6′ Custom shallow Reef

I’m currently in the process of designing a 6′ custom reef. today’s first attempt at a design.

The dimensions are 72″x18″x16″ (LxWxH).  The overflow is coast to coast with a 1.5-2″ channel for the water to flow into with a larger chamber in the back left to accommodate the pipes.(still need to determine the width) It will be either a herbie or bean overflow. So 2-3 drain pipes and 1 return)







Phytoplankton Copepods and micro organisms 


phytoplankton is one of the building blocks of life in the ocean. A little further up the food chain we get tk pods, Copepods, and rotofers.  Adding this blend of goods will create a natural food source for your fish and corals.

To initially load your tank its recommended to do it with the lights off and pumps off to give the miniature life forms a chance to hide and get settled. Once settled they should start to reproduce and provide a flow of snacks for your fish and corals.

Adding phytoplankton every few days will help feed your pods and corals


Innovative marine custom caddy review 


the stock media baskets that come with the innovative Marines are garbage.  They “work” but are a huge pain in the but to open and close (you will fight it!!).  

I bought some for my 24g salty tank and fell in love. They were a bit expensive for a media basket but the adjustability and ease of opening/cleaning is might and say compared to the dinky stock ones. 

The other added bonus is the basket fill the full chamber and maximize your space for extra media.

Today I picked up another set for my Nuvo 16 tank


 Previous purchase for the 24g


The stock baskets (they work but are a pain to open and close)


Tiger pistol shrimp Digging and bulldozing 


I recently picked up a decent size tiger pistol shrimp and am constantly entertained by this little (big) guy.  He’s constantly making tunnels and dragging live rock rubble around to make his new pad. The only downade is he main steal some frag plus to sue as building blocks so glue your stuff down to avoid it being stolen bythis  master bullied!  I have even watched him try and stack a snail on his pile. Haha

Diy drip acliminator

I was tired of using  binder clips and clamps to hold my airline in place and hope nothing slides out… I though to my self.. there must be a better way? Why yes there is! I made a rigid u shaped tube out of some left over acrylic pipe from mounting my DIY Osmolator sensors to securely hang over the edge of my tank.

I used a heat gun to heat up the acrylic pipe and simply bend at the warm/soft area to the desired shape. Be sure to do this very slowly so dont kink the inner tube. You will also want to keep moving the heat gun so you dont get bubbles in the rod from to much heat.

For the adjuster i razord the edge of a airline valve to a point (took off the excess bulk) heated up the end of the acrylic tube and worked it in.  I then superglued the fittings together to ensure there was no chance of a leak.


Simply connect the airline from the bottom to your bucket and acclimate away!  no more clips to fiddle width, scratch your glass or slide out of place!  Simple and very effective.

DIY auto top off – arduino Optical ATO

Evaporation and increased salinity levels is one of the fastest ways to crash your tank.. An ATO, auto top off or technically an osmolator will automatically add freshwater back in to your tank to keep the water level constant and compensate for evaporation.

Since a fancy auto top off can cost 100-200$ I decided to make my own extremely accurate version for a fraction of the cost.

Rather than using just a standard float valve (which can fail) I went with an optical water level sensor, which is very accurate and detects when water touches the top of the sensor. I also added a float valve as a backup.



The microprocessor will only activate the pump of both sensors are not detecting water. If either one senses water the filling sequence is skipped

I also added a Hold switch to the box. When this switch is hit the arduino goes into a loop of blinking the LED as a reminder to turn it back on. This Hold mode will be useful when doing water changes.


I may add a third safety of only running the pumps for so many second per fill. But this is dependant on if I do micro topoffs 24h/day or hair have the ATO check every few hours or at times I’m not around.



I need some form of a 6 pin connector but came up short and decided to go with a DB9 connector as they are cheap and readily available.(null)



Once i soldered the sensors on to my wire i covered the last half of the wire all the way down to the sensors  in heat shrink to seal it up and have a nice black wire to blend in with the back of the tank.(null)




Motor on the left,  12V power in the bottom right. DB9 connector for the sensors and USB in case i want to adjust the programming at a future date.

I found a thin acrylic rube which was about the size of an airline. This allowed me to use an airline holder as my mount.  The beauty of this method is i can very easily raise and lower it to set my water level.






Once i fill the tank ill trim the rod to about the level of the tank. to clean things up.  I do love the simplicity and adjust-ability of this method of mounting it.



Side view of the sensors in the tank. I plan on keeping the water level slightly below this overflow into the pump chamber. This should minimize nose :)


DIY Automated water changes

Arduino aquarium water changer:

Water changes seems to be the hardest or most time consuming part of keeping an aquarium.. So why not automate it?  In a previous write up i build an automated dosing system i called the Arduino auto doser.  I plan on using the same concept to build an automated water change system with a bit of a twist.

Most water changers simply drain water out than add water back in.  Since my nano reef is a 12G Fluval edge this system would create air bubbles in the top of the tank taking away from its clean aesthetics.  In this system I plan to take out water as the same time i add it. This should keep the water at a consistent level having less impact on the tank while maintaining that elegant look.

