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I have to make a confession: I have not had an aquarium since early 2004 😳😱😅. In the formative years of the Nano-Reef Community, I kept a 7.5 gallon nano reef that I hand built, and soon built a 15 gallon nano reef, along with a 46 bow-front and 90 gallon reef tank, all in my childhood bedroom. I took them all down a few months before leaving home that summer, when I moved to Arizona to go to college. Aquarium keeping had been a passion of mine since age 9 or so, and for the first time life got in the way of having one. Out in the world on my own, I was always too college broke, moving apartments too often, or traveling too much to convince myself to get back in, over time it got easier and easier to put it off and make excuses. Some dear friends of the community even banded together some years ago to send me a nice Picotope system to set up, but I still wasn't ready. Had I just lost the bug? Flash forward to MACNA 2018, my wife Courtney @Food Court and I are walking the expo floor, browsing the beautiful display tanks and a sea of vibrant frags, and something clicks, she gets bitten by the aquarium bug! What better place to learn and see it all first hand than at MACNA?! We spent a lot of our time discussing the fundamentals of reef keeping, the nitrogen cycle, how live rock and sand work, types of lighting, filtration, pumps, etc. We'd get drawn into the eye candy frag displays and try to ID all the corals, name the fish on display, and scoped out all the nano tanks to compare. By the end of the show I had the bug too, and we drove home daydreaming about how we might be able to fit a nano reef into our lives. Tank Specifications Tank: 2gal Anchor Hocking Heritage glass jar. Lighting: 24w PicoPro LED light & lid (pre-production). Circulation: 24gph Air pump with stone bubbler. Rock: Real Reef Rock cultured live rock. Sand: Caribsea Arag-alive Fiji Pink live sand. Established: December 11, 2018 Our Creative Container Pico Contest was a really eye opening and inspirational project for me, it demonstrated what was possible with nano reefs of this scale, proving that a simple maintenance routine of 100% water changes is all that's needed for lasting success and growth. Many participants decided to use this same glass jar for their pico reefs as well, showing it was a suitable container for the long haul. I was also pleased to hear that most contest participants found the simple maintenance routine to be easier than caring for their regular reef tanks, it was truly back to the basics. The appeal of a pico jar was real, but how would I light mine? While the contest tried to level the playing field with limited lighting options (PAR or CFL bulbs only), it also showed some of the pitfalls and challenges of finding a good bulb and positioning it right. Keeping a lid on a reef jar was also proven to be another key tenet of success, to nearly stop evaporation and salinity swings, but this glass jar lid seemed to distort and bend light from overhead bulbs. Undecided on a reef jar, I started kicking around the idea of a 10 or 20 gallon AIO tank, and even picked out a potential place in the house. But with even broader options at that scale, information overload hit an indecision road block. Yet again, life got in the way, excuses crept in. That is, until last month when @ReefSmart reached out to sponsor the community and introduced me to their newly developed PicoPro reef jar light. 😲 The PicoPro Reef Jar This is a pre-production version of the PicoPro light by ReefSmart. It uses 24 watts of power, has a 2 channel dimmer, 600 PAR max output, with diode spectrums of 420nm, 430nm, 450nm, cool white, warm white, and red. The light housing is painted metal, with a single power cord that leads to the two channel in-line dimmer, one for the blue channel and one for the white and red. The underside features an almost edge to edge plastic diffusing lens that blends the LED light beautifully and keeps it sealed from moisture. It is designed to fit specifically on 2 gallon Anchor Hocking Heritage glass jars, commonly available at Target and Walmart for around $15. Placed on the jar, it nearly sits flush with the rim, with the exception of the single power cord and airline tubing coming through at the edge. Since it's a full lid, it will contain the majority of condensation and reduce evaporation. I'm hoping to avoid needing an ATO, but in the dry desert air it may be unavoidable. It's so simple and sleek, the jar emits a mesmerizing glow that draws people in! The Beginning While I waited for the PicoPro light to arrive, I set out to find a suitable glass jar for the pico reef! As other community members had discovered earlier, these jars are all hand blown glass put into a mold, so the optical clarity varies quite a bit from jar to jar. After inspecting the only three jars in stock at a nearby Target store, only to find bubbles, scratches, and too many distortions, I had better luck at Walmart, picking the better of the two that were in stock. My jar is not perfect, but one side was pretty clear with only a few dimples here and there. The distortion is unavoidable when it's full of water, but it's also part of the appeal, even though it makes photographing it so difficult! I am following in the footsteps of the PicoPro creator when it comes to the remaining equipment choices. He has had his prototype pico reef jar running for over two years now, which you can see on the ReefSmart website, and it's packed with coral! Zoanthids, acans, SPS and other high light coral, he's frequently fragging it. Circulation is provided by a cheap 24 gallon per hour air pump, the same model he has found success with. The heat of the light itself should be sufficient for running the reef jar simply at room temperature, the temp swings have not caused any issues in his jar. Since I live in Phoenix where we spend summer months in triple digit heat every day, I am a little concerned about keeping the jar cool enough, come summertime. A temp controller with a desktop fan near by may be my plan of attack, should the need arise. Let's cross that bridge when we get there, right? I have a few creative ideas. The foundation of our pico reef is two pounds of Real Reef Rock man made cultured live rock, along with Caribsea Arag-alive Fiji Pink live sand. My past reef aquariums were all built on imported cured live rock from Fiji, which was readily available back then in 2001, starting with cultured artificial rock is new for me. While I will miss discovering the endlessly fascinating community of hitchhikers from ocean collected rock, I am optimistic that I will be avoiding a lot of potential pests by going this route. @Food Court and I brought the jar to a nice LFS and hand picked the rocks from their holding tank to design our aquascape, right there in the store! Two large and two small pieces later, it came out to 2 pounds at $4.99 a pound, not bad! I am impressed with the Real Reef Rocks after sorting through a bunch in their tank, they're quite porous and really mimic the look of pacific reef rock quite well! We brought everything home and put the reef jar together with ease yesterday afternoon! Courtney had made sure to take lots of photos of the aquascape design so we could arrange it the just same way at home. We had a 5 gallon jug of pre-mixed saltwater from the LFS and used it to fill the tank, and just like that it was done! I plan to utilize pre-mixed water for water changes, at least initially. The cabinet beneath the tank houses a power strip, LED controller, and the air pump, providing a clean look. There's room to spare, so a temp controller or ATO should be easy to add and hide away, even the 5gal water jug fits down there. Our Pico Plans We're going to take it slow with our pico jar and give it some time to cycle. Our plan is to focus on a coral collection and find an invertebrate of some kind to feature, most likely a shrimp. Zoanthids have always been a love of mine, all the way back to my first reef, so I suspect they will be a focus. Courtney is really into LPS corals as well, it won't take long to fill up the jar with frags, so we'll have to try our best to be selective! As the water clears and the cycle progresses we'll be sharing more photos. It's nice to have an aquarium in my life again, I'm excited to get my hands wet again and continue learning! Many thanks to all those who have pioneered this path ahead of us, journaling your experiences over the great many years has provided so much wisdom and insight. ❤️ Archer inspects his new roommate