Setting up the Nano Cube

If you read my earlier post, Finding Nemo and Customer Service, then you know that I’m setting up a nano reef.  Well, today’s our first day back from vacation and visiting family, and I’m making good on my promise to my daughter.  We went to the store today and bought 5 pounds of live sand and 12 pounds of live rock.  I’m about to mix the water and, when she wakes up, we’ll put the rock and sand in and let it sit for a bit and stabilize.  By this time next week we should have our first invertebrates and maybe even a fish or two in it. 

Comments (73)

  1. Jason says:

    In your Finding Nemo and Customer Service post, you never did say what the name of the book was.

    Could you post that as a comment here?


  2. Natural Reef Aquariums: Simplified Approaches to Creating Living Saltwater Microcosms by John H. Tullock; ISBN 1-890087-00-9

  3. I got that exact book, quite a good read 🙂

    I have a 210 liter reef tank at home, so I wish you all the best, this is a fascinating hobby 🙂

  4. denny says:

    "By this time next week we should have our first invertebrates and maybe even a fish or two in it. "

    Hu? No way dude…. let it cycle for at least a month….


  5. Del says:

    Hi all–

    I’m not seeing where you discussed Nano Cubes, I just see that it was a topic and I wanted to mention something about them.

    I’m fairly new to the whole fish and reef thing, but my boyfriend worked at a fish store for almost 2 years, so he is helping and keeping an eye on everything.

    Anyway, I came home from work tuesday night (11:30pm) and the pump broke. I only bought the thing two weeks prior as a Christmas gift to my boyfriend.

    We tried to fix it, but the propeller kept making weird noises and scrapping against the side thing. So, we had to leave it for the evening. I, being fairly new, was a bit worried. Not only had I grown rather attached to most of our marine life, but between the two of us, we had spend about $550 on fish, coral, inverts, etc. This would be horrible to lose all of that because of a defective product. I was rather livid!

    I hardly slept all night. In the morning, I woke. Our clown fish was white and swimming eratically. He died moments later. I was sad. I managed to find the number to the company that makes the Nano Cube and spoke with a rep. He informed me that he couldn’t make decisions on refunds for livestock and to call back to speak with Steve, the CEO.

    I called back and hour later and spoke with Steve. Steve basically informed me that the company was taking no responsibility and that he wasn’t going to do a thing for be but replace the pump. This is rather unacceptable. I understand pumps go out and I understand a company cannot be responsible for things like fish, coral, etc. It’s like when you bring a fish home, it could die because of poor water quality/upkeep at the store or from poor water quality in my tank. Understood. However, my tank and chemical levels were FINE. I had even tested the water that morning before leaving for work. My clown fish (and possibly other things) have/will die at this point because they had no air in the tank…It was a result of this defective pump. Negligence on the part of this company. Steve was unwilling to do anything. I am thinking of suing him, as stupid as it may seem over a fish. However, I believe that a company should be responsible for a defective product, where the direct result of this defect causes death to your reef.

    I thought you all would like to know how little Steve cared about his customer. He was convinced everything would live and was unwilling to send me $25 to replace my clown fish. What type of business man and business practice is that? This fat cat is probably sitting on millions and he can’t fork out $25 for a fish. If we lose everything, that’s one week of pay for us!

    Do with this information as you wish, but I thought you should know that they don’t stand behind their product, as apparently don’t even have a reliable product…it broke after 2 weeks!

    Any comments, suggestions, questions, feel free to email me at

    My name is Del.

  6. Richard says:

    I am sorry to hear about your loss with the Nano Cube. I have one and had no problems as of yet. I too proactively worry about mechanical failures. One thing you could have done is buy a $10 air pump and a $3 bubble wand, dropped it in the tank in the back to circulate air at least until you could go out and buy a new submersible pump $10 via Drs. Foster and Smith or a sponge filter and power head $14-35 to get you by until you could make other arrangements. I have done a ton of research and not knowing all you have in your tank I would say it is probably WAY overloaded (bioload) for such a small tank. I took mine apart to see how the pump went in as I was planning on reworking it to make it a better product for my tank inhabitants. The tank comes with a 106Gallons per hour submersible pump. Given that most literature suggest a minimum of 10Gph per 1 gallon of volume that is underpowered for this system but a cheap pump for Jebo to buy and slap in there. Not trying to be mean or inconsiderate but if you have $550 investment a $20 investment in emergency equipment is not a huge thing. Most all night superstores carry what I suggested. What would you do if there was a power failure???? Where I live with all the new construction that is a very real possibility…

    email: and put NANO CUBE in subject line if you want to correspond further on this. I would be glad to help. Also, working at a pet store does not an expert on salt water chemistry and fishkeeping make…

