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9 to 5 Fat and sassy GBGs!


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Fat and Sassy GBGs!


Hello! Welcome to my little tank contest entry! This tank is starting on the heels of a recent crash I experienced in my 3 gal picotope. I have two separate heaters malfunction and cook that little tank to an excess of 90 degrees. I’ll be putting what may be able to be saved into this tank, but it may melt before it recovers. I hope to go lower budget with this tank, possibly moving some trimmings from my big tank, bargain frags at the store, or trading what survives the crash for additional frags. So far this tank has been fairly easy going with a few hiccups here and there. It survived my absence of 1 week with my fiancé’s care. Sadly we may have lost a green banded goby during that time period and the resulting issues led to the death of my little scoly. After recovering from the chemistry issues ending the scoly, I I have slowly been adding small frags from my main tank as coral grow off their individual plugs.  The zoanthids and palys really have started to flourish on the rockwork and the mushrooms are some of my favorite coral to place in my tanks. The green banded gobies are very personable and spend most of the day bouncing around the tank and eating micro crustaceans as they find them. The coral banded shrimp also periodically explores the tank and no longer just hides behind the rockwork all day long. I hope to continue to maintain this little reef and let it grow in densely. The overgrown look of picos has always been my favorite. I love how the tiny gobies and shrimp appear to dart amongst the jungle and may stop to perch on a mushroom to peek around. 


Current Full Tank Shot:


May 12:



May 10:


April 30:


April 27:


April 16:


March 31:


February 28:


January 30:


December 31:


November 28:


October 22:




Contest Entry Picture:





  • PicO 5 gal aquarium (Oldie, but a good tank!)
  • Nanobox Tide with Storm Controller(Seem to have some hard to find equipment!)
  • Hygger HG-916 heater (Please don’t explode)
  • Smart ATO micro
  • Inkbird Temperature Controller
  • IM Spinstream
  • A very old return pump that the labels have disappeared on
  • Flipper Pico glass cleaner/scraper



  • 2 3 Greenbanded Gobies
  • 2 tiny blue hermit crabs
  • Blue coral banded shrimp
  • Many snails including baby trochus snails & nassarius
  • Purple photosynthetic sponge
  • Mangrove
  • Zoanthids
    • CC Alien blueberry zoas
    • Pikachu zoas
    • Unnamed zoas
  • Palythoas
    • Grandis Palys
    • CC Fairy Fart
    • Magician Palys
    • Halle Berry Palys
    • Purple People Eaters
    • Unnamed Palys
  • Aussie mint chocolate chip torch
  • Photosynthetic gorgonian frag
  • Spacecakes Favia
  • Unnamed Acan
  • Unnamed lepto frag
  • Birdsnest or Stylo
    • Purple polyps
    • Green polyps
  • Mushrooms
    • Three different rhodactis morphs - Purple with blue rim, green with orange rim, orange and blue with yellow rim
    • Two purple Disco
    • Purple and green Yuma with yellow mouth
    • Two Leopard spot Disco - very small
      • Note that all of these went through two different heater malfunctions, each resulting in temps >90 degrees. These may all melt. 😞



  • Spaghetti worms- I know that they can be great cleanup crew, but there are way too many of them in such a small tank and they irritate the coral (and me).
  • VERY large bristle worms-this tank could handle small bristle worms, but there are at least two giant worms that I have been trying to catch and remove.
  • Bubble algae- This is just annoying in such a tiny tank. It is hard to remove them in the limited space without accidentally popping them.


Future Plans:

  • I want to continue adding small bits of coral to get most of the rockwork covered. I would also like to continue propagating the mushrooms until they cover most of the sand bed. In my older 3 gal tank, there was an entire corner of the tank covered in the large rhodactis mushrooms. It looked lovely, the fish prefered to perch there, and it really added a wild look to the tank that was perfect in such a small space.
  • I would love to try some sexy shrimp someday, maybe if I can get a much larger population of plays/zoas and mushrooms they wouldn’t pick on the zoas enough to damage them? I am not sure if I could fit a mini-max carpet anemone in here, but that would be another option to give them a place to hang out.


