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My Twelve Gallon Nano Reef

Last Updated: 9/27/21

My 12 gallon reef on 7/29/08.

Live Rock and Sand
Snails and Clams
Other Animals
Plants and Algae

Twelve Gallon Nano Reef Photos - on their own page.

My Nano Reef Blog - details about the entire process

The current inventory of this tank is below.


This is where I got the tank:

I did a total cleaning of this tank (everything out) on 7/31/10 and on 5/10/12. I did another total cleaning on 3/16/19. See my reef blogs for details.

Live Rock and Sand

Added 4/26/08:
8 pound bag of live sand with a lot of small shells

Added 4/27/08:
11.5 pounds of live rock


1 Oscellaris clownfish - added 5/21/08. His name is, of course, Nemo.

Snails and Clams

1 Cerith snail. Three were added; two were believed to be deceased within a few days. I found one in the filter box (empty shell) on 3/6/21. I guess there was another one because I saw him/her on 3/13/21.

2 Astraea snails - added 2/23/21.


Snails that were previously in the 12 gallon tank but that have all died:

Previously two Nassarius snail - two added 6/5/08. One died on 7/16/11. The other was gone by the time of the cleaning on 5/10/12.

Previously three Margarita snails - 2 added 6/5/08, 1 added 6/16/08. All gone by 2010.

Previously 1 Cerith snail - added 6/16/08. Not sure when it died.

Previously three Astraea snails - added 6/16/08. Last one died 8/1/10 or so.

Previously one Stomatella varia snail - discovered 6/19/08 - hitchhiker. Vanished early 2009.

Previously five Banded trochus snails - added 8/5/10. Three confirmed dead on 9/25/10. The remaining two also died.

Previously two Astraea snails added 10/8/10. One was dead by 10/23/10 while the other confirmed dead on 10/24/10.

Previously 4 Margarita snails added 10/8/10. I started with four but only one remained by 2011 and was gone by 2012.

Previously 2 Astraea snails. Two were added on 1/21/11.

Previously 2 Cerith snails. Two were added on 1/21/11.

Previously 16 Cerith snails added 4/14/11. These were not store bought cerith snails but ones sent to me by another aquarist. They are very tiny, maybe 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch. This species stays small. By 2012, only a few remain which are rarely seen. When I did the 100% cleaning on 5/10/12, I did not find any but they could have been in the rinsed gravel. I really do not see them on the glass anymore.

Previously 1 Margarita snail added 5/12/12. I asked for a Mexican turbo but it was a margarita snail! Like the ones I had before, it did not last long, dying by 5/20/12.

Previously 2 Nassarius vibex added 5/15/12. They were only a few millimeters long! I never saw them again!

Previously 2 Mexican turbo snails added 5/15/12. One was large and one was smaller. The small one was moved to the 6 gallon tank on 6/16/12. The large one was found dead and removed from the 12 gallon on 2/2/13.

Previously 2 Nassarius snails added 10/24/12.

Previously 1 Astraea snail added on 1/14/13.

These snails were added on 3/23/19 after the tank had been without snails for years. These snails have not been seen in a long time as of 3/8/21:

2 Astraea snails.

2 Nassarius snails.


1 Electric blue hermit crab - added on 5/15/12 and still alive on 3/8/21! Blue is big!

1 Scarlet reef hermit crab - added on 3/23/19, still alive in 2021.

Crabs that were previously in the 12 gallon tank but that have all died:

1 Scarlet reef hermit crab - added 5/6/08. Two were added. By 2009, only one was left. Scarlet was alive on 5/12/12.

1 Dwarf zebra hermit crab - added 5/6/08. Zeby was big and died on 5/8/12.

1 Dwarf blue leg hermit crab - added 2/27/12. Blue was alive on 5/11/12. Blue was gone when I cleaned the tank fully on 10/27/12.

The following four hermit crabs were added on 5/15/12:
2 Dwarf zebra hermit crabs - at least I think so; these are the smallest two hermit crabs that I have ever seen. As of 10/27/12, they are alive and do NOT appear to be zebra hermit crabs. I am not sure what they are!
1 Dwarf yellow tip hermit crab
1 Unknown hermit crab - this free crab has blue legs and yellow tips but is not the same species as my dwarf blue leg hermit crab. This guy was gone when I cleaned the tank on 10/27/12.