For this project I will being using a triple head dosing pump. For now we are only going to use 2 of the heads.. however a third may be useful down the road if i ever decide to do a frag tank. and fill it with water taken from the main nano.

The pump I decided on an industrial Watson marlow pump which i picked up off ebay for about $55. I originally order some cheaper ones from over seas but worried about how precise they were.. this made me lean towards a higher end pump.

wastson-marlow-1 watson-marlow-2


The pump head ever has an adjuster to fine tune the output.  This should allow me to calibrate each line to push an identical amount of water.
The pump was previously used for what looks like ink so all hoses will be replaced.

Once calibrated you could automate this with a simple digital wall timer.. however I tend to like safety precautions so I plan on using arduino as my timer with a sensor to kill power to the pump if the water level gets to high.

The fluval edge only has a small collar to work with so everything must be precisely calibrated.



Fluval edge reef rim

I’m still waiting for the pump to show up in the mail.. So check back often or sign up to our email list at the top of the page as this project will be updated once i receive the goods :)

The pump and my optical sensor finally showed up. So far so good for the initial testing.

The ensure for the pump side is complete. Not the prettiest but it eo do the job. It’s enclosed to keep it quiet and prevent and possible leak!




I made a water level sensor holder only to realize my aftermarket led light hits the wires!! Rats. I’ll have to make a second one and hold a sensor on each side of the aquaclear to get around this. Tomorrows project!







March 20 Update.

I moved this tank into a Nuvo 24 and no longer had access to a water line.  I convertered this into two projects.  The first is an auto top off (link to come) and an auto water change that works with Buckets.  Tank water is pumped into an empty bucket at the same time as water is pumped in from a bucket of fresh water.

Nano reef marine fish

As I’m starting my first nano saltwater tank I have been on an endless quest to find the perfect “nano fish” for my little reef.  In efforts to make everyone life easier I decided to build a guide of nano tank friendly fish.. My mini reef is going to be built inside of a 12G fluval edge.My main goal is to find fish around 2″ or less that will work in a nano tank.  If you have any suggestions or additions leave me a note in the comments

Side note: this page will be for ever growing as i discover more interesting nano fish ill update the site.. with out further ado we shall start off with my first fish:

Yellow Clown Goby
These cute little guys are a nice bright yellow, and fairly active.  They grow to a maximum of 1.5″ adn are very peaceful.  Its recommended to have a tank that is a minimum of 10G.
Having now had one for a few weeks, they are extremely cute but picky eaters. So far mine only really likes to eat mysis.  The only other downfall is they may nip at the polyps on SPS corals.



Green Clown Goby

Green Clown Gobys are another small nano fish that will only grow to about 1 3/4″ They are fairly peaceful and will be happy in a tank 10G or larger.  Their diet is similar to the YCG above and enjoy meaty foods such as mysis, brine shrimp and other frozen foods.




12g edge nano reef tank log


I have always been wanting to try my hand at saltwater and decided a nano reef for the bedroom would be delightful! Now most people say saltwater is hard and to start with the biggest tank possible.. I plan to debunk that myth that holds many pople back by doing a nono (questionably pico) reef as my first reef tank.

Ideally you would want to start with a marine tank.. for some strange reason i decided to go with a freshwater tank, this is likely because i had spent months dry starting a freshwater shrimp tank out of my actual marine tank the 24g lost shrimp city. The tank used there was an innovative marine nuvo 24 which is a beautiful bent glass aquarium. If i ever break it down.. i’m sure it will end up as a reef.

For now lets start small and begin our journey with the 46;l/12g Fluval edge


My journey started on Dec 15 2014:

I moved my shrimp and fish from my edge to the 24g lost shrimp city

12g two days ago


The shrimps/fish new home (ironically in a proper reef tank)


With the former inhabitants in there new home it was time to clean out the tank. I find using water and a 2″ stainless razor the quick and eay way to clean a tank.. about 20 minutes of cleaning the tank looked good as new.





For the heater i decided to go with the Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm 75-Watt heater as its has a digital thermostat for added reliability and is super thin to take up minimal tank space.


I then added about half a bag of live sand.  Being a small tank and myself being a tad impatient i decided live sand/live rock were a must to get the tank up and running in a reasonable amount of time. It only took about half a bag (10lbs) to fill the tank.


Next it was time to get some salt water added  along with a powerhead. Now we get to wait for it to clear. (Should take 2-3 days)




…and the journey to the dark side begins!

In freshwater you have your fitler with ceramic media and sponges as your biological filter.  In marine tanks the rocks is your main filter.  You can start with cheaper base rock but you will be waiting along time for the rock to colonize with bacteria and become alive.  Being such a small tank i decided to go all out and stock it with 100% live rock from the beginning.

I went a little overkill buying 20-25lbs of live rock through a classified add.  The rock came form an establish tank and was fully live/cured! Perfect to jump start the cycle on a new tank.


Sadly the tank was overly cloudy and I couldn’t see what I was doing so I drained the tank and got to work stacking rock







Jan 12 / 2014
Its been just shy of a month since my journey began. Looking back at the original rockscape i see how bad my designs were.. I must have re-scaped the rocks atleast 50 times before i settled on something i like.. and in ta tank like this with only a small opening to work through it can be a huge PITA.. that being said im very pleased with the end design.   When creating your scape be sure to leave space around the edges to properly clean the glass. I finally got my custom UltraBrite Led System which is a huge upgrade over the stock light.