  7. Nigel says:

    Hey who ever it is im suppose to talk to ..but im thinking about buying a nano tank..but im not sure how many fish something like that could hold so im asking…how many fish..and other creatures can this tank hold…and..also if you put live plants in there would it not give off oxygen for the fish which would mean if there was a power failure the fish can still survive

  8. That One Guy says:


    I’ve been working with marine fish and reef for many years, the amount of livestock you had in your tank in the short amount of time it was set up suggests not only over population, but a poor biological cycle was established. You say you tested your water, what tests did you perform on it? I realize that you like reef tanks, they are facinating, but perhaps you should start out with a larger tank, I would suggest a 20 gal minimum. Smaller tanks can be hard to maintain because a small problem is quickly a big problem in a small tank. Try a larger fish only tank, read alot of books, marine tanks, especially reef tanks, is not somthing you want to jump into blindly. You have to understand and know what a biological cycle is and how it effects your tank. Don’t let this one mishap discourage you. Reefs are fun and rewarding hobby.

  9. louie says:

    how hard does everyone think it would be to turn my 10 galloin freshwater into a saltwater,im curious as to how much money im looking at spending ,how long of a cycle,cheap places to get the stuff etc etc..If someone out there could help me out i would be extremely apprciative thanks!

  10. Louie, I suggest you go visit You will find tons of helpful people, existing posts, etc., that will get you started.

  11. banshman says:

    does anyone know how many fish and crustations i can put in my cube.I have a small clown and a snowflake eel.The fish store tells me thats all i can do because of the eel.I want some shrimp or crabs but he says the eel will eat them.How about anenomes?

  12. its me says:

    hey, anemones would be fine with the snowflake. wut kind of clown do you have. some only host in certain types of anemones

  13. lturner says:

    WAIT! You do not want to put a snowflake eel in a nano cube! Way, way, way to much animal for a nano. Please tell me you did not put an eel in the Nano………………nano, nano………..can I use Nano in a sentence that many times? lol

  14. Jenny Bob says:

    It looks like many of you have some good advice so let me take a shot… I am interested in starting a small salt water aquarium with only one or two fish. I just want to see if it’s for me with out making a HUGE investment. Not to mention, I live in NY and I really don’t have a lot of space. We plan to move in the next two years to a location about 800 miles away which is another reason I don’t want a huge tank just yet. I’ve been getting mixed feelings and answers about starting with such a small aquarium. The largest I would want to start with would be a 30 gallon but I really wanted to go with the Nano Cube. Like I said, I only want one or two fish – probably the Percula Clown. Most pet stores I’ve talked to suggest not going smaller than 55 gallons and making a min. investment of $1,200. I understand the concept of small tank can have catastrophic results if something goes wrong, but like I said, I just want to try it and see if it’s for me. I’m pretty experienced with other animals and I know how much time and effort and $$ they can be. Any advice/opinions on this?? (

  15. sam says:

    hey…thats a good idea, just try it out. one thing, what the pet stores said about having to have at least a 55 gal aquarium is bull. i have had a 40 gal for along time now and its perfect, and i am also thinking about getting a nano cube, but that for a mantis shrimp. i have a rose anemone and i had 2 maroon clown but they were sadly eaten by this freaky crab…needless to so hes gone away now..but i have a small snowflake eel in there and they were all fine together. i also have a cleaner shrimp that everyone said would get eaten by the eel. but the eel lets it sit on his head and clean it off. anyways, if you dont have alot of space, and if you dont want to spend a ton of money , i would start off with a smaller tank.

  16. sam says:

    wait…the last thing i said when i was talking about the eel, i was NOT suggesting that you put one in the nano cube…

