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

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

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