- What is a Reef Aquarium?
- 7 Best Reef Aquariums That Will Meet Your Requirements
- What to Consider When Setting Up a Reef Aquarium?
- Some Types of Corals for Your First Reef Aquarium
- Quick Comparison of the Best Reef Aquariums
An aquarium has been one of the most interesting and beautiful decorations for your working or living space. Bringing a natural system to your home or office not only makes the space become more stunning but also gives you much comfort and relaxation when viewing.
A reef aquarium is among the most widely-used tanks over the years. It’s also considered a challenging type of aquarium to cultivate. This is because of the strict requirements for high water quality, excellent lighting, and filtration, etc. It is challenging to keep one but extremely satisfying to look at. Is that right?
If you love the beauty of reef aquariums, keep reading this post to find out the best reef aquariums, as well as what to consider when having a reef tank.
What is a Reef Aquarium?
A reef aquarium is a marine tank that displays live corals and different marine invertebrates, as well as fish species that play a part in maintaining the tropical coral reef environment.
A reef aquarium usually needs properly intense lighting, turbulent water movement, and more consistent water chemistry than a fish-only marine tank. Moreover, you need to carefully consider which reef animals are proper and compatible with each other.
7 Best Reef Aquariums That Will Meet Your Requirements
Fluval Sea EVO Marine Aquarium Kit
Tailored to support coral life, the Fluval Sea EVO Marine Aquarium Kit provides a high-output LED lighting system and three-stage filtration.
Maintaining a saltwater tank with fish and livestock is quite straightforward, but a reef aquarium requires a whole separate set of challenges – particularly if you plan to get a miniature tank. To keep corals alive, you need to sustain the right balance with tank lighting, water chemistry, and water circulation. If you have never experienced a reef tank but have some knowledge about saltwater aquariums, a thorough reef rank kit like the Fluval Sea EVO Marine Aquarium Kit is a great choice.
Built with a 14,000°K high-output LED system, this aquarium kit is created to support corals. Its light system brings convenient day and night illumination and it is encased within a smooth, aluminum casing.
Besides, the three-stage filtration system comes with BioMax filter media for optimal chemical, mechanical, and biological filtration. Plus, you will get a circulation pump with an output nozzle, a safe low-voltage transformer, and a cover for the tank.
- High-quality, contemporary design
- High-output LED for good coral growth
- Day/ night lighting system
- Three-stage filtration system
- Not include a protein skimmer
- Limited size making difficult to replace or upgrade the equipment
- No timer in the LED lighting
Coralife LED BioCure Starter Kit
With its attractive, modern design and integrated filtration, the Coralife LED BioCure Starter Kit is the ultimate nano reef aquarium.
This reef aquarium has high-quality construction, made from clear glass with rounded corners and a sleek design. The tank has a hinged top to hide the integrated LED lighting system, as well as a multi-stage wet/dry filtration system ensured to keep your water quality.
Great for a miniature reef aquarium, the integrated lighting system includes both white LED and actinic blue light to replicate the day and night cycle, as well as a 24-hour timer and a 30-minute sunrise/ sunset function. If you are not content with the equipment covered in this all-in-one kit, there are numerous BioCure accessories available for upgrade.
- Come in 16 and 32-gallon options
- Sleek and modern design
- Hinged lid that hides cords and equipment
- LED lighting and filtration system
- Not include an aquarium stand
- Not include a protein skimmer
- Quite noisy
SCA 50-gallon Starfire Aquarium Kit
The SCA 50-gallon Starfire Aquarium Kit is a comprehensive aquarium kit that is available in large sizes with a robust cabinet and fundamental accessories.
Whether you plan to start your first saltwater aquarium or you want to upgrade from a smaller tank, 50 gallons is a manageable size. If you choose too much larger ones, you might come across problems with seeking a place to put it and you’ll need to pay for larger, more pricey equipment. The SCA 50-gallon Starfire Aquarium kit also comes in larger sizes between 66 to 240 gallons, allowing you to go as huge and bold as you want.
Complete with a square 50-gallon aquarium built from algae-resistant Starfire glass and a durable aquarium cabinet, this reef tank kit will be worth your money. In addition, the kit is packed with an integrated three-stage filtration system and a protein skimmer, as well as a sump system to keep your equipment. When assembled, the setup is very appealing, and it is protected by a three-year guarantee on the aquarium and a one-year guarantee for the accessories.
