3 Nano Reef Aquariums

Nano Reef Aquariums

There is a new addition to the reef keeping hobby and as the name Nano Reef Aquarium suggest, the reef is on a much smaller scale and can be as small as 2.5 gallons. With this small size comes a much smaller price tag and this applies to both the coral itself, the tank and also the lighting and it needs just a small amount of coral and also live rock to have a display that is impressive and beautiful.

Once upon a time it was believed that to keep a reef display alive you would never a very large display to allow for easier control over the water parameters. Powerful and large lights were needed, efficient and large scale protein skimmers and also large trickle filters. This was because the bigger the aquarium, the more gadgets you could have to control everything and to maintain a coral reef in the best possible way, you needed to be both a chemist and a marine biologist. However, with the introduction of Nano Reef Aquariums, all of these beliefs seem to go out of the window. Is it really possible to keep a reef alive in just a ten-gallon tank and without these extra gadgets?

The history of reef displays have shown us that the live rock and sand ensure that the biological filtration occurs and with the extended knowledge of lighting comes the ability to keep the aquariums smaller with the use of the smaller metal halide lights and compact fluorescent ones. The eco-balance of the tank is easier maintained with invertebrates sifting through it and these clean the sand and live rock. 5% weekly water changes enables the replacement of the trace elements and although there is not yet a saltwater combination that enables for the right amounts of strontium and calcium levels, the maintenance of them separately can be achieved.

AragaMilk from CaribSea allows the maintenance of strontium, calcium and also the other trace elements that are needed as they contain the right amounts of aragonite. This is a fossilized version of coralline algae which has extracts of various ocean minerals that is needed for the coral to grow and by grinding this substance into a very fine powder and adding to the water allows for the minerals to be added in a natural way in a milky substance that is known to precipitate quickly. SPS corals are easily maintained in Nano Reef Aquariums with this and the addition of a few drops to allow calcium levels to be at 450ppm.

What fish can be added to a Nano Reef Aquarium?

Nano Reef Aquariums look great with fish but it is vital that both the reef and the fish are well cared for. Water changes must be kept regularly to ensure that nitrates are not collected. The fish that are known to live well in a Nano reef are:

  • Anthius
  • False and true percula
  • Banggai Cardinals
  • Pajama Cardinals
  • Royal Grammas
  • Fire Fish
  • Clown Gobies
  • Pseudochromis
  • Basslets
  • Most damsels

Although the fish that can be used is not limited to this list, these are the easiest ones to use and are perfect for beginners. One to five fish is the best amount for a regular Nano reef aquarium.

Cleaning up the Nano Reef Aquarium

Good cleanup crews for your Nano reef aquarium is essential for making sure that everything runs smoothly and that it is free from any algae and also any other unwanted waste products. The best cleanup crews for this kind of reef are:

  • Red leg hermits
  • Red tipped hermits
  • Starfish – sand sifters
  • Gobies – sand sifters
  • Turbo snails
  • Astrea snails

The right coral for a Nano Reef Aquarium

There is a rather extensive list of coral that can be used in a Nano reef aquarium and among the best soft corals; you will find the following helpful:

  • Zooanthids
  • Zenias
  • Star Polyps
  • Mushroom Anemones

The best LPS corals would be:


  • Fox Coral
  • Blastomusa

There are even SPS corals that are great with metal halide lighting. In a Nano reef, SPS coral frags are the best option and acroporas and montiporas are some of the easiest. The frags are generally much cheaper to buy and also a lot easier to ship out.

Buying corals online is a great option as there will very often be a much wider variety than what you find in any pet store and buying more than one will reduce the shipping costs as well. The Marineland’s Hold Fast is the best way to glue coral frags to live rocks and as long as there is enough space for them to grow, everything should go according to plan.