    just checking…

  17. TheSword says:

    After reading alot of these entries I have decided to put in my 2 cents. I worked in the pet industry for many, many years and have several saltwater tanks. The nanocube appears to be a great little setup for beginners(or experts). It has all of the basics … good lighting, filtration and a solid design. All of these things are aimed at keeping it’s inhabitants happy and healthy. For all of you beginners there are several things to keep in mind when setting up a saltwater aquarium. Water quality, time, space, and EDUCATION. First off, water quality is a huge thing for saltwater. Start off right, use a high quality filtered water such as reverse osmosis(most grocery store have RO machines)on the initial fill.(Don’t forget a good quality salt too) Continue using this water when you make water changes or top off evaporation. Tap water can vary in quality and usually has alot of pollutants than can be detrimental to your tank. Now comes time. Saltwater ecosystems take much longer to establish than fresh. Buy a good quality arragonite for the bottom, a medium grain. Then buy live sand to mix 1 part sand to 3 parts arragonite. You want about a three inch mixed layer on the bottom. Another good purchase at this point is a few pound of live rock. Between the live sand and live rock your bacteria base should be covered. Now it’s time to wait … at least a month. Let all of the new bacteria get settled in and stabilize the new ecosystem. The water quality will change quite a bit over this month. Do NOT do any water changes during this time even if the tank gets cloudy! It will clear. Third is space .. 12 gallons. The max load on this tank should only be two fish with a combined "full grown" body length of 4 inches. That means: 2 fish, 2 inches a piece when full grown or one 4" fish. Saltwater fish tend to be VERY territorial and they need their room! 12 gallons is a SMALL tank and it will not take much to over load or crowd it. A good example would be a clown fish, a compatible anemonia, and some live rock. The last thing and MOST important is education!!!!! You have a month to wait for fish … do your research! Figure out what species of fish will work in your nanocube and what kind of care they will need to survive! Go to "reputeable" fish shops in your area and ask questions! A reputeable fish shop will be clean, have no dead or unhealthy fish displayed, have a very knowledgeable staff with many years of hands on experience, and support/sell captive breed species of fish. Also buy books, magizines, look online, and email people with your questions. Cross reference advise given with books and other literature. For example: Do NOT go to Petco/Petsmart and take the advise given as fact and end up with a snowflake eel or $500 worth of stuff in a 12 gallon nanocube. Those types of hasty irresponsible actions are responsible for millions … if not billions of dead animals each year. PLEASE!!! DO your research before you buy any animal know their natural environment, what they eat, how big they get, and desired water conditions. Once you know these things you can make an educated decision and a smart purchase! Also, buy captive breed when possible. You will get hardier animals that are better suited for captive enviroments and reduce the demand on natural populations. Good luck and feel free to email me with questions

  18. Derek says:

    I have just got a Nano Cube. It has been running for three days with coral and a clown fish.Does the light have to be on all the time for the coral?

  19. sam says:

    I was wanting to know whether a 3 inch live sand/crushed coral layer is necessary? Seems deep to me for a 12 gallon. Also, is crushed coral alright instead of arrogonite? I have it left over from a salt tank I kept for years. Do I need live sand or just begin the process with fresh sand? I have ~2 lbs. of live rock and one damselfish to get things started. Tank is 3 days old.

  20. sam w says:

    Will the plastic media in the back compartment be a problem in regards to algae growth? Will a water change every two weeks suffice for lack of protein skimming?

  21. sam w says:

    One last question (for now): When should I introduce the remainder of my live rock bulk (I’m only on 3 days and have a ~2 lb. live rock and one damselfish)?

  22. Kevin W.Hammond says:

    Sam, 3 inchs is about the max I would put into the Nano Cube. Certainly no harm in that. I myself am a fan of using 100% live sand – it’s worked well for me.

    As for algae growth on the plastic, I haven’t seen it as a major concern. Simply vaccuming the back every other month seems to keep most things under control.

    As for introducing the live rock, I would make sure your live rock and sand are in the tank for three or four weeks, watching the levels and ensuring that the tank has properly cycled.

    The one thing I’ve learned through this process is that patience is greatly rewarded. Rushing the process causes "bad things" to happen.

  23. sam w says:

    Thanks, Mr. Hammond. Live sand it is. So, to recap; live sand, 16-18 lbs of live rock, vacuum the back once a month, anything else you can think of?

    By the way, water change once a month? 1 gallon maybe 2?

  24. Kevin W. Hammond says:

    Frankly, Sam, I’m very bad with water changes.

    I spot vaccum the sand bed *maybe* once a month – *twice* if I have a lot of free time.

    Two or three times a month (when I can remember, or more frequently if I’m fighting a problem like phosphates), I’ll use a Glad disposable tupperware container and pull out two or three containers full of water and then replace with new water.

    I have only done a massive water change once since it was set up, and experience has shown me the less you muck with it, the better it is over all.

    There was one time when I pulled out two sponges in the filtration system in order to replace with a phosphate sponge and new carbon. That turned out to be a bad thing, as a large amount of "good bacteria" had formed on the sponge and that caused a large ammonia spike, resulting in a small tank crash.

    Ultimately, smaller changes over time are better and more preferred to large, radical changes (much like nature, eh?)

    Feel free to give me a shout directly at if you want some more of my experience first hand.

  25. Mike says:

    I have been doing salt water for several years now. When I first started, like so many people, I wanted the "beauty" to be instant. This can result in BAD things happening and when bad thing happen, you don’t know what to do to correct your mistakes, it cost in money and in the loss of marine life that was depending on you. Some of the comments tell you to G O S L O W…this is some of the best advice you can get and you should follow.

