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Seadragon's 10g School Nano Reef: No Water Changes. GSP & Xenia Only.

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The School Nano Reef: Simplicity Meets Ultra Low Maintenance





For the past year, the wife really wanted a nano reef tank for her classroom to be viewed by hundreds of students, their parents, and her co-teachers.  She was so determined and excited about this that she told all of her co-teachers that she is getting one even before I planned out the logistics of such a feat (since I'm brand new to saltwater tanks and wasn't too eager at the time to spend the time and money to learn such a thing).  But, I didn't want to let her and her friends down, thus the School Nano Reef Tank was born on 9/17/2019, a week after my Office Nano Reef Tank was born which can be found here.  I also wanted to document this tank separately from my Office Nano Reef since it has been having a host of it's own unique types of issues which included Dino's up until recently which I'll detail in a separate post.





I have 3 primary goals for this nano reef:

1. Extremely low maintenance since it can be weeks before I'm able to visit this tank to perform any type of maintenance.

2. To have GSP cover the majority of the larger rocks and to have some Pulsing Xenia on the smaller isolated island rocks.

3. Cute fish or ones with big personalities or functional critters that help clean.





 Price: $14.99 (I missed the dollar per gallon sale, but the dream must move forward!)

◕ Tank Length: 20.25"

◕ Tank Width: 10.5"

◕ Tank Height: 12.625"

◕ Material: Glass





⇨ Aquascape : Nature's Ocean 12-Inch Coral Base Rocks (they gave me 2 gigantic aragonite rocks so I spent hours trying to break them apart by throwing them against the concrete.  I was a madman on a mission!)

⇨ Sand : 10 pounds of Nature's Ocean Natural White No.0 Bio-Activ Aragonite Live Sand

⇨ Heater : EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater 50W

 Lighting : NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light, Size 18 to 24 Inch, 11 Watts

 Refugium Lighting : Finnex 10" FugeRay Ultra Slim Aquarium LED Light

⇨ Powerheads : Hydor Koralia Nano 240 (2)

⇨ Wave Controller : Hydor Smart Wave Circulation Pump Controller

⇨ Filtration : Marina S20 Power Filter

⇨ In-Tank Refugium : Drilled custom holes into a Hamiledyi Fish Breeder Box

⇨ Coralline Algae Starter Pink Fusion Strain & Purple Helix Strain Coralline Algae in a Bottle + Nitrifying Bacteria

 Tank Lid: 20-Inch Aqueon Aquarium AAG29020 Versa Top

 Natural sea water: Imagitarium Pacific Ocean Water, 5 gallons (2)





Red Sea Pom Pom Xenia

This was one of the first Xenias that I purchased and I found out that I actually love the Pom Pom Xenia (ORA) variation more due to the pinkish color and larger pulsing effect.  So the Red Sea Pom Pom Xenia was banished to the School Nano Reef.


Green Star Polyps / GSP

The School Nano Reef will only get doses of Calcium and Alk whenever I have time to visit it, which may be weeks at a time.  Thus, the only surviving corals that can take such abuse may very well be GSP and Xenia.  Let's see how these two hold up in the long run.  I'm hoping that the GSP will cover all three huge rocks within this tank within a short period of time.





Red Dragon's Breath Gracilaria Hayi Macro Algae

Simply beautiful to put into the display tank.  Seems to work best if you can find a way to anchor it down.


Chaetomorpha Macro Algae

This is part of my magic bullet to keep the phosphates and nitrates down as low as possible.  This plus the Red Dragon's Breath plus the Xenia will be my main excess nutrient exporters.  I found out that I like to keep it contained to the in-tank refugium and out of the display tank if possible.


Red Ogo (Gracilaria Parvispora) Macroalgae [DEAD: Melted in 24 hours]

Normally a beautiful bright red & burgundy color and is fast growing, this macroalgae did not survive a 4-day journey through the mail in cold weather conditions to my home.  The temperature inside the package felt a bit cold due to the heat pack not holding up for the entirety of the trip.  Upon opening the bag, a really foul stench permeated the room.  The macroalgae arrived orange and became mostly transparent within 24 hours.  Needless to say, I had to remove all of the Red Ogo from the tank.





2 Ocellaris Clownfish (ORA)

It wouldn't be much of a School Nano Reef without the ultimate stars, Nemo and Marlin.  We just love their vibrant colors, overall peacefulness, and their wacky movements!


1 Sharknose Goby

Originally in the Office Nano Reef, Goby has made his transition to the School Nano Reef quite well.  I often see him first in line to eat when the circulation pumps are switched off.  He enjoys laying on top of the enormous "rock bridge" that can be found within this tank.


1 Yellowtail Damselfish

To make this tank even more appealing for all the kids staring at it, how can you forget about Dory.  Hopefully, Dory won't become too aggressive as time goes on.  This damselfish was also originally within the Office Nano Reef.


1 Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp from Sri Lanka

The larger of the two Cleaner Shrimp that was in the Office Nano Reef makes his debut to the School Nano Reef.  He spends much of his time hiding under the "rock bridge" or off to the side.  Still hungry as ever and even swims upside down on the water's surface when the food pellets hit the water.


