Reef nutrition

Celebration of Felicia's Predator Reef!

Thank you so much for sharing, Maureen! And thank you for all the kind words everyone! I was so thrilled when Marine Depot asked to feature my tank. It was so fun to work with them on this video. I am thrilled with how it turned out and its so fun to have it go to everyone's emails today! I am so glad you all like it!

For more information, here is the link to the online version of the email they sent out, and here is the link to the feature page on their website with more specs and info about the tank.
That's amazing. How did you go about choosing the species that are in there? Are there any that you really wish you could have but likely wouldn't work?
Thank you! The mix of inhabitants wasn't originally planned out and just sort of evolved over time. I had my 30 gallon which had a crash and had some corals and inhabitants left over, but not a ton. I decided to take advantage of that to start over with a fresh build and really focus on building a sump and equipment set up that would be easy to maintain and more reliable. My plan when I restarted was originally to just have a mixed reef with probably the standard mix of nano fish and some small wrasses. However, I got the system set up and then was just feeling really burned out on the hobby after the previous crash and just not very excited about the tank. I decided I wanted to find something new to try to really get me excited and interested in the tank again. I loved having seahorses, but they were too much work for me to manage with finishing my PhD, so I started researching other unique fish that would be really interesting and different, but not too difficult to care for. That's what led me to the lionfish.

I decided to drive down to Aquatic Collection and talk to them about wanting dwarf lionfish and see what they could get for me from the wholesaler. When I got there, they had a Fu Manchu in stock that was super healthy and already eating frozen food, so I came home right then with my first lionfish! Also while I was at the store, one of the employees was talking to me about what could go with lionfish and he was so excited that I was doing a predator tank because it meant I could keep an eel. They had a whole bunch of little snowflake eels in stock that day too, so I ended up with one of those as well. So that whole shopping trip just ended up being serendipitous!

Once I committed to the lionfish, I knew I couldn't have any shrimp or small fish, so I decided I was ok with that. I traded in my cleaner shrimp and a couple wrasses I still had for store credit when I got the first lionfish. I did however decide to take the risk of keeping my clowns even though they are technically small enough to be eaten. I just love seeing them in their BTA's, so I didn't want to get rid of them. I also thought that with the large island of BTA's that the clownfish would be protected, since they never come out of their BTA's really anyway. Turns out that's been the case. The lionfish don't go near the BTA's and the clownfish never stray far out of the BTA's, so they've been together for 10 months now and none of the lionfish have ever tried to hunt the clownfish. The other two lionfish were selected based on their size and their availability locally. The final fish addition was the tang, which was because I have some issues with hair algae due to the nitrates in the system (predator fish are messy!), and I really wanted an algae eating fish. It had to be a fish that would be ok at least for a while in my 40B, but big enough to not be food for the lionfish, so that's how I settled on the Tomini Tang. The bristletooth tangs don't need nearly as much space as the other tang species. A while back, I did want to have a wrasse to eat pests and things, so I got a large leopard wrasse that I thought would be big enough for the lionfish not to eat. Unfortunately, that wrasse disappeared suddenly after being healthy in the tank for several months. I never found a body, so I assume one of the lionfish ate it. So I guess in terms of what I wish I could have but won't work would just be a wrasse, but someday when I upgrade to a big tank, I'll just get a really big wrasse :) Otherwise I haven't had any issues with the inhabitants getting along.

In terms of corals, I just pick things that I like and there hasn't been a master plan on that front. The stocking has evolved as my taste changes. I have really gotten into gorgonians and I have a new found appreciate for leather corals, so there ended up being a lot of those. I do want this tank to be easy to maintain, since I'm very busy with finishing my PhD, so I do take that into consideration on the coral front. Hence why there are very few SPS.
At the end when they showed the progression it seemed like things grew very fast. Did you get everything as frags or were some of them whole colonies? Mine seem to grow so slowly.

I showed the video to my wife. She loves it and wants our tank to look that good. :(
I was going to like this until the last bit! Awww :( Well my tank is full of easy things like softies and gorgs, so its definitely doable! The whole point of this tank was to make my life easier, so I can't really say this is skill or anything! haha! We all tend to not realize how awesome our own tanks look, so I'm sure yours looks great!
At the end when they showed the progression it seemed like things grew very fast. Did you get everything as frags or were some of them whole colonies? Mine seem to grow so slowly.
Well a few corals survived the crash and were already decent sized, so that definitely helped. It seems like growth is exponential, its super slow until they get bigger and then its super fast. For example, the duncan was already a decent sized colony when it went into this tank (however, I purchased it as a 2 head frag almost 4 years ago, so I grew it out) and then lately its really exploded in growth. Its like a softball size colony now. The BTA's were also from my previous tank. I started with 4 small ones that have gotten really large and split a ton of times. Even with removing some splits, I currently have like 9+ BTA's. Two of the clams were also from previous tanks and I've had them both for 2+ years, so those have grown out in my tanks. The biggest clam was purchased from a friend who downsized her tank. I've had it for about 10 months now and it was big when I got it from her, but its grown a ton since then. All of the zoanthids were also grown out from tiny frags. The gorgonians however were purchased already as large pieces, so that helped fill things in fast. They do grow well for me though. Also, a lot of the newer leathers came as big pieces. The great thing about leathers is that they're cheaper than say SPS, so you get nice big pieces instead of tiny frags. So like the fiji leather, sinularia, colt coral, and cabbage leather are all about the size I purchased them at since they've only been in my tank for a few months. The nepthea however was pretty large when I got it, but its almost doubled in size in my tank.

That was a super long answer, but basically its a mix. Some things were bought large and some things were grown from small frags. :)

And about your stuff seeming to grow slow, like I said I think its exponential. When you just have small frags, there's only one branch point or a couple to grow from. You wait and wait and wait, and then the frag finally reaches a mini colony size and the next thing you know it takes off.