Top 10 Nano Reef Aquarium Mistakes—And How to Avoid Them!


– In this video, we’re talking nano tanks. And we will go through the
10 most common mistakes made by new hobbyist. (lighthearted music) Hello, folks. Wayland from Marine Depot here, and thanks for joining us. Since the creation of the Nano Cube, small reef aquariums
have become quite popular because they offer a convenient way to keep a reef aquarium when space, budget, and time are limited. For those of you just starting out, a nano tank is simply a small aquarium, typically anything below 40 gallons. With over 20 years under our belt, we at Marine Depot have been
helping hobbyists succeed at what we do best. Using the knowledge gained
from this experience, we compiled a list of the top 10 mistakes you should avoid when keeping a nano reef. (lighthearted music) Setting up a new tank is exciting. Building, stocking, and seeing your work come to life is quite rewarding. No matter how much we express the importance of patience, time and time again, we see folks rush through the planning and setup process which can lead to a ton of problems. Most importantly, your tank
needs time to establish. Once you have rock, sand,
and water in the tank, you should let it run for
a full four to six weeks before adding fish. This gives the bacterial foundations sufficient time to establish, ensuring your new aquatic pets the best chance to
survive in your new tank. Another result of impatience is making adjustments quickly. Stability is key to the
health of an aquarium, and changes to the environment
need to be done slowly. Drastically increasing your lighting, changing water flow, adjusting additives, or adding too much new livestock at once are all examples of change
that can stress out your tank. In nano tanks, the
changes will be magnified even more drastically. The resulting stress can be misleading. For example, it may appear your new lightning schedule flow
pattern is too strong, when in fact the corals or fish are simply stressed out because of the drastic change in the environment, and were not given the proper time to adjust to the more optimal conditions. (lighthearted music) The facts are, small aquariums cannot support large populations of fish, and it is critical you choose the appropriate type of fish that will thrive in such a confined space. The key here is research. Before you head out to a fish store, have a solid idea of which species you’re gonna be looking for. We realize that many of
you might be restricted by what your local fish
store has in stock, but don’t let this limit you. Many fish stores will
take special requests, or you may consider purchasing from one of the various
reputable online retailers. Waiting for the right
fish is well worth it. Never purchase a fish or coral you’ve never heard of. This will only lead to problems. Have a solid understanding
of what the animal needs in order to thrive in captivity. Don’t purchase a juvenile fish that will quickly outgrow your tank. While something like a baby blue tang may appear to be the perfect size, in reality, they grow quite large and require a ton of space to swim around and feel comfortable. A tang in a small nano aquarium will only cause stress, which leads to aggression
and increased risk of infection and disease. Personally, I like to make a list of my top five fish I’m looking for, ensuring that they’re
all compatible together, and then head out to a fish store looking for them. You will not always be able to find what you’re looking for, but patience and sticking to your plan will ultimately lead to success. You can find a ton of information right here on our website all about fish compatibility and the suitable tank sizes. Check out the links we provided in the description below to get started. Smart coral selection should also be taken seriously in terms of understanding what the particular coral needs. Is it aggressive, and will it potentially kill other corals? Will it prolific and out
compete everything else? Do you have stable enough water parameters to keep the corals happy and growing? Are conditions optimal in terms of lighting and flow? Knowing the answers to these questions will give you an advantage, and ensure your corals
will assimilate nicely into your small reef. (lighthearted music) At some point or another, all of us probably have added a little too much food into our tanks. Feeding your fish and
corals is certainly fun, but don’t get carried away. Too much food will foul
up your aquarium’s water, especially in a small tank where you don’t have a
substantial water volume to dilute the resulting waste. Always turn off your
filtration system when feeding. You can take it a step further and rinse your frozen
foods using RO/DI water, and strain out the usable food particles. Take advantage of feeding stations to corral the fish food, and keep it away from
your filtration system. Algae clips and grazers
are also excellent tools to reduce food waste. Your fish will quickly consume the food you give them
in under two minutes. You can also feed in
stages to help distribute the food to various tank inhabitants. Coral foods should be sparingly used in a nano tank, if any at all. Leftover fish food can
easily feed your corals. Prepared coral foods
typically are very small in particle size, and designed to stay suspended in the water column for corals to filter out and consume. A significant portion of that food will go uncollected, further increasing waste levels. It is good a practice to
always target feed corals using a bulb syringe. It is also a good practice to maintain your mechanic filtration
on a regular basis to remove the filtered food particles. (lighthearted music) For those of you coming
from the freshwater world, using de-chlorinated tap water is something you want
to avoid at all costs. We highly recommend getting
you own RO/DI system, or purchasing filter water
from your local aquarium shop. An RO/DI system filters your tap water to be clean and free of contaminants that could potentially be
toxic to your fish and corals. It will also remove impurities that contribute to nuisance algae growth. Small tanks require a very
strict water change schedule. Although the volume of
water being exchanged is often less than five gallons, the frequency should be
every seven to 10 days. Having an RO/DI system at home will make this process a bit easier because you’ll have fresh, clean DI water on demand for both mixing saltwater and also filling your top off container. You will also have the advantage of being able to make
your own saltwater at home if something goes wrong, or your local fish store is not open or able to sell you water. (lighthearted music) A water change on a small
tank is the best way to keep the tank stable. The exact frequency can vary, but with most nano tanks, we recommend you perform
a 20% water change every seven to 10 days, especially when keeping
a nano reef with corals. Doing so will replenish