1 Stocky Cerith Snail

These snails are hard workers and they even clean on the edge where the sand meets the glass.


1 Astrea Snail

I hear these snails cannot right themselves if they fall upside down into the sand.  Somehow, this snail has defied all logic and is still alive.  If he does fall upside down, there are about 14 hermit crabs waiting for their next free meal.


3 Zebra Turbo Snails

I was looking for Mexican Turbo Snails and the LFS told me that these were them.  I found out later that they lied and they're actually Zebra Turbo Snails.  All 4 of these are large (~2").


4 Turbo Snails

I got these snails for my Office Nano Reef to take care of some cotton candy algae that may have hitchhiked onto the Chaeto that I bought off eBay.  I found out that the smaller ones (~1") tend to pass it by which are the ones that I currently have.  They were purchased at a LFS under the name "Turbo Snail", but the LFS employee said they should be Mexican Turbo Snails, but by the look of their shells, I do not think they are.  They never did eat the cotton candy algae so they were banished to the School Nano Reef.  I later added 2 additional larger (2"+) snails and confirmed that at least 1 of these does eat cotton candy algae.  I have a feeling one or both of the larger snails are in fact Mexican Turbo Snails, but I'm listing it under the generic Turbo Snails just to be safe.


14 Blue Leg Hermit Crabs

These Blue Leg Hermit Crabs can be interesting to watch.  I always enjoy watching them switching shells and then sometimes switching back.


a ton of Tisbe Copepods

Our unseen clean up crew behind the scenes.  They sometimes sacrifice themselves as lunch for any hungry fish waiting for their next daily meal.





Asterina Starfish

I have read mixed feelings on these aquarium pests.  Depending on which you have, some may eat corals, but most will leave them alone.  They normally consume algae and some hobbyists report Coralline algae as well.  These hitchhiked onto a rock with GSP on it that I purchased from a new LFS.  I welcomed them to the School Nano Reef because some students were asking if we could get some Starfish for the tank.  Now we got a few "baby" Starfish.  Hopefully it'll never turn into hundreds or thousands of these little Starfish.





◕ Top off with Distilled Water with Instant Ocean's Marine Conditioner that adds protective fish coating and eliminates chlorine, chloramine & heavy metals.

 When the water's surface develops an oily film, skim it off with paper towels as needed.  Then re-add filtered natural sea water for any water that was removed.

◕ Occasional dosing of Reef Fusion 1 and Reef Fusion 2 to add calcium, alkalinity, and other elements and trace minerals.





Day 60 (11/16/2019) since starting the School Nano Reef:






Day 76 (12/2/2019):






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As I mentioned in the Office Nano Reef thread, this tank appeared to have Dino's last weekend.  I'm no longer seeing the Dino's on the rocks anymore.  We did the following which appeared to help the situation.  If anything changes, we'll document it in this thread.


Short Term Fix:

  1. Dosed 1 ml of Hydrogen Peroxide (3%) per 10 gallons for one week.  The wife noticed after 3-4 days, the Dino's no longer appeared on the rocks.

Long Term Solution:

  1. Reinstalled additional LED lighting over the in-tank refugium to help grow the Chaeto.  The Chaeto appears to be growing better now than without the additional lighting.


Note: Tisbe copepods were added to the tank on two different occasions prior so no additional ones were added.  If this wasn't the case, I'd highly recommend adding copepods to the tank.


We also added a frag of GSP today and 3 additional Zebra Turbo Snails.  I notice there's almost no coralline algae within this tank which is a stark contrast from the Office Nano Reef.  I'm wondering if part of the reason is because I dose Calcium and Alk daily on the Office Nano Reef while the School Nano Reef virtually gets almost no love except during my supervised visits every so often.


I'm hoping the GSP will grow by next week or so.  I purchased this GSP off Etsy of all places, lol, and it took the seller 5 days to ship it to me via "snail mail".  I slow dripped acclimated it and I'm hoping it'll survived, but the water in the bag stunk a bit so we'll see.  It's also a bit cold here in Pennsylvania so shipping corals slowly through the mail can be rough.


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Check off list for the School Nano Reef:


✔️ Decorated student facing side for the holiday season.





 ✔️ Purchased a big rock of Green Star Polyps from a new-to-me LFS and placed it right in the center.





 ✔️ Added another 2 large Turbo Snails (possibly of the Mexican Turbo Snail variety).


 ✔️ Noticed the new rock came with some Asterina Starfish.  Hoping they will multiply and add more diversity to the tank.


When I last checked, the Xenia has been pulsing quite well in this tank.  I also adjusted the lighting in the tank since it was in a poor position which wasn't over the GSP and there was also a piece of black rubber that was blocking much of the light.  I removed the rubber piece and the GSP started to open up a lot more.  Let's give it a few weeks to see if it turns more green (it looks a little more green on the tips in person) and I'm hoping the purple mat will start to grow and cover the rocks.


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