Yesterday, some hobbyist blogs began a series of posts about nano reef aquariums. Inspired by the beginning of meme on nano reef tanks, we decided to follow suite and write about what we feel are the most important effects nano reef are having on the hobby as a whole. Since nano reef tanks are small, they are like overgrown test tubes in that they allow for experimentation on the things we think we know about reefing: some experiments reinforce what we know and others completely overturn long held beliefs. Continue reading for a look at how Nano Reefs are changing the reefing world from the bottom up.
Frags- Once upon a time frags were a means to an end: we all bought frags to grow up into big beautiful colonies of SPS or soft corals. Nowadays it is easy to buy large frags which are like mini colonies when placed into a nano reef aquarium. Small frags have a higher ratio of brightly colored growing edges to overall colony size which makes nano reefing the bonsai equivalent of full blown reef tanks.
Style- It might take a couple extra hours to tidy up the cords on a large reef but nano reefs have much less equipent. Less equipment means it is that much easier to hide the components, creating a beautiful reef scene that includes less and less visible equipment. Smaller reef tanks also make it easier to experiment with unconventional tanks like large bowls, large vases, old computer monitors and TVs etc. The most obvious change in aquarium style is that it is less expensive to buy a really nice nano tank with ultra clear glass or with a unique shape. $100 can get you a nice nano tank that is a work of art before you even put anything in it.
Technique- Small reef tanks are so much more conducive to trying out new things. Whether it is LED spotlighting, all ceramic reef, or a regimen of weekly compete water changes, nano reef tanks respond more quickly to experimentation of new techniques, making it easier to gauge if something is working or not. The nano reef above has turned into a veritable test tube of new techniques which makes it that much easier for RB to try out new products and nano corals to see if something new is worth a try or if something old is worthy of reconsideration. Trying to swap out the lights on a 4 foot tank would take considerably longer than swapping a single spotlight on a 12″ nano reef. Moreover, because of their smaller size the nano reefers will be leading the charge to adopt LED lighting for growing corals in captive aquariums.
Miniaturization- Miniaturization of reef equipment for reef aquariums is only possible because of the huge popularity of nano reef tanks. With such a large segment of the reefing hobby devoted to all things nano reefs, product manufacturers can allocate substantial R&D resources to making products for the nano reefer that are smaller and more efficient. Some of the hottest products of 2009, the VorTech mp10 and the nanoCustoms PAR38 LED spotlight exist because nano reefers will put these products to good use on their lil’ reefs. However, these products and others like them work as good or better in series over large tanks than some of the standard sized aquarium equipment which may cost more in the long run. In the end the general aquarium hobby will see a trickle up effect from nano reefing products that work better and take up less space.
New Hobbyists- By far the biggest impact nano reefs have had on the broader reef aquarium hobby is to bring new members into the fold. 10-15yrs ago the first thing the guy at the LFS told you about setting up a reef tank was to get the largest tank you could possibly afford. I was once one of those fishguys and I told all my customers the same thing. Back then we thought that it would be really hard to keep a constant temperature and salinity and although these two parameters must be closely watched, the small confines of a nano reef aquarium make it much easier to reset nutrients and other parameters. Got a five gallon tank with nutrient or chemistry problem? change out a bucket’s worth of high quality seawater and bam, you’re tank is back on track. Most of all, the nano reef aquariums are not as intimidating to new hobbyists who believe that a nano reeef will be cheaper than a large aquarium, however they have no idea how easily and quickly you can put $1000 worth of corals in to a square foot a reef tank. Nevertheless, a few hundred bucks is all it takes to get started with a nano reef and this decreased cost of entry into reefing is what will singlehandedly rescue the reefing hobby from being a rich man’s hobby.
The “5 reasons nano reef are. . .” meme began with the following two blog entries:
“5 reasons nano reefs are cool” on Nano Reef Blog (site is currently down back up)
“5 reasons nano reefs are NOT cool” on OCRD