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Riding the Wave with Reef Casa: My Studio 12 Saltwater Build 🌊


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Well let me just say dino sucks… it got pretty severe and hideous with long bubbly strands all over the corals, the rock, the sand, and even sticking to the walls of the tank, but thankfully I seemed to get a type that was not toxic to fish so Hank and Marshall (the possum wrasse) are still doing okay… my approach has not been scientific at all, I’ve seriously tried every strategy, practically all at once:


added matrix media

heavier feedings

dosing phosphate 

dosing microbacter 7

dosing biospira

water changes with nutriseawater

adding live pods

adding live phytoplankton 

using a UV sterilizer

adding purple helix coralline

no tank lights for 3 days


The dino seems to be clearing up these past few days.


I’ve been so stressed out about the dino that I haven’t been posting or taking many pics, but I’m hoping the tank is on a good trajectory now and hoping to have more time to take pics and post updates. 


Also, we took our generator (that we’ve had for a year or so) out of its box for the first time this past weekend and assembled it in case we need to fire it up for tank life support if we lose power… hopefully we won’t have to use it.


In the meantime I have also started a blog… here’s a link if you want to check it out… hoping to post info that will be helpful to new reefers… it’s still a work in progress.


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Thanks Deb, yes, two weeks!! We were really busy with house projects we were working on the week after Christmas, then my mom had to come stay with us for a couple days after she had major oral surgery, then assembling our generator, then working on the blog and dealing with the dino.

So it has taken about two weeks to clear up the dino. I’m not totally sure why I got it so bad in this tank, but I did this start really differently than all my others.

I usually use Caribsea Liferock and add numerous sources of beneficial bacteria to a new tank, but in this case I used the regular dry rock and wanted to find out how long the Reef Casa beneficial bacteria would take, so I didn’t add my usual mix of bacteria. I suspect the issue was that I just didn’t have the diversity of competing microorganisms that I usually have in a new tank to keep the dino in check.


Next time I will go back to using the Nutriseawater and a couple of brands of beneficial bacteria for good measure. I usually do this because I figure there are a lot of things that can happen during shipping and storage of beneficial bacteria products that could potentially harm the bacteria (temperature extremes), so I like to have backup… plus I think different brands may use different strains of bacteria.

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13 minutes ago, debbeach13 said:

How goes the battle?

Hi, Deb, thanks for checking in!! I think I may have defeated the dino. 😅 Hank and Marshall are doing fine and I picked up a beautiful sea fan last weekend. Also doing something creative with the lighting. I will plan to post an update tonight or tomorrow. 

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So… where to start… the battle with the dino has been such a pain… glad it’s getting under much better control, but it’s still not fully cleared up... I think I jinxed myself yesterday when I said it was cleared up.  I’m doing a water change tomorrow and I’ll add more beneficial bacteria.


Heres a pic from back on January 4th… it was much worse than this, but I don’t think I have any photos from when it was at its worst.



I kept the lights off for a few days and that helped, but the rock flower anemones did not like it, especially the green one which was wandering around in search of light and would climb to the highest peak. It was incredible to turn the lights back on for it and see how rapidly it flattened back out! 



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I ended up losing the yellow anacropora (the yellow SPS coral next to the RFA in the pic above) that I had gotten from the local reefer with the 450 gallon tank, but I have another frag of it from him in my biocube 32,  so hopefully I’ll be able to get a frag of it from my 32 once this tank is more stable and dino free.


I also ended up deciding to take the pink birdsnest out of this tank because I didn’t really care for the coloration, and in addition I took out the neon green sinularia because I got my new coral I wanted to put in its place. 

Which brings me to my new addition… it’s a sea fan! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sea fan at any of my LFSs before… they have a reputation of being extremely difficult to keep. They got it in about two to three months ago, right as I was getting ready to start this tank. It was glorious when they got it… its polyps were fully open for the first few weeks when I went to the store.

I loved it but I didn’t want to get a coral that would be too hard to keep and I didn’t have the tank ready yet so I just figured it wasn’t meant to be… I was sure someone would swoop it up before my tank would be ready for it.

But apparently it was meant to be… because no one else swooped it up… even though, in my opinion, it was the most beautiful coral in the store. I had decided that it must be hardier than I had expected… the polyps stopped opening up over a month ago but it still looked like it was in nice shape. They had relocated it to the emerald crab tank and two different times I went to the store there was an emerald crab on it, cleaning off algae. 




