Question Stocking A Small Saltwater Nano Reef Tank

CanadianJoeh

Well Known
Member
Messages
2,346
Reaction score
932
Location
Quebec City
Experience
4 years
So....

If I were to finally cave and buy a Fluval Evo 10 gallon or 13.5g (I don't have room for much anything else), what would be some fun, and easy fish, invertebrates and anemones or frags for starting a small nano reef?

Also important things to keep in mind? Important equipment to buy?
With an Evo I presume there wouldn't be space for a skimmer....
Thanks
 

Katie13

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
6,639
Reaction score
2,833
Location
East TN
Experience
More than 10 years
Do you want fish? What are the dimensions of the space you have to work with?
 

Tony_097

Active Member
Member
Messages
431
Reaction score
143
Location
O.C California
Experience
4 years
A skimmer isn't neccesary but it is helpful in a tank this size as longer as you keep up with water changes I would add a hob refugium IMO but that depends what you want. First I wouldnt do an anemone too small of a tank second your lighting will determine the coral you will be able to keep . third I would a clownfish and a clown goby.2 fish with a relatively small biolad.
 

Katie13

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
6,639
Reaction score
2,833
Location
East TN
Experience
More than 10 years
Tony_097 said:
A skimmer isn't neccesary but it is helpful in a tank this size as longer as you keep up with water changes I would add a hob refugium IMO but that depends what you want. First I wouldnt do an anemone too small of a tank second your lighting will determine the coral you will be able to keep . third I would a clownfish and a clown goby.2 fish with a relatively small biolad.
I wouldn't do Clowns in less than 15 gallons.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
OP
CanadianJoeh

CanadianJoeh

Well Known
Member
Messages
2,346
Reaction score
932
Location
Quebec City
Experience
4 years
Katie13 said:
Do you want fish? What are the dimensions of the space you have to work with?
  • 13.5 gallon tank; 56 x 29 x 38 cm (22 x 11.5 x 15 in)
I would really love an anemone , I think they're so awesome.... yes definitely a couple of fish, I've been told a watchman goby would be good, purple striped goby? Pom-Pom shrimp? but I'd definitely like to hear what my options are in your opinion for a 13.5 gallon, something easy but fun
 

Katie13

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
6,639
Reaction score
2,833
Location
East TN
Experience
More than 10 years
With those dimensions, I would go for a 15g. It's only 2 inches longer. It's 24" by 12" by 12" (approximately 61cm by 30.5cm by 30.5cm)
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
OP
CanadianJoeh

CanadianJoeh

Well Known
Member
Messages
2,346
Reaction score
932
Location
Quebec City
Experience
4 years
Katie13 said:
With those dimensions, I would go for a 15g. It's only 2 inches longer. (24" by 12" by 12")
Well, the evo is a kit, comes with light, filter, etc. What are my options at 13,5g? I guess we can round down to 10 gallon fish
 

Katie13

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
6,639
Reaction score
2,833
Location
East TN
Experience
More than 10 years
CanadianJoeh said:
Well, the evo is a kit, comes with light, filter, etc. What are my options at 13,5g? I guess we can round down to 10 gallon fish
You would be looking at $120-$150 or so for the evo. Personally, I'd just pick up a 15 gallon and pick out my own equipment. The lighting is a very big deal in Saltwater when you want coral and anemone. The light in the Evo has 11000K which is decent, but I didn't see anything about blue lighting or reflectors.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
OP
CanadianJoeh

CanadianJoeh

Well Known
Member
Messages
2,346
Reaction score
932
Location
Quebec City
Experience
4 years
Katie13 said:
You would be looking at $120-$150 or so for the evo. Personally, I'd just pick up a 15 gallon and pick out my own equipment. The lighting is a very big deal in Saltwater when you want coral and anemone.
Okay, say I pick myself up a 29 gallon then. If I'm gonna get a 15, might as well get a 20. And if I'm getting a 20 it'll be a 20l and not a 20 high. So at that point I might as well just get a 29.

What filter should I run for saltwater. What brand and type of light should I buy. I really know nothing about saltwater. What brand of salt do I buy! Reef salt I assume? Haha
 

Katie13

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
6,639
Reaction score
2,833
Location
East TN
Experience
More than 10 years
Let me create a quick equipment/supply list.
 

PoorBigBlue

Active Member
Member
Messages
434
Reaction score
347
Location
Kentucky
Experience
5 to 10 years
So, welcome to the salty side!

Bigger is better - I'd go with the 13.5, or even a standard 15 gallon, since I'm not too big on fluval AIOs.

A skimmer is in no way necessary in a nano, and to be honest, I feel as if there are very few good nano skimmers. For the most part, water quality can be kept pristine through weekly WCs - so I'd recommend skipping a skimmer.

Here's a list of things to make sure you have:

Test kits - I recommend Red Sea and Salifert, but API works too. Whatever fits into your budget.

A refractometer - hydrometers are incredibly inaccurate. You can find refractometers on ebay for like $20, and they do just fine with some basic calibration.