Maintenance Routine:

  • Maintenance is fairly low-key. I have been doing regular massive water changes on my 30gal tank which sits only about 7 feet from this small tank. After I change the water in the big tank, I then take the remaining 3ish gallons and change out the water in this tank as well. 
  • I use a turkey baster to stir up the sand bed a little and to blow any detritus off of the rockwork and out of the back of the tank.
  • Any easily accessible bubble algae is removed as carefully as possible. If I can, I’ll remove whatever it is on to put the bubbles off, if one happens to pop I rinse the frag off with some clean saltwater before putting it back into the tank.
  • Spaghetti worms are pulled out at regular intervals to keep the population down.
  • Frags are moved around or glued down after I have cut a little off to make a second frag, or they have been verified as having no pests attached.
  • Filter floss is changed in the back at the top of the second chamber.
  • Chemi-pure blue nano is changed as needed in the lower part of the second chamber



  • Reef nutrition R.O.E.
  • Reef nutrition Oyster feast
  • Reef nutrition Tigger Pods (added at least once a month)
  • Reef nutrition Mysis feast
  • Red Sea Reef Energy AB+
  • Seachem Shrimp Flakes
  • Aquaforest LPS food
  • Sinking pellets for the shrimp



  • This little tank has done very well for me over the past several months. It is very satisfying to see the growth in the coral colonies, and how fat and happy the gobies are. The gobies and the coral banded shrimp have become much less shy as the months have gone on and I really enjoy having this tank right beside me as I finish out some of my homework for my masters classes. I have always been a very tiny tank lover and this tank is no exception. It is amazing how the growth from a tiny frag really fills in the tank quickly and makes it feel like a lush underwater rainforest. The tiny inhabitants complement the tank nicely and are almost always visible. I tend to stick to easier coral in such a small tank since the water stays a bit dirty from feeding the fish and shrimp. This really helps the mushrooms and the zoas/palys thrive. This was my first time putting a favia into any tank and I was initially extremely worried about it stinging everything to death! Surprisingly it hasn’t acted aggressive in any way the entire time that it has been in the tank. The tentacles that I do see on it occasionally are very small and appear to be little feeders instead of sweepers. I hope to continue this tank at least for the remainder of the year to let it fill in as lush as possible. 


What I would do differently in the future:

  • Make sure that I am not introducing bubble algae into this tank. Or take care of it VERY aggressively in the beginning.
  • Maybe I should have ordered 4 Green Banded Gobies to help spread the aggression out a little more. I don’t have any proof that is what happened to the third goby, but that is the most likely scenario.
  • Place more trust in my fiancé that he could have fed something else other than flake food the entire time I was gone on my trip. Although this tank didn’t suffer as much, the scoly certainly died because of a HUGE spike in phosphates that I have been working on since then. 
  • Probably mount the chocolate chip torch up somewhere higher before placing all of the other frags on top of the rockwork. At this point I’m not sure where I can put the torch without it stinging everything.






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  • Like 4
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Here is my entry picture. This tank had been set up as a hospital tank for a couple of pink streaked wrasse that arrived to my house last week! After they were safely into the large tank, I broke it back down to start the contest!


  • Like 6
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30 minutes ago, Jaren45 said:

Sold it for my current tank, an IM 30g ext. Just wanted a sump, really. And more room can never hurt

Oooh! My large tank is a IM30L! The IM tanks are great quality, I’ve had two IM10s also. I have never set up a sump though.

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8 hours ago, debbeach13 said:

Sorry about the heater malfunction. Good luck in the contest. A pretty good reason to restart the tank. I hope the coral recover for you.

Thank you for the well wishes! I cannot believe two separate cobalt heaters malfunctioned back to back in the tank. The mushrooms look a bit better than the gsp, hopefully at least the mushrooms pull through!

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Update: It has been an incredibly rainy day here. I did not notice that the lights never came on until around 6pm. Upon investigation I saw that one of the prongs had been pulled out of a plug when I knocked my power strip off the wall last night. Someone helped me locate a replacement on Amazon so I’ve got my fingers crossed that the light will work on Tuesday when it arrives!

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The new cord came in on Tuesday evening. Now after two full light cycles, I really do not think the GSP will recover. One rhodactis did end up melting, but it looks like the other mushrooms are hanging on for now. I’m quite bummed about the mushroom to be honest. I got it from a fantastic shop in Denver! Sadly we just don’t have a lot for coral selection here in the Midwest. But I am thankful that I didn’t lose everything.

  • Like 1
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Sorry to here about your heater malfunctions. Have you thought about getting a heater controller as a safeguard? I have an inkbird on my 5g and it controls the heater and cooling fan. I know nothing is totally fail safe but 2 heaters in a row is just really bad luck

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5 hours ago, ef4life said:

Sorry to here about your heater malfunctions. Have you thought about getting a heater controller as a safeguard? I have an inkbird on my 5g and it controls the heater and cooling fan. I know nothing is totally fail safe but 2 heaters in a row is just really bad luck

Yes I have considered it. I actually have an older inkbird on my large tank that I could move over. To be fair to the heaters, they were both older ones I had sitting around. Maybe on an upcoming paycheck I’ll pick up an inkbird just in case. 