    To set up a marine reef tank, I would wait at least 30 days. The live rock can (and will?) contain some marine life that is not compatable

    with your desires. Mantis shrimp (they catch and eat your fish), crabs (eat fish and coral and a guy at the fish store found that he had an eel. The eel can remain, if you know what kind it is. The crab and the shrimp should go. There are also bristle (spelling?) worms that can be present in the rock. NEVER touch these…you will know what fire feels like and not have put your finger in the coals. AND they are UGLY! If you can wait long enough, you will discover just what "hides" in your live rock…you may be suprised!

    A 30 gal tank should be a good "starter" tank. The Nano is just to little to add fish. If you must use a Nano, just add live rock, sand and soft corals that do not require a stiff water movement and complex lighting…it will make a very pleasing saltwater tank. All tanks should have a 10% water change every week. You can add snails to clean the tank. Algle is a good thing, it’s just not pretty and can clog pumps and restrict water should be removed..but leave it alone if it is in your bio media.

    ALL FILTERs, MEDIA HAS GOT TO BE CLEANED and/or media replaced! Clean all filters, sponge media (add new carbon) in RO water (what you should be using for the water in the tank), NEVER allow it to dry out. This should be done every time you do a water change or not less than once per month. If the sponge is going back into the tank; it should be cleaned, but only if it restricts water flow (clogged). Clean it just to the point of clearing the clog and leave it alone. You can use tap water to clean, but only if it can be wiped dry before using it in the tank again.

    Watch the sky, year round….turn the tank light off when it gets dusk/dark out side. If you want to enjoy the tank after the sun goes down, get a "moon" light. It’s very nice. Some corals will not open to feed unless the sun has gone down.

    Read, read, read…it will pay off.

  26. sam w says:

    So, just reading "Mike"’s entry would lead me to believe no fish at all in the Nano? Is this purist talk or does anyone have any comment on the previous advice? I’m sure it’s sound advice regarding the set-up time…but no fish?

    What about an anemone or other inverts (coral-banded, red-leg reef crabs, etc..)?

  27. Mike J. says:

    Well, 12 gallons is small. But I reckon if you let your tank cycle for a solid month (with live sand, live rock) you will probably be alright to pop a damsel or clown in there.

    Another tip: Do not ever ever overfeed. Small amounts always especially in such a small aquarium. Also, as small as it is, even when you let it cycle for a month or so (monitoring your ammonia, nitrate, nitrite levels to see how they fare) when you add a fish you are probably going to see some spiking.


  28. tommy says:

    have you been able to find a suitable chiller?

    what kind is it?

  29. sam w says:

    The damsel has been in the tank since the beginning. Another question, if I plan for a reef tank, do I remove the bioballs and ceramics? The instructions were a little short. They cited Nitrate problems if continued use in a reef tank set-up.

  30. Kevin W. Hammond says:

    Sam, I’ve had my bioballs and ceramics in the tank since the beginning and would recommend not removing them. I’ve never had a nitrate problem and I perform 10% water changes two (sometimes three) times a month. Other than a brown algae problem I’ve had (I didn’t use RO water when I staged the tank and cleaning it up has been a constant fight), there’s really nothing bad with the levels in my tank.

    I will point out, however, that I removed a sponge once in order to make room for a phosphate removing agent. The act of removing that sponge yanked a lot of good bacteria out of the tank and caused it to recycle. Short version, bad things happened so I wouldn’t remove things 🙂

  31. Laura says:

    Okay, hate to be a doofus, ’cause I’m sure the answer to my question is going to be a "duh" type of answer, but I’m new to my Nano Cube also, and want to make sure….

    I currently have two clownfish in my tank. Can I add a shrimp to it?

  32. jeff says:

    Ive been going to nano-reef website. there i found a very informative bunch of people. Theyve been using nano and mini bow aquariums for a long period of time. yes…clowns and shrimp amongst others have been in their aquariums. I guess the rule is 1 to 1.5 inch of fish per gallon. also includes our inverts as well huh? good luck.

  33. Johnny says:

    I am new hear but was looking for some info on how to start the filter on the nano cube. I got everything running, it is full of water and has some live rock and some sand. The problem is the filter in the back when turned on the water level stayed the same for all compartments. What do I do?

  34. Sam W says:

    I didn’t know that was a problem. How should the levels look (anyone)? Is the filter being bypassed by the water flow? Because that’s the same with mine.

