Nano reefs have gained popularity over the years, and understandably it is easy to see why.  Having the ability to care for sea life in our homes is incredible.

Nano reef tanks are small scale aquariums that typically are less than 35 gallons. Also known as mini aquariums, nano tanks are compact and often self-contained. Arguably, the single biggest reason aspiring reef aquarists choose mini saltwater tanks is their affordability. Also, if you have limited options to set up an aquarium or are looking for something that can fit on your desktop, then nano reef tanks are the perfect option.

Although mini saltwater tanks are small, they still contain all the elements of larger tanks. The corals, invertebrates, and fish are filled with life and can flourish under the right conditions. The good news, is that most local fish stores offer plenty of options for novice and advanced aquarium enthusiast. Always keep in mind to take is slow and add inhabitants responsibly.

Mini aquariums are extremely portable and simple in their construction.

Since your inhabitants are limited (in theory), the bio load will be manageable. Therefore, you can avoid lots of expensive equipment and maintenance needed for larger reef tanks such as; calcium reactors, protein skimmers, a refugium, etc.

Because smaller aquariums are simpler in design, many models available in the market place include built in lighting, filtration cabinets, heater compartment, fans, and filter media storage. Simple design also includes limited cords and plumbing parts. This can be a big bonus when placing your aquarium in a small section of your room.

When choosing inhabitants however, reef keepers must be selective. Fish should be kept to minimum as well as corals. Even your cleaning crew should be planned out to some degree. For example, too many large snails can easily crumble your aquascape when moving along.

As you would guess, the word nano implies small, and compact. Nano aquariums are perfect for those with limited space and who want to beautify any room in their home or office. Further, nano systems are extremely portable and can be easily relocated if needed.

Healthy nano marine aquariums include a many of the same equipment as larger tanks, but on a scaled down version. Viable eco systems must have live rock, filtration, lighting, temperature control, and of-course care.

Live rock – live rock is a host to numerous organisms that live on it, and possesses several advantages for nano reef tanks. The largest benefit for hobbyists includes the ability for live rock to act as biological filtration for reef tanks.

Filtration – filtration is clearly an important part of maintaining any aquarium. These small chambers combined with the bacteria that lives in your tank converts waste products to a non-toxic state.

Also, the filtration cabinets available in your nano aquarium can accommodate media that can further clean and filter your tank water.

Lighting – an advantage to nano fish tanks is that many are sold as “kits.” These kits include a lighting system. Some are enclosed in a canopy, and others are an open design. It is really a matter of preference for which is best for your situation.

Additionally, your lighting setup should include a combination of white and blue lights. This provides several options for dawn and dusk settings.

What types of nano reef thanks are the best?

There are several nano aquariums available in the market today. Reef keepers have two basic options, purchase an “all-in-one” system or build one yourself.

When building your own nano reef tank, typically you will require more space, however, the end result will be the same. Building your own aquarium does have some advantages. For example, if you have any problems, or wish to upgrade your lighting system, this is an easy task.

If you purchase an “all-inclusive” mini tank, you are “stuck” with the built-in lighting. This may not be a bad, however, you are forced to buy replacement parts from the manufacturer, if something goes wrong. The canopy is an expensive part of an “all-in-one” tank, and could be costly if needing replacement, especially if you are out of warranty.

Coaralife nano reef tank image

Coralife BioCube 16 shown here – “all-inclusive” system.

When purchasing a nano systems you should also understand the warranty and what is exactly covered. The most important component includes the built-in lighting system. The best nano fish tanks have a good warranty and customer support.

Most nano setups include a compartment for a heater, just make sure to purchase a heater that fits comfortably. The good news with smaller aquariums, you will not need a large heater. Further, most mini aquariums have ample room for a heater in one of the filtration cabinets. This cabinet is typically the same as the cabinet where the pump is housed.

In summary, nano reef fish tanks are small aquariums typically less than 35 gallons. These incredible eco systems are only limited to your imagination. Remember to take your time and enjoy the journey. Reef keeping can be a rewarding hobby for years to come!