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My Simple & Easy Nano Reef WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?! For many years, I have been enjoying my three maintenance free, heavily planted freshwater tanks; my favorite being my Dream Blue Velvet Shrimp tank that is also home to my Bamboo Shrimp, Mini Golden Rabbit Snails, and a Salt and Pepper Pygmy Cory Catfish. For the past year, the wife really wanted a nano reef tank for her classroom to be viewed by hundreds of students, their parents, and her co-teachers. Not to be out done, I then wanted a nano reef tank for the home office. And thus, the Simple & Easy Nano Reef was born on 9/10/2019. (A week later, the School Nano Reef was born on 9/17/2019.) MY PRIMARY GOALS I have 3 primary goals for this nano reef: 1. No Testing*, No Dosing, No Activated Carbon. 2. To have the Fireworks Clove Polyps, Duncan, and Hammer corals cover the majority of the foreground, the Frogspawn coral and GSP cover the majority of the back wall, and the Xenia placed everywhere else. 3. To have thriving corals, happy fish, and no visible cyanobacteria or dinoflagellates. * I do test salinity which I keep at a stable 1.025 and I always make sure my water temperature is about 75°F. MAINTENANCE ◕ Weekly 2 gallon water changes using Red Sea Salt (Blue bucket), skim surface with paper towels if needed, and filter cleaning. ◕ Top off with Distilled Water. EL CHEAPO 10 GALLON AQUEON AQUARIUM FROM PETCO FEATURES ◕ Price: $14.99 (I missed the dollar per gallon sale, but the dream must move forward!) ◕ Tank Length: 20.25" ◕ Tank Width: 10.5" ◕ Tank Height: 12.625" ◕ Material: Glass TANK HIGH LEVEL CHARACTERISTICS ⇨ Aquascape : Nature's Ocean 12-Inch Coral Base Rocks ⇨ Sand : 10 pounds of Nature's Ocean Natural White No.0 Bio-Activ Aragonite Live Sand + Coarse Aragonite Sand ⇨ Heater : Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Heater, 50 Watt ⇨ Lighting : NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light & Finnex 10" FugeRay Ultra Slim Aquarium LED Light; Current USA Orbit Marine IC PRO Dual LED with Bluetooth ⇨ Powerheads : Hydor Koralia Nano 240 (2) ⇨ Wave Controller : Hydor Smart Wave Circulation Pump Controller ⇨ Filtration : AquaClear HOB Filter; Tidal 35 ⇨ UV Sterilizer System : AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine 3 Watt ⇨ Coralline Algae Starter : Pink Fusion Strain & Purple Helix Strain Coralline Algae in a Bottle + Nitrifying Bacteria ⇨ Tank Lid: 20-Inch Aqueon Aquarium AAG29020 Versa Top ⇨ Saltwater: Red Sea Salt (Blue bucket) MY CORAL CHOICES Pom Pom Xenia I LOVE pulsing Xenia and find myself hypnotized every time I see it. I know others may hate it, but I find it as one of the coolest corals. They have no stinging tentacles and little to no toxins. It may try to colonize the tank and possibly fly around if it runs out of space on the rock it’s on, and may try to smother other corals if left unchecked, but the easy solution for that may be to just pull out any Xenia that gets too close to my other corals. I really love the Pom Pom Xenia variation and mine has a really elegant pulsing effect. Pulsing Xenia I acquired a large amount of Pulsing Xenia from a local hobbyist that really revitalized my tank. It’s one of my family’s most favorite corals of all time — just take care of it and it’ll do the rest. It’s beautiful, it pulses, it adds movement, it sways in the current, it grows relatively fast and it doesn’t release any known toxins or has any stingers. Green Star Polyps (GSP) If kept in check, it looks simply beautiful if you can get it to cover the back wall of your tank. That is the plan, a background of neon green polyps waving as the current passes through it. Fireworks Clove Polyps I really wanted this coral for the bright neon orange (and neon green) colors for when the actinic lights are only on. This coral added the finishing touch that I wanted. Rainbow Splatter Hammer Coral What I love about the Hammer coral is that it doesn't release any toxins and some hobbyists feed it either monthly or not at all and just rely on water changes and it's photosynthetic properties to nourish itself. It also adds a bit of diversity to a tank that is otherwise dominated by Xenia and GSP. Pink Tip Frogspawn Coral My 3-headed centerpiece, the infamous Frogspawn coral. I needed some eye candy to give the tank that finishing touch and the Frogspawn plays that role well. 1 Duncan Coral I bought two Duncans online and as far as I know, they may have short stingers, but they basically don’t really sting anything and are pretty safe in that department as far as I know. And they have no toxins that I’m aware of. They’re so cool looking too! I had two additional ones also, but the first one succame to Brown Jelly disease after a great fall onto the rocks and the sand. I believe its tentacles may have gotten injured and infected during this fall. The second one slowly perished from a similar fate including the occasional cyanobacteria bothering it. Candy Cane Coral (ORA) I really wanted the Neon Green Trumpet Coral, but they were sold out at the time. Hopefully, this one will turn out to be cool too. Purple Australian Big Polyp Blastomussa Coral & Red Australian Big Polyp Blastomussa Coral The Blastomussa Wellsi corals seem like the perfect addition to add to an open area that I have at the bottom of my tank. Acropora echinata Coral I received a tiny frag of what looks like Acropora echinata by accident in with my online order. I placed the small frag on the highest point of my rocks to try to give it the most light and current possible. I feed it Reef-Roids a few times a week and it seems to be quite happy so far with a multitude of polyps open most of the time. I like getting expensive corals for free! 