Jump to content

Setting up a nano.


Recommended Posts

Well as the title suggests, I wanting to set up my first saltwater nano reef. I'm completely new to saltwater and I don't know much... But I'm keen to learn! The tank is about 30 litres or nearly 8 gallons. The dimensions are: Length: 46cm, width: 25.5cm and height: 25.5cm. Its a good size for me to start out I think. I was wanting to put 2 clownfish in the tank. How about 2 common clownfish (amphiprion ocellaris) or 2 percula clowns (amphiprion percula)?? I don't really mind what fish though.. What are the best soft corals or anemones to go with these fish in this size tank? I would also prefer to keep some shrimp of some sort... I have a waterfall type filter that processes the tank well. It has been used for freshwater, can I use it with salt?? WHat are the best substrates to use in peoples opinions and the best salts? Is the introduction of fish/invertebrates/corals/liverock staggered? What size heater would be good for the tank? temperature 26 degrees right? Do I need a protein skimmer? What do they do? What is the best lighting and light tubes to use on a nano reef to give good colour, algae growth? Is there any other equipment to use on the tank? I think thats all... :o :roll: sorry for the pile of questions... :oops:

Thanks very much :bow:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To start of with such a small tank is not a good idea.

Water volume is so small that any small changes will have a big effect on water quality.

I would look at starting off with a 3ft tank.

two clowns and a anemoe would be great. you could start off with leather corals.

Most common salt used is red sea. not the best salt but it will be fine, i use it on all my tanks.

temp between 24-26c is fine.

A good protein skimmer is pretty important as it will remove waste quicker and solve long term problems of build up of waste.

What is your budget $?

I would look at about $2000 Min to get a decent set up.

things you will need with aprx price.

heater $30

protein skimmer $500

rock $100

salt $50

lights $300

test kits $120

fish food $30

timers $30

coral sand $50

powerhead for water movement $100

fish $200

corals $800

temp $15

salinity meter $100 for a good one.

tank /stand ???

as you can see it add ups.

Best to get the set up correct at the start as it will save you money in the long run, so many hobbyist upgrade once they get the reef bug and it ends up costing them so much more because they tried to do it on the cheap from day one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nano tanks are not very forgiving for someone starting out in the hobby. The small water volume means that water chemistry can change quickly and can negatively effect corals inparticular if the changes aren't good. The larger water volume in bigger tanks buffers these changes, so they usually happen slower. So I'd recommend a larger tank if possible.

However, it can be done successfully, if you read plenty and have a good plan and understanding before you purchase anything.

Understand that you will be limited by a nano in the fish you can keep. The ocellaris clowns are good option for small tanks. Some other fish might be gobies, hawkfish, small cardinals, firefish.

A good protein skimmer is essential, you get what you pay for here. This is you're single most important piece filtration equipment. Don't use canister filters, wet/dry or any other filters used in freshwater systems, they're not useful, and can be detrimental.

On the bacterial side, a couple of bits of live rock are more than enough.

Lighting, the best option for a nano is T5 lighting. It will allow you to keep almost any type of coral. Metal halide is an option used on larger tanks, but the put out a lot of heat, and can overheat a nano quickly, so they are usually not used. Halides do have the nice effect of glimmer lines in the tank, which T5's do not. Generally with T5's you'd have a mix of 6,500k and actinic, but that mainly personal preference.

Substrate, a couple of options. You can go with no substrate at all (barebottom). The advantage in this is that you can see exactly how dirty the tank is at anytime. You know when it's not clean and you need to do some maintenance.

Or you can opt for a carbonate based sand. If I was to have sand, i'd go with a largish grain size 3-5mm so that you can vacuum it clean without losing it all. It's important to keep the sand very clean to avoid buildup of nutrients which fuels unsightly algae.

Salt. I use either standard Red Sea or Instant Ocean, both are fine.

You'll need some test kits. Salifert are the best value for money suitable for marine testing. Ammonia, nitrite, while starting out. And nitrate, phosphate, magnesium, and alkalinity long term if you're keeping corals. pH isn't generally of concern, proper alkalinity level take care of pH in all but exceptional situations.

Anemones get large and will outgrow a nano quickly. Best to stick with soft corals, like capenalla, xenia, and maybe LPS like in this thread:

http://www.fnzas.org.nz/fishroom/out-wi ... 21118.html


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Yarimochi, personally I think a 30 litre salt water tank can be done, but it will be so restrictive that you would be better to spend a little money and buy bigger, especially if you want to keep fish. In fact, the cost of the tank is only very small compared to the cost of the other things you will need. But don't let me put you off, if you just cannot go bigger at this stage, do the 30 litre, but it will be harder than a bigger tank.

Here is a quote from another thread with some advice for someone starting from fresh water, to marine

Hi Bart there are a lot of different theories / methods and the hardest part for a newbie is sorting it all out.

Here's what I think for a basic set up. Others will suggest other ideas and they may also be "right" because there is always more than one way.

When converting from fresh water some equipment you can use and some not so good to use.