About 5 days in and 50 re-arranges later I finally got a scape I’m happy with





I originally just balances the rocks in place and later used dabs of superglue gel and putty At the joints to stabilize my creation

A little over a week after I started my ammonia and nitrite were barely read able and I only had a bit of nitrate showing up. I did a small water change and added my first inhabitant


2 days before Christmas.. The next day my impatience got the best of me and I picked up a small purple bonsai sps and an alpha/omega zoa which came complete with a bonus bristle star wrapped around it!



Dec 26: Boxing Day! What a perfect day to go stock up on some reef goodies! I packed up the fiancé and headed out to find some new creatures to stock out little glass cube of reef. We ended up at an amazing little store run by a fellow reef enthusiast. My Boxing Day booty started off with an awesome little cleaner shrimp, 2 blue leg hermit crabs, a very entertaining porcilin crab and 2 coral frags






After about 30 minutes of drip acclimating everything it was time to introduce them to their new home










One of the amazing things about corals is many of them contain a floss-florescent pigment that makes them glow under the uv spectrum. I absolutely loved the glow and started to hunt down corals to light up my tank like a black light party at night!





I meet another local reefer who was kind enough to show me her tank and hook me up with some more frags to get me started!







It felt like time to add a small fish. One of my favourite finds so far is the yellow clown goby. This little guy is only about 1.5″ full grown and is a peaceful addition to a small reef. As a side note of caution he has been spotted nipping polyps on my purple bonsai sps



The same day I also picked up a green trumpet coral. It amazes me how it can be so small and hard out of water and it grows and moves once it’s i. The water and happy under the lights. Corals really are amazing little creatures




The porcilin crab absolutely loves that thing. He has claimed it as his new home and rest on the heads and spends most of his day filter feeding

Next I wanted move move by on the tank and added a head of hammer coral , a new zoa (Green Bay packers) and a mushroom






Jan 20:

Last night I decided to get my little yellow clown goby a friend and picked up a baby perc clownfish. Very cute little guy!


Jan 25:
I’m start to see lots of new growth and new palops. So exciting!











Time to add a little more color!
My latest Addition is a pink and white coco worm



innovative marine nuvo 24 – The lost shrimp city


After realizing i was severly suferring from multiple tank syndrome i decided it was time to consolidate a few of my tanks.. but if i was going to cut down on tank s the new one had to be pretty awesome. I love the look of Mr Aqua 12G long tanks however it wasnt quite enough capacity to combine a few shrimp tanks..

Let me introduce the innovative marine nuvo 24. This stylish little tank is is made of 6mm bent glass and has a built in sump… this is generally a salt water thing but seemed perfect to hide all of the equipment and keep that clean look. One of the best part are the dimensions. The tank is 36x12x13. The sump area is about 3″ deep leaving 10″ ish deep for the display area.

Innovative marine nuvo 24

The stock pump is 460 ish GPH which has tons of flow for a small thank however i feel its a bit overkill for my shrimp (and a little loud) so i just ordered a Sicce Syncra Silent 1.0 Pump – 251 GPH.


For lighting I decided to try out the new ecoxotic e-series, this awesome little light has tons of par and a wireless remote that lets youe-series-ecoxotic fine tune each color to achieve the perfect blend. the light also had a built in timmer and a few pre-programmed modes to simulate clouds and thunder storms. (these modes cant be used with the built in timer.. but i plan on fixing that later with an arduino based controller) The light it selv is very small and sleek




The wood for the scape was stolen out of my other nano tanks. After about 20 different spaces i finally designed on a layout using 3 chunks of driftwood into one feature.



(offsetted for astecticinterest.. always rember to use the rule of thirds!) it was time to start my dry start (DSM)

For my new tank i decided to go with Glosso due to is ease of maintenance.. but omg was it a slow proccess. I had a lush carpet of HC in a little over a month. my glosso dry start had two months to grow before i start to fully fill and even when flooded 2 months later it still had lots of work todo.





Now with a pretty cool design ready i needed to find a stand. The cube stand I had was 36″ wide and fit the tank perfectly.. however it was pretty flimsy and I didnt trust it with 150lbs of water ontop of it.  Time to re-enforce it!


To add strength I glued strips of 5/8″ plywood to the stand using PL400 , clamped it down and let it dry over night.


Once dry i used a bit of drywall mud to smooth it out and bled the seams from the origional stand with the plywood.
with the structural work done it was time for paint.


And i do say it turned out awesome!  The seams blended perfectly and gave the stand a nice chunky look… which a weight worthy stand ready it was time to fill it.


I added a giant bag of bio-rings from various other tanks and let the tank run over night, tested the water the next day and things looked good so i added my first batch of shrimp



More updates to come once I get the new pump and co2 diffuser :)

Jan 12 2015:
Well it’s been a good month plus since the last update and the glosso is slowly but surely spreading. I finally almost have a nice lush carpet!








1 2