Salt - Kind of a no brainer, huh? I use Instant Ocean Reef Crystals, and have always had good parameters with freshly mixed water. Some prefer other brands, but I feel as if Reef Crystals is a great place to start.

Lighting - I have no idea what light comes on the Fluval, but do some research to ensure it's going to be sufficient for your needs. You might want to consider either replacing the light it comes with, or supplementing it with something else. I have no idea, though, so take that with a grain of salt.

Rock - I recommend that you use dry rock for your first tank. You don't get the benefits of live rock, but you also don't have to worry about any pests right from the get-go. The rock will cycle just the same, and you can introduce pods and worms later.

Sand - Aragonite is, IMO, the only suitable substrate for a reef tank. Crushed coral can work, but I find that it's too coarse and rough for a lot of organisms. I'd buy some dry aragonite, or buy some live sand and rinse it in tap water. Live sand is kind of a gimmick, IME, and you'll just have a more controlled cycle and a clearer tank if you rinse the sand first.

Mixing equipment - Since you're dealing with a small nano, you won't need much - I use a 5 gallon bucket, an old powerhead, and a kitchen scale to weigh out salt and mix water.

RO/DI water - So, as a general rule, tap water shouldn't be used in reef aquariums. You have no idea exactly what it contains, and it has a tendency to change out of the blue. For that reason, the majority of people will use RO/DI filters, or buy RO/DI water from stores for around a dollar per gallon. The investment is worth it, but since you're dealing with a small tank, buying water won't break the bank - I used distilled water from Walmart for a long time without issues.

Circulation pumps - I have no idea what pumps come with the Fluval tank, but I HIGHLY doubt it'll be enough to satisfy your circulation needs. For that reason, I'd suggest you look into a powerhead, or even an Aquaclear filter. I use an AC 30 and a Koralia Nano 425 on my 10 gallon, and get a pretty good amount of flow - plus, the AC 30 gives me room to run carbon and other medias. I'd look into a Koralia Nano 425, personally, since you have the AIO portion of the tank to run your carbon and such.

Adjustable heater - I use and recommend the Aqueon adjustable heaters, but really, most of them work well anymore. As long as it can reach and maintain 78-82 degrees, you should be golden.

...and that's all I can think of for now.

For stocking, it really just depends on what you like. There are a LOT of options out there, and it comes down to personal taste.

For fish, here are some to consider:

False Percula Clowns (a single fish, or a pair)
True Percula Clowns (a single fish, or a pair)
Yellow Clown Gobys (a single fish, or a pair)
Firefish
Court Jester Goby
Green Banded Goby
Sapphire Damsel (aggressive, but beautiful and hardy)
Royal Gramma

There are a ton more than that, but those are the ones that come to mind at the moment. Obviously, you can't do all of these fish, but you can mix and match them to your desired stocking. I'd recommend no more than 2 fish, to be honest - much more, and you'll have an awful heavy bioload for your first tank.

For invertebrates, you'll want to start off with a CUC, and here's what I recommend you try:

3-4 Nassarius snails, to stir the sandbed a bit and to eat leftover food
2-3 Florida Cerith snails, to take care of algae
6-8 Dwarf Cerith snails, to take care of algae

You can change that to fit your needs, but that'll get you started in a completely reef-safe way - some crabs are known for picking at coral, so I'd recommend staying away from them.

Now, for anemones, I really want to try and talk you out of getting one so soon. Here are a few reasons to avoid them in new tanks:

Your tank isn't established - even once it's cycled and has fish and coral, it still has several months (if not years) to become a 100% established tank. Anemones, perhaps more than anything else in your tank, need a very stable environment. An un-established tank can't provide that, and it's really best to wait until your tank is at least 3-6 months old before ever trying any sort of anemone.

You, as a hobbyist, might not be quite ready for one. They're very strange, and can be kinda difficult to keep healthy. I got one delivered to my door by accident on Wednesday, and the poor guy is struggling quite a bit. Without knowing what to look for in healthy anemones, and without knowing their specific care requirements, you're going to have a hard time keeping one happy.

The Fluval tank probably isn't equipped to handle an anemone out of the box. I lighting might do well for softies and LPS, but anemones do enjoy pretty strong lighting, and you might struggle to keep on satisfied in a stock tank - not to mention the issues that an overflow can present, especially in a nano. Anemones like to take walks, and can get stuck in overflows and powerheads - you'd have to modify your tank in a few different ways in order to house an anemone properly.

Obviously, there's a LOT of research to be done before you buy - more than any of us can really tell you. Do some googling, and research anything you have questions about - post them here too, and we can give you answers to the best of our ability. Check this guide out, to get started: Nart's Budget Nano Saltwater Guide For Beginners

Oh, and for good measure, ryanr and stella1979 always have good advice!
 

Katie13

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
6,639
Reaction score
2,833
Location
East TN
Experience
More than 10 years
Looks like PoorBigBlue beat me to it! I also use Instant Ocean, but I use the Instant Ocean Sea Salt. The light in the Fluval kit is 11000K, but I didn't see anything about blue actinic lights or reflector which is slightly concerning.
 

