Jump to content
inTank Media Baskets


Recommended Posts

Welcome to my tank journal!

I've been out of the hobby for a few years, life got in the way with living overseas and moving around quite a lot. Now that i'm staying put I've really caught the bug again!

The purpose of this tank is a low maintenance, easy to care for pico tank that isn't going to bust the budget. I work away from home so time enjoying the tank is of the upmost importance. 

Initial set-up 10/11/2020


Latest FTS 14/03/21 :



Tank and current equipment:

 Refurbished bowl from opshop
Lighting: Unbranded 12 watt Par38 (e27 fitting Bulb) with cheap desktop stand - Purchased on Ebay or Similar available on Amazon
Heater: Marina beta (preset heater) - Similar available on amazon
Circulation: Tetra Whisper 60 Air pump - Purchased on Ebay
Top Off: Gravity fed bottle ATO - Purchased on Amazon
Lid: generic acrylic lid (needs to be modified)

Controller: INK bird ITC-306T temperature controller - Purchased on Amazon
Salt: Natural salt water collected locally from shoreline

Build Cost: AU $118 - (US $87.12 as of 29/11/20)

Temp: 25-26°C (~77-78°F)
Salinity: 1.025
Lighting cycle: 6.5 hours on (2:30pm ~ 9pm) - analogue timer

Current Stock:

Soft corals: 


more pics to come.....


Mixed Zoanthid Colony
Mixed Colony

Zoa Garden:

Zoa garden
Rasta's, Scrambled eggs, Sakura Sunrise, Ice Blues.









Macro Algae:



Blue Macro Algae (need identification):




Vanilla Strombus snail: 


FTS Library:





Rocks are in! 12/11/2020
Top Down: 
Initial Set-up:

Maintenance Routine: 



Scrape glass with nano magnet glass cleaner
- check/refill ATO with distilled water

- 70% water changes 1-2 times weekly with natural salt water collected locally from shoreline

- Top up ATO if required
- Rinse airstone, wipe airline with paper towel

- Wipe top of bowl with paper towel (skimmer scum build-up)
- Rinse off acrylic lid
- wipe external glass of salt creep/scum with warm water/white vinegar (50/50 mix)

Wish list/Future Upgrades:


- Lighting - AI Prime 16HD, Dymax spaceX LED, Asta 20

- Chiller/better temperature control

- In tank ATO - Bottle looks a bit messy (Maybe more lines will too :P)
- Black air lines (Aesthetic)
- Limewood airstone - finer bubbles = lesser splash?, better skimming effect?

- Dosing - as coral load increases
- Controller? - (Reef-pi maybe)
- Better Camera.....

- Bigger tank ;)

Thanks for visiting!

Link to comment
On 11/26/2020 at 11:51 PM, debbeach13 said:

Welcome to NR. Good luck with your new pico.

Thank you!

First time poster long time lurker 😛

Few new additions added today! Photo's to be added once they settle in


  • Like 2
Link to comment

So a little about the initial set up. This tank was actually set up a few weeks ago (10/11/20).

Basically wanted a really cheap/simple Pico that wasn't going to cost a fortune to get set up. It will also be interesting to test the limits as to what's possible in such a small tank as previously I've had larger (albeit still nano's) tanks.

It all started with a $2 bowl when shifting through an opshop near by. Originally it was going to do a pico shrimp tank of sorts but browsing through YouTube gave me other idea's...

So with that it mind I started searching for equipment.

The Bowl:

$2 super special! Some very light scratches but nothing to write home about and a very oversized acrylic disc purchased for a $3AUD on ebay to help limit evaporation.


Circulation: Being a small tank, a small air stone should suffice. I went with a Tetra Wisper 60 air pump - silence being key as its next to our bed! This was one of the more expensive components at about $30AUD

The Light:

The light fixture was purchased on Ebay for $12. Its a PAR38 (e27 screw in bulb) meaning it fit nicely into the existing bedside lamp fixture.
It runs 2 deep blue, 2 warm white, 1 UV and 1 Red at 12w


As you can see, the colour is quite red/purple.  The solution.... Colour the lends with black marker. Worked a treat!

Heater: cheap marina pre-set beta heater. I liked the small compact size. which should make it easy to hide. Picked up from eBay for around $10AUD

ATO: Again another cost effective solution. This ones taken from dog and cat bowls but works well. It uses air pressure differences to stabilize the water level via gravity. Picked up on Amazon for about $10-11AUD


Small problem with the ATO, the screw in fitting is a different size to our standard bottle size here so i had to find a very specific diameter to get it to fit. 

This guy fit perfectly

That's pretty much all it took to get my feet wet again!

