With a small reef tank, pico reefs being the lower limit, the aquarist has to pay very careful attention to what animals are introduced, how quickly temperature and salinity can change, and especially, to monitor water chemistry which can rapidly change. This is why when we see a perfect pico reef tank we take note and try to share its excellence.
The latest awesome pico reef sighting was right here near Denver Colorado, at Elite Reef, an LFS which has a track record of being excellent nano reefers. There are at least eight miniature reef tanks installed in this store, and today we want to tell you about one.
This particular reef aquarium is even smaller than Jaubert’s 5 gallon bowl, being housed completely within a 3 gallon JBJ Picotope aquarium. It does have a tiny hang-on refugium adding some volume of water to the overall ‘system’ but with the displacement of the rock, there is likely just barely three gallons of water in this thing.
The Elite Reef Pico has been running since Elite Reef first opened its doors nearly six years ago, and most of the equipment is original although the tank was rebooted about 18 months ago to give it a fresh start. What we love about this tank is that it demonstrates all the aspects of successful reef keeping in an approachable way that is easy to show their customers.
The Pico Reef has a nice diversity of corals, but none which are overly aggressive. There’s a pump for water flow in the tank, and another one to feed the small hang on refugium/macroalgae scrubber. There’s a very small and basic multicolor LED strip lighting the ‘Fuge, and the tank is also lit with an LED light.
The same 12 watt blue and white LED spotlight from Ecoxotic has been lighting up the whole tank for six years, and it shows no sign of burning our or dimming any time soon. Despite its age and meager split spectrum, the whole aquarium looks simply great, with multiple shades of green playing off of each other.
Green star polyps, Duncan, green candy coral, pipe organ, green polyp leather, yellow polyps and orange-tip green cloves are all the corals that are in this tank. None of these corals are ‘trendy’ limited edition corals, but good looking corals in the prime of health and looking their absolute best never goes out of style.
Elite Reef maintains this tank through basic, small weekly water changes of just a few gallons and no supplements are added and the water chemistry is rarely tested. When a tank is this small, there’s almost no point in testing the water when you know it would take less time to just change the water with fresh seawater of a known composition.
What Elite Reef is doing with this is and their many other display tanks is a testament to the beauty that small reef tanks can offer us. Pico reef tanks have the ability to captivate reefers in a way that is completely different from huge sprawling reef aquarium systems, and Elite Reef has really channeled what it means to build a Pico Tank with their in-store picotope reef tank.