter which camp one pitches his/her tent in, as long as the results are healthy, colorful and growing coral and algae is kept under control.

 

 

No Chemical/Mechanical Filtration? With proper maintenance and regular water changes I have found no need for these products. One of the benefits of not using selective chemical media (besides cost) is that C-N-P (carbon-nitrogen-phosphate) ratio stays relatively balanced/stable and one avoids the potential shock to the system whenever old, exhausted media is replaced by new (the only shock this sytem gets is the 5%/2x per week water change). This may indeed be a factor in the longevity of this little system.

 

Thoughts on the ‘Mixed Reef’ Nano Tank:

 

This mixed reef tank has just about everything from A-Z (Acropora to Zoanthids). Most of the original corals are still around, but some have been moved on due to over-aggression (Acroporas, Scolly), a few have been destroyed by amphipods (Zoas), a few by bacterial infections (Mussids: Blastos, Acans), some simply have been out-competed (M. undata) and a few I simply have no clue why they didn't make it. Actually, I’m rather surprised that most have been able to co-exist in relative peace, but I think this goes to show that a diverse assemblage of corals can 'find a way' to co-exist (for the most part).. A true mixed reef in a shallow nano tank is challenging due especially to the different high and low light and flow needs of the various corals. I have found proper placement of corals to be very critical. Sometimes, even just an inch or two up or down (or side-to-side) has make the difference in whether a coral does well or just languishes. A PAR meter, along with research and experience, help with the decision. Luckily for us, many corals can cope and adapt well to natural physical changes such as storms, being dislodged by other organisms, etc. which allows them to adjust to our aquarium environments. Without a certain amount of flexibility, I don't think corals would be as successful for eons as they have been..

 

The general consensus is that a biotope tank set up for specific type(s) of corals with very similar needs is easier to maintain and I would have to agree. However, I like the challenge, and visual interest, presented by the mixed reef.

 

Growth and the Nano Tank:

 

This nano tank is small and I’m not a fan of constant pruning. Constant fiddling with the corals and aquascape is detrimental to the system in many ways (accidental knocking off of corals, stress from frequent cuttings, release of possible coral produced stress related chemicals, introduction of skin oils/other substance residues, etc.). In this tank, I attempt to limit coral growth while maintaining coral health and coloration. This means supplying enough nutrition for metabolic processes plus some extra for slow/moderate growth. Keeping the temperature on the cooler side in winter also helps slow metabolism. One side benefit to slower growth is that more coral types can be kept longer together since they won’t crowd each other as quickly.

 

Thoughts on 'Density' (Aquascaping): When starting out with this tank my main goal was to provide a rock 'Bommie' roughly in the middle of the tank as well as have some 'free space' made up of sand bottom. The biggest difficulty I faced was avoiding the temptation of adding more and more specimens to the tank bottom! For a while, I lost that battle with myself, but eventually claimed most of the previous free space back again. Coral can be packed quite tightly into a reef tank due to the fact that they produce relatively little waste (the coral and it's algae tighly cycle much of their respective waste products), but the negative effect on flow of so many corals can have a dramatic effect on a tank's health. Visually, I feel that the best aquascaped tanks use 'negative space' wisely to compliment an attractive reef structure. Something to consider when one gets the itch to create a 'rock wall' packed with an over abundance of corals and/or completely blanket the sand bed with corals.

 

Fish Stocking: I've been pleasantly surprised at how well this little system handled two well-fed adult Ocellaris Clownfish for a few years and now has no issues with (5) smal fish (gobies and a blenny). 10% water changes/week have certainly sufficed and are all that is used.

 

Colonies, Mini-Colonies vs. Mini-frags:

 

I find that small nano tanks lend themselves very well to coral mini/micro frags, rather than coral colonies. For me, there is something special about tiny pieces of coral successfully growing and becoming larger parts of the reef tank community over time. The process requires patience, but the eventual reward are colonies that look more like they grew up in the tank vs. being cut-and-pasted into the aquascape. I have found that these smaller mini-frag grow-outs can be be less aggressive with their neighbors, likely due to having grown up with each other over time. When working with tiny mini-frags, the handling is very important. These little guys can dry out much more quickly and too much glue can easily kill them. The smallest that I’ve been successful worked with was a 1/16” piece consisting of just a single green mouth of Jack’o’Lantern Leptoseris that is now the size of a dime after about 3 months.