🙂 Neon Green Trumpet Coral I almost gave up on trying to find this stunning coral, but when I least expected it, not only did I find it, but was given an offer I couldn't refuse. It was Cyber Monday, but the LFS told me that I could get the 50% Off Black Friday deal on this coral if I want it. Welcome home Neon Green Trumpet Coral -- my collection is finally complete! MACROALGAE Chaetomorpha Macroalgae One of the best, hardest working, and hardiest macroalgaes that you can find although if used for the display tank, small bits and pieces can easily get into every nook and cranny. I attempted to replace it with the much prettier looking Red Ogo Macroalgae, however that melted due to poor shipping conditions and possibly other factors. Fortunately, I kept the Chaeto on stand-by in a sealed zip lock bag and it survived without being in water for 24 hours! Red Dragon's Breath (Gracilaria Hayi) Macroalgae [Death by Mexican Turbo Snails] Simply beautiful to put into the display tank. Seems to work best if you can find a way to anchor it down. Red Ogo (Gracilaria Parvispora) Macroalgae [Death by poor shipment conditions] Normally a beautiful bright red & burgundy color and is fast growing, this macroalgae did not survive a 4-day journey through the mail in cold weather conditions to my home. The temperature inside the package felt a bit cold due to the heat pack not holding up for the entirety of the trip. Upon opening the bag, a really foul stench permeated the room. The macroalgae arrived orange and after acclimating to my tank, almost immediately began to cloud the water and became mostly transparent within 24 hours. Needless to say, I had to remove all of the Red Ogo from the tank, but I was fortunate to have kept the very hardy Chaeto on stand-by in case an emergency such as this arises. LIVESTOCK 1 Ocellaris Clownfish - "Nemo" The thing that started it all! Nemo and Marlin make their debut in our new nano reef tank that is situated between our desks in the home office. I selected the smallest ones available at the LFS and they should remain relatively small compared to other types of clownfish. I love their vibrant colors, overall peacefulness, and their wacky movements! 1 Black & White Ocellaris Clownfish - "Ninja" After Stripes disappeared, I always wanted to return back to my original 4 fish that I had in the very beginning when I first started this tank. Fortunately, Nemo has taken a liking to Ninja and vice versa so I think everything will turn out alright. 1 Tail Spot Blenny - "Alpha Blenny" A HUGE Personality stuck inside a tiny little body. Blenny is always there to stare back at me with a smile as I debate life's choices. 1 Yellow Watchman Goby - "Goby" I've read so much about this fascinating fish that I just had to experience one. Pretty, funny personality, grumpy at times which adds to the flavor, and a cool duo if you already have a blenny in the tank. I'm excited to watch all of its future antics. 1 Yellowline Goby - "Stripes" This cute little Goby reminds me of a puppy jumping all around the tank. It adds a playfulness that makes the tank even more fun. 1 Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp - "Shrimpy" I love watching the shrimp hang upside down on my "rock bridge" and search the tank in the evening for leftover food. I also get to witness it cleaning the fish every now and then. I was reading that you could keep two Skunk Cleaner Shrimp in a tank, but no more than two otherwise the mated pair will kill off the others! 3 Purple Porcelain Crabs I've tried the Porcelain Anemone Crabs and I didn't like their aggressiveness toward it's own kind and I didn't realize they really need an anemone for long-term health since they eat the mucus off of it as part of their diet. As far as the Purple Porcelain Crabs, they seem to tolerate each other much better and do not require an anemone to survive. They are much smaller in size, love hiding around the rockwork, but also explore in the evening and do a good job filtering the water. 1 Porcelain Anemone Crab My fierce little Samurai that help filter and clean the water. Don't let their peaceful demeanor fool you, that one on the right (nicknamed Alpha crab) ripped off two of the legs of the other one (nicknamed Captain Hook because his one side only has 1 leg)! Although at this time, they're both doing well and are still alive. Alpha crab molted on 12/14/19 and I actually thought he killed Captain Hook, lol. Crab molts look so real! UPDATE: As far as I can tell, Alpha crab ended up killing Captain Hook. I noticed one day that Alpha crab clutched Captain Hook's claw, but I was able to quickly intervene and shoo Alpha crab away from Captain Hook. Sadly, I believe it was the next morning when I noticed Captain Hook's claw was pulled off and his corpse was upside down on the top of the large rock that he usually stays on. I didn't realize if their claw gets removed, they will die so easily. 