Andrew Kwon’s Dymax iQ3 pico reef
I am a big fan of blogging but trawling pico sections of reef forums is my guilty pleasure and I came across this thread by Andrew Kwon on nano-reef.com which really impressed me. It’s a few years off the age Brandon’s pico vase but being in it’s 3rd calendar year is pretty impressive as most people’s pico/nano systems crash or they get bored of their pico reef (Editors note: or they upgrade). It definitely takes someone with real dedication to furthering pico reefing to run a tank this long, I only hope I can say I am one of those people in years to come.
I caught up with Andrew to ask him a few questions about his ‘aging’ pico reef.
Name, where are you from, hobby experience etc
I’m Andrew Kwon, I’m from Mississauga, Ontario (just outside of Toronto). I have been in the hobby almost 8 years. Started with a 15 gallon nano, moved onto a 112 gallon show tank and also have kept other marine species such as Sepia Bandensis (dwarf cuttlefish) and Octopus (O, Briareus). I’m currently keeping garden eels in an almost 10″ deep sandbed in a 90 gallon as well. I am fortune to be relatively close to at least half a dozen reef stores who bring in 1000s of corals and fish on a weekly basis.
What size is your nanoreef and how old is it? What make/model is it?
2 gallon dymax IQ3 I believe the water volume is actually a little less then 2 but I’m not 100% sure. It’s 8x6x8 with a couple of tiny back compartments. Originally started in June 2010.
Tell us about the filtration you run on this tank.
Filtration is 1-2lbs of live rock and one mangrove pod. I also run filter floss in a red sea mini filter and 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of GFO and Carbon.
What lighting do you use?
Lighting is a par 30 bulb. I believe it’s 3 royal blue one neutral white and one cool white but I’m not 100% sure. When I originally bought the bulb it failed a few weeks in after that I got a free replacement and haven’t thought much about it since. It runs for about 11 or 12hrs on a timer and hopefully will last another 5+ years. I’m not someone who worries too much about lighting and par values ect. This is mostly a soft coral reef made up of frags. This was the first tank I lit entirely with led’s and have since started using them on my larger tanks.
What other equipment do you run?
There is a JBL auto top off but I’m not too happy with it. At times the pump does not turn on, which I suppose is better then overfilling. I will eventually replace with a tunze nano ato the main problem with auto top offs and pico tanks is there simply isn’t room for the sensor. I replaced the stock return pump with a mini jet 404 This is the largest powerhead that can fit in the back and it only fit after I removed the covers. There is also a tiny zoo meds powerhead in the back chamber. I had to drill a hole in the false wall for this. I should also mention when I originally setup the tank I thought there was enough flow and ended up drilling the tank while it was running! The red sea pico filter was primarily for detritus removal but also serves as a main source of flow. Water changes are done every 1-2 weeks with coralife salt. No dosing is currently needed.
Tell us about your corals.
What have you got and how many corals do you currently have? Several of the corals have been in here for more then 2 years. Several more were out competed or simply grown over by the green star polyps. Various zoanthids and palys including palythora grandis. purple cespitularia, echinopora , Duncanopsammia axifuga and 2 mini carpet anemones (Stichodactyla tapetum).
What about fish?
I have had a little goby here and there but found they only live for a few months. I may try another but the gobies suitable for a tank this size don’t really swim around and end up mostly hiding.
Tell us about the tank overall, what do you love about it, what problems have you had, modifications made and how you feel you have had a successful pico for so long.
I remember when I bought this tank, I was buying ghost shrimp to feed my cuttlefish at one of the big box fish stores. They had these tanks near the cash register and I decided to pick it up there. At the time my main reef was not doing so hot and I was pretty devoted to raising cuttlefish but wanted to try another small reef. I originally had a 15 gallon nano reef but that was long gone. I figured I could grab a few frags I had lying around and have this setup in no time. Closing in on 3 years later it’s still going. Along the way there were many problems. The dymax led light that came with it cannot really support anything. Eventually I bought 2 more and things looked alright but within a few short months if not weeks the led’s faded. IMO these are not long term suitable for anything and probably within 1 year they would burn out. I had a bit of a hard time coming up with ways to create more flow. It’s not like Ecotech make an MP01 and the tunze “nano” powerheads are way too big. Drilling the tank while it was running to hide another powerhead in the false wall was a bit of a challenge but it really helped with flow. This tank produces detritus like crazy.
I have also strugged with inverts such as sexy shrimp which are not really reef safe but so small the amount of damage they create is not very noticed in even a nano reef but with a tank 10 times smaller then a 20 gallon nano once they much on a few things you start to take notice. I tried a pom pom crab but it would hide all day even without anything to frighten it. Finally hair algae almost wiped this tank out in 2012 but after removing the rocks and doing manual removal, increasing GFO use and adding not one, not 2 but three mexican turbo snails I appear to have gotten 98% of the algae out. I do keep one mexican turbo in the tank currently. Most people will tell you that’s too much but if he dies I’ll remove him and for now things seem under control. I don’t think the tank would have made it this far if I had not removed the half inch or so of sand. Sure it looked nice but it served no purpose other then to trap detritus. Now you can hardly even tell the tank is bare bottom.
Have you got any future plans for this tank?
The only plan I have is to keep this tank running forever. I don’t see any logical reason why I’d ever tear it down. It uses almost no electricity I need at most 4 gallons of salt. When I move I figure I’ll just drop the tank in a 5 gallon bucket and fill it up with maybe 4 gallons of water so the entire tank is submerged with many fo the corals grown right to the tank.
Do you belong to a reef club? Which online forums do you use? What books do you read for reef knowledge?
I belong to nano-reef.com, reefcentral, aquariumpros.ca you can find me with the username andrewkw or corpusse. I do own several books such as the coral reef aquarium hardcover series but get most of my information online. I primarily use my books for fish ID’s and as something to browse through for fun. It’s just faster if you are looking for something specific to go online. That’s not to say there isn’t value in books, but in today’s modern world I would not say they are a necessity.
Anybody you want to thank? Anything else you’d like to say about your tank?
I would like to thank you for featuring my tank. As you know it’s not every day you see a pico tank of this age. Many people create them but almost everyone gives up. Sure people upgrade move and move on, but I would like to encourage everyone to keep their picos after the fact. While reefing is a very expensive hobby a pico truly is a drop in the bucket cost wise. 2 tanks that inspired me which both sadly are no longer running are nano-reef.com’s .Newman. and PJ86 3 gallon picos.