divecj5's SPS Nano Reef
First off, I would like to thank Jim and all of the others who work tirelessly to make this forum and site what it is and what it will no doubt become. It is such an incredible reefing resource and welcoming community.
I feel honored to be selected as January TOTM, I honestly am still at a loss for words. I've long admired and wanted to create something that comes close to some of the amazing tanks that have been featured. Although I've never considered my tank worthy of this category, I'm happy to share some of my experiences.
My tank was set up in December 2008. As this was/is my third tank, I really wanted to "do it right this time." I have been reefing for close to 5 years now and I am still constantly learning. Growing up, I always knew I eventually wanted to have a saltwater tank. Probably similar to others, I never even thought to keep coral as I always figured it was too time and labor intensive as well expensive.
I started with a 55 gallon back in 2005 shortly after I graduated college (marine science from Univ. of South Carolina) and got a "real" job. It was a great tank to learn with as it provided plenty of room to work with. Unfortunately, the tank was overrun by Vermitid snails to the point where every single inch of real estate was covered by them.
I decided to start fresh with a 29 gallon Biocube and just move the fish that I had from the 55 gallon. To make a long-story short, this tank was setup for 19 months and with this tank, I started to explore and delve into the world of SPS
and more demanding coral. Unfortunately, 29 gallon biocube became infested with Neomeris algae. After spending hours weekly pruning back this algae, I knew I was once again at a crossroads where I would either quit the hobby for a time or, start fresh and learn from my previous mistakes. I chose the later and that takes us to my current SPS
Dominant 20H. Tank Specifications
Display: 24"x12"x16" AGA 20H
Lighting: Aquatinics TX5 5-bulb T5 Fixture
Filtration: Aqua-C Remora HOB
Circulation: VorTech MP20W
Heater: Stealth Heater 100w
Top off: JBJ ATO
Controller: Aquatics ReefKeeper Lite Routine Maintenance
I focus on keeping things simple and easy to maintain. I occasionally travel leaving my wife the tank "duties". Although she wouldn't consider daily dosing and tinkering with the tank routine, here is what is normally performed routinely:
- Daily additions of 15 mL of alk and 30 mL of calcium.
- Quick inspection of all coral and inhabitants Bi-weekly - 8 drops of MB7 - 30mL of Magnesium - Feed coral and fish with either pellet, flake, or Cyclop-eeze Weekly - 3 gallon water change using DD H20cean salt.
- Salinity, Calcium, and Alkalinity is checked after water changes. Magnesium is checked on a monthly basis and adjusted as needed. Equipment is cleaned quarterly to remove any calcium buildup using a vinegar solution. I find keeping all equipment clean is vital to a healthy and functioning reef.
Growth Progress Advice
The following photos show the progress my tank has made over the past year.
|Two Ocellaris Clownfish|
|Mexican turbo snails|
|micro brittle stars|
|Orange Montipora Cap|
|Green w/blue polyp Montipora Cap|
|ORA Red Planet|
|ORA Joe the Coral|
|ORA Cali Tort|
|FnF Red Bug Montipora|
|Bali Green Slimer|
|Green Acro Vermiculata|
|Tyree Bonsai Yellow/Green Deepwater Acropora|
|Bruddah's True Superman Montipora|
|Aquascene Icefire Echinata|
Go slow and enjoy each stage of the tank's progress. It's a journey, not a destination. Over the years, I've grown more patient and started to appreciate the small changes and growth in my tank. Although it's difficult, try not to get too hung up on this small patch of diatoms here or that small bit of hair algae there. Even if your tank is not where you like it, take enjoyment and solace in the fact that you are able to keep one and that you have your own slice of the ocean in your home.
Here are a few other tips for fellow reefers:
- Never underestimate the power of a check valve. Overflowing the tank with top off water is NOT fun.
- Listen to the advice of others who have been in the hobby longer - but make your own decisions.
- Although difficult, don't skimp and buy cheaper equipment. Believe me, you will end up replacing it and buying the more expensive piece in the future.
- Remember that no two tanks are alike and what works for one may not work for others.
- Find someone who is at the same stage in their tank's progress as you. Sharing experiences is part of the fun.
- Find someone local to trade with if possible. There is nothing more rewarding than fragging your own corals and sharing their growth with others.
- Never buy corals without researching their requirements. Know in advance what your tank will support and stay within that category.
- Leave room between some branching Acropora as they are now encroaching on one another. Then again, it makes it look more natural.
- Invest in 10" forceps, a turkey baster, and microfiber cloths. Save all of those extra towels, t-shirts, etc. They are priceless for clean-up.
- Don't chase numbers and parameters. It's better to keep things stable than always tinkering with things.