the necessary elements that corals need, and also dilute the waste levels. Creating a regimen and sticking to it is the best approach. With such a frequent water exchange, the tank will never get to a point in which the water quality
diminishes so severely that the animals inside suffer. Filtration systems on the smaller, all-in-one aquariums are very minimal, and do not allow space
for advanced equipment. With the frequent water exchange schedule, you can effectively eliminate the need for a bulky protein skimmer, media reactors, and various
other filtration equipment found on larger reef tanks. (lighthearted music) Tiny protein skimmers are
classically problematic. In order for the skimmer
to be small enough to fit into a nano aquarium’s
filtration compartment, it will need to be really small in size, which means a tiny reaction chamber. This poses a fundamental
problem for the skimmer, which requires a large reaction chamber to properly remove waste and to perform without the need for frequent adjustments to air and water. There are a handful of nano skimmers that work better than others, but for the most part, they
will not pull out waste like what you might expect. Small skimmers will provide the benefit of gas exchange and removing some waste, but it is important to understand that some of the best nano tanks operate without a skimmer. Don’t worry if you’re having trouble finding something that
will fit into your tank. Instead, focus on maintenance, and adhere to a very frequent
water exchange schedule to remove and dilute organic waste. (lighthearted music) Filter maintenance is
crucial with a nano tank, because things will go downhill fast. Even just a few days overdue can lead to nutrient level spikes in the aquarium. Mechanical filtration such
as filter pads and socks need to be cleaned or replaced every three to five days in most cases. If your tank is very clean, you can probably go a few days longer, but just remember that when the trap waste is left to break down
inside your aquarium, bacteria will go to
work creating nitrates. The same rule applies
to chemical filtration such as carbon, absorbed
resins, and the like. Be sure to replace this media as soon as it becomes exhausted so as to not allow for leeching or additional buildup of waste. Some media will last longer than others, so testing your water will be important for understanding when it’s
time to replace the media. Personally, I like to follow the rule of when in doubt, just change it out. Keeping a healthy stock or replacement filter media on hand will ensure you’re never left stuck without a new bag of carbon, or clean filter pad. (lighthearted music) Using an ATO system will really save you a ton of headaches. Trying to keep up with the manual addition of freshwater loss by evaporation will be tedious, and
will also cause swings in your salinity levels, which will stress our your inhabitants. In small aquariums, evaporation occurs at a same rate that you would experience with a larger aquarium, but the resulting rise in salinity will be far more drastic. An ATO system will automatically top off the aquarium with freshwater, and keep your tank’s salinity stable. Thanks to modern technology, you have quite a few options in terms of small ATO systems with tiny sensors that fit nicely into nano tanks. The Tunze Nano, the XP Aqua, and the Micro ATO are
all excellent choices. (lighthearted music) This is something that applies to reefers of any size aquarium, and is certainly much
easier said than done. With a small aquarium, it is all the more important to keep a close eye on water parameters, especially when keeping corals. A regular testing regimen
will give you an idea of what your corals are consuming, indicate whether your filtration and maintenance schedule are sufficient, and give you the peace of mind that your tank’s inhabitants
are being provided an optional environment. Keeping a log for reference, and having a full set of
quality test kits is critical. The log helps to reference pass tests, and having the test kits at home makes it much more difficult to neglect. When first starting out, check to see if your local fish stores offer a water testing service, or consider using a
mail in water test kit. A successful reef hobbyist is a keeper of water chemistry, and using test kits to identify trends, and understand how the
water changes over time will give you a much better understanding of the most complicated
aspect of our hobby. The water itself. (lighthearted music) It seems silly to say, but temperature, salinity, and PH quickly become a neglected aspect of keeping a reef tank. We often get so caught up in keeping up with maintenance, and scrutinizing every available element for the corals, that we forget the basic parameters that keep your tank thriving. As mentioned earlier, change happens fast inside of a nano tank, and this remains true for temperature, PH, and salinity, all of which are very easy to monitor, and should not be forgotten. An accurate thermometer, reliable refractometer, quality PH test kit or monitor will really make your life easy. Aquarium controllers such
as the Neptune Systems Apex, and the GHL ProfiLux, offer an excellent solution for real time monitoring and control of this parameters. It may seem that an expensive controller is not worth the expense for a small tank, but the facts are, they’re just as useful if not more useful
compared to a large system. After all, the animals
inside your nano tank require the same attention and care as those found in large reef tanks. (lighthearted music) No matter what size tank you keep, success takes work. And the more work you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. A small reef tank takes
just as much commitment as a larger tank. The only difference is
the cost of equipment. Keeping a reef tank is a journey. All the while, you’ll be learning. No matter how much research you do, you can never predict
when a fish might jump, become ill, or when a critical
piece of equipment fails. These things happen, and can be quite disheartening
after working so hard to create a reef tank of your dreams. What you can do is to be prepared. Keep extra heaters and pumps on hand, utilize battery backups
or buy a generator, use a screen top, source livestock from a reputable distributor, and simply mentally prepare yourself for these situations as
they will ultimately happen. The point here is don’t let these events discourage your passion for reef tanks. Keep working and keep learning. All of us go through it and will experience some
level of disappointment with our reef. We challenge you to ask yourself what keeps your passion
for reef tanks alive, and then nurture those desires. If you do, you’ll surely accomplish your own personal level of success. That wraps up our list of the
top 10 nano tank mistakes, and we look forward to assisting all of you on your reef keeping journey. If you happen to have any
thoughts or additional tips, please leave that in the comments below and let us know. We appreciate all of you for watching. Until next time, take care,
and happy reef keeping. (lighthearted music)

