Mark Peterson's 10 Gallon Reef
by Mark Peterson

The above pictures show the growth in Mark's tank over 4 months.
click on images to enlarge

"Simplicity" -- That is the motto for this little 10 gallon Reef. It began with free Utah Aragonite Rock and Oolitic Sand (1.5 inch depth). There was a good amount of coral from WMAS friends and about $300 was spent on lighting, coral, fish, etc. Just five small pieces of Live Rock and about 2 quarts of Live Sand started this tank right. It was set up a few days after the WMAS March 2003 meeting and some of the accompanying images allow a comparison of it's growth over the ensuing four months. A Crocea Clam was one of the first organisms added and it ate up the rapidly greening water that grew in the first two weeks, thanks to half of the water coming from a friends tank. Lighting is a 36 Watt Power Compact blue/pink combination with a UV filtered halogen 20 Watt lamp added later, because the sun stopped shining on the tank in the summer. The picture of the green clam was taken in direct sunlight. The clam is purple out of the sun.

The water is moved by two small powerheads, a Rio 400 and a Minijet. Both water streams are pointed toward the surface of the tank. . The pumps help break up the surface and continually send water to the surface to ensure efficient gas exchange. Despite the water movement, sometimes a film appears on the surface in the area where the water is not broiling. A paper towel thrown on the water and quickly removed, takes away the film.

No heater is used, because the pumps effectively warm the water slightly above room temperature. The lights and especially the warm winter sun require some tank cooling so a fan turns on with the lights. The fan is aimed at the lights and also moves some air from directly over the tank water which is covered only with a sheet of shelf glass elevated about 1/2 inch in the back. The light was a do-it-yourself (DIY) project with a reflector made from locally purchased mirrored aluminum. Currently there are over 30 coral both hard and soft, eight fish, many crabs and snails, a feather duster and the Clam. Seven types of macroalgae assist with filtration and beautification. Caulerpa is harvested almost weekly. Caulerpa and the rare Red Grape Algae (back right corner of tank) are given away to WMAS friends. Two Firefish Gobies died in the first month, but since then everything else, including fish added before the gobies, has survived. Recently, a trial flatworm treatment was administered. That killed one of the two Green Chromis, but everything else, including all invertebrates, survived. Natural flatworm treatment has been used ever since [and as of this writing, not one flatworm can be seen!].

Water changes are made with tap water and evaporated water is replenished with the same calcium rich tap water. Absolutely no additives are used. The only testing ever done is for specific gravity to ensure that water changes don't throw it way off. The one exception, a recent phosphate test by a friend revealed practically zero phosphate. Feeding has been fairly heavy. About a pint of Velvet Green brand phytoplankton is fed daily (a pint of tank water is necessarily removed, hence a water change). Meaty food is approximately 0.5cc of frozen Great Salt Lake Brine Shrimp. Half the Brine Shrimp is pulverized for the filter feeders. Flake food is also fed almost daily. Initially, a double dose of Julian Sprung's Marine Snow was fed daily. When that ran out in two months, Marc Weiss's Black Powder/SpectraVital combo was the replacement coral food. Catching Brine Shrimp from the Great Salt Lake is one of the favorite pastimes of this tank's owner, Mark Peterson. He is truly a fish nerd!

Mark is one of the six founding members of the WMAS. As Treasurer for the first three years, Mark worked hard to build the club. As WMAS President for two years he brought the WMAS out of poverty and set the stage for it's current huge success, leaving it in the hands of the energetic and capable current President, Adam Blundell. Though his first saltwater tank was started in 1993, Mark has had a freshwater aquarium almost without a break since 1968. At first, he kept track of expenditures on his saltwater aquarium and in one year spent over $2000 on his 55 gallon tank. And if this isn't embarrassing enough, he admits he actually has seen scores of fish die in his personal aquariums. Hopefully he has learned his lessons. Mark was the first in the WMAS to try the Jaubert method and early on, grew Mangroves in his groundbreaking Reverse Daylight Photosynthesis (RDP) Refugia Sump. If you let him, he will chew your ear off about his Ugly Green Haired Mermaid (see )

Participating in the WMAS since it's founding in 1995, Mark has taken the opportunity to visit 100's of hobbyists homes. He has seen their tanks and learned from them. This has given him a unique perspective about how tanks can flourish under almost any condition.  Mark may be reached via email: [email protected]