 

Coral Aggression (allelopathy,, over-topping, sweepers, etc.):

 

Although disturbing to some, coral aggression is just a part of their nature. Certain corals are iffy, at best, for a small reef tank due to this. The most aggressive stony corals I have in this tank by far are Pavonas (they can be a handful with their sweeper tentacles) and Leptastrea which can be invasive and have a nasty sting. All mushrooms are even worse if they physically contact other types of coral and most Zoanthids, so they get their own separate regions. I also don’t mix Ricordia and Rhodactis together due to past issues with an occasional Rhodactis causing damage. Some Zoanthids can become invasive if left unchecked.

 

By design, the tank has no soft corals that could produce toxins such as Sarcophyton, Sinularia, Litophyton. With the coral mix I have, I haven't noticed any long distance allelopathic symptoms.

 

Captive/Wild Collected Corals:

 

Most of the corals in this tank are cultivated and were acquired as frags from LFSs, on-line retailers and other hobbyists. Most of the mushrooms came straight out of the ocean. Personally, I believe this hobby should patronize both maricultured and aquacultured corals.

 

Coral and Fish Feeding:

 

The current Blenny and Gobies are fed 2x/day with flakes or pellets in moderate amounts in the morning and liberal amounts of frozen mysids/spirulina enriched brine shirmp in the late afternoon. Manufactured food is more nutrient dense, so no need to feed this as heavily as frozen. Once in a while I also feed them newly-hatched earthworms from a compost heap. Corals/filter feeders get target fed Reef Roids with the bigger polyps getting meaty frozen foods 1x/week.

 

Coral Disease: The one I seem to enounter most often is an infection in Mussids (Acans and Blastos). Bringing in one infected specimen from outside is enough to infect many other Mussid colonies. Tissue gets stretched thin, polyps won't eat and they eventually waste away while other corals are just fine. I have had success treating the affected coral outisde the display tank with Tea Tree oil (few drops in a small container for a few minutes twice a day), but it doesn't always work. Melafix, which contains Tee Tree oil, is another reported remedy (Sprung/Delbeek) with a recommendation of 5 ml/g for 3 min.

 

Algae Control/Clean Up (CUC):

 

A fact of life is that Alga of some sort will always be present both in our tanks and in nature. I strive to keep them under control by keeping nutrient levels low/balanced and via herbivory. Also helpful was starting this tank with 10 year old purple coralline encrusted live rock as algae are much less likely to try and colonize these coralline encrusted surfaces.

 

This tank has a few small Hermit Crabs to help control filament algae. The rest of the ‘CUC’ is home-grown (bristleworms, mysid shrimp, brittlestars, small limpets and tiny collunista snails). Notice, no 'hunch-backed amphipods' since adults are notorious for eating zoas/palys, usually at night. A Black-Barred Clown Goby exterminated them a few years back and I dip any new frag bases in freshwater for a minute to make sure the little buggers don’t recolonize the tank. I also don’t use larger commercially sold snails due to the risk from fouling when they die and decompose in such a small body of water.

 

'Turkey basting' the live rock at least a few times a week can be helpful in controllling hair algae types. The algae filaments trap detritus, and if let unchecked, they actually create nitrate/phosphate rich micro-environments that can then lead to more and more algae.

 

Pest Species: Even with the best dipping protocols, pests can still wriggle and squirm into our systems. I give my new specimens a thorough once over with a magnifying glass and then dip the base of every rock/plug in fresh water/concentrated potassium iodine for at least one minute. Certain corals (such as Mushies) I'll also dip for a few seconds in the freshwater while shaking to dislodge any flatworms and then place immediately back into salt water. The stony coral frags (non-Acropora) I get are typically quite small, so it's easy to check them carefully and remove any unwanted creatures/eggs. Can't say much about coral dips since I don't use them, but the general concensus seems to be 'use them' (especially for Acropora as it is very difficult to see Red Bugs and AEFW are also not so easy to see or dislodge manually). For the occasional aiptasia and bubble algae that makes it through inspection, the most important thing is to take care of the pest literally 'right away' before they have a chance to establish themselves and check every day for at least a week for any more. I use kalk slurry in a syringe for aiptasia and tweezers to carefully remove any bubble algae. For Acoel Flatworms, I've found it very important to remove them early to be successful in exterminating them from the system. I'll keep the tank very clean and cut out any suspension feeding for a week or two (but still feed the fish and LPS normally) to cut down on this food source while sucking up any worms that I see on a daily basis (I especially check all the mushies carefully with a hand magnifier). With constant diligence for a few weeks their populations can be brought so low that they can't sustain a population and die out in the tank.

