Tank Journal: My Pico Reef

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My first foray into the marine world came in the form of a little pico tank. Both cost and space forced my hand into starting with such a small set-up, but I was confident that my years of freshwater fish keeping would ease my transition into the reefy world.

After a bit of research I decided to go with TMC microhabitat 15. It seemed ideal, a sort of just add water kind of tank. It came with everything a budding reefer needs to get started.


 26/07/13: Unboxing!

Upon getting the tank wet a quick google led me to a reputable looking lfs specialising in marines. I picked up a kilo or so of live rock and a bag of live sand and let the tank cycle. Cycling seemed to be much quicker than in fresh water, a bonus of adding well cultivated live rock to the system, and I was soon ready for my first inhabitants.


28/07/13: Wet and cycling away.

A return to my lfs saw a haul of 2 dwarf blue legged hermits, 3 sexy shrimp, a pom pom crab and a yellow clown goby. Whilst I was there I couldn’t help but buy my first corals either, with some zoas and a trumpet coral also coming back with me.


1/09/13: Frist critters and corals added.

After aclimitsation everything settled in well. Although to my surpise, the rock that I have bought the zoas on suddenly seemed to start moving! After a little investigation and a trawl of the internet forums, I discovered that my zoas had in fact been grown on a type of mussel. Just my luck I thought! I had no intention of leaving them in there attached to this bivalve, and so my first experience of fragging was upon me, a little earlier than I had imagined it would. Fragging is perhaps not the right term for removing zoas from a mussel and transferring them to rock, propagation was the objective here, I just wanted rid of the mussel. Armed with a scalpel I carefully removed them from their previous residence, before gluing them to some live rock. Problem solved.


3/09/13: Unwelcome bivalve buddy. Gust appearance from snippers the pom pom crab.

After a few weeks I decided that my clean up crew wasn’t nearly gastropody enough (surely that’s an adjective!). I decided to go online in my search for stock this time, ordering in 2 cerith and 2 nassarius snails for the tank. I also took the opportunity to get some mushroom frags from the wholesaler as they seemed to be quite cheap. The tank progressed steadily from there. More corals were slowly added, green star polyps satisfied my need for some movement and vibrant colour in the tank. I naively purchased an alveopora, perhaps not the best coral for such a small tank, but you learn from these things. A duncan coral soon joined the mix, as well as various zoas and ricordea.


3/10/13:After a move around.


12/11/13: Progressing well.

Disaster struck one night. I had been running the tank open top, purely for aesthetic reasons. I had already had one incident, with a nassarius snail deciding it wanted to explore the detritus available on the drawers one night. That escapee was quickly spotted and returned to the tank unharmed. This time however, I was not so lucky. I woke one morning to see my yellow clown goby, dry as a bone lying on the top of the drawers of which the tank sits. I was pretty gutted. When you only have one fish you inevitably get attached, and this yellow clown goby was very interactive an used to eat from my fingers. Alas, a lesson was learnt and the standard cover that came with the TMC was put in place from that day on.

B-R3Rv3IgAE5_jK.jpg-largeRIP Gordon the clown goby

After the addition of another couple of corals, some xenia and a lovely acan this time, things soon started to look a little crowded in my little 15 litre pico reef.


13/07/14: Not even enough room to swing a shrimp in here! (note: photo taken before the untimely loss of Gordon)

Eventually it became apparent that my lust for the hobby was growing, my corals were growing, I wanted more stuff, and so plans for a new tank were made! As much as I’d love to go big, finances are really not on my side at this point in my career, so an increase of 7 litres would have to do from now, and an Aquanano 30 was purchased.


9/10/2014: New tank, more space!

I immediately enjoyed the new tank, the TMC microhabitat was acrylic, and I had inevitably covered it in scratches. The aquanano is glass on the other hand, so should withstand my clumsiness a bit better. The transfer was straight forward, and although only an increase in volume of 7 litres was had, I was very excited about the prospect of all the extra space I had. I promptly filled the extra space with corals and rocks, more zoas and a hammer coral joined the fray. I built a hood from Perspex for this tank, as the glass cover that came with was fiddly and not very user friendly. With that in place I decided to get another fish, this time going for a green coral goby. Although not as out going and interactive as the yellow clown goby, the green goby is undoubtedly beautiful, it has taken up residence in the alveopora. I like to think of it as a clownfish and anemone type of symbiosis, although quite what the alveopora gets out of having a goby wriggle around its polyps is anyone’s guess.


8/11/14: Update.


Green clown goby and alveopora love in.

So the tank has now reached critical mass, I have no plans to upgrade anytime soon. I will just enjoy just watching my little drop of the ocean grow, with perhaps a little tweak here and there, I will update as things change and if anything happens, but for now, that is all.