These crabs were added on 3/23/19:
1 Electric blue hermit crab - Baby Blue; he changed his shell within 30 minutes of going in to the tank! Baby blue vanished within just a few weeks!
1 Dwarf yellow tip hermit crab - not seen in a long time, presumed dead.


Previously one Green zooanthid colony - added 5/21/08, dead by 2011.

1 Green star polyps colony - added 5/21/08, barely alive by 2011. Shortly after that, one of the green star polyp colonies took off and took over the entire tank until it died in early 2019.

1 Orange and green zooanthids colony - added 6/16/08, two species of corals, barely alive by 12/10. The orange ones died in 2011 but the green ones are still alive in 2012.

Previously one Duncan LPS coral - added 6/16/08. Thrived until 2011. By 4/16/11, only a few of the 20 some polyps were still alive and barely so. Duncan was completely dead by September 2011.

Previously one Pavona SPS coral - added 6/16/08. A third bleached 7/10. All dead by 2011.

1 Green star polyps colony - added 6/16/08, barely alive 12/10 after previously growing like a weed and transplanted to the 6 gallon tank where it still thrives.

Previously one Sun coral - added 6/16/08. Died.

1 Pineapple brain coral - added 7/6/08. Half bleached 7/10 but alive as of 3/8/21.

Previously one Xenia - added 7/6/08. Died late 11/10 all of a sudden after thriving.

Previously two Green zooanthid colonies - very small, only a few polyps each, added 10/4/08. Died 2009.

Previously 1 Favia coral - added 4/25/12.

Previously Red zooanthid colony - added 4/25/12, gorgeous. It died quickly for no reason in early July 2012.

1 Pagoda cup coral added 5/12/12. It was a nice LPS coral with 32 heads on it! I put it where my 17-headed Duncan used to rule.

1 Spaghetti leather coral added 5/15/12. This guy grew huge and is beautiful. This coral is alive as of 3/8/21.

On 3/21/19, I added three small zooanthid colonies. Two are dull green and one is a brighter green. On 3/23/19, I added a pulsing Xenia. As of 3/29/19, it has not opened all the way or pulsed. It is alive as of 3/8/21 but has never pulsed so it is not a pulsing species.

Other Animals

I added a peppermint shrimp on 4/12/21 as the tank is full of Aiptasia anemones. He/she was presumed dead because I did not see he/she again until 9/26/21! He/she has not been eating the anemones.

A small starfish (hitchhiker) was added in January of 2013 and was still alive in September but gone shortly thereafter.

A yellow sponge was on the live rock in 2012 and early 2013.

Previously one Pink dwarf feather duster - added 9/27/08. I named him Dusty. He died.

All of these animals showed up either with the live sand, live rock, or corals.

6+ Small feather duster worms that came with both sets of zooanthids, at least two on one rock and four or five on the other. They have been gone a long time.

1 Pineapple sponge - showed up on the live rock. It was later eaten but some smaller ones are growing. Later, other pineapple sponges showed up.

1 Bryozoan colony - showed up on the live rock, might be a sponge instead. It was.

2 Spionid worms - within the larger green star polyp colony. By late September (year?), these seem to be gone.

Small bristleworms.

Planaria. Early on there were white planaria. By September, the dreaded red planaria/flatworms showed up and were having a great time but soon vanished.

Amphipods - a nice group with some big ones! They mostly come out at night.

Various other small worms.

Plants and Algae

Five groups of Halimeda macroalgae. The first group has died; the second which is the largest is starting to die; the other three are new as of 9/29/08. All gone by 2010.

Some feathery macroalgae on the smaller zooanthid colony.

Hair algae, green and pink; took over the tank in 2010, and the corals all started to die.

Bubble algae - removed weekly for a while. Mostly gone by 2011..

1 Fuzzy tip algae. Gone now.

Various other hard green attached algae.

Coralline algae - pink and purple.

Caulerpa algae that showed up on its own, 2010 to 2011.

Added 4/14/11 - Cheatomorpha macroalgae sent by another aquarist. It was in a clump. It survived for a few years and then died.

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