Pico reef

St. Louis, MO
Volume 2.6 Gallons
Make Fluval
Model Spec III
No photo


I've been running aquariums of various sizes for over 15 years, mainly freshwater. Along with this Fluval Spec III I run a 55g FW South American community tank and a 20g SW FOWLR that is slowly migrating to a reef tank.

I also just purchased a Marineland CornerFlo 220g tank that I'm still debating back and forth as to setting up for freshwater or saltwater. That's a long term project over the next 12-18 months as part of re-finishing my basement.


This aquarium sits on my desk at work and helps provide some light relief. I choose the Spec III because of its small footprint, integrated rear chamber to hide all the media and components, and ability to still create a nano reef environment.


As with most people creating a reef with the Spec III, I opted not to utilize the stock media at all. Instead, I created a DIY media rack from egg crate that houses Purigen, ChemiPure Elite, and some filter foam. The foam is cleaned every two or three days. The Purigen and ChemiPure Elite hopefully help reduce a build up of nitrate or phosphate.

The bulk of the filtration should come from the 3-4lbs of live rock. Live rock, as in any reef tank, provides for beneficial bacteria to keep a healthy ecosystem.

There is no skimmer in use on such a small aquarium.


I love the Ecoxotic EcoPico LED arm light - I added two additional strips of LED lighting to provide enough life to support corals. I felt that the stock Spec III lighting would not be sufficient to house corals. The lights run on a timer from 8a.m-5p.m to mirror when I'm typically in the office. I'm exploring options for controlling each LED strip to gently ramp up and down the lighting.


The stock pump and lighting was replaced before the aquarium was even set up. I feel that the Marineland 606 gives enough flow (up to 153GPH) without needing something like a Hydor Nano 240 given the size of the Spec III.




13 Corals

Blue Mushroom Actinodiscus sp.
Red Mushroom Actinodiscus sp.
3 Ricordea Mushroom Ricordea yuma
Ricordea Mushroom Ricordea yuma
6 Zoanthid Zoanthus sp.
Zoanthid Zoanthus sp.

8 Invertebrate

4 Blue Legged Hermit Crab Clibanarius tricolor
4 Dwarf Cerith Snail Cerithium sp.



I'm not dosing with any additives just yet as I'd rather see how the reef matures over time. As the corals grow, the water changes may not sufficiently provide all the trace elements needed, so I'll be monitoring water parameters accordingly.


The glass is cleaned daily using a Two Little Fishies NanoMag. I gently clear the sand and rock with a baster every couple of days to help kick up any particles for the filter media to catch which is then rinsed out every few days.

I perform water changes twice a week, replacing half a gallon at a time. Replacement water is comprised of RO/DI water and Instant Ocean salt mix.

Top off water is RO/DI water added once a day, and I'm just starting to use a Tunze Osmolator Nano ATO having realized that even being gone over the weekend leads to a little to much water loss due to evaporation than I'm comfortable with. I feel that this causes salinity to fluctuate too much and doesn't encourage stability. Hopefully the ATO eases maintenance and provides a more stable environment.

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