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Luigi Castelnuovo – My Reefing Journey | Aquaforest

9 07, 2024

Luigi Castelnuovo – My Reefing Journey | Aquaforest

“Exploring the vibrant world of fluorescent corals”


Hi, I’m Luigi, also known as @reefluo on Instagram. My passion for marine life started early and has grown over the years. I’d like to share some of my experiences and insights from my journey in reef keeping. From childhood aquariums to my current setups, it's been an incredible adventure filled with learning and discovery.


My aquarium journey began at age six with freshwater tanks. Even as a child, I was fascinated by the vibrant life in these miniature aquatic worlds. As a teenager, I transitioned to saltwater aquariums, starting with a 15-gallon (56-liter) tank and later upgrading to 70 gallons (265 liters). I’ve always loved the ocean and its creatures, and having a piece of it at home was a dream come true. 


When I first ventured into saltwater aquariums during my teenage years, I had two great tanks, but I wasn’t consistent. I neglected the importance of using bacteria, regular testing, and the balling method for alkalinity and calcium. These oversights taught me valuable lessons in the importance of consistency and careful maintenance practices.


Reef tanks are a piece of art, a splash of color, and fluorescence. The magic and colors of corals are incredible, almost otherworldly. Watching corals and fish is mesmerizing. Some fish are so unique, though not all are reef-safe. I enjoy the creative and artistic aspects of reef aquariums, from capturing videos to sharing the beauty of these animals. I love having rare corals and incorporating different colors and shapes into my tanks. 



Mixed Reef Tank (20 gallons / 75 liters):

My mixed-reef tank is a vibrant display of biodiversity. Soft corals include a stunning back wall of Green Star Polyps (GSP), various Rhodactismushrooms such as OG Bounce, Sunskit Bounce, and Superman, along with Ricordea florida and several types of Zoanthids. I also feature Gorgonians for added texture and movement. 

Among the LPS corals are Cyphastrea, Favia, various Chalice corals, Blastomussa, and a variety of Euphyllia species. SPS corals include different Acroporas, Montiporas and Stylophora Milka, adding height and structure to the tank.

Livestock in this thriving ecosystem includes two pairs of Clownfish, a Flame goby, a Pink Scooter Blenny, a Trimma goby, various Snails, Hermit Crabs, two Porcelain Crabs, Sexy Shrimps, and a Lysmata Shrimp. There are also two intense red Bubble Tip Anemones and three red Mini Carpet Anemones, each adding a vibrant splash of color. The diversity of inhabitants creates a balanced and visually stunning underwater environment.

Pico Reef Tank (6 gallons):

In my Pico Reef, a unique mini-shallow reef spanning 6 gallons (23 liters), I've curated a captivating display of marine life. This tank features various LPS corals, including beautiful Acanthastrea, Blastomussa, Trachyphyllia, and Cyphastrea, as well as two frags of Scolymia. Among the inhabitants is a striking Purple Lobster, which cleverly hides within the rock formations. Additionally, the tank boasts Mangroves and Macroalgae that contribute to its vibrant ecosystem. 

Soft Coral Tank (10 gallons):

In my Soft Coral Tank, which spans 10 gallons (38 liters), I've cultivated a tranquil oasis teeming with soft corals and anemones. The tank is adorned with elegant Leather corals and features several Bubble Tip Anemones, each adding their own charm to the aquatic landscape. Occupying the tank are also a playful Bicolor Blenny, a Pistol Shrimp, and other marine companions, creating a harmonious and visually appealing underwater environment. 



Nano tanks, despite their challenges in maintaining stable water parameters due to their small size, offer unique advantages. Their compact nature allows for focused observation of rocks, corals, and the behavior of fish and invertebrates. This close-up perspective facilitates learning and understanding, making nano tanks an excellent starting point for beginners eager to delve into reef keeping. It’s easier to perform water changes in nano tanks, and their small size allows you to intimately observe coral behavior and growth patterns.


For those new to the hobby, it’s important to use bacteria, test regularly, and change water as needed. In tanks with LPS and SPS corals, these corals consume calcium, alkalinity, and a little magnesium. While I’ve never had to add magnesium due to regular water changes, I do need to add calcium and alkalinity daily.  

It's crucial to test daily for at least a week to understand how much your corals are consuming. This helps you adjust the dosing based on actual consumption rather than solely relying on product instructions, which may not account for your specific tank's needs.

I advise against adding elements you can’t test for, as this can lead to imbalances. Regular water changes can often suffice for maintaining trace elements. It’s also important to monitor phosphate levels, keeping them low but not zero. The use of macroalgae can help reduce phosphates and nitrates, potentially reducing the need for frequent water changes.

Different types of coral tanks require different maintenance levels. Soft coral tanks, for instance, require less maintenance compared to tanks with LPS and SPS corals, which consume calcium and alkalinity daily.


Reef keeping is a rewarding hobby that offers endless possibilities for creativity and exploration. Whether you start with a nano tank or a larger setup, there’s a path for everyone. With passion, consistency, and the right knowledge, anyone can create a thriving piece of the ocean at home. Don’t be afraid to dive in and start your own reefing journey.


To see more of my work, follow me on Instagram at @reefluo.