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So here’s the sea fan in the tank, after I placed it on the rock last Sunday.



You my notice from that pic that I accidentally fragged the middle branch off of the bubblegum digitata… bums me out because the shape was so pretty before but I keep telling myself it will grow back. 

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The sea fan has been getting some algae growth along with some dino. I was hoping my (gigantic) emerald I already have in this tank would clean it, but he hasn’t shown any interest so I’ll probably try to pick up a couple of small females tomorrow to see if they will take care of it. Emeralds were really important in caring for my spider sponge in my Biocube 16.

I do worry about whether the sea fan will do okay in the tank, but today the polyps started to open a tiny bit, so I’m hopeful. 








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6 hours ago, debbeach13 said:

Oh my. I hope that fan does well for you. It adds so much to the tank. Color and depth. 

Yeah, thanks, I hope it does well. I didn’t want to just leave it at the LFS… they have some spider sponges and nonphotosynthetic gorgonians they’ve had in stock for months that are slowly dying and I didn’t want to see that happen to this beautiful coral since there didn’t seem to be any other takers. (The guy that worked there that bagged it up for me said he actually thought it was a resin decoration!) I guess there must not be many reefers that shop there that keep these types of corals/sponges. 

Now I’m debating what to do about flow for this tank. Right now I just have the stock pump, which is about 200 gph, and the stock return nozzle.

I also have a mini UV sterilizer hooked up to the pump, but I haven’t been using it lately since I’ve been adding various forms of beneficial bacteria and I don’t want to kill them off. As you can see from the pic I had to come up with a way to attach the UV sterilizer inline between the pump and return nozzle.






I was thankful for my trusty bucket of odds and ends and spare parts I’ve saved and I was able to use some of the the tubing and U connectors from my chiller I had in the Biocube 16. Do you guys all have buckets or boxes like this? I feel like it’s a kind of junk drawer for reefers. 




Anyway, it made me a bit nervous with the tubing like that… I kept envisioning it detaching and all the water from my tank shooting out like a fountain so I ordered some moisture detectors. Should’ve had these behind my tanks before… you can see how hosed the wood flooring already is from years of drips and spills that went unnoticed. 



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Now I have several flow and filtration options to choose from:



I had ordered (and paid for) a Flipper Float Nano and one of their two-armed random flow generators for the tank from Reef Casa:






When March at Reef Casa sent the items I purchased, he generously also sent me a second box of their precut filter floss plus their House Keeper media rack to test out! The media rack looks nice. 



So for now, this is what I think I’ll do:

  • swap out the stock filter floss shelf that comes with the tank for the upgraded media rack and use the rack for filter floss, Chemipure Elite, and Purigen which I like to run in all my tanks
  • keep the stock pump (with the temporary UV sterilizer still attached so I have it in case I want to use it on the dino again), and add the random flow generator

One thing I know from using a different random flow generator in the past is that they seem to reduce the flow. But the stock pump is pretty high flow for this tank to begin with, so it may work out as is. If not, I do have the two Sicce pumps on hand to try out, one with a slightly lower flow than the stock pump (185 gph), and one with slightly higher flow than stock (251 gph).


This is what I’m weighing with the flow though, especially because of the sea fan. Sea fans do typically need moderate to higher flow to keep clean and are filter feeders that need to grab their food out of the water column. (I also hope to get a feather duster for this tank in the future.)

  • one one hand, it’s nice to not have a wavemaker taking up space in the tank, needing to be cleaned, and with the potential for small livestock to get sucked in
  • on the other hand, during feeding, I like to be able to run a wavemaker with the filtration pump turned off so I can swirl the food around the tank for my filter feeders… without a separate powerhead/wavemaker, I don’t have this option

I’m leaning toward adding a wavemaker and already have a couple of really good ones on hand that I can make use of: a hygger mini and a jebao slw-10.


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Okay, so I just took the stock pump out to check it out more closely and see if I could use @seabass’s tips to get it open since both @debbeach13 and I had been unable to take it apart. 

And it worked, I got it open - thanks again, @seabass!!


