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Coral Vue Hydros

Pico Reef LA 4.1


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Hello everyone,

I recently made a lifestyle change after having a few small reef tanks in my house. Long story short, I made the switch and chose to go full time RV about a year ago. I sold all of my furniture, including all of my reefing supplies and tanks, thinking a small reef was impractical in a RV. As many of you know, the “reefing itch” never leaves you once it hooks you lol. After some irrational mixed with rational thoughts and planning, I am happy to say that I have set up a pico reef…in the Airstream! One of the best parts about this reef is that if I do decide to travel somewhere in the RV for a weekend, the pico can be completely taken down and transferred to a stable environment with one 5 gallon bucket. For some that may remember, I used to have the same tank setup as a pico reef before I moved, but I will be using different equipment this time. Here is a breakdown of my tank and equipment…

-Lifegard Aquatics 4.1 AIO

-Kessil A80 tuna blue

-25 watt heater

-ReefBreeders Prism ATO


-Sicce nano return pump (100gph)

-5 lbs Caribsea life rock

-Hawaiian live black sand

-Red Sea coral pro salt

-InTank media basket

-Kraken Reef custom lid

-BRS 4 stage RODI

As far as the media basket filtration, I have one Chemipure nano packet, additional minor amount of Red Sea carbon, one bio ball, and some poly filter balls that are from a desktop IM purity pack. I only use the filter balls from the pack. Fits perfect in the media basket and is easy enough to rinse out 2x/week.

I set this tank up at the beginning of August with a fishless cycle, added a raw shrimp from the local grocery store. The guys face was priceless when I asked him for only one shrimp at the seafood deli. 

Yea, just one man! I’m on a strict diet!

I added Dr. Tim’s one and only to get things going. My ammonia spiked up to about 8ppm using an API test kit, so I took the shrimp out after three days. The whole initial cycle took about 26 days to complete.

The maintenance plan for this tank will be minimal, including a 75% water change every week, siphoning sand and back chambers as needed.

When I was planning this tank, I had thought about making it a zoa dominated softie tank. I have since decided to make it a mixed reef complete with goniopora varieties, high end zoas, and maybe some easier SPS. As of right now, I have a few zoa varieties, a neon green goni, baby fungia, and probably my favorite so far, a Koji Wada pink nepthea. I added a few small trochus snails to start doing their thing. As far as fish, I picked up a baby neon dottyback who absolutely loves being the only fish in the tank. I can tell that he has a lot of attitude for as small as he is. Currently at about an inch long, he is the king of the reef.

Current parameters-

Salinity 1.025 (Hanna), temp 78.9 (Hanna), ALK 12.5 (Hanna) phosphates 0.11 (Hanna), nitrates 2 (Salifert). I plan to use the Red Sea kit for calcium and Aquaforest for magnesium. Just haven’t picked up those two yet. Last time around, I used the Red Sea blue bucket salt, but decided to switch it up and try the Red Sea coral pro with higher ALK this time. It will be neat to compare growth and color vs using the blue bucket.

I plan on attending Reefapalooza-Texas here in a few weeks and am really excited about it. I am hoping to pick up some fire and suck up some deals going on!

Well, I think that sums things up for now. Thanks for checking out my setup. I have attached a few pics of my current setup, and one from before3B553F5F-9BD4-4DE1-8123-EC562D22E56B.thumb.jpeg.570303a8a9a2b9b086c6624287fa6bda.jpeg1B3985B2-0640-4CB2-963C-0C6616A0C85B.thumb.jpeg.ab0b2adef81a76717a1875f8beedf0c5.jpeg6C19A787-2AC2-49D1-9F1F-A43F879BD3BC.jpeg.45881126c63c19a96ea7fb0757ae9779.jpegA47FF76C-A42E-4425-819C-36A99574ADCB.thumb.jpeg.c4b03c2353092888ba494f82e68fa657.jpeg4214C82B-82B2-49EE-86EF-D43D2B0BB792.thumb.jpeg.65e1fa32887c7b14b73f23752ed95125.jpeg

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Hey there! I appreciate it. I really missed the hobby and everything that goes into it, although I was happy to be able to rehome all my livestock from last go around to fellow hobbyists. I’ll definitely be posting some updates on the thread.


