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Cultivated Reef

The Puszta reef, salt water on dry land


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Hi I’m igor Belgian truck driver,living in Hungary 
Back in 2020 I was on the forum as Highway reefer, I just started a Pico Tank, diamond shaped then.
I upgraded that one to a waterbox cube 10 nano, in the meantime our house got sold, and we were finally moving to Hungary, to finish the work on our house and start live over there. 
When A Little critter decided to shake the world. Our move to Hungary was canceled for a while.
We were able to stay at my mother's house for a while, where I was able to enjoy the nano for a while, eventually sold everything and spent a year in a camper.
After a year of stress with unreliable contractors and a financial loss because of this.
We finally got into our house in April this 


The actual plan was to settle in our new home in Hungary, and maybe start a new tank somewhere in the second half of 2023.
I’m was on sick leave since September last year , so I started to unbox some moving boxes, and was surprised to find a complete aquarium and everything I needed to set up the basic’s 

Begin december, I decided to scape some dryrock to keep myself busy.
After playing around with the rocks for a while, came up with something I liked, put it in the tank and looked at it for a week or so.
I made some small changes to the scape, made some rodi water and finally added some tropic marine reef salt, didn’t have enough salt to get to a salinity of 1.025, I ended up with a salinity of 1.020.
Living in Hungary comes with some challenges, to keep a reef tank .
One of them is finding a lfs. After some googling found some, but all at least 1hr30 driving.


I found some bacteria in a petshop, and started adding those.

Just after Christmas, we had to go to the veterinary clinic with one of our dogs in the city, so we took the opertunity to visit 2 local lfs , where I found some aquaforest reef salt, I ramped my salinity up to 1.025 sg , added some miracle mud in the second chamber.
Been feeding the bacteria, a pinch of fishfood every 2 days, lights are on from 12hrs till 20hrs.
I was officially cycling now.

This is going to be a nice lesson in patience.




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A little info about my set up.

Fish tank

Tank: blue marine reef 60
Light : blue marine 11w (white 12000k(14) blue 450-465(7) red 600-630(4) green 520-535(4)
Boost pump : eheim 600
Flow pump: jebao slw 10
Heating: jewel 100w
Ato: auto aqua duo


Chamber 1 : Maxspect bio block
Room 2: container with 425g miracle mud, (macroalgae (cheato) still to be purchased), heating
Chamber 3: boost , ato

+/- 2.5 kg dry rock (Caribsea reef rock, 1 piece dry rock)
Caribsea ocean direct sand (still to buy)


Rodi: Aquamedic platinum line plus 24v 4 stages
Test sets : refractometer, salifert no3, Hanna dkh
Salt : aquaforest reef salt

The aquarium has been running since December 15, I didn't have enough salt then, so the salinity was only 1,020 sg then.

Found easylife bacteria in the pet store on December 22, also brought some flake food to feed the bacteria.
Put some Maxspect bio blocks in chamber 1, and added a first dose of bacteria with a pinch of flake food.

The light is on from the beginning, from 12 am to 8 pm.

27 December 

Brought the salinity to 1.025sg at home. And installed the ato, now I am correcting the salinity slightly up to 1,026 sg with the ato.
A plastic container filled with 425g of miracle mud, and placed it in the 2nd room, in the future I’ll put some cheato here
That's how I had my previous nano, and it seemed to work pretty well.

December 29

Added another dose of bacteria

The bacteria are given a pinch of flake food every 2 days.
For now the only test tools I have are a refractometer and a nitrate test (which expires in 3 months), for Hanna dkh test I have to buy a reagent.

Tested the nitrates this morning just for fun, to my surprise I had 2ppm, I didn't expect that.
I will not test ammonia and nitrite (im not gone buy these tests specially), it will take some time anyway before animals are added.

The next thing I'm going to add will be Caribsea ocean direct sand. Just don't know yet if I'll add it next month, or wait until after the ugly phase.

It may sound weird, but I'm really looking forward to the ugly phase.

That's it for now, until the next update.



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Part 2 of the start of the puszta reef


20 January 2023

After running for three weeks without sand, I put in 4.5 kg of Ocean direct sand, a little more than an inch thick.

Before I put in the sand I measured SG, NO3, PO4 and the temp, and put some filterfloss in the first chamber, and adjusted the scape a bit.

The salinity had dropped slightly (refractor meter, calibrated with Rodi water before each measurement).
No3 has been at 100ppm since the beginning of the week and that was not reduced yesterday.
I also tested po4 but it is at 0 (Salifert)
temp. Remains pretty stable.

I added the sand without rinsing, which resulted in a dense fog cloud, but I did use the clarifyer.
The sand was added around 1 pm and by 8 pm the water had almost completely cleared up.

Today I gave the aquarium a cleaning and replaced the filter.
I also replaced the pump, because it blows away the sand at the front.
Also measured the salt and NO3.
The salt content is back at 35ppm, and No3 seems to have dropped a bit.




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little update on my pile off rocks.

On January 31, diatoms started to appear on the sand, since I’m on the road, I wasn’t to sure by what i‘ve seen video calling with my wife.
So I asked her to keep a eye on it, and yes two days later it was pretty clear, they’re there .

It may sound weird, but I’m actually happy with that, it’s progress.

Fore the moment I have only rocks, a tray of miracle mud( middle filter chamber), and live sand.

living in a remote area, in a country that doesn’t have much store’s, it’s coming down on online ordering.
So I hope I can order some copepods end next week, so they will be there when I’m home in the week thereafter.

The first livestock will be added in March, when I drive home from Belgium, with my mobilhome.
I found a lot of sellers in Germany, with affordable prices.
since I have to drive true Germany to get in hungary, I’m going to get some corral bye one or two of them.