 

‘Stability’…What Does That Really Mean?

 

We tend to think of stability is terms of temperature and water chemistry parameters, and rightly so. Maintaining parameters within a ‘range’ suitable for coral and fish health is essential. For me, the key to long-term success is stability in all aspects of reef keeping. Stability in the maintenance schedule/routines, stability in food types and frequency of feeding, stability in the lighting schedule/duration, stability in the water change schedule, etc.

 

How to Keep it ‘Fresh’?:

 

I see this question pop-up every so often. I think the answer is specific to each individual, but starting the tank with micro-frags I think is helpful since the final grown-in result can take a long time as opposed to using larger colonies right away which produces a ‘finished product’ in relatively short order (leading to possible boredom). Keeping the tank's Web page(s) up-to-date at regular intervals is a great way to connect with other reef keepers and to assess how the tank is doing via photos. Investigating a reef keeping topic that is not well understood or researched is a great way to keep an interest in the hobby (no one knows it all).

 

Avoiding 'Upgrade-itis'?: Keep all sizes of tanks for 30+ years and then you'll know (hopefully) what size really suits you. My first reef tank was a homebuilt 8g nano (with a 12g sump), then a 35 hex, 55 show, even took care of a restaurant fish-only 300g for a while...and my last may be this 12g...or maybe not ;)

 

'Big Tank' vs. 'Small Tank' Bias: The keeping of a 'Nano' or 'Pico' tank is often thought of as a 'toy' or something only for beginners to cut their teeth on. While it is true that the cost of entry into the reef aquarium hobby is a major factor (and small systems are typically much cheaper than larger ones), the fact is that being successful in maintaining a top-notch small reef aquarium for many years requires just as much skill and knowledge as any other sized tank (some might say even more so due to the relatively small amount of water in the system, which is inherently less stable). In my mind, the better term for small reef tanks might be 'Bonsai Reef Tanks' since keeping a nano/pico tank has commonalities with this well-respected, ancient gardening discipline.

 

Longevity and 'Old Tank Syndrome':

 

Keep It Simple, have backups, know the accepted range of parameters, check those parameters that can fluctuate frequently (i.e.: alkalinity, calcium, specific gravity), check temperature 2x/day, keep household cleaning products/toxins away, develop a successful routine and stick to it, inspect the tank daily if possible (especially sensitive coral species) as they can give an early-warning of potential issues. I have yet to experience 'Old Tank Syndrome' in any of my past tanks. However, I believe it is a real condition that can be brought about by incorrect, or lack of, maintenance procedures. I don't believe that it is inevitable or else we'd see every tank of a similar size and setup expire roughly at the same time...and some do keep on going year after year. I also don't believe that live rock and live sand has an inevitable expiration date. The current live rock in this nano is 17+ years old as is about 80% of the sand. Note: In a 2015 MACNA speach Joe Yaiullo, curator of the Long Island Aquarium, had coined the term LARS ('Lazy Ass Reefer Syndrome') to describe this condition and is quite apropos :)

 

Conclusion: After decades of reef keeping and years of perusing the Web forums, I see a whole lot of confusion ‘out there’ in regards to various aspects of reef keeping. I see this as a natural outcome of attempting to recreate a slice of one of the planet’s most highly complex ecological/biological systems. However, the fact that we can maintain, grow, and in some cases even breed these delicate animals in relatively miniscule amounts of water (compared to the oceans) is a testament to how far we’ve come in a relatively short period of time.

 

What sometimes tends to get lost in translation is that the foundation of any successful reef tank is in the efficient functioning of the biological processes which promote system stability. No amount of technology or chemicals can take the place of a healthy compliment of little microbes. What technology can do is help us support and provide these microbial communities with optimal conditions to help us have a successful reef tank.

 

'Happy Reefing' - Ralph. :)

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nice, simple, aesthetically pleasing.

 

well done!

 

and :welcome: to NR!

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I love the 12 and 22 gal cads but some horror stories scare me away from them.I like the rock work and corals.

 

 

welcome to nr and good luck with setup

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nice, simple, aesthetically pleasing.

 

well done!

 

and :welcome: to NR!

 

Thanks for the welcome :)

 

Looking through the Nano reef galleries I've seen a great many different styles of aquascaping.