Comments 56

  • first

  • 2nd 👍

  • What's the coral at 12:42?

  • Great video and info to help all new and even experienced hobbyists. I experienced all the top 10 mentioned in this video. I still remember mixing salt with tap water and thinking that chlorine remover would make the water safe. Yikes, I learned the hard way. What I learned and gained from this hobby the most is….patience! Nothing good happens overnight. Holla!

  • #s 4, 5, 6, 8 are correct.

  • Pretty much all of these can be applied to any tank and not just nano

  • Subject matter: nano reefs

    Background prop: 150 gallon aquarium with $2500 in light lighting fixtures…

    Pleeeeeeeaaaaaase get some less childish music. Or at least kill it after the opening introduction.

  • Looks like 2 people where triggered by this video lol. Great video guys!

  • Very good video! thank u!! 😀

  • Another fantastic video, keep up the good work.

  • Thanks for the info. What device is that at around 4:40 in the video the frozen food feeder? Thanks again.

  • add a refugium in a nano works better than a skimmer

  • 46weeks

  • in reality all home tanks are nano compared to the ocean

  • Measure early and often. Record and analyze trends. Then relax. Not much has to be done once settle in. Decide on corals for growth and crazy colors but static. Or movement and flow. Or combination. Small incremental changes with any supplements. Corals only use tiny tiny amounts at a time.

  • I have large populations of fish n all my tanks. But have to look at the bioload of the fish you purchase and keep that running total.

  • I change my nano water every other month. 🙂

  • Clownfish here in philippines cost 1 us dollar each

  • Great video and info

  • Tap water is a lie I use tap water in saltwater for a year and no fish has died lol

  • My 3g hasnt gotten a water change in like 7+ months 😂 though I have no fish. Just coral, it's the easiest thing to take care of. I feed it every few weeks and that's it.

  • I have also never checked my parameters aside from salinity every once in a while.

