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AIO cube 27L : a work in progress


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Hello everyone, 


The story :

I wanted a simple reef tank, smaller than my 20g peninsula (Here), and an easier maintenance. The maintenance on the 20g wasn't too bad but I'm really lazy, while I love a clean looking tank. I realized than a 20g was a bit too much for my current place and motivation, especially if something goes bad and I need an emergency water change. 


The plan

  • A simple looking rockscape that I can eventually take out of the tank when needed, especially for deep cleaning 
  • Bare bottom
  • Enough stuff to make it simple to maintain (ATO, heater / fan with controler, etc.)
  • One or two pieces of euphyllia (probably hammer) / some zoas with colors complementary to euphyllia
  • At least one fish : a gobiodon or something similar


Current FTS



The system itself  :

  • I was happy to find a nice AIO Tank made by VIV :
    • 30cm x 30cm x 30cm
    • 27L / 7.5g




  • Filtration 
    • Chamber 1 : filter floss + media
    • Chamber 2 : Chaetomorpha + light
    • Chamber 3 : heater + return pump (sicce syncra nano)
  • Wavemaker : SLW-10
    • really close to the bottom, behind the rock so the flow breaks and generate random pattern
  • Light : AI prime 16
  • Controller for heater and usb fan
  • ATO : simple system with a floating switch


Livestock (so far)

  • zoanthids : Lord of the rings
  • zoanthids : Sunny D
  • zoanthids : citrus cooler
  • Red discosoma
  • Reddish rhodactis
  • sponges
  • 2 astrea snails
  • 1 other snail
  • 2 hermits
  • 2 hammer corals
  • 1 montipora
  • 1 paragobiodon 
  • 1 clownfish


Next steps 

  • refrain impulsive buying
  • wait till everything is thriving / growing
  • refrain impulsive buying
  • work on maintenance to get a routine
  • refrain impulsive buying
  • if everything goes right in the next few months, get more livestock
  • enjoy the tank while drinking a cold beer


Feedback so far :

  • Knowing what livestock I was focusing on (nice hammer coral, softies to complete) was essential for choosing the equipment
  • Testing the rockscape before gluing anything proved I'm shitty when it comes to measurements
  • Having owned both AOI tanks and external filter tanks, I knew what to expect to the equipment I ordered
  • Reefing is an addiction, but as long as you don't consume corals you should be ok


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I'm still missing a few things (that I will probable scavenge from the 20g) but I managed to get a pump and transfered one prime over the new tank. 


At least it's running. Pump is a bit loud at the moment, should be better in a few days. 

  • Please don't mind the cables, they should disappear soon enough. 
  • Rockscape has not reached its final form, but this will probably be the main rock in the tank.




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  • 3 weeks later...

As usual things did not go as planned. I emptied the 20g and now the remaining corals are in the 27l...waiting to be sold. 



I hope to sell them soon so I can really start anew with an improved rockscape for this tank. 


Meanwhile I'm trying to find a suitable return pump (currently running very small return with a wavemaker). The one I got malfunctionned and tried to electrocute me twice. 




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Things went my way for once. 

  • The good news : I managed to sell some of the remaining corals
  • The great news : I kept a rock with some shrooms / sponges along with 3 zoa frags I carefully selected

Which means that I currently run an established system. With some smaller dry rocks I managed to create a suitable (I hope) rockscape for the next steps. 








The next steps consist in :

  • Replacing the current return pump which is a bit weak for that tank. Ordered a sicce syncra nano. 
  • Adding a "second filtration loop" : with an external filter Eden 501), for more biological filtration, and a UV system (the filter will act as a pump for it). 
  • Adding 1 euphyllia + 1 gobiodon and some CUC. 

Everything will arrive wednesday. It should all be setup this week end. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

A few weeks back I had the very good idea to put a good amount of filter floss in the first chamber, hoping it would collect the mess floating around. It did, so well that the flow went down in the second and third chamber and to compense it the ATO emptied its tank. 

Having a small display tank and a small ATO saved me from a flood and most of the water just stood on the kallax shelf I used as a stand. If you never tried to drown a kallax shelf, well you should know they like water very much, by like I mean they will drink it and show you they did. 

Long story short, I wanted a new stand, with a size that would fit the tank. 


Went back to a kallax (when you don't play dumb with an ATO they are actually nice stand for nano tanks). They are also quite cheap. 

Drilled one hole for the ATO hose (going up from the bottom compartment) and another one for all the cables (well, a big one since I forgot the bracket was going to be there). 






I am pretty happy with the results. 






I also added the external filter, it has been cycling with some media for some weeks. Should help with stability. 

I have my eyes on two options for UV sterilizer. 


The bad news is that in the process of moving the tank, I manage to have a good look at the paragobion. He is really skinny and it confirmed my fear that he wasn't eating. 

