The Best Nano Reef Tanks (Review) in 2021

Last Updated January 3, 2020

The sea offers many wonders, colorful fish, spectacular coral reef, eye-catching shells as well as a range of other organisms. Having that splash of color and aquatic life within your reach has become quite a trend these days. Even better is the fact that nano reef tanks offer up a compact underwater ecosystem that gives users that little piece of watery beauty. Thanks to these miniature tanks your eyes can now enjoy an array of underwater spectacles without bankrupting you of space and money. The fact that they are relatively cheaper does not mean that any tank goes, there’s still a pretty intense search process involved in getting a quality product. For that reason, here is a selection of some of the best nano reef tanks out there.

The Best Nano Reef Tank


The design of this small reef tank alone is a clear indicator of the stellar features it has. So, this is certainly one of the few cases where you can judge a book by its cover. Best believe that the Hagen HG Fluval Flex Aquarium has quite the aesthetically pleasing cover. For the most part of it, it is made of glass and is equipped with a total of three viewing sides. What’s more, the front panel curves outwards and the result is the illusion that this 15-gallon tank is a lot bigger than it is.

There are red, blue, white and green LED lights fitted here and for convenience, they can be controlled using the Flexpad remote included. On a more functional level, the white 7500k LED lights are put in place to encourage plant growth. And the cherry on the top here is the 3-stage filtration system which uses an oversized mechanical, chemical and biological filter to ensure that the water is cleaned periodically.

Comes with a flex pad remote control

Equipped with an infrared remote sensor

Operates a 3-stage water filtration process

It has a curved glass front

  • Brand: Hagen
  • Model: AHG15006
  • Weight: 30.2 pounds


It may be a bit on the cheap side, but who does not like a good deal? Even better is the fact that it offers up a lot more than what you’d expect for its price. Get ready to be pleasantly surprised as the top-notch qualities of the MarineLand Contour Glass Aquarium Kit are highlighted. First, take a peep at that design, not only is it stylish but it is downright eye-catching. The unit is fitted with curved glass corners that really let viewers into the lives of the fish and coral. All this and more is placed on an actual pedestal that really drives that stylishness through the roof.

With the bottom covered, it’s time to look upward at the transparent cover which actually slides in order to offer up easy access. All in all, this makes maintenance very easy and as a bonus, there’s a perfect aerial view of the aquatic habitat. A serious wow factor here is the light rail fitted with LEDs that hang over the tank itself. Not only is it a wonder to behold, but it also lights pt the tank for all the right reasons.

Holds three gallons of water

Fitted with a rail light

Makes use of a 3-step water filtration process

Equipped with an adjustable flow filter pump

  • Brand: MarineLand
  • Model: ML90610
  • Weight: 10.5 pounds


Here’s a tank with a little more in terms of capacity, so for anyone looking to have a more extensive aquatic family, this is a great route to take. With a capacity of 16 gallons and an array of other features, the Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium is a viable choice. Just looking at the overall design is a pleasure on its own. The sleek, modern style here will definitely fit into any setting effortlessly and it comes fitted with a total of three transparent sides which allow for an extensive view of the tank. Then there’s a hinged lid right at the top which offers even more access for feeding and upkeep purposes. Still, on the lid, there are LED lights embedded which solely come in white and sparkling blue.

Thanks to the colors available here and their brightness, this unit can be used as both a nano saltwater aquarium as well as a freshwater one. If that does not make for a stellar all in one nano reef tank then nothing else really does. A major selling point here is the 24-hour timer that controls the light setting on cue. Then, of course, there’s the detachable, dual compartment filter that supports both mechanical and biological filtration.

Fitted with a 24-hour timer

Easy to set up

Fitted with a submersible pump

Lighting is compatible with fresh and saltwater habitats

  • Brand: Coralife
  • Model: 100530106
  • Weight: 27.8 pounds


It may be small but best believe that it has all you need to create the perfect mini marine experience. It probably has the same features bigger tanks are equipped with and the added plus of being a lot more compact. Grace your countertop or desk with the Fluval 10531A1 SEA EVO XII Aquarium Kit and add a little splash of color to your world. Speaking of color, the bright 14000 K LEDs here come in an array of eye-catching colors. They also come with an easy to use touch start which further has day and night settings.

