Billy discusses his top picks for a nano reef tank! You'll never guess our number one!

» Posted by on Feb 4, 2016 in Blog, Education, Reef Aquariums, Saltwater Fish, William C | Comments Off on Top Ten: Nano Reef Fish

Top Ten: Nano Reef Fish

Check out our top ten nano fish! We carry all of these and more!

Top Ten Nano Reef Fish at Absolutely Fish

William C

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Let’s talk about something I’d like to describe as Saltwater Syndrome. When afflicted with said syndrome, saltwater newbies(and old-timers alike) ask to purchase fish such as the magnificent Queen Angelfish. Which is fine. Only when I ask about their aquarium, it’s a 30 gallon reef tank… not at all adequate. And no, it’s not a good temporary home— as a matter of fact a “home” should be a fish’s permanent dwelling. The Queen grows far too large for a 30 gallon aquarium and should be housed in something closer to 90 gallons or more! Further, the entire grouping we call Angelfish ARE NOT REEF SAFE. Sure you may have a 50-50 shot with that Argi Angel when it is first introduced in the tank, but you’ll be really upset 6 months down the line when you can’t add any corals that are even minorly “fleshy” (Bye, bye Acans!) After explaining this though the saltwater syndrome kicks in further, “But I bought a saltwater tank to keep exotic fish!” Exotics such as the Queen Angel and say — the Hepatus tang (popularized by Finding Nemo) should be housed in large appropriate tanks. So I’d like to clear up some misconceptions about the saltwater nano reef, and suggest the APPROPRIATE fish one might keep in such a habitat.

Firstly a lot of fish are not reef friendly, meaning they eat corals, shrimp, worms, sponge, or some other reef invertebrate you care deeply for. Angelfish, Butterflyfish, and Triggers are the major offenders in this category. Alternatively some fish just grow too large for a nano reef (40 gallon tanks or less). Tangs for the most part grow to sizes of 7 inches or larger and need plenty of space to grow. In addition some very active species just need lots of space to live in a natural way. Take anthias for example,while most species do not exceed 6 inches they do like ample space to swim during the day! Lastly, there are the aggressors — some fish may be perfectly happy in a 30 gallon tank, and that’s great — but when your Domino Damsel goes on a killing rampage because his tank mates occupy too much of his space— we have a problem. Aggression doesn’t just include towards other fish… If you have a full grown Maroon clown in your 30 gallon reef and you just purchased the most magnificent little torch coral — expect the Maroon to attempt to host this piece (your results may vary).

So what fish does that leave us with? Well below is a top 10 list of what in my opinion are the best common nano reef fish.

Top Ten Nano Reef Fish

10. Clown Goby

Nano Reef Fish For Sale NJ

Max Size: 2″

Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 10 gallons

Clown Gobys are some of the cutest little fish for the nano tank. They stay incredibly small, and are either bright yellow or vivid green. Some specimens will live in and around the corals in your tank. They’re quite the little beauties!


9. Skunk Clown

Nano Reef Fish For Sale NJ Clownfish

Max Size: 4″ although most rarely exceed 3″

Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 20 gallons

Hold your seahorses folks, I know there will be an uproar over Skunks v. Ocellaris. I’ll have you know now — Skunk Clowns are cooler! They come in pink and orange! They’re also unique in a sea of Nemos, and will host some anemones more readily… but for those naysayers Ocellaris would be good too.

8. Pajama Cardinal

Max Size: 3″

Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 10 gallons

PJ Cardinals are some of the prettiest fish, with their big beautiful eyes and polka dotted patterns. The only downside is they move infrequently some people find this boring, but I see it as conservative!

7. Sixline Wrasse

Nano Reef Fish For Sale NJ Wrasse

Max Size: 3″

Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 10 gallons

Small, zippy, bright colored fun! With the sixline wrasse it’s a blast of excitement. A warning though: If you plan to keep other small wrasses, or small pseudos down the line this fish may not be right for you.

6. Royal Gramma

Nano Reef Fish For Sale NJ Royal Gramma

Max Size: 3″

Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 10 gallons

It never ceases to surprise me at just how many people really dig this fish. Small children will exclaim, “I want the purple and yellow one!” This fish is peaceful, brightly colored and small growing. It’s nearly the perfect reef inhabitant.

5. Firefish

Nano Reef Fish For Sale NJ Firefish

Max Size: 3″

Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 10 gallons

Firefish are wonderful little animals. They usually hang around the upper regions of the tank, making that area look more active and the tank look more full! Beware though, these fish can be jumpy, a glass top is required!

4. Chalk Bass

Nano Reef Fish For Sale NJ Chalk Bass

Max Size: 3″

Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 10 gallons

The chalk bass is the single most under rated nano reef fish we carry. They are brightly colored, inexpensive, and work in nearly any tank! What’s not to love about these sweet little fish?

3. Teardrop Blenny

Nano Reef Fish For Sale NJ Tailspot

Max Size: 2″

Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 10 gallons

At number three is the tailspot blenny. Some may think there’s not much to these little guys but believe me they are filled with life! These fish have plenty of personality, and what’s more they are excellent algae eaters. I’m not saying this fish is perfect… but it’s darn near close.

2. Watchmen Goby

Nano Reef Fish For Sale NJ Watchmen

Max Size: 3″

Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 10 gallons

The watchmen gobies are easily one of the most amazing fish on this list. If you have never seen a watchmen goby and it’s pistol shrimp living in a burrow together you better get on this! They are very entertaining to watch. Having the symbiotic relationship between these animals is one of the greatest joys in reef keeping.

1. Plectranthias

Nano Reef Fish For Sale NJ Plectranthias

Max Size: 2″

Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 10 gallons

I was just dying to put a hawkfish on this list… they’re one of my favorites. But alas, hawkfish aren’t the best NANO reef fish. The plectranthias is the next best thing. They behave just like hawkfish, perching about the tank… but they’re not hawkfish! These fish are actually a small variety of anthias!

Come visit us in the shop to see these nano reef species and many more!

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