Back to reefing

9 years ago I my broke down my 34g reef tank after it took quite a lot of my time compared to my freshwater tanks.

Howevery I have decided to give it a reboot – but this time with better planning and more redundancy and automation. After I introduce the new tank I will talk about the mistakes I made in the past – no one likes to talk about this but I think it is important to learn from my own mistakes and the mistakes of others.

After all – having set up so many systems I can assure you that you get better at it every time.

Tank Selection:

I wanted to go small/nano this time again but overcome the caveats of a nano tank (stability) with more automation. My experience with the 34g AIO was that in the end i replaced just about everything (Seria Marine Biotob Cube – 130 Lites)

A 20g (75 Liter) tank was enough for me to work with – after all I dont really want any fish and stick to invertibrae mosty.

After doing quite alot of research I decied to go with the Red Sea Max Nano Cube – and here are my reasons:

  • the RSM has an option for filter socks without requiring a cabinet sump
  • the included LED system is fully controllable and offers decent timing shedules
  • comes with a decent cabinet option
  • ATO included



I already made a first replacement as the ATO will only top off for 1-2 days max, so I added an Auto Aqua Nano ATO which will allow me to use a 20 Liter container which should last for about a mont (currently using 0,5 Liters a day with much cooling due to the temperatures here. The included float valve ATO is okay if you dont mind filling the ATO every 1-2 days.

My old tank was a closed tank which did not really require any top off really, however at some point the LED fixture in the tank died after about 18 months – most likely like the salt water evaporated into the electronics. After removing the top and adding a new LED fixture the evaporation was quite an annoying task. So definitely go with an ATO as it saves time and helps keeing the salinity stable.

LED  – Red Sea ReefLED 50

Love the usability, however the delays between changing modes is a litle bit annoying as the light will turn off completely during the switch. I like the colors and I dont really see any reason to swap it for something else.

Temperature Controller

There are many aquarium temperature controllers but for now I am using an Inkbird 308 which i also use on my terrarium for the heat pad control. Will keep a close eye on it as im not sure how the metal probe will handle the saltwater – however there are waterproof probes as well. I have the wifi version but you dont really need it imho.


So far I am happy with it – took about 10 days for it to stop producing bubbles whis is normal for a new skimmer. Tunze Doc 9001 or 9004 would always be an option but at the moment im good.


Will be posting some tank pics soon, if you want close ups you can find them on Flickr. I have some pics from 2013 as well timestamps can be found in the exif data.

Reef Macros

ISO noise comparison between the M5 and the A7iii on the milky way

Just going to show a few crops here as you can get more detailed reviews elswhere but here are some facts:

  • both photos were shot in pretty much the same location (talking about 2km distance here) but we are not really looking at light pollution in this case
  • both photos were shot on the Samyang 14mm F2.8 (also sold as Rokkinon in some countries) – the a7iii using the Sigma MC-11 Adapter
  • both cameras used the same exposure settings, ISO 3200 and 25s
  • just for the record – its APS-C vs full frame.. so yeah less star trailing on the Sony

Apart from the sensor of course the photos were shot with similar parameters the M5 with High ISO and Long Exposure Noise Reduction

The Images are both unedited, as is when imported into lightroom with only the lens profile and lens CA corrections applied.

I rarely shot on ISO 6400 on the 500D and the M5 as it became significantly worse but will post some 12800 on the a7iii in the future.

Currently ISO 3200 is my go to setting for astro @ 25s the only real way to get better conditions is to move into a darker light zone which will hopefully be done in 2022 with the next milky way season.

New Blogpost and Camera

After quite along hiatus I decided get some stuff going again. I will try to update more on the blog – as you can propably see on the history the last 2 years have not been very active.

With that out of the way I have finally made the decision to switch from Team Canon APS-C to Team Sony Full frame but I will definitely still be using my Canon Lenses with the Sigma MC-11 adapter, but lets get into some detail….

Back in 2006 when i decided to go DSLR I did make the right choice to invest in a rather cheap entry level DSLR and to focus my hard earned cash into decent lenses instead. Camera technology improves rapidly… but lenses can be a good long time investment.
I purchased my 2 mostly used lenses before a longer trip to Scandinavia (Denmark and mostly Norway) the Canon 17-40 4.0 L USM and the Canon 70-200 4.0 L USM – and I still use the to this day after 15 years…
At some point I upgraded to the EOS 500D and eventually the Canon EOS M5 making the switch to Mirrorless in 2018.

At this point Canon was running the EF, EF-S and M lenses and eventually adding the RF lenses. I bought the M5 Travel and Explore Kit which came with both the EF-M Adapter and the EF M18-150 IS STM.
The EF-M 18-150 was my first ever IS lens and in the end I never used it because I will never sacrifice Image quality for light gear. If I take a long trip I will go full in when it comes to camera gear as I learned to appreciate taking my full camera gear up onto glaciers and highlands.