First FTS:

Approximately 0.7kg live rock - 1kg purchased for $10. I swear the guy at the LFS thought i was nuts picking up 4 rocks but hey!

Total build cost so far: $77AU or ~$56US

  • Like 1
Link to comment

So a little more progress + new gear!


So big upgrade already... a temperature controller! Summer is fast approaching here and also stability is king in such a small tank. 

INK bird ITC-306T temperature controller
INK bird ITC-306T temperature controller


I never trusted the little heaters thermostat and just as well I didn't as the temperature was sitting just shy of 30 degrees!

So pretty nifty little unit, allows you to set a desired temp, and the tolerances down to 0 of when you want the heater to come on. Temps been dead on since installing it.

This unit is one of the older units, it has two heating output plugs and a single plastic probe.

Inkbird temperature controller

Inkbird temperature controller display

Picked it up on ebay for $41 bringing the total cost up to $118.

I also found this little hitchhiker:


Hitch hiker zoanthid
Little hitch hiker zoanthid

Link to comment

So its been about a month since the last post.

There's been a few changes to the positioning of a few of the corals but so far no new introductions! Everything is going well, shrooms and zoa's seems to be open and growing! I've noted a few new small polyps on a few of the colonies :biggrin:



Coral shots

Unfortunately, I haven't got a good picture of the xenia. It never seems to quite open the polyp's entirely however they seem to pulse intermittently and seem otherwise fully extended. I've never seen them with such curly polyps?

FTS 12/11/2020 

FTS close up 12/11/2020
Full tank shots 11/12/2020 - Return of the Cacti

No changes to hardware this month but in some exciting news I've ordered an Orphek macro lens kit with polarized filters from Amazon.

Orphek Aquarium lens kit

Orphek aquarium lens kit

Hopefully it arrives before Christmas fingerscrossed then I should be able to get a few better macro shots! (even with my poor camera skills)

  • Like 3
Link to comment

So im thinking of making a little zoa garden in the front area with the Rasta's.  its a little cramped for room but it should work. The only trouble is ill have to return the strombus snail to the LFS as i'm worried there wont be much surface area for food. Does anyone have much experience in the way of strombus and pico's?

Link to comment
2 hours ago, Tired said:

It looks really nice! Bold move putting xenia in there. 


No idea on the snail. 

Thanks! 😁Yeah we'll see how it goes. I'm hoping it doesn't take over!

Link to comment

So exciting news! The new Orphek macro lens arrived! came in a neat little carry bag with a foam insert to keep everything safe and a little lens cleaner.


Pretty neat little unit! Definitely need to experiment a little more with my camera settings on my phone.

if anyone has a Huawei P30 and some suggestions for shutter speed, iso and white balance that would be much appreciated :P

More excitedly there's some new addition to the tank!


Some eagle eyed people might notice them in the tank already ;)

Link to comment

love the setup, especially the ATO!!! i cant find it online though, probably using the wrong keywords or something lol. Can you share the link to it please?!? wanna get a couple of these!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
1 hour ago, Gunner24 said:

love the setup, especially the ATO!!! i cant find it online though, probably using the wrong keywords or something lol. Can you share the link to it please?!? wanna get a couple of these!

You can find it on Amazon Here

Link to comment

So I finally got around to taking a few photos and playing around with the new lens kit. So far I must say pretty impressed, definitely adds a lot more clarity to up close photos.


I thought the new acans came out well


These are the zoa's at the top of the tank. Anyone got an ID for me?

With the new coral additions I've made a little garden at the front of the tank. Will be good to see how it grows out!

Zoanthid Garden
The Rasta's are taking over!


The long awaited sort of pulsing xenia! 



The polyps never really open much more than this but it looks really fluffy and happy otherwise. Is this pretty normal?

Finally, the standard FTS update as of the 23/12/20

Full tnak shot 23/12/20

You can see the other zoa's (Sakura sunrise) in the top of this photo


Link to comment

The zoas look like one of the Hawaiian species. I can't tell the difference between the few ones I've seen pictures of, and frankly I don't know that it matters. 


Xenia can be weird. Different people have wildly varying results, anywhere from "open and pulsing madly" to "melted in a week". As long as it's puffy and looks like it's at least thinking about growing, I wouldn't worry about it.

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
8 hours ago, I'm Batman said:

Nice pico!! Did those Xenia’s ever start pulsing for ya? 

Thank you!


Yeah sort of. They actual polyp part of the coral never fully opens but they do pulse slightly within that limited amount. But the base and arms are all extended so it seems pretty happy

8 hours ago, Tired said:

The zoas look like one of the Hawaiian species. I can't tell the difference between the few ones I've seen pictures of, and frankly I don't know that it matters. 