- High quality, algae-resistant Starfire glass
- Offer an aquarium cabinet for storage
- Provide filter media
- Include a protein and return pump
- The tank’s cabinet does not be pre-assembled, requiring extra connectors for some equipment.
- The aquarium does not have a lighting system.
- The tank offers a protein skimmer but does not come with a removable cup.
Red Sea Max C-250 Reef System
This reef aquarium is created for housing live corals and marine fish, holding up to 20 gallons of water. Though slightly bigger than other nano reef tanks, the added volume will help to enhance the water stability. This aquarium has been advanced to include remote WIFI controls and enhanced high output LED lighting.
The aquarium is made from ultra-clear, beveled edge glass, which ensures durability and a stunning view. It offers a surface skimming overflow system through which water can pass the internal filter system.
Moreover, the tank also covers a micron filter bag which eliminates particulates while the activated carbon consumes water discoloring compounds. There is also a bubble trap sponge that removes microbubbles from the tank. Its internal protein skimmer strips out surface-active organics and enhances the quality of water.
Remarkably, the system is packed with an automatic top-off. Water will be automatically pumped back into the tank with a European ECO water pump rated at 240 gallons per hour.
- It can support SPS corals.
- The circulation pump filters the aquarium 12 times per hour.
- The Wi-Fi lighting control app is compatible with any device.
- Its 4-gallon auto top-off system can sustain the tank for three days.
- It includes a multi-directional eyeball nozzle that flushes the aquarium regularly.
- It does not include an aquarium stand.
- You might need a submersible heater.
Innovative Marine Nuvo Fusion Nano 10 Gallon Premium
This reef aquarium is specifically designed for experienced aquarium owners. It is capable of holding up to 10 gallons. You can have this nano-size aquarium after you have experienced larger ones. This is because small tanks need much more care and maintenance than big ones.
The tank comes with a LED light system with altering colors, a mesh screen top to keep jumpers in line, a 92-gph return pump with a flexible hose, built-in overflows, a level mat, and a removable three-stage filter basket.
- A glass aquarium created with perfect quality
- Provides necessary accessories
- The stand and skimmer are separate buys.
- There is no switch for the light, so you have to unplug it at night.
Innovative Marine Fusion Peninsula 20 NUVO
This option might cost a bit more but delivers excellent features. The rimless design of this marine aquarium makes it stand out from the competition.
For such a small tank, Innovate Marine does a great job in enabling users to build their dream aquariums. The filter sock is subbed out for three levels of bio-media. Additionally, there is a second chamber that can either be used as a refugium or fits a skimmer. The final chamber ensures enough room for your heater and ATO to get all the wires covered.
- Suitable for both beginner and experienced aquarist
- Incredible customizability options
- The aquarium does not consist of lights.
- The open-top might not be proper for some fish species such as Wrasse.
Marina LED Aquarium Kit
This is an incredible reef aquarium for beginners. It requires a small investment and provides most of the accessories you need.
The Marina LED nano reef tank has a long-lasting, natural daylight effect LED lighting module incorporated into the aquarium canopy. This kit consists of fish food to keep fish healthy, Aqua Plus Water Conditioner to make tap water safe for fish, and Cycle Biological Supplement to build a biologically well-balanced aquarium system.
Furthermore, it ís packed with a net and aquarium care instruction that gives advice on how to set up and maintain your reef aquarium.
- Provide most of the necessary accessory
- Quiet filter
- Reasonable price
- The LED lights might be too strong for specific fish.
- Not include a skimmer
What to Consider When Setting Up a Reef Aquarium?
Setting Up a Reef Aquarium
Reef aquarium systems
With a little research, you can create a piece of the reef where critters live in harmony and, in many circumstances, will build a symbiotic relationship and help each other grow. The rapport of a clownfish and its host anemone is a typical example of this co-existence. The clownfish is safeguarded by the stinging tentacles of the anemone, while it gives the anemone food in the form of small fish that it obtains and the detritus that the clownfish deposits in the anemone.
A reef aquarium system is a fish-only with livestock system with corals that need a highly high-quality lighting system and intensely high water quality and movement. A sustainable healthy reef aquarium also requires occupants that do not seriously affect corals, such as:
- Reef-safe fish that do not eat invertebrates pick at corals and are not aggressive toward other fish species.
- Reef safe invertebrates that do not eat corals. They are an essential part of a reef aquarium, setting it apart from a fish-only with livestock tank.
- Reef-safe tank janitors, when appropriately chosen, are great. They can decrease your tank maintenance chores to near zero. There are critters that can keep your aquarium glass clean, save your substrate from uneaten food and detritus, and will become fat in the process.
