Reef aquariums are a subcategory of marine aquariums, which means they will host saltwater fish from the oceans as well as shrimp, starfish, anemones and other invertebrates, with the reef variety specifically mimicking the coral reef scenery. The available choices of specific fish species might be somewhat limited in a reef tank, because a lot of them tend to be carnivorous and aggressive towards other fish, and some will go after the shrimp and even the corals. There are however plenty of peaceful fish species that will go along just fine with their neighbours, and the corals with their vivid colours will often be the main attraction, thus more than making up for the slight constriction on marine life variety. The main problem for beginners and people on a tighter budget (the two are often go hand in hand) is that it takes a lot of time, commitment, patience and money to see this kind of investment through. A large marine aquarium might be a wonderful sight to behold, but behind all that splendor are months of hard work, thousands of dollars worth of equipment and a level of dedication similar to that of a good artist or scientist. In fact both – for this is as much of an art as it is a science. So how can we get a piece of coral reef for our living room without having to take out a loan or rob a bank?
The ocean in a box
A nano reef aquarium is classified as any reef aquarium that has a volume of less than 140 litres (30 gallons), although what is typically referred to as “nano” would be a tank ranging from somewhere around 30 litres to about 90 or 100 litres. The 30 – 90 litre range seems to be the most popular in recent years, the costs are quite low while there is still enough space for a quite stunning display of coral and fish. Another bonus that has made this type popular amongst beginners and busy people with an active lifestyle is the fact that the nano tanks come pre-packaged, as a one piece, self-sufficient unit. This makes it easy for people to focus on their choice of marine life and the arrangement within the tank rather than fumbling around with wires. The package usually includes:
- lighting – T5, T8, PL lamps or metal halide
- protein skimmer
- UV steriliser
- filtration system
- water pump/power head
Sometimes the default components aren’t that great and experienced hobbyists will replace them with more powerful versions. Some nano aquariums get it right from the start though, like Aqua Medic’s Yasha tank which has a capacity of 36 L (about 9.5 gallons) and is fitted with a protein skimmer that can support aquariums of up to 246 L (65 gallons). Therefore another bonus that you would get with a really good nano reef is that you now have several components that can work with substantially larger tanks, so if you feel like you have gotten the hang of things and decide to upgrade to something bigger, you will save yourself a ton of money (the skimmer alone can cost you about 150 dollars and up).
Things to look out for
Because of their smaller size nano reefs will require a little bit more water testing and water changes than the bigger aquariums. The water should be tested twice a week and changed once a week, and any changes need to be closely monitored and dealt with right away. Great care needs to be taken when watching the levels of:
You will also need to consider getting smaller, less aggressive fish – because of the lack of space they will come into contact with each other more frequently and need to be able to get along. Gobies are a good choice because they are small, reef safe and very easy to care for. Clown fish share these characteristics, but they also have a very beautiful colour pattern and will form a symbiotic bond with anemones.
All in all nano reef aquariums can be very fun and soothing, they don’t need too much work and additional equipment, they will fit almost anywhere and they are very cost-effective. If you want to bring some of that tropical atmosphere to your home, but you don’t have much time, space or money for a big tank, these little rascals are the way to go.
Ivan Dimitrijevic works for Dejan SEO Australia as a Senior SEO Consultant. He has works posted on various blogs. He is generally interested in Photography, Web Design, Search Engine Optimization, Google +, various topics that are connected with Web Design, Interior Design, including nano aquariums and fish tanks and many more.