This will probably be some, zoas, hopefully some palithoa grandis and clavularia spec. and maybe an euphila , whe will.

I don’t know about a fish yet, maybe when budget allows it, I’ll bringing home a tailspot blenny.

I always knew, it’s going to be a slow project, since being sick fore 3 months last year and working with the wrong people on our house , our savings went out the door.
So I’m grateful to my wife, to letting me start again with the hobby, even though the budget is very tight.

Anyway, doesn’t the reeftank mantra says, good things happen slowly .

That is actually my biggest challenge, being a inpatient persone.





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Sorry to hear about those challenges but at least you know you have your algae farm to come home to! 


This seems like a cool little reef and the difficulty of obtaining materials only makes it more dramatic to watch unfold. 

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2 hours ago, mitten_reef said:

cool little scape...

Thank you, I tried to keep it simple 

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1 hour ago, Cyprinodont said:

Sorry to hear about those challenges but at least you know you have your algae farm to come home to! 


This seems like a cool little reef and the difficulty of obtaining materials only makes it more dramatic to watch unfold. 

Yes, most don’t want to see the algae, I’m trilled seeing them😆


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one of our cats found his way up on the cabinet last week.
my wife asked me if I forgot to clean the glass before leaving.
I didn’t, so she showed me the dirty glass edge, I told here that I was pretty sure, it was a cat 
Friday , she send me pictures of the broken light fixture.
so one of those rascals, stud on the light fixture,and it broke.
So I’m gone have a little talk with the youngest one, because I’m pretty sure it was himE7557454-D7E8-4D02-8897-3E66A26B8DCF.thumb.jpeg.8c7586f6a856891a2c9fbcb1c62f66d0.jpeg


The suspect, he looks to innocent 


Or is



asked my wife Sunday to test the nitrate and phosphate

 the results.
nitrate 25 , that’s good news, last week it was still 100
phosphate 0, not a surprise, there are no pollutants added so far.
pretty satisfied for now


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  • 2 weeks later...

Update on the Puszta Reef 

After aslan(the cat) destroyed my light, and found it’s way to the thank. I had to come up with something to make my little Reef, Aslan proof.

Since budget is low, and I ordered some livestock, I had to be creative with what I still have lying around.

Given the fact , I’m not really a diy person, I came up with something, I’m pretty satisfied with💥

Some eggcrate en tywraps, and I have a catproof lid.295AA39F-89D8-4BFE-B8A3-18D3B4FD33E5.thumb.jpeg.6b432bffa041ef34a64d29d3b78b10b2.jpeg



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first livestock 

Last week before coming home, I ordered some pods, phytoplankton and cheato, to seed my tank.

Now I was asking myself, what use do I have for the cheato, since there’s no animals living in the tank, so no feeding, no waste.

my nitrates run actually at 10ppm and my phosphate is 0 ppm.


Kind of a stupid decision, so I decided to try a Hungarian shop, who sells livestock online.

On Monday I ordered a tailspot blenny, candy cane frag( curvatta) and some food.

Tuesday they called me, and told me, the didn’t have a tailspot blenny, but they did have the bicolor, also they didn’t have the curvatta candy cane, but the furcata. I told them both are fine bye me, they where my second choice anyway.


Yesterday my Hungarian order came in, and I can tell you, once and never again will I be ordering online with them.

I opened the styrofoam box, everything was ice cold, the fish didn’t move, I thought he was dead, then my wife told me that she seen it move a little, so i took the bag and put it in my tank , together with the frag to acclimate.

the dried food was expired since 2020🤯.

Now I know things work differently in a new country, but this I didn’t expect.

After temperature acclimation, I drip acclimated for a good 3hours, before release him in the tank. Lights where out.

Gave some food, which I think hé took some off.

I took the frag and emptied the bag in a small container, to inspect for hitchhikers, and found some good ones, a bristleworm, stomatela snail and small bristlestar, they went straight in the tank.

Then I did some corral rx in the container, and gave it a good dipping. Some more bristlestars came off, and a few other things.


So I no longer have a pile of rocks, now I have a pile of rocks with a fish and some candy cane🥳43C761D8-5ECA-427F-B0B8-19703F091352.thumb.jpeg.ae40f02d64d61ee494935f473891b99c.jpegAAD11044-ADF6-455E-B89E-EF79C6AB8451.thumb.jpeg.bfd7d25f0728fc9bb99e668e5a51a95b.jpegAAD11044-ADF6-455E-B89E-EF79C6AB8451.thumb.jpeg.bfd7d25f0728fc9bb99e668e5a51a95b.jpeg





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update on yesterday’s livestock, and the second delivery 


Today my second delivery came in, which came from Germany and was actually okay.

Some copepods, phytoplankton and cheato .


The cheato went in the refugium chamber, with the miracle mud and 2/3 of the pods.

1/3 of the pods went in the display, and phytoplankton has also some pods in, i will be adding that after lights out , every day a bit.

My 2 critters from yesterday, are actually doing well.

the candy cane’s polyps are extended, and polar (the fish) has found himself a little cave, and explores his new home.

I take’s some food ( dry algae) and I’m under the impression that he picked some pods.




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10 hours ago, ml86743 said:

Makes me want to get a blenny...

I can tell, they’re definitely strong fish, it’s only the second day he/she’s in my tank, and colored up real nice, and exploring his new home.

And that after he came in almost frozen yesterday.

They are algae grazer’s, and do need that to stay healthy. Reading your journal, that shouldn’t be a problem.

they are also jumpers, so a some kind of lid, is needed.




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