It has been about six months since we first introduced John Ciotti’s innovative upside down aquascape nano reef tank. When we visited the Southern California MAS a couple of weeks ago, we had the chance to visit this aquarium at Ecoxotic’s LED showroom and to sit down with John for a little Q&A about this nano tank. The growth of the corals is pretty decent since the original post and this reef tank executes a lot of great aquascaping principles. For starters it is asymmetrical in all three dimensions, top to bottom, left to right and front to back.
The image above makes the top boulder appear a little symmetrical but there is a decent slant from the back left to front right which balances out the look. The textures of the reef corals are also well distributed with the sun corals and tube worms having a perfect micro habitat all to themselves. The upside down nano reef uses very efficient, low power equipment and all of the selected animals have modest requirements, qualifying this tank as a model Eco-friendly reef aquarium. Follow the break for the full Q&A.
RB: What was your impetus for creating this reef tank?
JC: The idea of the aquarium concept came to me on impulse more then anything. I hadn’t had any sort of clue or divine indication that this was going to end up this way. Obviously the thought of creating an aquascape out of the norm was intended, but to how far out I didn’t know. I suppose my mom telling me I needed more overhangs in every aquarium I scaped as a child could have had some sort of significant impact on this particular layout, repressed feelings LOL?
RB: Were there some corals or fish you wanted to highlight?
JC: Having the opportunity to scape aquariums often allows for equal opportunity in exhibiting species dominant or specific systems. I’ve wanted to see a display with Pterapogon kauderni, Ricordea florida and Tubastrea for some time. Not just a hodge podge of coral and fish though, this needed serious direction, focus and a philosophy. Majority of the corals and the fish shown in this nano reef are the very corals that intrigued my curiosity some decade and a half ago, this aquarium is kind of a nostalgic flash memory of my marine aquarium beginnings.
RB: What kind of tank, rock, sand, light, flow, filtration, additives? What kind of maintenance?
JC: The tank is a custom 18″ all in one type containing a small and simple protein skimmer as well as your standard return pump setup not to forget the single MP10 Vortech creating a nice wave motion.
The rock had come from a previously established larger aquarium system along with a bit of sand. The rest of the sand added was a mix of CaribSea’s Oolitic and Fiji Pink live sand.
The lighting consists of a 17.5″ Ecoxotic Panorama LED fixture upgraded with an additional Ecoxotic 453nm blue Module. The lighting is was gives this aquariums it’s dramatic presence in person, the appropriate blend of color and dancing light as it ripples on the sand bed.
My maintenance is a bit different from how I was doing it a year ago when the aquarium was established. I currently perform a weekly water change of 50% with SeaChem’s AquaVitro salt mix and every other water change I use the old removed water from my larger SPS system to make up the exchange. I top off every few days with RO and don’t dose much of anything except BW Reef BioFuel and MicroBacter 7. I find the non photosynthetic corals and micro fauna benefit from it greatly.
RB: How did you make such a top-heavy looking reefscape? What is holding the shit up?
JC: Strong the force is with this, yes? The scape was constructed with the use of a single piece of 3/4″ PVC cut to length and slide through 4 pieces of LR. I created a base by drilling a hole half way into the bottom chosen rock and a cap by repeating the process for the top.
RB: Is there anything you wish you could do differently?
JC: I really wish I could have kept the 7 Cardinals that were originally added to the aquarium, it had a much great overall impact. I had to remove them as they two that are currently inhabiting the system started to display breeding behavior. Other then that it would be nice to have done this on a slightly larger scale.
RB: What have you learned from building this reef aquarium set up?
JC: Aesthetics are just as much a fragile balance as the ecosystem inside our fragile watered filled ideas. Every time I look at my aquarium I’m awe struck with natures achievements.
RB: Do your photosynthetic corals grow under the LED lights?
JC: So much that I’m having to constantly put new ric babies in different locations, I’ve run out of room up top. I think the stereotype that LED lighting won’t grow corals is finally lifting, it really is ridiculous how much miss information is out there.
RB: Any other observations you’d like to volunteer about this set up?
JC: All the fish and coral were either captive raised or collected from an established system. I’d really like to see more aquarium push on towards sustainability and aesthetic focus. Happy reefing and keep progressing!