A beautiful Nano Reef


Nano1This small 30 cm cube, belonging to an Italian aquariology enthusiast, was originally born to host a clown fish and a few soft corals. Later, switching from fluorescent lights (PL) to LED, and thanks to strong lighting, accelerated metabolism of the tank thanks to the high oxidation induced by the LEDs, and Tridacna being a good filter, I could fill the tank to the extreme, creating a microcosm that is more stable and resistant than what it might look like at first, but that is also constantly “hungry” and needs to be kept in check.

It is not easy to manage a mixed tank, especially if it is very small and densely populated. If you favour the Acropora and impoverish the water too much, the Ricordea dies. On the other hand, if you favour soft corals then the SPS corals darken.

I do not run many tests. Let’s say that with time, experience and observation, the eye becomes the best test to understand the condition of your tank. This is an absolute truth for all aquarists.

Nano2Finding the right balance between nutrition and disposal of waste products, between soft and SPS corals in order to keep them both healthy, between the very small and the overcrowded with its management and its great limits has been my challenge, and there is nothing better than to look behind me and count all the years of my tank and its inhabitants’ lives!

The marine aquarium is not a picture, but a complex biological system with its own slow maturation time, with its often unpredictable growth rate and potential accidents, because with living things you have to take that into account too. The secret of success is being able to create an ecosystem that is as stable as possible, maintaining the balance of the tank’s metabolism… between the introduction of nutrients and the disposal of catabolism products and polluting agents.

Lately I have revised and corrected the tank’s lighting. Compared to past years, I favoured a warmer component of the spectrum – similar to HQI – which is undoubtedly benefiting the SPS and makes the perception of warm colours like red, pink and orange more pleasant, whereas before, under Royal blue, they lost much of their intensity.

N.B.: I’d like to point out that this tank is not to be taken as a moral example, as keeping this many fish in such a small space can easily lead them to stressful situations and to a not very dignified lifestyle, especially if one does not have the competences and the patience that are necessary to guarantee them optimal conditions and appropriate nutrition. And the same stands for the invertebrates and the tridacna. This little tank is an instance of extreme managing and it is too difficult for a beginner, so do not be blinded by the colours (a result achieved in 4 years and with many experiences and accidents on the way), but always think that the first objective is the health of the animals and that you should progress step by step!

Never be hasty, and always have patience, because in this hobby you will need a lot of it!


  • Cube tank by Wave, 30x30x35, 20 litres exactly, started in January 2009.
  • Niagara skimmer 280, modified for suction on the surface of the water.
  • 350 lt/h Chinese circulation pump and 50 watt thermostat.
  • About 5 kg of living rock of various provenance.
  • 3 cm of coral sand of medium grain size on the bottom.



  • 60 watts of 3 watts white Cree LEDs at 10.000 K (4 bars of ocean LED)
  • 30 watts of 3 watts royal blue Cree LEDs at 450 nm (2 bars of ocean LED)
  • 9 watts of 3 watts blue LEDs at 470 nm (self-made, Rebel)
  • 6 watts of white LEDs at 3.000 K (self-made, Cree)
  • 3 watts of red LEDs at 612 nm (self-made, Rebel)

Lighting period of 13 hours, with 3 phases of dawn/noon/sunset reproduction.



  • Weekly change of 5 lt of water, prepared with Deep Blue salt.
  • Automatic top up of evaporated water done by timed dosing pump.
  • Daily replenishment of carbonates (liquid buffer Prolab Marin) done by an automatic liquid doser Eheim and a dosing pump.
  • Weekly addition of bacteria (Clear Flo, reef snow) after changing the water and cleaning the accessories.

Daily feeding of the invertebrates:

  • Liquid mush obtained with water, calanus powder (reef snow), vitamins and reefbooster.
  • Reef snow (Brightwell)
  • Fresh yeast

I only feed in a specific way the Goniopora as a pastime, and occasionally the Acanthastrea, for fun.


Invertebrate inhabitants:


  • Acropora grandis, blue
  • Acropora microphthalma with light-blue tips
  • Acropora valida tri-color
  • Montipora samarensis, red
  • Montipora stellata, green
  • Stylophora pistillata “milka”
  • Stylophora subseriata, fuchsia
  • Stylophora guttatus, purple


  • Duncanopsammia axifuga
  • Acolymia australis
  • Acanthastrea lordhowensis (various colonies of various colours)
  • Caulastrea echinulata
  • Caulastrea furcata, neon yellow
  • Goniopora sp. green
  • Goniopora lobata, red



  • 12 cm Tridacna crocea
  • Monetaria Moneta and Annulus
  • Turbo sp
  • Spontaneous Mytilidae


  • Neospongodes sp. purple
  • Sinularia sp. neon yellow
  • Gorgonian Pseudopterogorgia sp.
  • Gorgonian Isis hippuris
  • Briareum sp. hawaiian
  • Discosoma sp. (various colonies of various colours)
  • Ricordea florida (various colonies of various colours)
  • Ricordea yuma, two-coloured
  • Zoanthus sp. (various colonies of various colours)
  • Palythoa sp. neon green
  • Protopalythoa grandis
  • Sansibia, light blue
  • Sympodium sp.
  • Botryllus sp.

Fish inhabitants

  • Pair of Amphiprion ocellaris, classic and black
  • Pseudocheilinus hexataenia

Coral Reef Magazine publishes articles written by enthusiasts exclusively for the purpose of sharing their personal experiences. It is therefore possible that some of the contents of the articles might not be in line with our ideas.