Update for the first of November, I have removed all of the gsp. It was melting and not likely to recover. The single zoa frag has also melted completely. The mushrooms are hanging in there although they have bleached a little. I turned down the settings on my light to help them recover. Surprisingly, my purple plating sponge went through the heatwaves no sweat, same with the two trochus snails!







  • Like 3
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I made it back home with 6 new frags. The newest frags are in my large tank to grow a little bit, then they might get to move into the 5 gal. But for now I needed to make some room so I moved over a few small frags into this tank. I need to find a couple good spots to glue them down on! The mushrooms are still pale, but haven’t melted yet so I’m holding out hope for them. The monti is also a damaged frag from the 30g.







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  • 2 weeks later...

I believe I can glue down a few of these frags tonight and possibly move over one ore two more from the big tank. I’d love a nice flowing coral in here, possibly a Duncan or maybe even a little torch/hammer frag. 


As for inhabitants, I’ve not really been able to make up my mind. I would love a little group of 3 green banded gobies! But I haven’t seen those little guys for sale in quite awhile, I’m not sure if I need to be checking other sources, but I remember them being more plentiful a few years ago.


I have also considered a blue coral banded shrimp or a gold coral banded shrimp. I have had the blue coral banded before, I LOVE how tiny they are, but mine didn’t spend a ton of time out in front of the tank or wandering around. If I do get one of these, it would be nice to have a tiny fish to go with it to add a bit more movement. Possibly a trimma goby of some type? 


Opinions on these options are all welcome! 🙂

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update with a few frags glued down to the rock work. The baked mushrooms continue to improve. I am shocked that the one on the right side of the tank is still hanging in there, it looked like a goner when I moved everything into the tank. The only inhabitants are just the two snails. I had a suggestion from another reefer for a possum wrasse. So I’ll be on the lookout for a possum wrasse or some GBGs. 


Does anyone know if the IM spinstreams get stuck regularly? I cannot get mine to move at the moment and I’m not quite sure what happened to it.

Here are some photos so far:



And here is my full tank shot for the end of November!


  • Like 2
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Small update for the beginning of December! I went to a LFS with the intention of buying some Restor from Brightwell Aquatics. It is marketed as helping with corals who have bleached for a variety of reasons including excessive heat. So I figured I may as well give it a shot!


While I was there I found this tiny Yuma that is perched on top of a bivalve of some type. I originally wanted to bring home just the one mushroom, but the two blue mushrooms were attached to it also. Of course that means I ended up with all three of them! :lol: 


I’m really hoping the little bivalve is still alive. I have one in a zoa colony in my 30g tank and it has done fairly well over the years!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well today I did get an Inkbird temperature controller. It is currently all set up and running. I feel a lot better now that I have a better way to monitor this little tank. Things just can get out of whack so quickly in such a small tank it’s nice to have a little peace of mind.


I also have some great news about the bivalve, it does appear to be alive, I have seen it open slightly on a number of occasions like in the picture below. One of the blue mushrooms has also moved off of the rock so it has a tiny bit more space to open. No new inverts or coral though as of today though. 



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  • 2 weeks later...

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! I hope you are all doing well as we near the end of the year. 

I did make an order with John from Reefcleaners! He always has the best cleaners and I’m very pleased with my snails  to help keep both of my tanks clean. I also got a new little buddy for this PicO! 


A tiny gold coral banded shrimp! I asked John to find one with as blue of legs as he could, and I couldn’t be happier with his selection! There are also some coral that will be arriving after the first of the year. They are my Christmas present from my SO!  I will need to do a lot of rearranging at that time, so plenty of frags will be popping over to this tank! 🙂 :flower: 

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I just want to say that I’m so glad I got the InkBird. I feel like I can breathe and not worry that the tank is wildly out of control. I have a little bit of cyano on the sand bed, so I’ll be working on keeping that stirred up. 

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Full tank update for the end of December. I didn’t get a chance to post it with everything that has been going on lately around my house. Everything is going very well so far! The bleached mushrooms haven’t gained much color back, but they do look a lot better overall! The little shrimp is doing great, he loves munching on the little pellets I give him. The cyano is also slowly being beat back slowly. 


The tank looks a little upset in the picture since it was taken post water change. I will have some new surprises coming in this week and next week for this tiny tank! All of them are Christmas presents.



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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Merthynia changed the title to 9 to 5 Fat and sassy GBGs!

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