A basic marine set up is like this. don't mess with anything less than a 3 foot tank. Smaller can be done but it's hard. 4 foot up is best. The filtration is done by bacteria that live in "liverock". Liverock is rock made from old coral skeleton and is porous. You should have somewhere around a kilogram of liverock to each 8 litres of water in the tank. The liverock is in fact dry and dead when you buy it at the LFS, but becomes "live" when after a few weeks in the tank it gets a bunch of bacteria living in it that eat the waste products from the fish.

So one way to set up a tank is to put a thin layer of sand in the bottom. Put in the correct amount of rock, then fill with seawater. The seawater will need to have 10% freshwater added as our water is saltier then the ideal level.

Then you need all this water to be moving, both to assist liverock filtration, and because most marine organisms need it to be moving. So you add a few pumps, enough to pump the entire volume of the tank ten times per hour (10 x times flow) This is the minimum, 20x or more is better.

Then you need a marine grade light, most of the corals we keep are photosynthetic and need correct light. 1 watt of light per litre of water is a rough guide to the amount of light you need, but this may vary (upwards mostly) depending on what you are keeping.

Don't use your old cannisters for biological filtration, leave that to the liverock. Cannisters and such do aerobic filtration only and do not supply the anearobic filtration important in a marine tank. Cannisters can be useful for using carbon, or phosphate removing resin though.

The other thing you need is a protein skimmer. A good one is expensive, but the success of your tank will to quite a degree hinge on how good your protein skimming is. A good one will last you for life, get a needlewheel one they are the best.

As I said you will hear other contradictory ideas and they will likely also work. I've just suggested one way to get a basic system going.

Glad to hear you've done a lot of reading, that's the big thing, there's a lot of learning to do.

Good Luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes that would work, and in fact a shrimp can look very attractive. How much light are you going to have?

If not too much, some good corals would be some zooanthids, and some mushrooms. A candycane might work also, if you can get it far enough away that it can't sting other corals.

Here is a pic of some of these kinds of corals, just to give an idea what you can do in even a small tank.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes you can, and in fact should, run a protein skimmer, there are small hang on ones that will do a good job for you. My opinion only, get a needlewheel one, rather than one of the cheaper ones, of course this depends on your budget, end of the day any skimmer is better than none, but the quality of the skimmer will be the main factor in your water quality, and therefore how good, and clean looking, your tank is.

Fish, and soft corals, do not need any supplements. In your tank a 30% water change once a month will be all that is needed provided you have the correct filtration running (protein skimmer, liverock).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Basically it's dead coral skeletons.

It's a porous medium for bacteria to colonise. But mostly it's a place to put corals.

You don't really need that much rock to house the bacteria you want. So usually the amount you need is determined by how much space you want to put corals on.

The bacteria in it do a variety of functions, each to different extents, from detoxifying ammonia, reducing nitrate, storing phosphate, and also producing ammonia from nitrate... plus much more.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

What is liverock and what does it do for the tank?

From a few posts up :-?

Liverock is rock made from old coral skeleton and is porous. You should have somewhere around a kilogram of liverock to each 8 litres of water in the tank. The liverock is in fact dry and dead when you buy it at the LFS, but becomes "live" when after a few weeks in the tank it gets a bunch of bacteria living in it that eat the waste products from the fish.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Im sorry cookie extreme I wasn't aware this was a forum for only experts. Ill find somewhere better suited to my oblivion. Anyway, I rang HFF in Albany yesterday and they advised me that no corals could be kept in a 30 litre tank only one fish or two... I don't know how correct this is though becuase Ive seen at least 3 or four small soft corals in a tank that was 2 gallons. Are small corals like mushrooms a viable option.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cookie extreme made a sensible suggestion yarimochi and wasn't insulting you. Marine keeping is complex and there are many "experts" out there who often disagree with each other on the way to do things. A good basic book is a great way to start.

I have here The Tropical Marine Fish Survival Manual by Gordon Kay and Nick Dakin. I recently lent it to a new member of my club who had bought a marine tank but was confused by all the conflicting information online. She found it extremely helpful, easy to understand, and she now has 2 marine tanks and, so far, has not lost a single fish, coral or other critter over the months she has had them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would add, however, that books are a good reference for corals, fish, and the rundown of basic equipment.

But as far as philosophies and methods go, i'm yet to find one with accurate upto date information.

Honestly, for that sort of information, you're best bet is to read forums and ask questions.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Honestly, for that sort of information, you're best bet is to read forums and ask questions


make sure you read many responses from many people on many forums, you will get differing advice from various people who swear black and blue that there way is the only way :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

from various people who swear black and blue that there way is the only way

And then you look at their tank which tells you alot.

Just like the All blacks, everyone is a expert on who they should pick for the team.

Comes down to performace and results.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good points. A book may be good, but you are only getting one persons opinion.

In fact there are many ways to skin a cat, all may work. The biggest problem I had as a newbie was sorting it all out, truth from 1/2 truth, sometimes the best plan is to go and actually look at a few peoples tanks, talk and learn from them, long as the tank looks healthy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The one thing I would say is that often people get carried away with doing something because that's the way most other people do it.

Two questions to ask for every decision you make is: Why am I doing it this way? And is it the best way for me, or is there a better way to achieve what I want?

While there are many ways to skin a cat, some are messier than others ;-)

Read and ask questions. The more exposure you have to different ways of doing things, the better position you are to get things right the first time.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...