1 Ruby Emerald Crab I read that the smaller Emerald crabs are more likely to eat Bubble Algae compared to the larger Emerald crabs. I asked my LFS to pick me out the prettiest emerald crab that was small, and he found me a Ruby Emerald Crab to adopt (first time I've seen a red Emerald crab myself). Hopefully this little guy will munch on some Bubble Algae that I noticed throughout the tank. 1 Peppermint Shrimp Although Peppermint Shrimp do not always eat Aiptasia, you can increase your chances of getting one that does by getting more than one Peppermint Shrimp, which is just what I did. I tried killing the Aiptasia manually before with some lemon juice and tweezers, but after a few months, not only did it come back in the same spot, but another popped up on the other side of the tank! Seek and destroy, my Peppermint Shrimp! 5 Scarlet Red Hermit Crabs These peaceful and vibrant red CUC really help to constantly clean the sand, rock, and leftover food in the tank. I had Blue Leg Hermit Crabs & Zebra Hermit Crabs prior and they would become overly aggressive once they became large. So much so, my original peaceful Scarlet Red Hermit Crab disappeared. Now, I intend to only keep peaceful livestock in my tank. 1 Nassarius Snail These snails remind me of zombies. They crawl out of the sand bed whenever they detect food nearby. Whether that be me feeding the tank or a tank inhabitant dying or dead. 5 Cerith & Stocky Cerith Snails These snails are hard workers and they even clean on the edge where the sand meets the glass. I hear they are usually hard to reproduce due to their eggs being eaten by fish and such. I don't mind as long as they don't reproduce out of control. 1 Banded Trochus Snail They are excellent algae eaters and do a great job cleaning the brown diatoms off the glass. They also like to keep the heater and the surrounding areas sparkling clean. 1 Zebra Turbo Snail I purchased this to get rid of some pesty green hair algae that grew after my green emerald crab passed away from an accident. I no longer have much GHA left thanks to this Zebra Turbo Snail. 1 Mexican Turbo Snail I got these snails to take care of some cotton candy algae that may have hitchhiked onto the Chaeto that I bought off eBay. I confirmed that the larger snails that are 2"+ do indeed consume the cotton candy algae. 2 Tiger Sand Conchs I got the initial conch because I read that it eats cyanobacteria and also algae & detritus. It keeps the sandbed well stirred up and doesn't deplete it of microfauna. And it's amazing to watch it hop around on its powerful foot. After observing it eating cyanobacteria at a snails pace and doing a good job at the areas it was at, I decided to get one more to keep entire sand bed looking great since my particular system could use it. 1 Feather Duster I've been fascinated by my tiny little fan worm hitchhikers found on two of my corals. I do not feed them, yet they continue to grow and thrive possibly due to me spot feeding Reef-Roids to my corals every now and then. I've been curious of the much larger feather dusters and wanted to give it a try to see if their care level is similar to the tiny hitchhiker variety. Although, I may spot feed it Reef-Roids at the same time I do my normal coral feeding just to make sure it gets some nutrition besides what is found in the water. There is also a thriving Tisbe copepod population in the tank as well. a ton of Tisbe Copepods Our unseen clean up crew behind the scenes. They sometimes sacrifice themselves as lunch for any hungry fish waiting for their next daily meal. HITCHHIKERS Barnacle One of these hitched a ride on my Hammer coral. It looks pretty neat (while it’s still small). Fan worms I have a few of these tiny little feather dusters that hitchhiked onto some corals that I purchased online from LA. I believe it adds more diversity to my tank and gives me one more interesting thing to stare at. Branching Coralline algae I first noticed this purplish, tiny twig that was attached to my Candy Cane coral when I initially added it to my tank. At first I didn't know what it was, but once I did, it's been a welcome addition to the reef. I'm happy to see it continue to grow over time. Cotton Candy Algae [Death by Mexican Turbo Snails and Mechanical Filtration] Commonly referred to as a nuisance algae, this pretty pink & fluffy algae was first seen attached to my Chaeto that I purchased off eBay. True Mexican Turbo Snails (Turbo fluctuosa) of the larger variety (2"+) can help reduce the amount of cotton candy algae within a tank. I found acquiring these snails to be more difficult than I expected. My LFS sold me some Zebra Turbo Snails that they called Mexican Turbo Snails and they did not eat any of the cotton candy algae because it's the wrong kind of snail. As the weeks go on, I've grown more fonder of the pink color that this algae exhibits and I may change my mind on how bad it may be. It helps