 

I've envisioned this one as a simple small 'outcroping' with room on the top for the growth of branching type SPS corals. It should loose the 'short'n'stubby' look by next year :D

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I love the 12 and 22 gal cads but some horror stories scare me away from them.I like the rock work and corals.


welcome to nr and good luck with setup


Thank you, too, for the welcome!

I had heard that Cadlights had some problems with the light fixtures on their larger tanks. I decided to go with manufacturer because of what I had read regarding the tank itself. This tank is very nicely built, looks great and is very robust. The lighting fixture has a 'high-tech' look to it and it has functioned very well so far.
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What was the pet water bottle mod? I'm getting a CADlights 22 soon and would rather not pony out the $$ for an Osmolator...

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What was the pet water bottle mod? I'm getting a CADlights 22 soon and would rather not pony out the $$ for an Osmolator...

 

All these pet water bottles have at least one ball inside the metal tube. Since the ball is kept inside the tube by a slight crimping of the tube's end, the end must be removed so the ball can fall out (I used a dremel with a small cut-off wheel). Once the ball is removed you'll need to position the bottle so that the tube's opening is just barely under the water surface. As water evaporates and the tube end is exposed to air, a small amount of air will enter the bottle and displace some of the water inside. This process will go on until the tube end is once again under water.

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And to keep things really simple I've employed a pet watering bottle to keep the tank topped up using RO water:

 

12galNanoReefH20Bottle.jpg

 

Works like a charm (when modified correctly) and provides up to a week of fresh water before it needs refilling (yea!, no more daily fill ups!).

 

This is totally innovative!!! I've learned something new today... thanks!

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This is totally innovative!!! I've learned something new today... thanks!

 

I remember seeing this principle in action back in high school biology class. I've also seen it used in a commercial product for supplying a constant source of water for a dog or cat (a bottle emptying out into an integrated tray). For smaller pets they use the 'ball inside the metal tube' method to seal off the entrance. When the pet nudges the ball, water drips out. It isn't a perfect system since the ball allows a few drops to leak, but you wouldn't want the mess of an open receptacle filled with water in a hamster or guinea pig cage :o

 

The main caution point to this modified pet bottle system is that if the cap seal or the bottle itself should ever develop a leak then air would be allowed into the bottle and consequently it would push all the fresh water out into the tank. These are the things to be mindful of:

 

1. A good fitting, durable seal.

2. Sturdy plastic bottle.

3. Cap must be tightened snugly on the bottle to eliminate any potential air leakage.

4. Refill bottle as full as possible before using.

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Ah very nice little CAD i am glad to see more CADlights tanks up here.I actully considered getting a 12 but when i got it from CAD it broke while in transit but oceanreflections took care of it and i op'd to get the 22g

 

cheers

scott

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Ah very nice little CAD i am glad to see more CADlights tanks up here.I actully considered getting a 12 but when i got it from CAD it broke while in transit but oceanreflections took care of it and i op'd to get the 22g

 

cheers

scott

 

I was also offered a 22 gal. in place of the 12 gal. since the lighting for the 12 was on back-order when I originally ordered. I had to stick with the 12 gal. in order to fit the space I had prepared for that size of tank footprint.

 

Next year I may go for a larger 32 gal. cube tank. I torn down my 50 gal. tall acrylic show tank (only 13" wide) recently after many years of frustration not being able to get the aqua scaped look I desired. I also don't care for acrylic tanks when it comes to reef aquariums due to how easy they are to scratch.

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Hi, quick question about the top off system

What is stopping the salt from diffusing into the container, diluting the tank rapidly?

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Hi, quick question about the top off system

What is stopping the salt from diffusing into the container, diluting the tank rapidly?

 

As long as the metal tube remains immersed under water there is virtually no exchange between salt water in the aquarium and fresh water in the bottle. Only when the tube end is exposed to air (and the air naturally rises into the bottle) is fresh water displaced to end up in the tank.