Here’s a link to my post in @debbeach13’s thread. And be sure to check out her Studio 12, if you aren’t already following along with her build.

The pump is the Reef Casa Studio 12 stock pump, ASSP-03-800-12W, and it can be opened up:


Edited to include the pics in my thread showing the clip that keeps the pump from easily sliding open:












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3 hours ago, banasophia said:

When March at Reef Casa sent the items I purchased, he generously also sent me a second box of their precut filter floss plus their House Keeper media rack to test out! The media rack looks nice. 

He probably see's all your hard work.


5 hours ago, banasophia said:

I was thankful for my trusty bucket of odds and ends and spare parts I’ve saved

With all those and the extra pumps odd's and ends put mine to shame.

14 hours ago, banasophia said:

Well, it’s really late, so I’ll have to talk about the lights next time…

Looking forward to this reveal. 

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9 hours ago, debbeach13 said:

He probably see's all your hard work.


With all those and the extra pumps odd's and ends put mine to shame.

Looking forward to this reveal. 

Thanks, Deb! Yeah I’ve had too many pump and heater failures at times when LFSs are closed and I’ve had to run to Petco so I always try to keep lots of extra pumps and heaters on hand.

Which reminds me I still need to set up my inkbirds on this tank and my Biocube 32… too much to do! But inkbirds are such a good piece of equipment to use… they have saved my Biocube 16 and Evo 5 from major disaster. I need to do that project next… maybe next weekend as I am expecting a really busy work week with some long days. 

I’ll circle back to the light setup in a bit… totally forgot about that, sorry! Need to take a pic and give it more thought how to explain it… 

But first, I wanted to post a pic of the pump with the Coralife / Biocube mini UV sterilizer hooked up inline, which I took while I was checking out how to take apart the pump earlier today. Figured this could be helpful for someone (or me!) in the future.




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And… it’s water change night. I have been using Reef Crystals and Nutri Seawater on this tank, and Reef Crystals on my other two tanks. Decided to switch back to Red Sea Coral Pro for all the tanks and picked some up today. Reef Crystals really smells like pee to me when it’s mixing and it has been bugging me… plus the fact that so much sediment forms in the mixing bucket always makes me think it probably causes more buildup in the tanks too. 

I was going to try the Aquaforest reef salt like Reef Casa had included in the startup kit, but I couldn’t find it anywhere so I decided to just go back to the RSCP. 

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Okay, had to dilute the water change water because I added too much salt so I figured it would give me a minute to tell you about what I’m doing with the light…


So the Halo light seems to be good, but it only has three settings which the manual recommends you can set as follows:





What the time slots seem to mean is that you have two regular light periods plus the third time slot which is used either to turn the lights totally off or you can set it to run moonlights (or whatever) all night long.

But I wanted both like I have had with my Biocubes… moonlights at the beginning and end of the day (a nice transition for me and the tank), two other light phases, and totally dark at night.


I really like having moonlight in my tanks in the morning and late at night because I enjoy seeing my tank with the blues on - not totally dark - when I’m around it in the morning and late at night, but I also want it to be totally dark for part of the night so my fish and other critters get a period of complete darkness more like they would in nature because I think it helps them get better rest.


So… I got a programmable timer (I’m using a TouchSmart brand timer) for the outlet to totally cut the power to the light in order to force an extra time slot when the power is off and lights are fully off, with the plan to cut power in the middle of the moonlight phase splitting it into night and morning blues.



The question was whether the Halo light would retain its settings and resume functioning once the power kicks back on… and I was so excited to discover that it does! 

So how it works is this, the TouchSmart timer is set so power is only on to its outlet from 10 am in the morning until 1 am at night when I typically go to bed and then power is completely off between 1 am and 10 am. And here is what happens with light in the tank:


  • early morning: because of the TouchSmart timer, power is totally off to the Halo - tank is totally dark 
  • 10 am: power kicks on to the Halo per the Touchstart timer and the light is in the midst of Time Slot 3, which is set for moonlights
  • 11 am: Time Slot 1 starts - peak settings as recommended by Reef Casa above
  • 7 pm: Time Slot 2 starts - I set the Halo to higher whites for better photos during the 7 - 9 pm time period
  • 9 pm: Time Slot 3 starts - moonlights
  • 1 am: Power Shuts off from the timer in the middle of Time Slot 3, making the tank dark during the night until the power comes back on to the light again


I know that may be kinda confusing and I may need to explain it better, but hopefully you get the idea. 

