5 Things You Need For Your Nano Reef Tank

Having a nano reef tank is pretty awesome. If you really want to make it your own and make it unique, you will need to research ahead of time and decide on what items you really need.

It can be overwhelming with all the different reef tank equipment on the market today.

But don’t worry, I got you covered.

In this article, I will narrow down your search and show you 5 great items you need for your nano reef tank.

Let’s started.


#1. Proper lighting

It’s crucial for all reef tanks to have the proper lighting needed for coral health.

Without lighting, keeping a reef tank is not an option.

A huge bonus of having a nano reef tank is you can save a lot of money on lighting versus the larger tanks.

The type of lighting you should use will depend on the types of corals you plan to keep. Higher lighting demand corals like SPS are more specific than soft or LPS corals. 

There are some great lighting options for nano reef tanks. I recommend the Aqua Illumination Prime 16 HD and the Kessil A160 WE. Both are available at Marine Depot HERE. 


“Every aquarium will eventually leak.” ~ Edward A. Murphy, Jr.

#2. Wavemaker

Water movement is the next must-have item for a nano reef tank. Proper water flow is very important for coral growth and overall health. 

Not only does a wavemaker promote gas exchange, but it is required for corals to maintain their colors and coral tissues. 

Water movement will help direct waste away from the corals and bring them food that is in the water column like zooplankton and phytoplankton. 

The amount of water movement needed will also depend on the types of corals you are keeping. SPS corals require higher flow than LPS corals. 

It is recommended that you aim for a turnover rate of 20-30x your tank water volume.

For a nano reef tank of 20 gallons, you will need a wavemaker capable of producing 400-600 GPH. 

There are some great options for nano tank wavemakers. They are small in size and won’t take up much room in the tank. 

Check out the Hydor Koralia nano and Sicce Voyager nano wavemakers at Marine Depot HERE.


#3. Filtration

Proper filtration on any saltwater tank is important. Nano tanks are available as an all in one style where the filtration is built into the tank. 

Chemical, mechanical, and biological filtration can be implemented on these tanks. If you don’t have an all in one nano reef tank, you have other options for filtration.

Live rock will be your main source of biological filtration. You can use a small hang-on filter, media reactor, protein skimmer, etc.

You can also add a sump system onto your nano tank to enhance your tank’s filtration capability. 

If you have a nano reef tank, ensure that you have sufficient filtration to maintain a healthy reef environment. 


#4. Auto top off

Want a piece of equipment that will make your maintenance routine a bit easier? Grab an auto top off system for your nano reef tank. 

Water will naturally evaporate from your tank throughout the day. The rate of evaporation will vary on many things. Salt does not evaporate. So the ratio of salt: water will change over time.

This water will need to be replaced in order to maintain a stable salinity level. 

Some people prefer to manually top off your tank with RODI water as it evaporates. This can be a tedious task if you are doing it every day. 

It’s true that adding a small amount of water each day is not a big deal. But if you forget to make the RODI water ahead of time or get busy and forget to top up the tank, it can be difficult to maintain proper salinity levels. 

An auto top off system will automate this task for you. If your nano tank normally evaporates 1 gallon of water every 2 days, then you know to make around 5 gallons of RODI each week. Simply add it to a top off container and as the water evaporates, the system will add it back into the tank eliminating manual top-offs. 

The auto top off is not only convenient but it helps maintain more precise water parameters. 

For nano reef tanks, I recommend the Tunze nano 3152 ATO. Check it out at Marine Depot HERE. 


#5. Test Kits

The next item that you need for your nano reef tank is proper test kits. It’s important to test your water during your scheduled maintenance routine to ensure your levels are within limits. 

Items to test for include calcium, magnesium, alkalinity, nitrate, phosphate, PH, salinity, and a few others. 

A quality test kit is needed to test for the most accurate results.

I don’t recommend the cheaper test kits as they can give you inaccurate readings causing you to make adjustments that are not necessary. 

The Hanna test kits are my choice for testing water parameters. They are very accurate and easy to use and read. You can buy them individually or in a kit.

I also recommend the Red Sea test kits. 

Whichever type of kits you decide to use, make sure they are reliable and properly cared for to ensure longevity and accurate readings. 

Check out the Hanna testers at Marine Depot HERE.



So now you have seen my list of 5 things you need for a nano reef tank. This list is not complete and there are other items you may decide to add. 

It is not required to have all these items at once, you can add them as necessary and eventually have all 5 items that will help your nano reef tank stay healthy for the long term.