Selecting a Saltwater Tank


For reef keeping, there is often a direct correlation between the size of an aquarium and its success. When selecting a tank size, people like to start out small but surprisingly, the smaller the tank the more difficult it is to keep because any slight changes in water parameters have a greater impact. For example, if a gallon of water evaporates from a 6 gallon tank, it will have a greater impact on salinity than if a gallon of water evaporates from a 65 gallon tank. With that in mind, there are many excellent options available for both large and nano tanks if you know what to look for.

Nano Saltwater Tank (Less than 30 gallons):

With the increased level of difficulty associated with nano reef keeping, it is important to select a tank that offers good filtration. Look for a tank that contains a refugium where chaetomorpha algae or a protein skimmer can be added to help filter and stabilize water conditions. Having a refugium will go a long way in maintaining the overall water quality for your reef.

In addition to good filtration, it is also important to select a tank with sufficient lighting. Too much lighting in a nano tank can cause algae growth while too little lighting won’t be sufficient enough to support coral growth.

Excellent nano tank options that offer both a refugium and the appropriate lighting include the NUVO Aquarium and Coralife Marine Biocube.

Large Saltwater TankLarge Saltwater Tank:

Large saltwater tanks are much more forgiving due to their size. They typically contain a sump tank which increases the overall water capacity even more. When shopping for a large tank, look for a refugium or overflow on the main tank which circulates to a sump tank in the cabinet below. For guidance on setting up a sump tank, read “Setting up a Saltwater Sump Tank.

As with any reef tank, lighting is always important. Fortunately, with large tanks there is a better selection of LED and T5 light fixtures to choose. Ideally, you want to look for something around 10,000 lumens per square foot.

Large and nano reef tanks often become the focal point of any room which is why it is important to select a tank that matches your decor while offering the tools to support a healthy reef. This is especially important for large tanks, not just because of its size but because the aquarium stand is perceived as piece of furniture. Select the right tank and you will have a beautiful and relaxing aquarium to enjoy for years to come.


Related: My First Saltwater Aquarium – Checklist for Success



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