 

I had to think a moment about the 'why' of this process and here's my take on the subject: In this system there is a specific equilibrium point that is reached between the bottle's fresh water and the tank's salt water. As an example, when the bottle is freshly filled and placed in its position there is a small release of fresh water into the tank since the bottle, being higher than the tank, is under a slightly elevated pressure (same principle as a simple siphon, water will only flow from high to low, not visa-versa). The difference here is that the bottle is air tight, so the inside pressure can equalize at some point with the pressure of the tank water when the bottle's tube is fully immersed. Once pressure equilibrium is reached neither fresh water nor salt water can flow in either direction. The state of equilibrium is broken when the water level of the tank is reduced (as through evaporation or removal of water by other means) and air can then enter the bottle through the tube and provide pressure to displace some fresh water into the tank. Air can no longer enter the bottle when the tank water level rises again to cover the tube end (due to the previously released fresh water), and so equilibrium is restored. And so the cycle will continue keeping the tank water level constant until the bottle is completely empty.

Edited by Nano sapiens

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As long as the metal tube remains immersed under water there is virtually no exchange between salt water in the aquarium and fresh water in the bottle. Only when the tube end is exposed to air (and the air naturally rises into the bottle) is fresh water displaced to end up in the tank.

 

I had to think a moment about the 'why' of this process and here's my take on the subject: In this system there is a specific equilibrium point that is reached between the bottle's fresh water and the tank's salt water. As an example, when the bottle is freshly filled and placed in its position there is a small release of fresh water into the tank since the bottle, being higher than the tank, is under a slightly elevated pressure (same principle as a simple siphon, water will only flow from high to low, not visa-versa). The difference here is that the bottle is air tight, so the inside pressure can equalize at some point with the pressure of the tank water when the bottle's tube is fully immersed. Once pressure equilibrium is reached neither fresh water nor salt water can flow in either direction. The state of equilibrium is broken when the water level of the tank is reduced (as through evaporation or removal of water by other means) and air can then enter the bottle through the tube and provide pressure to displace some fresh water into the tank. Air can no longer enter the bottle when the tank water level rises again to cover the tube end (due to the previously released fresh water), and so equilibrium is restored. And so the cycle will continue keeping the tank water level constant until the bottle is completely empty.

 

 

I'm not disagreeing that the top off will work as you say, the only problem is you will be topping off with saltwater. The saltwater and the freshwater will reach equilibrium with each other, as they are permanently connected through the metal tube. I understand your logic behind it, but you are assuming the salt and freshwater remain separate. If you want me to get technical, the concentration gradient of salt drives diffusion from an area of high concentration (the tank) to an area of low concentration (reservoir). This is modeled by Fick's law, I don't know how interested you are in transport phenomena. I have to be interested, I am a chemical engineering student at Johns Hopkins.

 

The problem is as soon as you place a new container of fresh water on top, the salt will quickly diffuse into the container. Your salinity will drop quickly. I know the container is not that big, but in a small tank, it could have a more significant impact. If I were you I would set it up as you have it, bust out your refractometer, and test the SG before its in place, and then after a few hours test the tank and the FW reservoir.

 

I hope this helps. Other than that, you have a great looking tank. That yuma is gorgeous!

 

-Joel

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I'm not disagreeing that the top off will work as you say, the only problem is you will be topping off with saltwater. The saltwater and the freshwater will reach equilibrium with each other, as they are permanently connected through the metal tube. I understand your logic behind it, but you are assuming the salt and freshwater remain separate. If you want me to get technical, the concentration gradient of salt drives diffusion from an area of high concentration (the tank) to an area of low concentration (reservoir). This is modeled by Fick's law, I don't know how interested you are in transport phenomena. I have to be interested, I am a chemical engineering student at Johns Hopkins.

 

The problem is as soon as you place a new container of fresh water on top, the salt will quickly diffuse into the container. Your salinity will drop quickly. I know the container is not that big, but in a small tank, it could have a more significant impact. If I were you I would set it up as you have it, bust out your refractometer, and test the SG before its in place, and then after a few hours test the tank and the FW reservoir.

 

I hope this helps. Other than that, you have a great looking tank. That yuma is gorgeous!

 

-Joel

 

Unfortunately, I do not have a refractometer.

 

I measure my SG every two weeks with a typcial 'dip and read' hydrometer. While this type of hydometer is not the most accurate type, I have found that the SG has remained very stable at a reading of 1.0245.

 

 

I know this is subjective, but how about a practical test? I just took a swig of the fresh water currently in the bottle which has been supplying water for 4 days to the tank since it was last refilled. Tastes the same as the fresh water I originally put in. I also tested the fresh water in the bottle with the hydometer and I could not get a reading at all (lower limit reading of the device is 1.017). According to your comments I should be reading the same SG for both the tank and the freshwater in the bottle since diffusion should have 'rapidly taken place'.