Even better is the fact that they go a long way to promote healthy marine life and there’s also the lid or canopy here which does not only act as an accessible feed door, but an avenue to get a better glimpse of bustling aquatic habitat within. A great addition to this mix is the heavy-duty 3-stage filtration with its accompanying over-sized media. This goes a long way to ensure that the water in the tank is pure and pristine.

Makes use of 3-stage filtration

Equipped with an aluminum waterproof casing

Has day and night lights

Fitted with an accessible feed door

  • Brand: Fluval
  • Model: 10531A1
  • Weight: 28.8 pounds


As far as beginner nano reef tanks go, this is one of the best options out there. It has all the little tidbits and accessories included in the mix. As such, users don’t need to scramble around to get them. Think of the Marina LED Aquarium Kit as a nudge in the right direction. All the sides of this all-glass, cuboid tank are transparent and that allows for a more immersive experience altogether.

What’s more, the top is the only opaque attachment and is fitted with a daylight effect LED lighting module which enhances the natural feel and keeps all the aquatic life healthy. Additionally, the kit also contains essentials such as a water conditioner, a net, and even fish food. And there’s also a handy manual thrown in the mix to ensure that beginners really get all the hands-on information they need to succeed while the aquatic life within thrives.

Can contain 10 gallons

Fitted with a Marina Slim S15 clip

Comes with an array of accessories

Manual included

  • Brand: Marina
  • Model: 15256A1
  • Weight: 17.35 pounds


If you are on the lookout for something ready to use, straight out of the box then this is definitely the route to take. There’s not much needed with the SCA 50 Gallon Starfire Glass Aquariums in terms of installation. It’s all a pretty straightforward process and there’s an even better experience waiting once it’s up and running. This rimless tank is as sturdy as they come and are equally fitted with two sturdy cabinet doors. Based on this alone, longevity is not a concern at all when it comes to this nano reef tank.

There’s also an array of accessories thrown into the mix, so that’s already quite convenient. And let’s not forget the skimmer, pumps, pipes, bulkhead tubing and so much more that are made available. The only thing you’ll have to get on your own is the lighting and when that is done, you’re good to go.

Comes in a rimless design

Made with durable, high-quality materials

Skimmer included

Includes all the accessories

  • Brand: SC Aquariums
  • Weight: 250 pounds


Here’s a cute little unit that’s simply perfect for anyone who’s trying to economize space. It’s small enough to conveniently sit on most flat surfaces without causing a disruption. Its size is not the only thing the Fluval 10528A1 Evo V Marine Aquarium Kit has going for it though; there’s an array of nifty features that complement it quite well. Before delving in, keep in mind the fact that this is a small saltwater tank and it creates quite an ideal environment for marine reefs. For this reason, it happens to be fitted with 11000K LED lights and among them is a blue light that vastly supports the growth of marine coral.

Design-wise, you’ll notice the cube-like shape and addition of three clear sides. The cover is equally transparent which makes for quite a viewing experience. As if that was not stylish enough, this tank is graced by a honeycomb design which is not just a pretty face. It equally conceals the filtration area making for a more natural look.

Contains 5 gallons

Honeycomb design over filtration area

Makes use of 3-stage filtration

Has day and night illumination

  • Brand: Fluval
  • Model: 10528A1
  • Weight: 13.7 pounds

Best Nano Reef Tank Buying Guide & FAQ

Whether you’re a first or old-timer when it comes to aquariums as a whole, there’s room to learn a whole lot. With the way things are changing these days based on technology and user preferences, there are some things that need to be considered. The first step is knowing exactly what to take into consideration and the rest has a way of falling into place immediately after. In that vein, here are some tips, guides, and pointers for anyone looking to get themselves one of the best nano reef tanks out there.

Clown fish swimming in a reef tank

What to Consider When Buying Nano Reef Tanks

  • Light

Light plays a major role in any aquatic environment. Since you can’t simply borrow the sun and moon for your tank, you’re going to have to employ the use of an artificial setup. When it comes to the kind of light needed for your coral to thrive, the base requirement is an actinic blue light with LED temperatures above 10000K.