  35. Chris S says:

    Just a quick note to add to the Nano Cube comments. I have had freshwater for years and my first venture into reefkeeping was a Nano Cube. Water chemistry is very important to all marine life as you know. I have probably puched my little cube to the limits but that is because I mess around with the water daily. In my little tank which is established now for eight months I have: 1 peppermint shrimp, 2 false percula, 1 long tip anemone, 1 kenya tree soft coral, 4-6 bumble bee snails, 10 or so nassarius snails, 1 small sea mat coral, 8 yuma ricordia, about 10-12 small assorted mushrooms, 1 large neon green hairy mushroom,1 blue ricordia (which has split once),4 electric blue hermits, 2 scarlet legged hermits, 1 neon orange ricordia. a few small mussles and a 3"-4" plain clam for filtering. I set the tank up with a small bag of live sand and about 10 – 15 lbs of live rock. There are several other small critters running around in there also. I have been working with my local shop to monitor and care for the small reef. I know you don’t think all this is possible in a 12 gal cube, but if you put in the effort it does. I would be happy to provide pictures if requested. The one thing I can say that probably helped the most is the cycling period. For thirty days I patiently waited and watched as the micro life came forth from the live rock. I then added each critter one at a time. The mushrooms I bought as individual loose frags from the local pet store. The have produce about 5 smaller mushrooms all on their own. I do a water change once every two weeks and rinse the sponges at the same time. Granted, my nitrates run a littl high but everything seems to be doing great. Maybe it’s beginners luck, but I think the Nano cube is a good product. Sure, there are a few mods that can be done to improve it but thats some of the fun in learming. I have now set up my first major reef tank (major for me). I have a 75 gallon about half way throught the cycling process. Two weeks into it I have one large green legged hermit, 3 electric blue hermits, a small polyp, and about 68 assorted snails. All the levels are quickly approaching normal in just the second week. I use the water I take out of my nano to spped the process. Hope this encourages anyone thinking about a cube. It has been a great learning tool!

  36. Alex says:

    I just bought a Nano Cube, and I want to have a mini-reef. From my LFS I purchased live sand (Arag-Alive) and eight pounds of live rock. The substrate is 100% live and is 1 inch deep. I have one large rock contributing about 7 1/2 pounds of the weight, and about 1/2 pounds of loose rubble. The live rock is precured and has been in there setup for about two weeks already. I’m using all of the filter media that came with the Nano Cube. In the long run, I was plannig on having one false clownfish, one pistolshrimp, one small gobie, 1 Turbo Snail, 3 Astrea, 1 Fighting Conch, 2 Scarlet Legged Hermits, small polyp colonys, and maybe a mushroom coral of some kind. Can I start adding inhabitants now, considering everything is cured already, or should I still wait the suggested 3-4 weeks prior. How do you suggest I go about doing this. I have kept freshwater tanks since I was 8 years old for five years now with great sucess, but never a marine tank. Thanks for any comments.

  37. Chris says:

    I’ve had my Nano for 6 months, haven’t lost a fish yet. Have been doing regular water changes and checking water chemistry.

    A couple days ago, I donated my fish to my local pet shop because I wanted Puffers. Now, my tank stinks to high heaven!! I don’t know if it’s something to do with the new fish or what, but I can’t get rid of the smell. Then it dawned on me….I have not cleaned my Nano filter….what steps do i need to take? there are 4 parts:

    1. The black Sponge

    2. The white bag

    3. The black bag

    4. The floating things

    My apologies for the lack of scientific names for parts 1-4!!!!!

    HELPP Please.

  38. josh says:

    I want to upgrade the lights in my cube. I was thinking of a 36 watt coralife 50/50 bulb, anyone out there using this or any other upgrade suggestions?

  39. Mikedwood says:

    We have had a Nano Cube for about 6 months and love it. I always wanted to try salt and the Nano Cube seemed perfect and it pretty much is. I haven’t lost a fish yet but did lose a peppermint shrimp ( a six striped wraith will get along with everything but a shrimp and small snails apparently )

    The problem I’m having is my Goby keeps winding up in the filter when he gets freaked ( When I do water changes ) anyone else had a fish in the filter problem? If so what can I do?