As far as living the dream, I will not argue with you. Every time I go “home” to the Airstream, I feel like I’m on vacation. Perception is reality I guess. 😃 

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Hey there, yea that’s me on MARSH too. I’ve been doing full time RV for over a year now. Who knows what the future might hold, but in the meantime, I really enjoy it. It’s a lifestyle choice for me vs a requirement. I’ve always liked small living spaces, such as tiny homes.😄

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  • 1 month later...

Hello everyone, just wanted to give an update on the progress of my pico reef! Currently, the tank has been setup for coming up on 4 months now. Things have been responding well to the weekly 75% water changes. I changed it up a bit as far as rinsing off the filter sock/filter balls. I started out rinsing 2x/week, but have reduced to cleaning once per week during water changes. Switching to once per week has allowed my nitrates to hover around 5ppm and phosphates anywhere from 0.01-0.1 using one chemi pure blue nano packet in the media basket. I also stopped using additional Red Sea carbon inside a mesh bag. The nano packet does the trick as far as water clarity, eliminating the need for additional. Other than those two things, my routine/maintenance has been the same. I am starting to see some good corraline growth on the plastic bits of the tank. I want this tank to thrive with minimal maintenance on my part. So far so good I would say.

I was able to go to Reefapalooza-Texas and pick up a few corals. For the most part, most of the corals have been doing good. I did have a couple frags with some aiptasia. I tried to superglue some of them with success, but only to see new ones pop up. As much as I wanted to try and save the frags, I ended up tossing them to save the reef from an outbreak. Some of the newest additions are some JF gobbstoppers, pink goni, small clam, rainbow monti, purple stylo, green/yellow milli, rainbow plate, pink constellation zoas, purple monster zoas, rainbow acan, small RFA, clove polyps, and a few others. I purchased the clam from “clam mania” at RAP. This guy has some amazing clams like you wouldn’t believe! The clam is an ultra blue measuring at about 2 inches. I have always loved clams because of their mesmerizing colors as well as their natural water filtering skills. My daughter named my neon dottyback “Astro”, who is doing well and enjoying being the king of the reef. He is really cool to watch and has been growing well. My favorite coral is the Kodi Wada pink nepthea! Anyone who has one of these, probably understands why. In the mornings when the sun shines through my window, the nepthea fluoresces pink, then turns purplish throughout the day. This piece is incredible with natural light. The newest member of the reef is my orange/red starfish. Not sure of the exact species, I was told linckia from the LFS. He was named “Orbit”, another awesome name from my daughter. He is a bit bigger than what I was looking for, but seems to have adjusted well. I am hoping to have him for at least a year. I have heard many horror stories about starving, losing limbs, etc. He is definitely interesting to observe! I love how they wave one limb in the water, catching microscopic organisms in the current. Wish him well for me! Please?

Parameters have been almost spot on. I still haven’t tested Calcium or Magnesium. Here’s what I have…

Salinity 1.026
Temp 77-78
ALK 10.7 (Red Sea coral pro)
Phosphates 0.01-0.1
Nitrates 2-5

The plan for this pico is to maybe add a few more small corals, keeping them happy, and watching it grow out. The fastest growing coral for me so far has been the purple monsters. Easily 25-30 polyps on this plug now. Loving the growth. I think that’s it for now reefers, thanks for reading and following along. I have attached a few pics. Thanks for checking out my pico reef!


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  • 4 weeks later...

Really neat. Always liked the idea of a portable tank, even if it needs a tight lid to keep from splashing down the road. The motion is more natural, of course :)

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Thanks for checking out my reef. This tank is stationary since the Airstream is parked and connected to hookups. Bumping down the road with a reef tank is a whole other thread haha. If I move the Airstream, the reef would be transferred to a stable place. 😃

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  • Daniel92481 changed the title to Pico Reef LA 4.1

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