PoorBigBlue

Active Member
Member
Messages
434
Reaction score
347
Location
Kentucky
Experience
5 to 10 years
The difference between Instant Ocean Sea Salt and Reef Crystals is the amount of minerals in the salt.

If you're using the plain salt, you'll likely find that you need to dose the tank once you have a bunch of coral in it, since the salt doesn't provide essential minerals the corals use to grow. The Reef Crystals are pretty much pre-dosed, and for nanos, it's really all you need.

If I had to guess, the Evo probably uses LEDs, so a reflector shouldn't be necessary. Actinics really aren't necessary either - people used to grow corals under daylight lamps, way back when. The bluer spectrum is better for the coral, I think, but the actinics themselves are probably more for our viewing pleasure.

The bulb I use (well, used) over my 10 gallon had mostly 10,000K whites, with a couple of Royal Blue actinics thrown in. I really don't think the spectrum matters as much as the intensity of the light.

After a quick Googling (and please take this with a grain of salt), it looks like the stock lighting will be good for softies and LPS, with a few lower-light SPS at the top of the tank. If you want to keep a lot of SPS or an anemone, you might want to upgrade.

If you decide to do that, I'd strongly suggest you just go with a standard tank. The main draw to AIO kits is usually the lowered cost with the lighting, but if you aren't going to be using that lighting anyway, you're better off to spend less on a regular tank and get a light that's going to suit your needs.
 

Jesterrace

Well Known
Member
Messages
3,239
Reaction score
1,321
Experience
3 years
Agreed with the comments on the AIO kits. One of the things that is a very common theme from an AIO is that most folks who keep them for any length of time are doing multiple modifications and upgrades to them and that totally kills the whole purpose and appeal of the AIO. The one exception being the IM Nuvos (since they have gorgeous displays), but they don't come with lights so you will probably be better off just building a setup from the dollar per gallon sale.

Fluval Hang on back filters (ie Fluval 30 or 50) are a great cost effective choice for a build
Refractometer
20-30lbs of live rock (or dry rock to be seeded with bacteria to become live) depending on the size of your tank
15-20lbs of argonite sand or live sand or whatever you decide to go with
RODI System
Type of marine salt (ie Instant Ocean, Red Sea, etc.)
Digital Thermometer
Adjustable Marine Compatible Tank heater (the pre-set temp ones tend to have enamel coating that flake off in saltwater)
A Hydor Koralia 1350gph (powerhead that simulates underwater ocean current) should be plenty in a tank under 30 gallons
A cover of some form for the tank (this is a MUST as saltwater fish are prone to jumping out of tanks without lids)
Lighting, a Chinese Black Box would be the cheapest LED option
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
OP
CanadianJoeh

CanadianJoeh

Well Known
Member
Messages
2,346
Reaction score
932
Location
Quebec City
Experience
4 years
Thank you to everyone for all these fantastic comments!

I will be sure to keep everything in mind when starting up a tank, whenever that may be!

I guess I'll be grabbing a 29 gallon from Petco sometime soon. We'll see where that takes me in the months to come
 

Jesterrace

Well Known
Member
Messages
3,239
Reaction score
1,321
Experience
3 years
Just remember that Length followed by Width are the most important dimensions in a saltwater tank. Not saying the fish don't appreciate some height but they don't use it as much as the other two. If you can do a 30 Long or 40 Breeder that would be even better and open up your stocking options considerably for fish.

And being a Wrasse guy, I have to make a plug for ones that will work in a 29 gallon tank:

 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
OP
CanadianJoeh

CanadianJoeh

Well Known
Member
Messages
2,346
Reaction score
932
Location
Quebec City
Experience
4 years
Jesterrace said:
Just remember that Length followed by Width are the most important dimensions in a saltwater tank. Not saying the fish don't appreciate some height but they don't use it as much as the other two. If you can do a 30 Long or 40 Breeder that would be even better and open up your stocking options considerably for fish.
I'm thinking I will get a 15 Gallon to start.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
OP
CanadianJoeh

CanadianJoeh

Well Known
Member
Messages
2,346
Reaction score
932
Location
Quebec City
Experience
4 years
ALRIGHT so I am dumb.

I just remembered I have a 25-30 gallon tank at home unused with AquaClear 50 and heater....

I'll take the measurements when I'm back home and get back to you on it!!
 

Jesterrace

Well Known
Member
Messages
3,239
Reaction score
1,321
Experience
3 years
Much better choice for a starter tank. You stocking options go from this:


Firefish
Smallest Gobies
Possum/Pink Streaked Wrasse

to this:

Ocellaris or Percula variety Clownfish
Cardinalfish
All but the largest gobies
All Blennies
Royal Gramma Basslet
Smaller Hawkfish (although they will likely eat inverts and smaller fish)
Jawfish (provided you have a deep enough sand bed)
ValentinI or Leopard Puffer (although it may eat inverts and nip other fish fins)
 

New Threads

Similar Threads

Follow FishLore!

FishLore on Social Media

Online statistics

Members online
249
Guests online
3,067
Total visitors
3,316

Aquarium Photo Contests

Aquarium Calculator

Top Bottom