  40. Jerry Calundann says:

    I set up my nano cube six 70 days ago. I used Instant Oceans salt mix to make up the water. I used distilled water after testing for any cupper. Some distilled water uses copper tubing in the distllation process. I adjusted the selenaty to 2.03 and the PH to 8.30. I added 10 lbs of live sand and 12 lbs of live rock. two weeks later after measuring amonia levels, nitrite levels and nitrate levels I expereienced my first bloom of brown diatom algae which covered every thing in the third week. I then added two turban snails which cured the problem. During the fith week I added two camel or candy shrimp to the aquarium. I tested the calcium levels of the water and found tht the calcium level had dropped from 400ppm to 230 ppm. I then added Kalkwasser solution at a rate of from 50 to 100cc per day bringing the level back to 400ppm. I had to watch the PH to see that it did not rise above 8.35. During the fith week I noticed small micro organisms and a small brittle star fish on the walls of the tank and verious worms and anemone start to blum on the live rock. During the sixth week the live rock started to be covered by purple and red calcareous algae. Every day new things happen in my nano cube. I plan to add one small clown fish after six months. You can’t rush things! In 1970 I set up my first marine tank with bleached dead coral, under gravel filters, plastic plants and fish. The fish died after a few days. Since I was trained as a chemist I preformed all the test at the time and found that my dead fish contained large amounts of cyanide. I gave up marine aquariums until I read all the modern literature published after 1990 and set up my nano cube 6. I read on your web that some one set up a nano cube six and spent $550.00 on fish and invertabrates after only two weeks. That money should have been spent on good books about the subject.


  41. Hoffa626 says:

    ok so I have been reading this forum for a couple days now, and have decided to ask some questions…. whether or not they will be answerred is a different story. or if this is even the right place to be asking them. I have been doing some research on Marine Aquariums for the past couple weeks now. I am very interested in the Nano Cubes, i live in a small apt and have always found ocean life fasinating. next year i will be moving to Fiji to study coral life with a volunteer organization and having never really been exposed to it, i want to get a pinch of the idea. Anyway, i have been to a few chains pet shops where Nano cubes are sold and one of the employess told me that the 12 gallon Nano cube is far superior to the 24gal, due to the lighting that the 12gal has. Something about there being more light per cubic millileter, or something to that extent. I have also come to believe that bigger is better when it comes to marine tanks, and i probably would rather have a 24 gallon tank… allthough will it require another lighting source? is the 12 gallon nano light superior in any way to the 24? are moon lights compatable with the Nano cubes? Ultimatley i would like to have a few fish, coral, and an anemone. But i am starting from gound zero and have a lot to learn. I have recently purchased the book mentioned in the beginning of this post (natural reef aquariums) and am awaiting its arrival. I also have a couple others, but input from othe enthusiasts and experienced individuals is always so much easier to read. and somewhat more helpful at times. i have been hearing so many mixed opinions as far as tank size, number of organisms, and lighting… not to mention all of the rest of the factors that i havent even touched upon yet. i guess what my main question i would like answerred right now, so that i might start having somewhat of a goal, let alone a plan, is… if i wish to stick to a nano cube, should i go with the 12 or 24? why and why not? and does anyone know anything referring to these lighting rumors? I am skeptic of the store employees around here. they seem to be young kids just makin a buck. the local "pro shop" is a ways away, but i plan to make that my dealer when the time comes.. and hopefully they are as good as their reviews. I have had small aquariums before and i am ready for the deication, time and investment, i just lack the edu. any reply is greatly appreciated. thanks

  42. Jerry Calundann says:

    My noano cube six has been set up now for over 108 days since my last posting. On the 80th day my water pump failed. I used an air pump to pump air into the tank. I received new pumps from the company the next day after notifying them of the problem. They no longer supply the small pump that was on the original tank, but supply the larger pump that is supplied with the nano cube 12. I only lost a star fish that orginally came with the live rock. I use calcium supliments eather through adding Kalkwasser to the tank or Red Seas calcium supliment 10 drops per day. All the live rock is now incrusted with puurple calcarous algae of the Mesophyllum species. I repace the active carbon filter pack every 50 days. I now use only Nutre-Seawater (natural sea water. The tank is filled with marine ciliates which are eaten by my two camel back shrimp. I use one spoon full (small spoon supplied) of Spectra Vital every other day. In another month iI will start to add live coral and anemonie to the tank. Today I am setting up a nano 24 delux. Will keep you informed.

  43. Sandi Humphrey says:

    I just inherited a 12 Gal Nanocube, regular version with single set of blue and white lights. One of the guys at the LFS told us that it didn’t have enough lights to grow corals (as deluxe version does). Has anyone been successful keeping coral with the non-deluxe version?

  44. Benny says:

    Interesting info

  45. Tim says:

    I am thinking about buying a nano cube for the wife for X-mas. My plans would be to set it up for salt water. Should I get the 12 or 24 gallon cube since space is not an issue. How much upkeep it there with the salt water tanks?

  46. gabriel says:

    hey man, loved reading all this information. My question is this, my local pet store has a 12 gal cube that’s already been cycled and has invertebrae, and like two fish. They’re offering the set up including the fish, the reef, etc for 350 dollars. I thought this sounded like a good deal, however, would you suggest setting up and cycling my own cube so i know more about it? This would be my first time going into saltwater aquariums. So I thought, maybe i should set it up myself from start to finish, I just wasn’t sure, since i figured, having one already set up might also be easier for a beginner.