to export excess nutrients along with the chaeto while looking more aesthetically pleasing. My only real concern is if it can cause chaeto and corals to die over time by growing over them and preventing light from getting to them. I will keep a close eye on this nuisance algae and hopefully acquire some large Mexican Turbo Snails in the future. Aiptasia anemones [Death by Peppermint Shrimp] I noticed a tiny little Aiptasia anemone on the rockwork. I don't know where it came from, but it must've hitchhiked from one of the recent corals that I added to the tank. Not wanting to wait, I blasted it with some pure lemon juice. I then dug it all out with my tweezers and siphoned out any residue. That was the very last time I've ever seen an Aiptasia anemone in any of my reef tanks. UPDATE: Months later, I noticed two additional Aiptasia anemones in the tank so this time I purchased 2 Peppermint Shrimp to see if they can deal with these scary pests. Flatworms [Death by Toilet and hungry Clownfish] I've noticed flatworms on two different occasions and only on my Xenia coral. For the longest time, I thought these little brown spots were just part of the Xenia dying or rotting away -- UNTIL I noticed it moving one day! I then took the piece of Xenia out, dipped it into tank water with Seachem Reef Dip, rinsed it off with new tank water, and flushed the flatworms out of existence. The second time I noticed it was on a different Xenia (one that I didn't dip); I was able to siphon it off the Xenia, it floated in the water and to my surprise, my Clownfish ATE it! I was both surprised and proud that my Clownfish was helping me rid the tank of this pest. So Death by Flushing and Death by Clownfish. Make your Choice. Vermetid snails I added 6 Turbo Snails a few days ago, and the 2 largest of the pack had some noticeable hitchhikers on their shells. I would've swore I saw a worm-like thing quickly enter a calcified burrow on one of the shells. As I observed more closely, I noticed a bunch of mucus strands or slime trail that floats in the water so I may also have Vermetid snails possibly (pretty possible there are multiple types of pests on the shell). When I read up on Vermetid snails and finding out that the mucus strands irritates corals and can even cause them to die, I quickly got to work and removed the 2 large snails from the tank. I took a tooth brush and used the end to try to crush the calcium burrows and remove them from the large snail shells. I rinsed with tap water and brushed the shells hoping it may aid in killing anything else on the shells. Spirorbid Worms Ever since I added the large Turbo snails, now I have countless Spirorbid Worms all over my tank. I see this as a good thing because they are peaceful filter feeders after all, however I would venture to say there are hundreds -- maybe thousands of them all over my tank. Since I do not do water changes in this tank, I wonder if the influx of tiny filter feeders (Spirorbid Worms, Vermetid snails, Pineapple Sponges) is due to the plentiful source of food floating in the water column? Perhaps this is nature's way to bring balance to my tank so everything can live in harmony. Pineapple sponges I didn't know it at the time, but there was a Pineapple sponge hiding within the Chaeto that I purchased off eBay. Fast forward to today, now there's countless Pineapple sponges all over the underside of rockwork and in dark areas of the tank such as behind the heater. Based on my research, these should decline in population over time as the food supply lessens within the water. I tend to like filter feeders overall so at this time, they're a welcome addition to the biodiversity within my tank. Bubble Algae I noticed Bubble Algae on both of the Blastomussa corals that I got from LA. After doing much research, I did not want to get an Emerald crab because based off other hobbyists' experiences, they're 50/50 on whether or not they'll even consume the Bubble Algae. And on top of that, it's 50/50 if they may pick at & eat your corals in the tank. And when they get big, they may even go after your small fish. So, no thanks. Then I was reading about hobbyists' popping the Bubble Algae with tweezers. For the ones that have, they claim the Bubble Algae never came back after they were popped and removed. On top of that, when various hobbyists watched their Emerald crabs eat the Bubble Algae, the Emerald crabs themselves pop the Bubble Algae! For the hobbyists that did not want to pop the Bubble Algae, they were scared if spores would spread. But, others mentioned it may only spread if the Bubble Algae is mature and large. Either way, I went with popping the Bubble Algae with tweezers and I will update this if I notice any coming back. UPDATE: I found out later that any of the BA skin that hid itself within the cracks or floated in the tank eventually repopulated itself. In response, I purchased a small Ruby Emerald Crab to help end this menace once and for all! PICTURES Day 16 (9/26/2019) since starting the Office Nano Reef: Day 43 (10/23/2019): Day 60 (11/9/2019): Day 81 (11/30/2019): Day 112 (12/31/2019): Day 659 (6/30/2021): Day 665 (7/6/2021): Day 692 (8/2/2021): Day 701 (8/11/2021): 9/6/2021: