Published February 15, 2013
Cultivating a marine nano tank can be a very rewarding experience but it is also quite challenging. Because you have a smaller water volume to work with in a nano tank it is imperative that you maintain high water quality
. Equally important is the task of selecting the right fish for your tank – you cannot choose fish that are too large or stock the tank with too many fish or you will have problems. Not only will you have difficulty maintaining high water quality, but an overcrowded tank could also cause your fish to become stressed and therefore more susceptible to disease. Read more to learn about which species are recommended for saltwater nano tanks.
There are several species of cardinalfish, all of which remain fairly small which makes them a good addition to the saltwater nano tank. Banggai Cardinalfish are one of the more easily identifiable species of cardinalfish, known for their silver bodies, black vertical stripes and white spots. These are not only a good choice for the nano tank but they are also relatively easy to breed. Banggai Cardinalfish are paternal mouth brooders which means that the male of the species holds the eggs in his mouth until the fry hatch and are fully developed. Another species of cardinalfish, the Pajama Cardinalfish, is very unique in appearance. These fish have a solid black bar that divides the body vertically in half – the back half of the fish is white with red spots, giving it the appearance of wearing pajama pants. This species only grows up to 3 inches long and they are fairly easy to care for as long as they are not kept in large groups.
Belonging to the family Grammatidae, Grammas are a durable and beautiful group of fishes for the nano tank. The two most popular species within this group are the Royal Gramma and the Blackcap Basslet. All Gramma species are best kept with peaceful tank mates, though they can adapt to other situations if provided adequate hiding places – these fish should never be kept with damselfish, dottybacks or hawkfish, however. If you do plan to house these fish with semi-aggressive species it is best to introduce the Grammas first so they can get used to the tank on their own. Though Grammas are very colorful fish, their color has a tendency to fade over time, likely the result of nutritional deficiency. Feeding these fish a varied diet of color-enhancing flakes and pellets may help to slow color loss.
Another popular fish for the nano tank is the damselfish, particularly the Blue Devil Damselfish and the Yellowtail Blue Damselfish. The Blue Devil Damselfish only grow up to 2.5 inches long but they can be somewhat aggressive and territorial. These fish are known for their bright blue coloration and for being resistant to most saltwater fish diseases. Yellowtail Blue Damselfish are often confused with Azure Damselfish because they are similar in appearance. This species grows up to 3 inches long and is best kept in groups with 3 or more of its own species. These fish is easy to care for which makes them a great choice for beginners.
The chromis species of saltwater fish is hardy by nature and an excellent choice for beginners to the saltwater aquarium hobby. One popular species, the Blue Chromis, has a brilliant blue body with a black outline along the base of the dorsal fin and on the edges of the caudal fin. These fish are slightly larger, growing up to 5 inches in length, but they are easy to care for and generally do well in small schools. Green Chromis are very active fishes and they are generally a good choice for beginners but they may be more susceptible than other species to saltwater aquarium fish diseases. These fish grow to a maximum size around 3.5 inches and they are generally easy to care for. Green Chromis are named for their green coloration but they tend to change color according to aquarium lighting – they can be distinguished from the Chromis atripectoralis, a species which looks very similar, by the lack of a black patch of color above the pectoral fin.
Clownfish are one of the most easily identifiable species of saltwater fish and they are also very popular among aquarium hobbyists. Most clownfish species remain fairly small which makes them a good choice for the nano tank, particularly the nano reef tank. These fish typically grow between 3 and 4 inches in length and they are generally very hardy by nature. Clownfish are typically peaceful and get along with other fish but they may become aggressive if mixed with other clownfish species – if you plan to keep anemones in your tank it is best to keep only one pair of clownfish or they will fight to claim and defend the anemone as their territory. Some of the most popular clownfish species include Ocellaris and True Percula Clownfish.
Fish belonging to the family Pseudochromidae are often referred to as Dottybacks and there are more than 75 known species belonging to this group. What makes these fish popular is their brilliant coloration but they are also known for being somewhat difficult to keep in the home aquarium. Some of the less aggressive species include the Diadema, Elongate, Firetail and Sunrise Dottybacks – these fish can be kept with other peaceful species. Regardless what other species these fish are kept with, it is generally best to add the Dottybacks to the tank last. Another thing to be aware of with this species is that they are able to change sex. Male Dottybacks result from female sex change and these fish have been known to revert from male back to female in certain contexts. Because it is difficult to sex this species, breeding them can be very tricky.
are also sometimes called “cleaner fish” due to their tendency to clean other fish in the wild. The Neon Blue Goby, for example, clings to the back of other fish, removing small parasites from their bodies. These fish are aptly named, having black bodies with neon blue stripes running from nose to tail. Neon Gobies only grow to a maximum length around two inches but they can sometimes be difficult to keep in small tanks with other gobies but they tend to do well with other species. Another species of goby recommended for nano reef tanks is the Catalina Goby. These fish are sometimes called the Bluebanded Goby because they have bright red bodies ornamented with blue bands. This species grows to about 2.5 inches in length and they tend to prefer cooler temperatures than many saltwater species. Catalina Gobies accept a wide variety of foods and they are generally peaceful around other fish except other goby species.
Some of the smaller wrasse species are a popular choice for saltwater nano tanks because these fish can help to control unwanted pests. Wrasses like the White Belly Wrasse tend to feed on saltwater aquarium pests like flatworms, bristle worms
and snails. This species of wrasse can be identified by its white belly with yellow coloration on top and spots on the dorsal fin. White Belly Wrasses grow up to 5 inches in length and they usually do well with other species of similar size. These fish tend to prefer meaty foods, ignoring flakes and pellets entirely. Another thing to be wary of with this species is their tendency to jump – if you plan to keep wrasses in your nano tank, be sure your tank is equipped with a tight-fitting lid.
Firefish like the Purple Firefish are a vibrant addition to the nano tank
. These fish typically grow between 3.5 and 4 inches in length and they tend to occupy the lower level of the tank. Purple Firefish have white or yellow bodies ornamented with a multicolored caudal fin and a purple face with reddish orange fins. Though they tend to hover just above the substrate, these fish are also accomplished jumpers and should be kept in a tank equipped with a tight-fitting lid. These fish will also appreciate having places in the aquarium where they can hide such as rock caves and crevices. This species can be somewhat aggressive among others of its own species so it is best kept alone or with one member of the opposite sex. This species is not difficult to feed in captivity – it readily accepts fresh and frozen foods as well as some flake foods.
Members of the genus Liopropoma, the Reef Basslets belong to the grouper family and most species reach a maximum of 2 to 4 inches in length. These fish are still relatively new to the aquarium trade due to their secretive nature which makes them difficult to find in the wild. The Swissguard Basslet was the first of the Reef Basslets to appear in the aquarium hobby and it is much more common now than it once was. The Candy Basslet is known for its neon coloration and the fact that it glows. As a whole, Reef Basslets are a great choice for the nano reef tank, particular when provided with plenty of caves and crevices in which to hide. These fish can add a splash of color to the tank and they tend to get along well with other small species like dottybacks.
Stocking any aquarium can be a challenge because you need to strike just the right balance between the number and type of fish you choose. This task is even more important in the saltwater nano tank because you have limited space to work with. If you choose fish that are too large or stock the tank with too many fish, it could have a negative effect on your water quality which could end up harming your fish. Your best bet is to do some research beforehand to determine which species are right for you and for your nano tank