  47. L. Gunzelman says:

    Great to see such information. I started a Noncube 1 year ago as a gift to my 5 year old son…ok – for me ( after we got to the store he decided he wanted goldfish). I decided to go with a 12 gallon delux with the idea that I’d eventually have a reef tank. I added things VERY SLOWLY. We started with the cleaning crew after several weeks of starting the tank with live rock and live sand, then added "NEMO" about a month later – each time waiting for the cycling process to stablize. Since its start I only had 1 death – an arrow crab – he was getting pretty big – kept growing!!! watching the tank I noticed that attached to the live rock and sand I noticed life I never purchaced…polyps, feather dusters, shrimp, some type of catipillar thing – have yet to identify it, a green plant like and red furry like algae. We also have scarlett hermit crabs (2) bumble bee snail (first round was eaten by the blue hermits, which also acquired the shells of the bumble bees for their house) cortina snail, trocher snails…I added a flower pot coral – doing great about 3 months ago – have read that they are hard to keep – mine is flourishing – I’d like to add an aneome as the last thing…before i start a 24 gal tank. I can honestly say its the best investment I’ve ever made – I enjoy it so much that the benefit outways any work or cost I’ve put into it….good luck to those of you who are starting out.

  48. Clay says:

    I was thinking about getting into S.W. i have dealt with F.W. a lil bit. I have read the new 24 gallon nanos have hads some problems has anyone heard anything about it?

  49. mary says:

    I would consider myself a pro at this point.  I’ve kept an array of fish and corals.  I had an anemone split last year.  I somehow can keep ridge coral growing without halides. My thoughts are, You either get it or you don’t.  Good things happen in time.  Be patient.  I would never do a nano as a first tank.  

    (too small)  And don’t waste your money if you’re going to give up 2 months from now.

  50. Jervis says:

    I am getting my nano 24 (deluxe) delivered anytime soon. So excited! I will follow your GOSLOW advise and shall learn and do tons of research along the way. Thanks guys for all the info.

  51. paul says:

    i don’t know if i’m getting one of these tanks yet but i started out similar with a 5gal tank yrs my girlfriend is learning the same way and without having to break the i’m using what i’ve leaned to set up a 30 gallon reef.the smaller tank has many advantages over the big,you don’t need a skimmer for a tank under 20gal,and you can use the light thats already in it,buy the way the 24 gal delux is a lil shy on lighting but you can get it now with a metal halide light on it.i had to buy a $130 skimmer and a $160 light to make my 30 gallon reef worthy.just some food for thought.also if you all are concerned about loosing livestock if the pump breaks,you reely should have a back up such as a small powerhead running,if you use a filter on the powerhead it will act as an extra bio filter and that powerhead may warm up enough that you don’t need a heater.anyway the small tanks are a great way to learn and if you find out is not your thing,at least it won’t take up to much space in your closet lol.

  52. Mark says:

    I am considering setting up a 24gal nano cube. I’ve had a beautiful 150gal reef some yrs ago and sold it when my 2nd child was born (time considerations). I’d like to set up either the Nano cube (JBJ) or aqua pod (current USA) as a reef. Does anybody have a preference between these two? Also, any suggestions on a small but efficient protien skimmer?

  53. Mike says:

    I have a 12 gallon nano cube.  I have a problem with the pump drawing the water out faster than the sponges will let it back through.  Any suggestions.  I have tried cleaning the sponges, but they look fine.  Pump is new.


  54. Matt says:

    I have many questions, but am reading dilligently over the blogs…one intial set up question. Which is better to set up the Nanocube–Distilled water or RO water? It sounds like distilled would be better, but I want another, more experienced opinion. I can get either, but want to do it the correct way to avoid problems in the future.

  55. jeff says:

    I bought a Nano Cube 5 months ago.  Came home and found out that the pump came apart and water was going up and out the sides of the lid.  There was 6gals on the carpet now and the loss of a few corals.  Was told that there was nothing they could do and that was that.

    To hell with them.  Please do not get a Nano Cube.  Its not worth it.

  56. Mike J. says:

    I’ve had a marine aquarium and a discus tank.  I gave away both tanks when I moved… now I have a tank with an Osphronemus in it, and just purchased (still waiting for its arrival) a 12 gallon Nano Cube (great deal at the moment at Dr. Fosters & Smith).

    I plan, however, on turning it into a discus tank, and not a reef aquarium.  I doubt it could hold more than one discus, maybe two (up to a medium size) at best.

    I know Discus can get large – I don’t think that one would be so large that it could not comfortably maneuver around the tank (probably pop a small piece of driftwood in and some low-growing plants that tolerate "black water").