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Water change today. Being able to take the rock out of the tank for a deep glass scraping makes cleaning really easy. 

The hammer seems to enjoy clean water. 

Giving the growth on the chaeto... I guess I feed to much. Yet the paragobiodon doesn't eat. 




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Yeah I tried different kind of foods : live, frozen, pellets, powder, plancton, etc. No luck.


I already had a fish with a similar behavior in the past wouldn't show itself, no respond to feeding and stress sign whenever they swim around. It ended up disappearing after a few months (with fishes this size, you never know if they are hiding or if the CUC got a nice meal). 


That's why I usually buy my fishes at the LFS. But mine has closed 😞


At least the corals look happy and the tank appears stable. 

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Weekly update :

  • Maintenance is getting easier
  • Heater decided that the controller was wrong about temperature so it wouldn't heat... It had to happen the first week in months the tank needed heating. 
  • Moved a zoa frag so it would get more light and avoid the shroom slowly spreading on it. Definitely seems happier now, so is the shroom with all the free space. 
  • Everything is going well in the tank, except the skinny fish which might be alive or not. That guy will show itself from time to time but hide as soon as I get near the tank to feed. 
  • I ordered some more livestock (there was a discount, it was the breaking point for my addiction, I couldn't resist any longer). 

I might ask a friend, who is actually equipped with more than a smartphone for photography, to show me how to improve my tank shots. 

In the meantime, you will have to do with these. 


I like these zoas, hope they will keep growing nicely. 



I might have to sell some rhodactis to leave space for other corals. Those pattern are really something when you look at them. 



And a full tank shot. The next additions should bring a bit more color, or so I hope. 



I am lurking around different sites in France / Europe to find a gold / golden / rainbow / ultra hammer, something to really catch the eye and work as a THE main coral of the tank. So far I only found "decent" ones or photos way crappier than mine.

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M. Tournesol
31 minutes ago, gen said:

I might ask a friend, who is actually equipped with more than a smartphone for photography, to show me how to improve my tank shots. 

In the meantime, you will have to do with these. 

For photo, I us an app that let me focus manually.

31 minutes ago, gen said:

France / Europe to find a gold / golden / rainbow / ultra hammer

A Green euphyllia could also be a good eye-catcher 

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12 hours ago, M. Tournesol said:

A Green euphyllia could also be a good eye-catcher

Yep, and that's actually a part of my last order 😄

I plan to take my time to find the kind of hammer I want an a main piece. Meanwhile, I can still pick up other pieces to build up a hammer garden. 


The gold nugget is a nice suggestion, but I m focusing on hammer and it looks like it turns out a bit greeny under blues (I know I'm picky). 

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So this weeke I recieved

  • A new hammer
  • A clownfish, wanted a baby, this one is not as small as expected but still small enough for this tank
  • A montipora (Kung pao), wasn't planned for this tank... But I saw it and could not resist

The purple / rose hammer is getting huge, I changed the location (4cm on the left) of the wavemaker and both hammers doubled in size since then. If you wonder how much flow matters, there you have your answer. It's trcicky however to get the perfect setting, especially in a small tank. 


Some top down shots





The beast



Dunno exactly were I will glue the Monti, might make something special for it. And I need to think about the main rock, some more shrooms might be nice near the rodhactis. 



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  • 2 weeks later...

Earlier this week,I found the big hammer had fallen on its "back". Didn't want to put it where it was to avoid another fall. 

In the meantime the Monti wasn't getting any flow. So I ended up switching things around :

  • Euphyllias in a corner : indirect flow and better tentacle movements (so far) 
  • Monti on top of the rock, I might leave it there, if it grows well it will become an eye catcher for sure 
  • WaveMaker a bit higher

It kinda leaves more space for further corals... I must resist for the time being. 



In the meantime, the zoas have started to multiply (the lord of the rings especially, that I fragged myself). 





Also you can't see it on the photos, but the paragobion still lives and hides under the zoas frags. Couldn't get a good look at it but it seems less skinny than before.

He is definitely less shy since I can see him hiding when I get near the tank. I am starting to think having another fish around (the clown) helped him get more confident. 

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  • 1 month later...

Today I am proud to announce I can add another dumb thing on my list of : "I should think twice before doing anything".


I knew I had some sand somewhere in my garage, and I was convinced it came from my previous tank. Turned out it was never used...never been in water and cleaned.


Instant regret.



Well it should clear up after a few hours.


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Well - apart from the montipora jumping from the top of the rock (I m pretty sure a snail is to blame), falling face first on a rhodactis and loosing the chemical warefare - the tank is going well.

I especially like how hammers look when they are happy (plus they are really good indicators that somethind is off when they don't expand as the should).





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