Our way of reefing overwhelmingly favors open-topped tanks. They are easier to light, keep cool, and maintain, but due to jumping fish, evaporation, and rising heating bills there will always be a demand for saltwater aquariums with closed hoods. Here we highlight just a few of the tanks available with lids.
The Evo is one of the most popular nano saltwater aquariums and is purchased by both beginners and seasoned aquarists alike. Sold as the 13.5 gal in The States and the 52L in Europe, this peninsula-style All-In-One desktop tank incorporates a 16-watt, 14000K waterproof LED light, and a tight-fitting slimline hood. A 132 US Gal/h (500 L/h) return pump takes care of circulation and there are three stages of mechanical, biological, and chemical media included.
It’s a great, small, entry-level saltwater aquarium that can be used for quarantine, as a hospital tank, a nano-fish-only aquarium, or long-term as a nano reef tank. Every saltwater aquarium store should stock this tank or its equivalents because it’s great for getting people into the hobby and will inevitably lead to bigger and better things.
What else you’ll need
Optional extras include a heater, Fluval’s own Evo-sized skimmer, and an AC wave pump. Avoid the swing-arm Hydrometer and invest in a refractometer instead. If you stock lightly and conduct regular partial water changes you may not need the protein skimmer, and at roughly 10 times turnover per hour, the pump and light combo should suffice for zoas, mushrooms, easy soft corals, and some LPS.
Lots of people upgrade the light to a Prime HD but then if you’re going to do that you lose its anti-jump, and anti-evaporation properties, and you may as well opt for a Waterbox Cube 15 or a Red Sea Desktop Peninsula instead. If you want more flow and budget allows, opt for the diminutive but powerful Nero 3 from Aqua Illumination.
If you don’t like or can’t get Fluval’s Evo, look into the Coralife LED Biocube or even Fluval’s large, curvy Flex 32.5 US Gal / 123 L Aquarium Kit. If you’re the best reefer you know test your skills by seeing just what you can achieve with the stock equipment provided over a 12-month period, and have some fun!
Juwel is one the world’s largest aquarium manufacturers with over 50 years in business and over one million aquariums sold to date. They were probably the first to use robots to build their aquaria and their winning freshwater systemized design has changed little in 30 years, but they do offer marine versions of many of their popular tanks.
Opt for a marine version of the Rio, Vision, Trigon, or Lido and you get the same german made, lidded aquarium with integrated heater and filter, only the freshwater spectrum linear LED tubes are swapped out for one Marine White and Marine Blue.
What else you’ll need
Juwel does provide its own black box protein skimmer (available separately,) aimed at sitting internally in the opposite corner to the filter. If you want a better one, opt for a third-party HOB protein skimmer and cut the lid flaps to fit. The filter pumps can be upgraded for higher turnover and you’ll need some phosphate remover in that filter. A wavemaker will be required in all but the calmest of shroom tanks but the lighting should suffice for most easy corals.
If you want more lighting extra light bars can be fitted to wider models or third-party LED strips or waterproof light bars could be fitted underneath instead or alongside the stock lighting. Juwel also supplies its own lighting upgrade called Helialux, but it only comes in a freshwater spectrum. The entire hood and lighting can be removed for upgrades and you could even fit an overflow box, but if you take the sump route (and you should,) see Eheim’s offering below.
Similar freshwater aquariums are available from Oase, Fluval, and Eheim, although they aren’t supplied with factory-fitted marine spec lights or marketed as marine. AquaEl produces an interesting European style lidded tank called the OptiSet, which can hold up to nine of its own LED bars.
Eheim Incpiria Marine
Whenever we need a serious marine aquarium with a lid we are always drawn to Eheim’s Incpiria. A premium-priced aquarium and cabinet combination, Incpiria comes in either Freshwater, Marine, or Reef versions, the latter two coming with a sump and the Marine being one of only very few sumped aquariums with lids and lights built in.
Incpiria Marine comes with tank, cabinet and sump, but interestingly incorporates four of Eheim’s own LED light bars offering a total of 72 to 181 watts of power, depending on the model. An Eheim AC return pump is supplied and the sumps are basic but versatile at the same time. Worth looking into if you want a large, modern saltwater aquarium with a lid, and they are all 24” wide (front to back,) and up to 530 liters/140 gallons in volume.
What else you’ll need
The Incpiria Marine will need a protein skimmer and wave pumps, and there’s room also for a phosphate reactor and dosers if you want to run a full-blown reef. We’ve seen LPS corals pop under Eheim’s LED light bars and we’d like to see just how far one could go with the stock lighting. You can remove the lighting and sliding hood entirely but again if you’re going to do that you may as well opt for Waterbox or Red Sea.
There aren’t many sumped saltwater aquariums with lids and lighting built in, and the last one we saw was from Aqua Medic.
Custom build tanks are the most popular form of lidded reef aquarium, with a huge choice of colors and finishes, unlimited sizes, and a matching pelmet. With a custom build tank, you can opt for glass bracing bars and sliding cover glasses and either a closed, box hood with a hinged lid or an open pelmet and hanging or clamp mount high-powered lighting. The sliding covers keep the fish, heat, and moisture in and although you will lose some light through those glass covers, algae, and salt spray, it does give you options.
What else you’ll need
Custom build tanks and cabinets are literally built from the ground up so the world is your oyster in terms of specification and equipment, but it will all be extra.
For tanks of two, three, four, or five feet in length, the models listed above from Juwel and Eheim offer some cabinet color variety and matching top trim. A skilled custom builder may be able to offer sliding black glass lids like those of the Incpiria instead of traditional piano top box hood styles and wood finishes.