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Okay so I've heard about these nano reefs for years. I've ALWAYS wanted to do one but once I look into it both my confidence and my pocket book get more then a little nervous. I'm a busy guy and I don't really have time to always be checking water chemistry and everything a full size reef tank needs. I've kept freshwater and am very good at it but I wanna take it to the next level. How hard is it to do these nano reefs? I look at them and always doubt myself and my knowledge of fish. I'm just scared I'm gonna make a mistake and put a lot of money into a tank only to lose it when the fish die:( do I just need to kinda suck it up and give it a shot? I don't know any more if I would be able to do it. Please give me advice or any guidance. Anything would make me very happy!

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What kind of set up do you want? Coral or fish only? A larger tank is more forgiving. Dont think that just because the tank is small that it is easier. It's actually more difficult.


Fish don't have a that much to DI with water chemistry. Just keep the nitrates down to prevent algae and you're golden. Soft coral and Lps really aren't too picky either... Just stay away from sps and clams if you're worried about chemistry in terms of mineral and trace elements.


I think you are over thinking it. A 10 gallon tank can be set up for ~ 300 bucks (less if you don't want coral) easily while providing everything you need. The posts you are reading about are honestly all Latin to me. I barely understand some of it. Give it a shot, worst comes to worse most of everything has a decent resale value in this hobby and you would only lose a few bucks.

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The biggest thing is to take it slow. With saltwater, everything needs time to adjust when you add anything new into the tank, whether it be fish, invert, or coral. The thing about salt is that ideally you shouldn't have to do any maintenance besides water changes because its all about maintaining a balanced ecosystem all the way down to a microscopic level.


I agree with patback, you're freaking out. haha I started in this hobby when I was twelve years old. No one else in my family did it, just me. In fact, there are a lot of children who use NR as well to help them with their tanks. If they (and I) can do it, so can you.

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Also new to salt water let alone reef tanks had fw for awhile to. If your going to start small like I did all I used was a 10 gal aga with an aquaclear 30 and koralia nano for movement. Add some water from established tank if you got access to one, some live sand and live rock I also added a damsel to help cycle a bit faster didn't even look like it was needed though you can you brine shrimp or fish food to. Then you just got to wait a bit. Also invest in an ro or ro/di if you need a cheap one check out the mighty mite from airwaterice things awesome for the money.

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What kind of set up do you want? Coral or fish only? A larger tank is more forgiving. Dont think that just because the tank is small that it is easier. It's actually more difficult.



Definitely take this advice into consideration also larger tanks are way more forgiving in the beginning when you're still getting used to keeping stable parameters. Small water changes in small aquariums have large effects.

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Don't be afraid, I'd only done a small fresh water tank many years ago. You do need to read alot before you do anything, get the big picture. Then use the forums to make each move in setting up the tank, adding inhabitants, etc. The advice you get really boosts your confidence as you go along.


I have a 10 gallon standard, now 1 1/2 years old. Sure, I lost a couple of coral frags along the way, but to date have had no major disasters/failures. Just went slow like people told me to.


As for maintenance, I do 2 - 3 gallon water change per week. With water mixing, algae scraping, bed cleaning, water top off, I think I put in 45mins - 1 hour per week. That is one plus to a nano tank!


PM me if you want more specifics of my tank setup, pics, etc.

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I can completely understand. I started with 2.5 gallon tanks back in college and have only recently moved up to a 20 gallon. I truly believe the key is to read, read and research all you can. Make a budget and stay within it. Don't skimp on quality parts (read reviews) but don't go overboard on your first tank.


A small tank doesn't need a huge lighting system or the North Atlantic current for water movement. Keep it simple and above all have fun. The moment this hobby, like any other, starts to stress you out and cause problems you may end up abandoning. I've been the victim of this mentality and while at times reefing may be stressful due to a coral loss or patience even, the beauty of a reef in your living room far outweighs any issues you may come across along the way.


Just keep swimming...

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When I started I knew absolutely nothing I just bought a 3 gallon tank (witch most people told only very experienced reefers should attempt ) put tons of coral in it bought a dwarf lionfish for it (witch everyone says can't be keeped in that tank) and everything is doing fine my only looses have been a emarld crab that jumped out a pom Pom crab that I think my lion killed and a jewel coral that I droped and died the jewel is a very hard coral to keep as well I read some people say it also can't be keeped in a aquarium for over a year.everything else is doing great softies lps and sps.


So don't let anything you read discourage if your unshure get a ten gallon stick with softies and lps and a clown you will be very happy don't be afraid to dive in your already in better shape than I was all I have and all you need is this site.


Sorry for the super long post I type to fast

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Okay so I've heard about these nano reefs for years. I've ALWAYS wanted to do one but once I look into it both my confidence and my pocket book get more then a little nervous.

Welcome to Nano Reef! If its something you want to do, go for it! Read around here and across the interwebs to gain some knowledge before "getting your tank wet" and you'll have a much easier time. As far as the pocket book goes make a budget and try to stick to it. However, spending is something than comes with the hobby :lol:





bought a dwarf lionfish for it (witch everyone says can't be keeped in that tank) and everything is doing fine

I'm sorry but putting a dwarf lionfish in a 3 gallon is just plain stubborn. They grow to 6 inches and mine went from about 2 to 5 in under 6 months. He seems cramped in his 29G sometimes and frequent water changes are a must they are messy fish. I can't see how the fish is going to not be stressed out long term even if it seems fine.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was on the same boat as you OP, I eventually decided to just GO with it. I'm in nursing school so time must be managed. Along with that, money must be managed. I decided to just go with it because well, I would love to look at my coral tank with my clown fish swimming around so I can relax. Like what some users said, An hour or two a week is all you need for maintenance.

I haven't started my 7.5gal up yet, I've just been slowly buying all the equipments and will soon slowly put everything together. I've also been in fw tanks for a while now, aquascape to be specific. Good luck, I'm convinced the outcome and result will be very rewarding :)

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I've been doing nano reefs for years and I think they are actually pretty easy. An ATO will be your best friend. Plan on spending a couple minutes daily for feeding and just to check that things look ok. Allow time for a water change weekly or at least bi-weekly. Stick to soft corals and lps to start. Sps are more demanding so maybe get into those later on. Don't over stock it with fish, usually 2-3 fish depending on tank size is good. There are plenty of affordable tanks out there, and/or you can grab some used equipment here on these forums. You can find just about all the info you need to get started here on nano-reef. Just go for it man!

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My advice if you are trying to see if you have time for a salt tank would to be as everyone else said.Start with a 10 gallon.


Initially you will need the following items to get a basic setup going.


10 gallon tank-15


Thermometer-digital one on ebay less than 5


10lb bag live sand-10/15

Dry rock-15

Live rock-25

Salt water-10

RODI water-2

Test kit-25 or you can spend a little more and get a kit worth having like red sea

Light-50-150 depending on reef or fish only

Fish net-5


So for a fish only setup it would be about 185 and a reef about 325 to get everything at once.Some of these things can wait for purchase while the tank is cycling and you can build up funds for the better equipment.


When you decide to go with it just set it all up and go through the motions that would be needed for a stocked tank like feeding and top off.This will help you know if you can make time for a salt tank.


If you dont want to spend the money for the setup then first try going through the same motions you would as if you had a tank.I know this is going to sound funny or silly but draw or print a picture of a tank and place it where the tank would be and sit in a chair for 10-15 min a day and see how that fits in your schedule.Then once a week sit in your chair for about 30-45 min to make time for a water change.


Well i hope this helps to get you to take the leap and just do it.

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