Now, back to the water change… let’s hope for 1.025 - 1.026!!!




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  • banasophia changed the title to Banasophia’s Studio 12 All-In-One Aquarium with Saltwater Startup Kit

I had picked up some new small female emeralds yesterday, hoping to get at least one that will clean the sea fan.

In the midst of posting and water changes I was checking them all out, trying to figure out what lenses to use to get a nice photo of my big male emerald which I’ve had for a while along with two new females, cleaning the rock.




I had switched to video and was happily watching them when this happened:



Luckily I was able to separate them and they are both fine… you should’ve seen me chasing the male around the base of the rock, trying to catch him and get him off the rock without harming him… the male was relocated to the Biocube 32.



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Hoping for the polyps to open:




I can’t believe I just forked out like $90 for sea fan food… I really want this coral to grow in my tank… let’s hope it works! I could only find it in the larger size… on the bright side if it does work I’ll have a lifetime supply! 



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I’ve had zero success keeping NPS sea fans in a nano.  I might try in a tank that’s overflowing with other coral to consume all the extra nutrients.  Curious to see how this goes.  Good luck 👍🏻✊🏻

I might try a probiotic food such as Benepets, Coral Sprint, or Coral Frenzy.  I’d be surprised if that seafan food doesn’t spike PO4.  Fighting that with GFO will likely destabilize things more.  I’ve never checked that they eat probiotic food, but try that before pitching the seafan (The urge will come).  Your softies, LPS, fish,  and inverts will enjoy the probiotic powder.

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On 1/25/2023 at 10:46 AM, PJPS said:

I’ve had zero success keeping NPS sea fans in a nano.  I might try in a tank that’s overflowing with other coral to consume all the extra nutrients.  Curious to see how this goes.  Good luck 👍🏻✊🏻

I might try a probiotic food such as Benepets, Coral Sprint, or Coral Frenzy.  I’d be surprised if that seafan food doesn’t spike PO4.  Fighting that with GFO will likely destabilize things more.  I’ve never checked that they eat probiotic food, but try that before pitching the seafan (The urge will come).  Your softies, LPS, fish,  and inverts will enjoy the probiotic powder.

Yes, sea fans in particular are notoriously difficult to keep. I am already feeding live phyto, coral frenzy, and reef roids.





It’s so lovely I hope I can keep it alive. As I’ve been watching it at my LFS these past few months I’ve given a lot of consideration to the impact it will have on the tank. I wasn’t planning on doing sun corals again since I didn’t want such a high maintenance tank as my Biocube 16. If this sea fan makes it I don’t think it will be as difficult since it won’t need meaty food fed to each polyp nightly like the sun coral did… I should be able to just swirl the food around with the powerhead.

It is opening up more, so that’s a good thing. And I now have both a dual arm random flow generator and a hygger mini powerhead running. At first I just tried the random flow generator… my fish and other corals loved it, but I didn’t think it was enough flow for the sea fan so I added the powerhead. The fish probably aren’t as crazy about the increased flow and don’t swim around the water column as much as before but they seem to be adjusting. 

Last night:





This morning, no lights on just some morning sun:




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The blue sympodium, which you can see in front of the sea fan in last night’s photo, isn’t doing great yet… need to figure out if there’s something I need to do to make it happier, but I haven’t had it long just since last weekend so maybe it just needs a little more time to open up. I may need to move it lower along with the ricordeas, but still fighting the tail end of the dino battle (hopefully), so the corals might do better once it’s all cleared up. 

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The Diodogorgia nodulifera gorgonian are so hard to keep, IME.  Yours look like the red one, they come in red or yellow. They want regular feeding, don't do well under high light (due to algae growth).  when algae gets a hold on the surface, try to remove as soon as you can.  I see that you're putting it dead center and high in the tank, I'd recommend moving it to the side and as low as possible. have it get plenty of indirect flow (opposite from powerhead), so a) it can feed from any particulate food you provide from the water column, and b) the flow should help with the algae build up somewhat.


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  • banasophia changed the title to Riding the Wave with Reef Casa: My Studio 12 Saltwater Build 🌊

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