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Nano Reef Tank Setup Beginners | Live Rocks and Fish Nano Reef Tank

Starting up a nano reef tank is what starters that come into the aquarium world would love to go. They aren’t just simple to try but also work very well on low budgets and saving space.

However, your nano reef setup won’t be as cool if you don’t choose the right fish and rocks that will be best for the structure.
Selecting the right fish or live rock for your reef may seem like an easy task, but you should keep no detailed information in mind. For the live rocks, your location can determine the quality of stones you will find. Even if you do, they may seem too expensive to afford.

Due to the little challenge in a reef tank, you are dealing with a limited water volume. You have to consider some factors, like keeping a high tank quality. Selecting the suitable fish, you’re your tank is also vital. It will be unwise to go for a larger species of fish while running a nano tank. This will generate some problems for you and make you lose your inhabitants.

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Overstocking a nano tank will affect your water quality, your fish will be stressed and exposed to health complications.

So, it would help if you choose the right fish and live rocks to enjoy your setup.

Selecting the Live Rocks for your Nano Reef Tank

A live rock severs a host to most inhabitants and organisms. It possesses a lot of benefits to aquariums.

Here are some advantages of live rocks

  • Live rocks serve as a biological filtration especially in nano reefs
  • They provide a natural filter that is essential for the nitrogen cycle and waste process
  • Live rocks are a stable host of healthy bacteria in any nano setup.

Knowing the benefits of live rocks to your nano reef, you will want to purchase some for its purposes. Here are some detailed guidelines that will help you select the right live rock for your nano reef aquarium.

Selecting Live Rock form Local Fish Store

Most aquarium keepers have preferred Cured live rocks. You can get a cured live rock from local fish stores.

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You think about visiting a local-ish store for live rock, make sure you have in mind the quantity you will be needing. Do not add too much rock to your nano reef. It will prevent the flow of water and also limited space for your plants and fish to occupy.

Make your choice of stones closely. A healthy live rock shouldn’t have a foul odor; such rock will be unproductive and eventually die.

Go for a rock that smells like fresh water from the ocean. Any foul smelling rock will need to be cured before use.

Pick a live rock that doesn’t have a company of organisms such as algae, sponges, or other dead matter. If you purchase these, you will need to take off all these matters before introducing the rocks into your tank because they are pollutants and will contaminate your tank water. This is time-consuming and avoiding spending time taking off algae, buy a clean stone.

While taking your selected rocks home, make sure the stone is wrapped in damp water to keep it wet till you get home.

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Purchasing Live Rocks Online

If you want to purchase a live rock online, you should take the necessary precautions before placing them into your tank. Make sure you buy the right type of live rock.

There are different types of rocks you can find online. They include cycled, cured, and uncured. The safe and most used stones are fixed ones. So, they are ones you should select. The cured life rocks are safe and can be introduced directly into your tank.

While are surfing through websites and checking out some options of live rocks, stream through product descriptions carefully to find out the contents of any live rocks.

If you notice that particular live rock is indicated uncured, that means it needs to be cured before you add them to your tank. Reversely, a stone showing cycled or cured can go into your tank directly.

It is advisable to choose online live rock retailers closer to you. This is because if the rock is coming from a distance, it may die off. Ensure you receive your live rock for three days. However, it may cause you more than usual.

You may be confused about which type of rock to go for. You should check out reviews from the online retailer platforms. Reviews are essential, so is the policy of each platform.

The reviews of other customers are essential and will educate you more on the live rock you want to purchase. You can ask the retailer questions and find out how sincere they are to respond and answer your questions.

Caribsea Life Rock

South Sea Base Rock

Real Reef Rock


Quantity: Live Rock for Nano Reef Tank

The general and most used live rock to use is 1-2 pounds of some live rock for each gallon of water volume. When choosing a stone, your decision should be based on the aquarium’s size and the animals you want to keep. More significant pieces are more suitable for larger tanks where you have more flexibility.  

Smaller amounts are more ideal for nano reef tanks. Further, aquarium maintenance will play a role. Ensure that you choose a live rock to make it easy for you to clean the tank walls during your daily maintenance chores. The water flow direction is an essential design component when choosing live rock for your small reef tank. The quantity of the live rock and placement will either help or hinder; the more water flows, the better.

