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July 2006

Diana's 33 Gallon Reef


I feel very honored to have my little tank featured as TOTM here on Canreef. There are so many amazing tanks out there; it is truly an honor to have my tank recognized at this stage in the game. After all, I have been tiptoeing around in the saltwater world for only about a year and a half now.


The tank is a 33 gallon standard Hagen tank, which measures 36" long, 12" wide, and 18" high. In some people's eyes, this constitutes a Nano tank. Believe it or not, this is my largest reef tank, which is the combination of two of my previous tanks: a 5 gallon and a 25 gallon. Because of this, much of the livestock in this tank is actually much older than the tank itself. The tank has been setup in its current form for approximately 10 months, while some of the fish, corals, and inverts have been in our care for up to 2.5 years. In all honesty, after I completed the initial aquascaping of this tank, I haven't really done very much to it. I've just sat back and watched it grow. Included are a few photos to show exactly how much it has grown since I first put the tank together.  


The tank in January

The substrate is coarse aragonite sand which is home to more bristle worms then I care to admit. The live rock is mostly Fiji, approximately 20-25 lbs, and is almost completely encrusted with mushrooms or green star polyps. There is hardly any rock visible anymore! The pink coralline algae has really taken off in this tank since I started adding calcium supplement. It has almost completely covered my two powerheads (see picture), and is growing on the glass wherever I don't use the razor. I have considered removing it from the glass, to get that "clean" look back, but I love the color and haven't been able to bring myself to scrape it off.   

            What else can I say about this tank? It is relatively simple for a reef tank, actually not much more complex than a freshwater tank. Coming into the world of saltwater I was scared that I wouldn't have success because of how complicated everything seemed to be. Honestly, I am still scared of saltwater. Reading about huge complex reef systems gets me a little worried that I am doing something wrong with this tank (or with any of my saltwater tanks for that matter). But so far I have had great success, so I guess I will just keep doing it the simple way.




Tank Chemistry:

I hate to admit it, but I rarely test this tank's levels. Once in a blue moon I will test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, and when I do they are always optimal (0,0,<10). I recall testing hardness during the problem with Kent salt, and it was within normal range. Aside from the necessary chemicals entering the tank during water changes I add a couple supplements; monthly I will add calcium to the tank (mainly for the coralline algae), as well as a small dosage of Kent's Essential Elements.


Lighting and Photoperiod:

The lighting on this tank is a 36" 192 watt Coralife Aqualight Power Compact,

1 x 10,000K and 1 x Actinic. This equals roughly 6 watts per gallon of light. I had a weaker light on the tank previously, which is why I didn't put any LPS or SPS in the tank. When I upgraded the light everything started taking off and I could have added some hard corals, but I decided just to leave it as a softy tank. I thought it would be neat to see a tank with only mushrooms and the like. The photoperiod on this tank is fairly standard; the actinic lights come on around 9 AM followed by the white lights at around 10 AM. The white lights then go off at around 9 PM and the actinic lights off at around 10 PM. There is also a moonlight on this tank which is on at night (mainly to aid the clownfish fry in their hatching cycle). 



Some of you might be a little surprised to see how basic my setup is on this tank. I have no sump, no refugium, and nothing other than a filter, a couple pumps for flow, a heater and a skimmer. The equipment is as follows:

            • Eheim 2213 canister filter

            • 250 watt heater

            • 2 x Maxijet 600 pumps

            • Prizm skimmer

            • Glass Top


            The skimmer and one of the powerheads shut off at night since the tank is located in our bedroom. So, the tank is only getting “skimmed” for approximately 12 hours each day (although I’m not sure how effective the Prizm skimmer is anyways).


Feeding and Maintenance:

 The time I spend maintaining this tank is minimal, it seems to take care of itself quite nicely. Approximately 5 times a week I will feed Hikari Brine Shrimp and PE Mysis to the tank, mainly for the fish but also for the Tube Anenome. Once a week I will top off the tank with fresh tap water (that's right!), since I seem to get quite a bit of evaporation due to the glass top not fitting quite right.

I also end up razor-blading the front glass once a week.  About once a month I will do a 20% water change (yep...just tap water- no RO/DI here), remove some macro algae, and maintain the canister filter. At this time I will also add two supplements: Reef Calcium and Kent Essential Elements. And that's it! It's a wonderful little tank that thankfully takes care of itself without too much of my interference.


Tank Inhabitants: 


I would say this tank is stocked quite nicely for its size. I could probably add 1 or 2 more fish, but I do not want to crowd it, and/or ruin the nice balance the tank has.

2 Ocellaris Clownfish (they are a pair and produce a new clutch of eggs every 2 weeks)

2 Green Clown Gobies (which love to fight and are probably both males)

1 6-Line Wrasse

1 Yellow-Tail Blue Damsel

1 Anthias (I think he/she is lonely and would love to one day have a big school of them in a large tank)

3 Sexy Shrimp (they cluster around the tube anemone and never venture very far from it. Funny, I always thought the anemone would eat them)

1 Bubbletip Anemone (this guy has been through a lot after I almost killed it in another tank, but it has come back and seems to be pretty happy)

Orange and Green Tube Anemone

Turbo and Astrea snails

Blue Legged Hermit Crabs


Red Mushrooms

Blue Mushrooms

Green Striated Mushrooms

Multicolor Mushroms

Fuzzy Mushroom

Green Star Polyps


Pink Star Polyps Toadstool Leather

Neon Green Sinularia

Clove Polyps





Well, that's about it for my 33 gallon softy-reef. I am very proud of it and hope it continues to flourish for years to come (although its contents will likely eventually be transferred to a larger tank). In the future I hope to set up more reef tanks, as I have so many ideas I need to tinker with. Many will probably be larger tanks but I love the challenge of creating a reef environment in a small tank. Side projects are always distracting me, and keeping new and exotic species is appealing (only to have them flourish and potentially breed, of course). A current project of mine (along with a few fellow Canreefers) is to raise my H. reidi seahorse fry to adulthood. I am very ambitious about this project, since if we can raise captive seahorses it will decrease the need for them to be collected from the wild (as well as providing local hobbyists with disease-free and healthy ponies). This is of course a goal with all saltwater fish and corals, since in this day and age we should be doing all we can to protect our wild reefs and fishes, and not help destroy them.





Page designed by Paul Callow, 2005