As most corals cannot tolerate the levels of phosphates, nitrates, and other toxins that most fish species and invertebrates can withstand, water quality in a reef aquarium is the most crucial factor. Whereas most of the pricey state-of-the-art filtration systems work well at eliminating toxins, they are not by any means required.
With the improvements in science and technology, mini reef aquariums have become more and more prevalent. Many reef tank aquarists invent their own reef aquarium filtration systems using one or a combination of various filters to achieve the desired results.
As corals are added to a reef aquarium system, you must provide sufficient lighting for the corals. The generally accepted rule-of-thump for reef aquarium lighting is 3.5 watts per gallon of aquarium water for the majority of soft corals and 4.5 watts (of fluorescent light) per gallon of tank water for hard corals (SPS and LPS).
Most corals need a high level of water quality and lighting, while there are easy ones that are less demanding, requiring a lower water-quality level or lower lighter level, enabling newbie reef aquarium keepers to achieve success.
Some Types of Corals for Your First Reef Aquarium
1. Star, Green Star, and Daisy Polyps
These perfect starter corals, often called Star Polyps, Green Star Polyps, and Daisy Polyps can tolerate both high and low-level light and an array of currents. These corals are sensitive to iodine and aluminum oxide in some phosphate-removing filter sponges, so you should cautiously consider putting these filter materials in your tank.
This coral is very rapidly growing to the point where it can overgrow other corals. It should be blown clear of detritus occasionally to dodge filamentous algae and slime from getting a foothold.
2. Finger Leather Corals and Colt Corals
These are usually known as Finger Leather and Colt corals as they have projections like fingers that are round to cone-shaped and stubby. These thick finger-like projections grow from the very short and pale white stalk. While withstandable to most light and current conditions, these stunning corals are sought at mid-water levels in the ocean; therefore, moderate light and current levels are best for them in aquariums.
3. Mushroom Corals
The Mushroom (Actinodiscus) corals are soft ones, have no exoskeleton, and thrive on rocks. They might not grow well in bright lights or heavy currents. Mushroom Corals are best housed under low lighting conditions with little water movement to maximize expansion and reproduction.
Mushroom corals are safe with fish, motile invertebrates, and crustaceans. It would be best if you did not place them near other soft and stony corals and sessile invertebrates due to the harmful effect they can leave on them.
4. Sea Mat and Button Polyps
These corals can tolerate lower light but prefer bright light. Prefer moderate to heavy currents, Sea Mat and Button Polyps have an excellent reproductive rate and are aggressive.
Some of these species leach out a potent neurotoxin that can affect humans (Palytoxin), which is toxic to other animals. You should wear gloves to handle them. Don’t touch them if you have cuts or open wounds on your hands, and remember to clean your hands after handling them.
5. Moon, Pineapple, and Brain Corals
These corals would prefer bright lights but are tolerant of much lower levels. They will attach to a substrate if not moved for some months. Users should be cautious because they can send out transparent sweeper tentacles at night to prevent other corals from growing near them.
6. Toadstool Mushroom Coral
They are excellent corals that adapt well to most lighting levels and low-to-moderate current levels. These corals spread rapidly and are considered great for propagation. They can release toxins that may affect stony corals and sea anemones.
7. Zoanthids, Zoanthus Button Polyps
Members of this coral are colorful, being shades of green and brown, but sometimes fluorescent red, pink, lavender, orange, gray, blue, or yellow, and usually two-toned. They create colonies of densely crowded polyps attached in a common tissue at the base. They love bright lights but can withstand lower lights.
Quick Comparison of the Best Reef Aquariums
|1||Fluval Sea EVO Marine Aquarium Kit||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|2||Coralife LED BioCure Starter Kit||$$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|3||SCA 50-gallon Starfire Aquarium Kit||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|4||The Rea Sea Max C-250 Reef System||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|5||Innovative Marine Nuvo Fusion Nano 10 Gallon Premium||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|6||Innovative Marine Fusion Peninsula 20 NUVO||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|7||Marina LED Aquarium Kit||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
As you can see, it requires a lot of effort and care to keep a reef aquarium. Nevertheless, nothing can compare to the beauty of a reef aquarium – saltwater fish are some of the most colorful species in the world, and corals and anemones are a gorgeous sight to behold.
If you want to challenge yourself with a reef tank, prepare yourself with the proper knowledge before starting this journey. We hope that you will have a spectacular and thriving reef aquarium someday.