Many decades ago, the most common tip you would get about building a saltwater aquarium was to start with the ‘largest tank you can afford’. In those early days when keeping a saltwater tank was as much luck as it was equal parts science and voodoo, it was believed that it was somewhere between impossible and very difficult to keep a nano reef aquarium.
However, today’s reef aquarium community is almost dominated by smaller tanks that can be described as ‘Nano’ and our latest setup is a testament to how easy, successful, and simple both to set up and ‘maintain’. This particular aquarium was set up in a single day, 300 days ago and hasn’t been changed at all since November.
This aquarium is the height of cruise control for a basic reef tank with undemanding corals and fish, with only three maintenance tasks required to keep it cruising for over nine months. We feed the fish about every other day, scrape the glass about once a week, and manually top off the tank with freshwater every two to three weeks – that’s it!
The best part of this tank is that the corals and fish aren’t just alive, but by any measure the majority of them are all thriving. To be fair there’s not a wide diversity of corals in this aquarium, mostly hardy soft corals, leathers, and LPS corals, not even zoanthids or shrooms, an oversight on our part.
Nevertheless, we’ve learned a lot from this nano reef aquarium and it’s really made us give some scrutiny to some of our closely held beliefs about reef aquarium keeping in general. Keeping reef tanks is a hobby after all and we enjoy some of the basic maintenance tasks that they entail, helping to keep us busy, but seeing just how luscious and healthy these ‘untouched’ corals are with so little intervention is something we will continue to cultivate in our future reef tanks.