We love new and exciting reef aquarium gear as much as the next diehard hobbyist and it’s literally the lifeblood of the Reef Builders blog. But at the end of the day our main goal with reef aquariums has always been about the health of the reef life and there’s no doubt that running a simpler system is a more assured path to success than having increasingly more technology.
Other than the fact that it was set up in one day and went a whole year without putting our hands in the tank, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about our 20 gallon Red Sea Nano Reef tank or how it turned out. All the corals are doing great, some like the Pachyclacularia green star polyps are certainly doing a little too well, and we’ve had to remove a hammer coral since the gold torch coral grew out and was beginning to become aggressive and claim more of the space on the ground.
In stark contrast to all of our other reef tanks where mineral balance and chemistry is meticulously monitored and maintained and they experience generous additions of calcium, magnesium, carbonates, trace elements and even deliberate additions of nitrate, the 1-Day nano reef simply coasts on its own accord. The only potential source for mineral replenishment is the top-off water to make up for evaporation which is not demineralized like reverse osmosis or deionized water so there is some very minor amounts of major elements being added to the tank.
For sure we wouldn’t prescribe this completely hands-off technique for every kind of tank or keeping every kind of coral. Without a doubt larger tanks with more fish to add nutrients and more corals to consume minerals require more aggressive nutrient export in combination with some degree of replenishment either from kalkwasser, calcium reactors, multipart dosing or a combination of the three. But if you’re just dipping your toes into the reef aquarium hobby or want to set up a tank for a family member or a young person, you can get a whole lot of mileage from keeping the equipment basic, sticking with just a few fish, and counting on hardy undemanding corals to adapt to a small reef tank with a very simplified life support system.