Pricing: Live Rock Cost for Nano Reef Tank Per Pound

The cost of live rock varies significantly by type and location. Quality should always take precedence over price. Some examples of live rock cost are listed below:

  • Florida Live Rock – $6.00/lb.
  • Fiji Live Rock – $6.50/lb.
  • Pukalani Live Rock – $7.00/lb.
  • Real Reef Live Rock (human-made) is about $6.00/lb. - For all your creative needs!

Different types of Live Rock Aquariums

As explained above, there is much live rock that aquarists can use successfully in a nano reef tank. This Live rock is typically named after the region in which it was found. From which it was found. For most reef tank keepers, the live rock available in their local fish store will be more than enough and desirable. Some of the most used live rock are Fiji, the Caribbean, and Tonga. Some stones are denser and more porous than others. However, all live rock serves an important role.

The live rock provides for a diverse variety of algae, invertebrates, and bacteria.

Eco Friendly Live Rock. Many alternatives are good choices for nano reef tanks.

Base rock is also included as it can become live rock. Base rock (also known as a dry rock) has no organisms growing on it.

However, base rock has become famous for marine aquarists because it is less expensive. Eventually, the dry rock will become colonized by living organisms. Thus it will become live rock.

In the end, the selection of the right live rock for your nano reef aquarium can seem daunting. However, with proper planning and research, you are sure to find the perfect combination of quality, cost, and aesthetics.

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Fish For Nano Reef Tank

These are not particularly selected for nano reef tanks but they are a good fit for them. You can also find other options if you like.


There are several cardinalfish species, all of which remain small, making them an excellent addition to the saltwater nano tank. Banggai Cardinalfish is one of the most easily identifiable cardinalfish species, known for their silver bodies, black vertical stripes, and white spots.

They are not only the right choice for the nano tank, but they are also easy to breed. Banggai Cardinalfish are paternal mouthbrooders, which imply that the males hold the eggs in their mouths until they hatch and develop fully. Another species of cardinalfish, including the Pajama Cardinalfish, is outstanding.

These fish have a solid black strip that divides their body vertically. This species grows at about 3 inches long and is relatively easy to take care of because they are schooling fish and love to stay together.

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Grammas are a thriving and beautiful group of fishes best for nano reefs. The two common species are the blackcap basslet and the royal gramma.

The Gramma species are best kept with peaceful tank mates, though they can adapt to other situations if provided with adequate hiding places – they should never be kept with damselfish, dottybacks, or hawkfish. If you plan to keep these fish with semi-aggressive species, it is best to introduce the Grammas first to get used to the tank on their own.

Grammas is a colorful species of fish. Their colors can fade over time, likely due to the result of nutritional deficiency. Feeding these fish with a varied diet of color-enhancing flakes and pellets may help to reduce color reduction.


This is another popular fish for the nano tank. The damselfish come in different species such as yellowtail blue damselfish and blue devil damselfish.

The Blue Devil Damselfish can grow only 2.5 inches long, but they can sometimes be aggressive and like claim authority.

These fish are best known for their coloration and have a healthy immune to resist aquarium illnesses.

These fish are easy to care for; that is what makes them an excellent choice for beginners.


The Chromis species of saltwater fish are hardy, and it is an excellent choice for beginners to the saltwater aquarium hobby. One common species is the Blue Chromis, which has a beautiful blue body across the dorsal fin and the caudal fin. They are easy to grow and love to be in school. The fish are a little larger as they can grow up to 5-6 inches.

Green Chromis are very active fishes; they are the best choice for beginners. These fish grow at about 3.5 inches maximum.

Green Chromis are given names for their green coloration. Still, they tend to change color according to aquarium lighting – they can be differentiated from the Chromis atripectoralis. This species looks very similar, by the lack of a black patch of color above the pectoral fin.


Clownfish are one of the most easily identified saltwater fish species, and they are also trendy among aquarium hobbyists. Most clownfish species remain small, making them the right choice for the nano tank, mostly the nano reef tank. The fish typically grow between 3 and 4 inches in length, and they are generally very hardy.

These fish are peaceful and, therefore, can get along with other species. They can get aggressive if you mix them up with other clownfish. It is safe only if you keep a single pair. Having more than one group will make them fight and claim authority in the tank.

Examples of clownfish include; percula and ocellaris clownfish.


Keeping a nano reef tank is easy and requires low maintenance. Always go for what is best and most suitable for your tank. The fish explained are not the only species that you can add to the nano reef tank.

Researching more information is also necessary to avoid making the wrong combination. You should enjoy your nano reef tank!