The popularity of the aquarium hobby, especially in the marine segment has increased over the past few years at an astonishing rate. Technological advances, more efficient and effective means of collecting, handling and shipping techniques combined with the reality that their is such a diverse inventory of livestock available to aquarium enthusiasts, has presented a frenzy of sorts in the saltwater hobby world. The urban legend often expressed as, success can only be achieved by purchasing the largest aquarium possible by many reef guru’s, employees and venues specializing in the selling of marine animals and supplies has diminished over the past few years. Nano and Pico aquariums have taken the marine hobby by storm and the reasons are endless. The diverse abundance of livestock suitable for these small aquariums is one of the biggest selling points.
The fact that maintaining a successful aquarium can be accomplished in aquariums as small as a one gallon tank comes with its merits. The ability for those with limited space options to be able to capture the enjoyment and beauty of a saltwater aquarium offered in small nano and pico aquarium’s is big. The time involvement issue is also a major factor leading hobbyist to test the waters with a nano or pico tank since the time involved is not as extensive. Money…Who isn’t tightening their wallets and pocketbooks and pinching pennies with today’s economy the way it is? Those fans of the saltwater hobby or newbies fascinated with the aura of diving into the marine hobby can now make their dream a reality with out breaking the bank. Now, the fun begins as the plethora of livestock and aquascaping possibilities ideally suited for nano and pico aquariums can be ascertained.
Live rock and live sand loaded with coralline algae, sponges, foraminiferans, macroalgae, microcrustaceans, polychaete worms, pods and beneficial bacteria are a suitable starting point and present the foundation of a healthy marine aquarium. The options available to you and what you ultimately choose to do next are endless. Many corals, either symbiotic or aposymbiotic, hermatypic or ahermatypic can offer a unique and wonderful addition to these small aquariums. Corals such as zoanthids, mushrooms, star polyps, colt, montipora, pavona and favia represent just a small sampling of corals ideal for small aquariums.
Invertebrates can also be added with dramatic results and long term success. Blue-leg and scarlet reef hermit crabs, turbo and nassarius snails, mithrax crabs, feather dusters and the three ideal reef shrimp(Peppermint, Fire and Skunk Cleaner) all, can increase the beauty and enjoyment of a nano aquarium.
Now, the stars of the show…FISH! Fish are the focal point for most marine hobbyists since they move around, have unique personalities, can come in all colors of the rainbow and for the nano aquarium, many remain ruminatively small and possess the ability to really capture the hobbyists enthusiasm and separate one tank from another.
Gobies to Blennies, Damselfish to Clownfish, these fish are ideal for the nano tank biotope. A small sampling of the Gobies highly sought after while making ideal nano tank inhabitants are the Catalina, Clown, Neon, Randall’s and Hector’s Gobies. As far as blennies are concerned, the Tailspot, Bicolor, Segmented Sailfin and Linear Blennies demand consideration for the addition into a small aquarium. Some of the more colorful, reef and fish friendly and docile inhabitants as far as Damselfish are concerned would have to be the Azure,Starkii, Yellow- Tail and Talbot’s. These are members of the Chrysiptera Damoiselle family which make a welcome addition to most tanks and for the most part are fairly inexpensive and commonly encountered at saltwater venues. Suitable Clownfish for the nano aquarium would have to include the Percula Clownfish. The interesting point about these fish is the fact that many are captive bred making them more hardy than their wild counterparts. Moreover, Percula Clownfish are now available in numerous color morphs thanks to cross breeding techniques performed by the University of Maine and ORA(Oceans, Reefs and Aquariums). Morphs like the Picasso, Mocha, Blizzard and Black Ice semi Snowflake are just a few of the colorful morphs that can be found, though the price is often higher than the cost of your nano aquarium!
This is by no means an end all list of suitable nano tank mates, rather, it offers marine hobby enthusiasts a fairly diverse representation of hardy and peaceful inhabitants. It is best to research the compatibility and husbandry requirements of each and every livestock addition to ensure the success and delicate balance, of a any marine biotope, is obtained.
Good luck, enjoy and be conscientious towards the plethora of diverse living animals that will rely on you for their long term health and vigor.