Saltwater Nano Reef Beginner Questions

Sep 9, 2013
Hey everyone,

I've been reading the forums here for a while and have found a lot of great information already, so thank you off the bat. I've learned a lot and hope to continue to learn more. I have had a freshwater fish tank all my life and since all my fish have just recently died, I would like to start a saltwater nano reef. I have put together a list of things that I think I need and am looking for some guidance and assistance from you fine people.

I already have a 10 gallon tank so I will start with one that size.

Lights - I believe I need 100W, is that correct? If so are the T5 HO's (such as 2 of these 24" ones: Aquarium Lighting T5 Fluorescent Light Fixture: AquaticLife T5 HO Dual Lamp Light Fixtures) the best option?

Live Rock - 10 lbs is enough for 10 gallons right?

Heater - I've read that Jager is a good brand, would something like this be enough for 10 gallons? Eheim Jager TruTemp Fully Submersible UL Approved Heater

RODI system - The only ones I've seen produce huge amounts of water. Are there any small ones that work well?

Powerheads - Would 2 of these work? Marineland Maxi-Jet Powerhead 600 - Bulk Reef Supply

Substrate - I've seen a lot of disagreement on the type of substrate. What are your opinions on it?

There are other small things I know I need (pH testing kit, salt water mix, etc.) but this is it for the big things right? Any help is appreciated! Thanks everyone!


Superstar Fish
Jun 2, 2010
Yelm, WA
Welcome to the forum! First of all do you know why "all your fish have just recently died?" I am not a SW person so your will have to wait until one of those members come along, but I am pretty sure the testing equipment will not be considered "small". What were you using to test your FW tank?? A 10 gallon tank isn't really very big for most SW applications from what I have been reading, but remember - I have no experience along those lines.


Elite Fish
Jul 19, 2004
Cape Cod
You can have a nice little nano reef in a 10g, assuming you are more focused on inverts / corals because that will only be big enough for 1-2 very small fish. In a 10g tank, you will either want an ATO (auto top-off) or to keep up on adding fresh RODI water as it evaporates - parameters can change quickly with small water volumes.

I like sand in a SW tank as I think it looks most natural. Most people either have sand or a bare bottom tank, just depends on what you are wanting to look at (after all, that's the point!).

One of those heaters would work. In reef systems, most of the time you are actually trying to prevent it from overheating due to lights / pumps rather than being too cool, but you do want a heater for overnight / cold temps / etc.

I have that AquaticLife dual T5HO on my 40g and I like it a lot. But it will depend on what your overall goal is. For softies and lower light corals it would be fine, for the real high light corals (including most SPS) you will probably end up needing 4x T5HO. You can always add another dual AquaticLife if you find you need it. I am still using my original bulbs but I have read that a lot of people switch to ATI bulbs because they are just plain better. So when it comes time to swap out, the ATIs would be a good investment.

About 10-15lbs of live rock should be fine - the more porous, the less you'll need. You can also get just a few pounds of LR and the rest dry rock - it will all become live over time.

Powerheads - I really like koralia powerheads. Their nano powerheads are literally egg sized and have awesome magnet mounts so they stay put. They are really quiet and efficient.

Depending on fish, you may also want / need a mesh lid - bulkreefsupply sells a great DIY mesh kit.

Jan 22, 2018
I'm looking to set up a small 18inch tank but its two foot tall yo keep as me bumblebee gobies not sure how much salt to put in to make it brackish . can engine tell me