 

I am aware of the action of sustances in solution moving from a higher concentration to a lower (diffusion). I hope most people remember this from high school biology or physics class :)

 

Hypothesis(s):

 

1. Possibility of a pressure gradient created in the system that retards or prevents the salt solution from entering the fresh water solution in the bottle.

 

2. Possibility that diffusion is indeed occuring, but due to the relatively small diameter of the tube and the 5-7 day frequency of refilling (and perhaps other factors) that the effect is not noticeable with the coarse measuring methods available to me.

 

Interesting that what is such a simple application on a practical level is not so simple to describe in detail theoretically.

 

The R. yuma is really something and I was very happy to see it produced an offspring. I'm experimenting to get a proper picture out of my camera that accurately reflects the true color and will post it up here if/when I do.

 

Thanks for your input. While I am not formally trained in chemical engineering or fluid dynamics I've always had an interest in 'systems' of any sort.

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1. Possibility of a pressure gradient created in the system that retards or prevents the salt solution from entering the fresh water solution in the bottle.

No. There is a small difference in pressure between the bottle and the tank, as the bottle is at a slightly higher height, but this does not stop diffusion. If this was true your salinity would be a function of the depth of your tank.

 

2. Possibility that diffusion is indeed occuring, but due to the relatively small diameter of the tube and the 5-7 day frequency of refilling (and perhaps other factors) that the effect is not noticeable with the coarse measuring methods available to me.

I guess this is possible. If it were me, I would not risk all of my beautiful livestock. I would definitely go buy a refractometer (they are only 30 bucks on ebay) and verify your qualitative tests.

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But, an experiment is much more fun :) :

 

WaterBottleExperiment.jpg

WaterBottleExperimentTubeCloseup.jpg

 

The dye is from a saltwater Ph test kit (20 drops) which has been added to the saltwater in the Pyrex container (1.0245 SG). The pet bottle has been filled half way with pure RO water. I've covered the experiment with a towel since I am not sure if the dye is photo sensitive over time.

 

I'm going to leave this experiment for one week to see if the fresh water bottle shows any signs of turning pink-purple.

Edited by Nano sapiens
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I'm kinda surprised no one has asked this yet, but what's to stop the metal tube on the pet bottle from rusting?

What's to stop the metal from reacting with the SW in other ways and possibly contaminating the tank?

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I'm kinda surprised no one has asked this yet, but what's to stop the metal tube on the pet bottle from rusting?

What's to stop the metal from reacting with the SW in other ways and possibly contaminating the tank?

 

 

It's most likely made from Stainless Steel, but needs to be watched as it will begin to rust over time.

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I'm kinda surprised no one has asked this yet, but what's to stop the metal tube on the pet bottle from rusting?

What's to stop the metal from reacting with the SW in other ways and possibly contaminating the tank?

 

Easy enough to replace with acrylic tubing :)

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It's most likely made from Stainless Steel, but needs to be watched as it will begin to rust over time.

 

True, true, many 'stainless' steels could be classified as 'stain resistant'. Some of the stainless steel alloys are really and truely rust proof, but they tend to be more expensive since they have a higher percentage of alloy metals (chromium, vanadium, etc.) mixed in with the steel.

 

Since this is an inexpensive pet bottle I've been watching the metal tube closely. In nearly two months of use I haven't seen any obvious signs of rust...and I hope it stays that way :)

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But, an experiment is much more fun :) :

 

WaterBottleExperiment.jpg

WaterBottleExperimentTubeCloseup.jpg

 

The dye is from a saltwater Ph test kit (20 drops) which has been added to the saltwater in the Pyrex container (1.0245 SG). The pet bottle has been filled half way with pure RO water. I've covered the experiment with a towel since I am not sure if the dye is photo sensitive over time.

 

I'm going to leave this experiment for one week to see if the fresh water bottle shows any signs of turning pink-purple.

 

One week is up and here are the results:

 

WaterBottleExperimentafter1Week.jpg

 

As can be seen there is no pink-purple coloration whatsoever showing in the water bottle. For all practical purposes it is clear that diffusion from salt water in the bowl to fresh water in the bottle is not an issue with this water top-off system.

 

Its been fun, but now its time to reinstall back onto the aquarium B)

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any more full tank shots or shots of more of the tank.Im wondering if this tank would fit on a biocube stand.There both 15x15.

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