    Any thoughts on this?

    If I get a lot of feedback that this is not doable, my back up was German rams or neons.

  57. kim s says:

    chris s mentioned that a few mods were done to

    his or her nano, i was wondering what these mods were.

    by the way thanks for all the infor. it has really helped my understanding of the sm. reef, i’m now 2 months in with a 12 gal aquapod and welcome any infor i can get.

  58. Dan L says:

    This thread scares me. I’m an experienced with fresh and salt fish as well as reefs. I have had large tanks and small. I just set up a 12g nano for a micro reef.

    What scares me is the number of people who view the nano cube as a reef-in-a-box. the nano-cube is not magic, its just a nice design for a small tank, nothing more. It does not substitute for knowledge. The best way to gain knowledge is to read like crazy….books, magazines, blogs etc. Talk to people. Remember there are many ways to solve a problem and everyone thinks theirs is the best or possibly only way. Then you will need to interpet what you learn, consider the source and apply it to your situation. Reef-keeping is not a quick hit thing. You need to learn why you are doing things to be successful. That being said, reef keeping is incredibly rewarding. You get to be a biologist, chemist, plummer, electrician, physicist and carpenter all at the same time. If that doesn’t blow up your skirt then set your aquatic sights a little lower. Try some freshwater fish and possibly some plants. Nothing wrong with that; I have a planted freshwater tank as well.

  59. Brett d says:

    I just bought a 12 gal Nano Cube and when filled empty (i.e. with no sand, rock, or sponges) it only holds 8 gallons of water, is this normal?

  60. shann says:

    One month after purchase the pump tube came loose and squirted water all over my floor.  The zip tie was small and wimpy.  I finally reattached it I thought it was tighter but then 3 weeks later it did it again then one week later it came loose again! The third time trying to fix it, the bottom tube came loose from the motor which was a nightmare. The cover has a TINY hole with a TINY rod that the cover must go onto.  When I contacted JBJ they said to take the motor out and see if anything is lodged in it, the on line manual does not even show the parts to the MOTOR that I am suppose to be checking and reassembling because of their wimpy parts! Plus my fish are without air and now I have to drain the tank because of their poor manufacturing! Look for a better built product! Tanks looks great but poor design and quality of parts!!!

  61. mamashann says:

    Hey Jeff Re:Nano 24 gallon pump problems.

    I agree with Jeff. I had the same problem with the pump. This is the third time trying to fix it now and now the motor is broken.  I use my cube for freshwater fish and I thought this tank would be less maintenance. HAHAHA it has been more problems and maintenance than my 10 gallon ever was.  One month after purchase, the pump tube came loose and squirted water all over my floor.  The zip tie for the pump tube was small and wimpy.  I finally reattached it I thought it was tighter but then 3 weeks later it came loose again and made a mess. Then one week after that, it came loose again! The third time trying to fix it, the bottom tube came loose from the motor which was a nightmare. The cover has a TINY hole with a TINY rod that the cover must go onto.  When I contacted JBJ they said to take the motor out and see if anything is lodged in it, the on line manual does not even show the parts to the MOTOR that I am suppose to be checking and reassembling because of their wimpy parts! Plus my fish are without air and now I have to drain the tank because of their poor manufacturing! Look for a better product!

  62. Jeffery L says:

    I am about to set up a 24 gal nano. I live in Florida about 20 min from the beach.  I was wondering about going to the beach to get actual live sand and fill up some 5 gal buckets with sea water.   Would there be advantages or disadvantages to doing this and would it speed up the cycling process?

  63. angel says:

    im new to this whole thing, how do i go about setting up a 12 gallon salt water tank..

  64. justin says:

    what do you saltwater aquarium experts do when you go on vacation and cannot tend to your fish for awhile?

  65. Seahorseguy says:

    Remember when cleaning the sponges, ceramic cylinders and bio balls you must clean them in saltwater preferably the same pH and specific gravity as the tank. Don’t use fresh water or you will kill off all your bacteria biofilter causing your tank to recycle. This is a common newbie mistake.

    The sponges are best cleaned 1 at a time. Replace the clean sponge under the old sponge to let the bacteria from the old sponge reseed the clean sponge with bacteria for a week or two in case you have killed off the bacteria in the cleaning of the sponge.  After a couple weeks or more you can clean the second sponge.  The first few times you do this you should start testing for ammonia post cleaning as a precaution. If you detect any ammonia, immediately add a couple of air stones, do a major water change and get to your local fish store to buy some Biospira or other tank cycling bacteria to add to your tank and sponges. Then pray that Neptune and the other saltwater aquarium gods will be merciful.

    Good luck