This is also quite dependent on the type of water habitat seeing as a freshwater tank has the ability to get by using LED 6500k.  To crown it all up, LED lights that have settings to mimic both night and day really do bring the whole setup a step closer to being more natural. So, be on the lookout for something of the sort.

  • Size

Every nano reef tank out there has a certain capacity; you can find tanks out there that hold anything from 5 to 30 gallons. So, it is obvious that there’s quite a broad spectrum when it comes to what is considered to be a nano tank. For people who have probably never owned a tank before, or have only been at it for a short while, the smaller options are a safer bet. Learning how to maintain the little space within the tank is what will finally equip them to have a go at something a bit bigger.

  • Water Filtration

Natural bodies of water have their own way of getting rid of impurities, to an extent. Afterall without some sort of filtration system, life under the sea would no sooner come to an end. Since a nano reef tank is practically a miniature version of natural aquatic habitat, it needs all the same mechanisms in place to ensure it’s longevity. One thing that should be noted is that the more efficient the filtration system, the more complicated it is. So, ease yourself in if it is necessary.

  • Types of Coral

There aren’t just one species of coral out there, in fact, there are three different types. Before snagging a nano tank be sure to get familiarize yourself with the types of coral available. They happen to be Soft Corals, Large Polyped Stony Corals (LPS) as well as Small Polyped Stony Corals (SPS). The reason you need to know your stuff to an extent on this front is simply that they can’t be mixed. If you want to maintain a thriving aquatic ecosystem, ensure that they are not mixed or even placed next to each other. They require different light intensities and some even pose as a danger to aquatic beings in close proximity.

How to Set Up a Nano Saltwater Tank

  • The first and one of the most vital parts of setting up a nano saltwater tank is picking a good location. Go for a plain surface that is completely leveled and sturdy enough to hold the tank.
  • Next, you need to fill it with water and, of course, some salt. Don’t just dump any amount in, the salt needs to be premixed and a hydrometer should be used to gauge the concentration. The water is also not regular tap water, it has to be non-chlorinated.
  • After that is sorted out, proceed to install the appropriate heater, this varies as a whole. But, in general, corals tend to thrive in temperatures that range from 70 to 85°F. That’s a comfortable warm temperature and can only be achieved and maintained by artificial means.
  • Creating a base is the next stop on the list. Since you are basically trying to create an environment similar to natural aquatic habitat, the sand and rock base is needed. Pour in some saltwater aquarium sand and place cured rocks at the bottom.
  • Next, you need to test the efficacy of the filter, only do this one the sand and the other substrate has settled. Introduce some ammonia into the mix and take note of how efficiently it depletes. Do the same with nitrates and nitrites in order to ensure the safety of the aquatic life within. Then proceed to introduce your coral and fish tot their new home.

How to Choose the Right Mini Saltwater Tank Size

There’s a lot of things to take into consideration when looking into the size of a small saltwater tank. First, think about your budget, because this will ultimately narrow your search drastically. After that consider the type and number of fish among other aquatic beings that you intend to give a new home. Also, take into consideration the space you have available to keep the small reef tank once you get it.

Best Nano Reef Tank FAQ:

Q: What is a nano reef tank?

A: It is basically a small aquarium with a mini reef aquatic habitat within

Q: How do I maintain my nano saltwater tank?

A: First, a whole lot of patience is needed; inspect the tank daily in order to monitor the salinity levels. Also, look out for the water temperature and composition at least every week and when needed change out the water. Do not forget to feed the fish and the coral

Q: Is a protein skimmer necessary for a nano reef?

A: Some parties don’t consider it that necessary, nevertheless, deciding not to use one involves more regular water changes and also, more time invested in monitoring the water composition.

Fish swimming in a reef tank

Our Top Pick

With its sturdy construction and three-side viewing angles, this makes for an aesthetically pleasing and functional nano reef tank. Even better is the fact that it is fitted with LED lights that cater to every aquatic being you place within this tank. You can equally tweak the color of the lights for the sake of creating a certain ambiance, the choice lies in your hands. Taking things up a notch, this tank is equipped with a  3-stage filtration system that makes life a lot easier; both for you and the aquatic animals you own.


  1. Kenneth Wingerter, 5 Hardy Corals for Your First Reef Tank, PetMD
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