Maintaining A Nano Reef
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Every new nano reef must first go through a process that is referred to as "cycling." This involves the creation and growth of the biological filtration that will keep your system alive. The nitrogen cycle will be the most painful waiting period you will have to endure with your new nano reef, but it is vital that the cycle is allowed to complete.
The process begins with the conversion of solid wastes put into the system by fish, into ammonia. In a cycled system there are bacteria known as nitrifiers that transform the toxic ammonia into less toxic products. The ammonia is transformed into nitrites which are then converted into nitrates. Nitrate removal is done via the weekly partial water changes of 10-20%.
The methods used to maintain a nano reef can vary greatly throughout the hobby. The methods described below are what I have found to work best in maintaining a successful nano reef. Simplicity is the key in nano reef keeping; inexpensive and easy to follow. This is of course by no means the only way to keep a nano reef. I will try to best explain everything, but should you have any further questions with this, please search existing topics or start a new topic on the forums.
The natural method of filtration consists of only liverock and livesand. No protein skimmers are used and no additives are dosed. The nutrient export is provided by frequent partial water changes of 10-15% about every week. Trace elements are replenished through water changes.
A vital maintenance procedure in nano reef keeping is doing partial water changes on a regular basis. Roughly 10-15% should be changed each week. One must be very careful during this process because any error could potentially harm the reef. But don't let that scare you, it's a rather simple process. There are different water source options, and three main things to check your water for before you add it to the tank.
Maintaining your nano reef is a very important task, and it can be quite simple. Usually you can do all of your maintenance in 15 minutes or less. The most important part of maintaining your nano reef is doing partial water changes. Water changes must be done religiously! You can do your partial water changes every week to every other week, depending on the bio load in your tank. If you decide to do them weekly, change out 10% of the tanks volume with freshly mixed saltwater. If you do them bi-weekly, then you will need to do a 15-20% water change. To save time, you will want to keep saltwater already mixed in a 20 gallon container, so when the time comes to do a water change, you will always have mixed water on hand. Also, make sure that the water is the same temperature and salinity as the water already in the aquarium.
You will be amazed by the great diversity of vertebrates and invertebrates that you can keep in your small piece of the ocean. What you can keep all depends upon your nano reef equipment. Some corals will require higher light than others, and some fish will need a larger aquarium than others. All of the critters listed here are nano reef safe.
Reef aquariums are not toys. However blunt that may sound, it is true. As hobbyists we have the responsibility to maintain healthy systems to the best of our ability and to meet the needs of the animals we keep. For the sake of the animals, and your wallet, one should take some things into consideration before starting. With this in mind, here are some things to consider that will help you make the most of your reef keeping experience.