Featured Aquarium: Chip Cataldo’s ’10 Gallon On The Cheap’

by | Sep 15, 2004 | Advanced Aquarist, Tanks | 0 comments

I started this tank 6 months ago; I only wanted a cheap reef on my desk at work, the key word here being “cheap.” I was determined to make a low cost setup that I could enjoy, without sinking much money into it.. I purposely purchased livestock that was discounted, fragged, or cheap, without particularly caring if the piece was colorful or not…only healthy. I lifted live sand and rock from my 180 gallon reef at home, and even fragged some corals from there for this tank. So, while all of my co-workers marvel with awe at my little reef on my desk, I really know it’s not as impressive as it could be had I sunk bigger amounts of money into it. However, it’s good to have as a relaxation too. I work at the city newspaper and sometimes the stress of deadlines is overwhelming. For the tank to be recognized as Advanced Aquarists’ ‘Feature Aquarium’ is a great honor, especially given how the tank was constructed. For those that want a low cost nano reef tank,
this is the way to go:



  • 10 gallon AGA aquarium
  • Coralife 96-watt 20″ Aqualight (50/50 bulb PC)
  • Coralife Aqualight mounting legs (raises the light 2″ above the tank)
  • United Pump 110gph powerhead
  • Visitherm 50-watt submersible heater
  • 20 lbs. live rock from my 180 at home
  • 2″ live sand bed from my 180 at home
  • Whisper 60 hang-on-back power filter
  • Mag-Float small cleaning magnet
  • B-Ionic 16oz. calcium/alkalinity 2-part supplement
  • OSI Marine flake, 63g


  • One pair ORA mis-barred tank-raised Ocellaris clownfish

Mobile Inverts

  • Giant Hawaiian featherduster
  • 10 Cerith snails
  • Orange Fromia starfish
  • ORA farm-raised gold maxima clam
  • ORA farm-raised teardrop maxima clam


  • Yellow crown leather from my 180 at home
  • Green spaghetti leather frag from my 180 at home
  • ORA farm-raised orange & green zoanthids, split in half
  • Metallic green & orange clove polyps fragged from my 180 at home
  • Pink Zoanthid polyps, tank-raised
  • Metallic green & red Trachyphyllia brain
  • Pulsing Xenia frag from local reefer
  • Green Montipora digitata frag from 180 at home
  • Orange Montipora digitata frag from 180 at home
  • Orange Fungia plate coral
  • Large orange Zoanthid frag from 180 at home
  • White & purple encrusting Montipora
  • Brown Pocillopora
  • Brown with metallic green polyp Acropora
  • Pink bird’s nest
  • Green Ricordia yuma
  • Red mushrooms hitchhiked in on live rock from 180
  • Blue striped mushrooms

I also have some Halimeda growing in the back of the tank to help absorb some excess nutrients in the water. It is pruned back once every two weeks. Other maintenance is as ‘cheap’ as the tank setup: I top off with tap water once a day (about 20oz. of evaporation per day), run the lights for about 7-1/2 hours a day (just for the time I’m there), dose 5ml of B-Ionic 2-part calcium/alkalinity supplement once a day, and feed flake food (gasp!) to the clownfish twice a day…they eat out of my hand. Total cost for the entire setup: $388.

Thanks again to Advanced Aquarist for this opportunity to showcase my tank!


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