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You are here: Home Volume V March 2006 Hot Tips: Nano Reefs

Hot Tips: Nano Reefs

By Advanced Aquarist's Readers Posted Mar 14, 2006 07:00 PM Pomacanthus Publications, Inc.
This month, our readers give advice on setting up nano reef aquariums.

A selection of useful tidbits of information and tricks for the marine aquarist submitted by Advanced Aquarist's readership. Readers are encouraged to post them to our Hot Tips sticky in the Reefs.org General Reefkeeping Discussion forum or send their tips to terry@advancedaquarist.com for possible publication. Next month's Hot Tip theme will be "Fish Selection Tips".

Nano Reef Tips:

Get an automatic top-off unit (ATO). The most critical piece of equipment imo. stabilizes the salinity due to evaporation that affects these small volume setups. Even if someone is diligent with their top-offs, a weekend away, illness, or holiday (especially for workplace nanos) could devastate a small tank by shooting salinity beyond tolerance from evaporation.

Submitted by: rcsheng

I disagree. For a nano, I would consider the use of a built-in-sump (like a nano-cube, M-tank, etc.. but one can also section off any aquarium to have a wall that makes part of the tank the dusplay, and the other part a sump/fuge) to be a great idea that allows the use of full glass tops and negates the need for an ATO. I see more and more people hacking up black acrylic sheets with teeth and holes for plumbing to do just this. I run two nanos like this, and the headaches are much less than with a seperate sump. Just look at the popularity of such products like the nano-cube and aqua-pod...it shows how popular of an idea this is.

I think a great product for nanos is the hydor flo. Cheap, very effective, and easy to use method for randomizing flow...nothing I couldnt live without I suppose, but still good.

My ultimate nano...??? A tank that would be at least 24" long for easy use of existing mainstream T5 or even PC technology. Smaller than this, and these lights either are too long, or harder to find in a good size.

I would do a built in sump...like this 15L...

Then a DIY skimmer like this...

What the heck, maybe a small ATO...

Submitted by: wetwrox101

Be religious about maintenance. The size of these tanks means that they are NOT forgiving when water chemistry gets out of balance.

Submitted by: Jolieve

Some other nano-specific advice would be to pay special attention to "nano-sizing":

  • look for "nano-sized" frags, sometimes "small" from the ols still isn't really nano-appropriate. there are a number of nano "specialist" vendors that sell appropriate-sized livestock though.
  • nano-sized equipment is an obvious bit of advice, e.g. microjets, minijets, or small heaters/general equipment as mentioned above
  • or one can utilize a closed-loop setup so that the water-moving equipment isn't so obtrusive (real estate is at an ultra-premium the smaller you go)
  • live rock also should be nano-sized or if necessary manually-sculpted to fit or aquascape appropriately/aesthetically
  • some equipment that can be used either in traditional/larger tanks and nanos include: turkey basters/pipettes/syringes, chopsticks, and tweezers.
  • if you go real hi-tech , get a stick. one can affix a paperclip or air-tube (i use rubber bands) to a chopstick or short dowel rod to use as a probe or vacuum/siphon.
  • lastly, probably as important as the ato (imo) is a fan or other cooling device. every nano will eventually have temperature problems without some type of cooling plan.

Submitted by: rcscheng

Water change. water change, water change....

Do not overstock fish. Have good flow and and even better skimmer.

Submitted by: LA-Lawman

When getting live rock, check with your LFS to see if they have some spare "rubble." My LFS sells reef rubble that they collect over time from live rock shipments and coral losses. Rubble is not only a great size for a nano, but you can often get it a lot cheaper, too!

Also, if you're considering a nano, consider a species- or group-only display tank. Displaying only one species or group can really alleviate aggression (=less headache), and nanos can be the perfect size for those fish/invertebrates that aren't great for the reef anyway.

Submitted by: Amphiprionocellaris

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