The M5 was technologically a very noticeable upgrade with a lot of features like remote shooting, tiltable screen and other stuff which in the end I mostly never used.
The M5 was the clear choice vs the M50 or the M6 back then because I shoot with a view finder 90% of the time and getting an extra viewfinder and attaching it did not sound like a viable option to me.

A bit later Canon revealed the EOS R with another set of lens and my next future upgrade was most likely going to be Full Frame and when i was considering getting a new camera in August 2021 the R series was definitely on the scope.
The Upgrade from the M5 was definitley going to happen as I was not happy with the ISO performance especially with Astrophotography being one of my favorite activities. I will include the update with some comparisons later.

Another negative for me was the handling of the M5 – with a big lens attached it just feels very awkward and I was not really happy with the build quality. For street photography the M5 is still a great choice especially with the EF-M 22m 2.0 pancake which gives you the classic 35mm on APS-C on a very low profile setup.

I have always been keeping an eye on the Sony development in the last few years especially with the Alpha 6xxx series and looking at a lot of reviews even recommended it to entry photographers that just wanted a decent camera for every day snapshots and travel photos.
A7ii or A7iii was the main choice for me at this even even tough both cameras can be somewhat considered “outdated” in 2021 and the features of the A7iii just convinced me to go the extra mile and invest in better ISO noise and autofocus.

I did decide to take the 28-70 kit lens along as I was yet to make some experience with – a decision which i mostly not necessarily regret but the end up in on-dmenad-standby and never being really used.

Here are some interesting facts regarding lenses I used in the past 15 years that i pulled of the metadata in lightroom with some additional info:

– the statistic may be off a bit as I did count both Raw and Jpegs but even since 2006 I hardly ever shoot in jpg and mostly its on accident or just take the occassional snapshot in Auto mode
– in some cases I did not get a good exif read regarding the make of the lenses but – yeah a 17-40mm in the exif data is pretty obvious. The only real confusion here was mostly on 50mm where over time I upgraded the old Canon EF 50mm 1.8 to the Canon 50mm 1.8 STM
-my Samyang 14mm F2.8 is not included as it does not write into exif data

So yeah – besides the 17-40 and 70-200 i really only need to pack the 50 1.8 put hey – I always go all in…

To be continued…


App based Aquarium measurements with the JBL Easy Test

For my freshwater aquariums I tend to use the JBL Easytest 6 in 1 which offer a very fast way of check Aquarium stats.

JBL has released their Testing Strips in combination with a color card and app which allows you to scan an track your Aquarium stats so i decided to give it a try.

The App is quite simple – you create an account and register your aquariums. Once you scan your measurements you can track them online a see a history of your stats.

Once you create multiple measurements you can track the history of your stats as seen here:

In the case above you can visually see the impact of a 30% water change on the stats.

The App also informs you about recommended task in order to fix your stats, along with some own product recommendations of course 😉


  • Easy tracking with a history view of your stats
  • Adds date created so not much manual documentation required
  • Easy Testing: Insert, wait 60 seconds and take a photo
  • Acces via Smartphone or online


  • Sort of expensive but a real time saver, refill kits are a bit cheaper if you already have the color card
  • Multi-Test strips have a bad reputation for being inaccurate
  • requires an online account In order to use with history data

English Product Page:

Camera Gear vs Mobile Phone

Instragram Filter

So I am currently at the Arube Atmosphere EMEA 2018 conference in Croatia.

Everytime I pack my bags I have to wage on wether to bring my camera and gear or to just take pictures with my phone which is not nearly as satisfying because the lack of manual control and framing due to the lack of lenses.

I have already downgraded to a mirrorless camera (EOS M5) to make travel with a camera easier, however – the size of my lenses remains the same and takes up most of the space.

Since I wanted to focus on taking some snapshots I decided to go with my phone which I carry around almost everywhere. The small space you need to bring comes with some caveats:

  • no real exposure control, can perhaps be corrected by filters – but that is not really an option
  • no manual control on Aperture on Exposure (using the default Camera app) – this is the big one here
  • Issues with compression and resolution: my Iphone SE has a 12 MP sensor, that is not the problem – putting a large resolution on a small sensor leads to issues like compression and artifacts
  • I like to keep Images in Raw – that is a big price for me to pay

Lets look at the bright side:

  • camera is almost always at hand, the best camera and set of lenses are useless if you spot a moment but do not have the camera with you
  • great for small image distribution on various plattforms (FB, Instagram, Twitter eg.): this is a big one – processing images and uploading them from a “big” camera is a whole different story

Once factor is not really that much of a deal, Image composure and using your creative mind – you can still play around alot but camputring the exact moment without a good shutter button can be an issue here.

Question is:

Would I give up my camera? – No way

Would I go through the extra effort to bring my lenses? – Definitely yes

What about international flight? – Well depends on the situation but If I travel for business purposes the awnser will amost always be no due to the amount of equiptment I already bring with me.

Am I satisfied with the resultas? – Sort of but I would really to have High Resolution RAW files but sometimes its just the memory that count that you can bring back alive with a snapshot.

Here are some results: