Part one: Essential Planning
Interested in a reef aquarium, but don’t want the large expense? Consider starting a nano reef! A nano aquarium is any aquarium with a water volume of 30 gallons or less. Nano aquariums are becoming increasingly common because of their small size, lower price, availability of pre-fabricated units, and unique look. However, there are greater challenges to successfully maintaining a nano aquarium than there are in a larger aquarium with a more forgiving water volume. After my share of nano reef trials, I’ve written a three step guide which will help you avoid some of these “small tank” woes.
I recommend starting out with one of the commercially available nano aquariums on the market. These systems come complete with the tank, hood, lighting and filtration – all you’ll need to do is add sand, live rock, water, and a heater. Simplicity is your friend with a nano aquarium! I especially recommend the Oceanic’s BioCube models, which come in 8, 14, and 29 gallons. With an all in one nano aquarium, the only additional equipment you’ll need to purchase is a heater!
Once you’ve gotten the aquarium and other essential hardware, now the fun
begins. Add aragonite sand (I’m not a
fan of bare bottom aquariums) to a depth of .5-3” before adding freshly mixed
salt water (cover the sand with a bowl to prevent it from going
everywhere!). Ensure the water has a
specific gravity of ~1.025, and a pH of 8.3-8.4, and a temperature of ~75-78F
before adding live rock.
In a nano reef aquarium, live rock combined with water movement will be all
the filtration you’ll
need. A pound of rock per gallon of water is the general
rule of thumb, though more can be used if you’d prefer. Break up laminar
(stream) currents by directing them on rocks or the tank walls to produce more
natural, turbulent water motion. Try to
elevate the live rock, creating ‘shelves’ for future corals. Quality live rock is essential – do not skimp
on live rock just to save a few dollars.
I have found Gulf View rock to be of excellent quality, and fairly
Be sure to check back next week for Part 2: stocking your nano reef!
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