  • I like the video but only thing is I use tap water and have great success . Also , I change my water about once a month maybe even if that . Every tank is different but it is great advice ! Other than that love this video

  • I have a 55 gal fish tank with a 200 gal sump should I get a bigger tank?

  • Why you’ve chosen a non native English speaker for this presentation? He pronounces the words sooooo bad.

  • I love you

  • Acompanhando seu canal !! Excelente !! Se puder da uma visitada no meu ! obrigado

  • Great video guys. Been a reef keeper and fish only since 1994, wow has it been almost 25 years. I still have hundreds of questions. I started with and went back to the deep bed Jaubert method. Was very common in the early 90’s. Just have to constantly stir small areas of the sand so hard clumps never form. Plus keep sulfide from forming. OMG its a hideous smell and will poison the fish. Many of people I know got away from this method bc of the work involved. I still love my 4” sand bed, med sand size, no small granular sand, o2 just can’t get into the sand, and keep plenty of sand sifting animals. I have used up to a 240 gallon, and as small as 30 gallon. My favorite is 75-90 gallon, with a built in over flow. Still use my amiracle reef sump from 1996, a jbl chiller, small heater, and a dual stage temp monitor. By all means monitor ph, temp, and salinity, after a few months reg water changes, and kalkwasser drip keep my Ca around 400-420. Check ca about monthly. I still use two light forms, metal halide, and vho fluorescent lights. The metal halide was the reason I had to add a chiller. Still use my original one from 96’, it has been serviced several times by my neighbor who is a HVAC installer on homes. Two things I want to do is switch over to all fluorescent lights, or some led possibly, it’s just fluorescent is still so much cheaper for me. Second I want to get into the Neptune kits that control everything from temp, water top off, light schedules, and c02 for ca reactors. What are y’all thoughts on ca reactors if auto controlled. Please leave an answer, no experience myself with them at all, none. Oh and I do have a protein skimmer, it’s just for my old 240 gallon tank, still works, just have to turn down a little on a 75-90 gallon, lol. Have a great day, troll away

  • Apart from ammonia,nitrites, nitrates, water temperature, pH and salinity, what other water parameters do I need to regularly check for in a reef system?

  • Are you able to provide a template file of that spreadsheet for keeping track of things?

  • Excellent videography

  • Hey sir I have Redsea 170 34gallons how many times weeks should I do water change for my tank sir Thanks..

  • Great video and a lot of good info

  • Why dont you just remove chlorine form your tapwater instead of treating it at the tap or buying water in stores. Dont put chemical pollution in your water supply. There are other ways that are not as costly to clean your water, things that dont polute the planet.
    No one wants chlorine in the water yet you all buy it

  • Awesome helpful video

  • The best simple answears in marine tank!! Thak you

  • 20 gallons is considered small? Jesus

  • I have never really had to ever change the water, it is fairly self sufficient. I own the Ocean.

  • It is so hard to keep up you tank 1 hour daily!

  • I have 10 gallon tank but no corals in it just 2 clownfish and 2 cardinal fish 1 skunk shrimp cleaner,do i change my water every 10 days also?

  • You are awesome. Ty . I have a successful 35 gallon hexagon salt water tank. Your video is so helpful!!!! I subscribed and if you snd your family site interested in eating vegan please check out .my channel!!!!

  • Up to what size do you consider: pico tank, nano tank?

  • 20 gallon is as nano as I was willing to go I put a Tidal 55 hang on filter as well as an Aquaclear 30 that takes care of most of the work all I do is water change once every two weeks and I have two clowns a watchmen goby and pistol shrimp in it so it works out. But every tank comes to an ugly stage my 70 gallon went through it now my twenty is doing it so you can’t fight a tank trying to mature and that’s all it is. Do the work anyway stick to a schedule don’t fight with it! it does pay off In time.

  • money, money, money……. moonnneeeey

  • This is such a good guide for nano’s . i realised that simple is best and i had neglected my testing. Im in a routine now and my nano reef never looked better. 👍🏻

  • Great video guys…but please put some MP40's in that beautiful tank in the back round, I found myself staring at the cords.

  • If you dont want your kids to do drugs just introduce them to reef keeping and they will never have the money for drugs 😂😂

  • I’m about to get a nano tanker but I can not find the RLDY system

  • Can I use filter water from a refrigerator instead of a rodi water?

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