Yeah not even slightly! Was only out of curiosity! 


Yeah it's doing well. If you look closely at the top down there's actually a tiny xenia polyp on the rock near the other zoa's. So must be doing something well! 

Link to comment
  • 1 month later...

sorry long time no post! Just a quick little update!

The reef bowl is still going reasonably well! have had some minor hiccups of late though.


The major issue being that there's been quite a few hot days recent and the tank has gotten quite warm at around 29 degrees Celsius! I'm trying to come up with idea's to chill the tank that wont be an eyesore. The good news is it doesn't seem to have worried any of the inhabitants! 

The other is both the red and blue mushrooms have detached from their respective rocks. I put the red mushroom down the crevasse near the xenia and it seems to have reattached itself for now. The blue mushroom is bigger then ever but is now living on the sand... Glad the flow in this tank is low

Otherwise is been fairly smooth sailing! as expected the xenia is growing and spreading, and likewise the unidentified blue macroalgae that came on the mushroom rock seems to be taking off! 

Enough talk! on to the part everyone wants... Photo's!


Zoa Garden:
Zoa Garden

Zoanthids: Rasta's, scrambled eggs, sakura sunrise & ice blue's 


Looking super fluffy!

Pulsing Xenia

It has 3 separate colony's now....

Green Torch:

Green Torch Coral
btw i bought a torch.....

Blue Macro:

Blur macro algae

If anyone is able to ID this it would be much appreciated. Quickly becoming one of my favorite pieces in the tank, the blues are iridescent and pictures really don't do it justice. 

FTS 7/2/21:


nano bowl full tank shot



And that's it! Pretty happy with how everything is growing out. Still sticking with 1-2 ~70% water changes weekly and thats about it.

Now on to the really bad news... Our lease is up in a couple of weeks time where I'm currently living meaning I'll have the scary task of moving the tank.... fingers crossed it all goes well!

  • Like 2
Link to comment

'Worked a treat!"

I'm going to steal this phrase, even though I'm 'Murican.

Acans looking very good.  These bowl threads always make me wish I worked a desk job so I could set one up.

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
9 hours ago, growsomething said:

'Worked a treat!"

I'm going to steal this phrase, even though I'm 'Murican.

Acans looking very good.  These bowl threads always make me wish I worked a desk job so I could set one up.

Yeah we have a few weird sayings down here :P

Just build one anyway! ;) I'm sure there's a desk somewhere you may occasionally do work at right?...

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

Quick little update! Officially moved! Bit stressful but no spills! Did a big water change to remove any toxins from the stress of the move and another a couple days later. Have been away all week with work so i'm hoping everything settled in ok.

 So i emptied about 20% of the tank and covered it in cling wrap and then taped that down with packing tape. Surprisingly effective.



Before                                                                                              After

One of the xenia stalks sort of dethatched where one of the rocks shifted. Must say really disappointed with the frag mate glue. Really hasn't held anything well.

I hope to get a few new photo's up shortly! Also might start a poll on what the next light upgrade should be!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
  • 4 weeks later...

So small little update,

Haven't had any new additions to the tank for a while, toying up with the idea of getting a minimaxi carpet anemone and an anemone shrimp but concerned about the stability of the system.

Otherwise one small upgrade. I purchased a large airstone from a small aquarium store for $3.95. Its about 3 times the size of the last stone. I was getting a small amount of algae on the glass and a little bit of cyano on the rocks so figured more flow might be a good idea. 

Significantly more surface agitation.

I'm hoping the increased flow and possible improvements to ORP will help keep the Cyano at bay.

In some bad news, we have our first casualty to the tank. The torch purchased last month is not looking to good. A lot of the tissue has retracted and most of the skeleton is exposed now. Oddly enough since putting the new stone in last week it hasn't receded anymore however, i don't like its chances.

Otherwise the zoa's are going well! The rasta's are taking over the bottom part of the scape. The scrambled eggs finally have new polyps and even the unkown zoa's at the top of the tank have come good. I've finally been able to get a good shot of them so if anyone is able to identify a name i would be over the moon!

Unkown Zoa
Unkowne Zoa's

Zoa garden

Top Down


Link to comment

Another post mainly because i forgot to take a FTS last time :P As you can see things are growing out quite well (except my poor torch). Xenia is now 3 heads (instead of 2) with a few little shoots where it had previously detached itself from and the mystery blue marco kinda hides around the back of the tank.

Sorry the glass isn't super clean for the photo's

Hopefully this gives a little more perspective on where everything is in the tank.


Top down

Right Side

Left side

For all those wondering the Acans are now on the right side of the tank behind the xenia. They looks a bit grump with the torch being so close.

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recommended Discussions

  • Create New...