Aquarium Fish

Nano-Reef Handbook

The Ultimate Guide to Reef Systems Under 15 Gallons
By CR Brightwell
Publisher: TFH (2006), Hardcover

Nano-Reef Handbook

The Nano-Reef Handbook was an exciting purchase for me because it had been awhile since I had read my last saltwater aquarium book. The popularity of smaller saltwater aquariums is increasing all the time. These tiny pieces of the ocean we keep on our desks are getting easier to keep due in large part to the amount of information out there. It makes sense that someone should write a book that tries to encapsulate all the various aspects of running one of these tiny reef tanks.

What exactly is a "nano reef"? All of our tanks could be considered "nano" using the literal sense of the word because they all are very tiny reproductions of the ocean environment we are trying to capture. But for discussion purposes a nano (in our opinion) is generally considered anything under 20 or 30 gallons (75 - 115 liters). The author of this reef book considers a nano reef tank setup to be anything under 15 gallons.

So, what topics are covered in the Nano-Reef Handbook? Let's go over them.

Part 1: The Nano Reef System

  • Water Quality: First Key to Success - covers the introductory concepts and questions the reader on whether or not a nano tank is right for them. Gives some pros and cons of keeping larger versus smaller tanks. The author goes over the various parameters that you need to know about and test for. On the last few pages of this chapter are some really good tips on increasing your chances of success with smaller tanks.

  • Nano Reef Components - Aquarium selection, cabinet selection, the various filter options are covered. There is a decent section on the various lighting options for saltwater reef keepers. This can be quite confusing to those just learning about lighting options and the author does a nice job walking the reader through this jungle. Aquarium chillers, water movement, dosing systems, calcium reactors and some other misc. pieces of equipment are covered as well.

  • Routine Maintenance - Daily and weekly aquarium maintenance routines are suggested with specific functions to perform on each of these periods. Fairly standard recommendations.

Part 2: Livestock

  • Sensible Stocking - the Nano-Reef Handbook cautions the hobbyist on avoiding the three O's: Overstocking, Overcrowding and Overfeeding. It's stated all the time but hobbyists need to continually here this for some reason. The temptation to do all three of these is difficult to overcome for most hobbyists. There are some other really good recommendations on choosing tank mates wisely and researching the various habits these animals originate from. Don't do the rookie thing and buy livestock before you know all you can about it! Can you meet it's habitat and feeding requirements? The author presents six steps to sensibly stocking a nano reef that is really good info.

  • Fishes For Nano Aquariums - Given the small size of these nano tanks the fish selection can be very limited. The author presents ideas on possible fish for your nano reef tank. Certain species of Dwarf angelfish, wrasses, basslets, grammas, pseudochromids, cardinalfish, damselfishes, clownfish, gobies, dragonets, blennies and seahorses are profiled here. The various types of foods needed are covered too.

  • Motile Invertebrates - the invertebrates that can move around the tank are considered motile. There are many different species of crustaceans, gastropods and echinoderms that can be kept and the author presents them here.

  • Sessile Invertebrates - those invertebrates that essentially don't move, but that are attached to the substrate in some way are considered sessile. These sessile inverts are the primary reason for keeping a reef tank in the first place and this is probably one of the best chapters in the book. This chapter provides a decent overview of the various groups that can be kept in the aquarium. Zoanthids, Corallimorphs, Worms, Chordates, Octocorals, Scleractinians, Bivalves (clams) and Poriferans (sponges) are covered. The choices you make here of what you want to keep should be one of the first decisions you make. The equipment needed hinges on what you'd like to keep.

Part 3: Nano Reef Setup

  • Creating a Balanced Nano Ecosystem - this last section tries to tie together everything you've learned in this book up to this point. Detailed step-by-step directions on tank setup are given along with some templates or stocking schemes to consider. Pretty interesting stuff here.

This book is about 175 pages long plus a glossary of terms and references. Although it's on the thin side content wise, the author does a nice job of presenting the essentials for a new reef tank keeper. You may need to supplement your reading if you're interested in some of the more advanced topics since the author just touches the surface of some of these advanced topics for your understanding. The purpose of this book is to explain a standard nano reef tank setup and all the topics that includes. Overall this is a pretty good book and we give it four stars. 4 stars

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Author : Mike FishLore

Rating Information
Review Title: Nano Reef Handbook
Reviewed by: Mike FishLore
Summary: Book review of the Nano Reef Handbook.
Description: This book aims to teach saltwater novices the proper care and setup techniques for those interested in keeping a nano reef tank.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Visitor Reviews and Comments

From: Jenny B.
I have this book and thought it was really good. It introduced me to all of the topics that I needed to know about, although I already knew about most of them. I liked the fish profiles the best. Finding fish species for our nano tanks can be challenging.

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