May '01 - Weeks 1&2 - Contesini´s 25 Liter Nano-Reef (Brazil)
As the keeping of Mini-Reefs in a home aquarium became more and more viable and popular, the insatiable human need for challenges came up with yet another new frontier: just how small and inexpensive can you make a viable reef tank? Thus came the concept of Nano-Reefs - tiny marine ecosystems thriving in an unbelievably small aquarium. These incredible little tanks have fueled heated debates in just about every marine forum around the world, mostly about whether it's right or not to keep marine animals in such a small environment. The purpose of this month's featured tanks is not for me to take one side or another of the debate (especially since I have no experience whatsoever in this field), but rather to show two examples of what can be achieved when one throws himself into the challenge of answering the question above. This first featured tank is owned by Brazilian hobbyist Luiz Contesini, and has just completed one year of existence in April. As you can see from these pictures, the results so far are fantastic, and mostly attributed to the creative "semi-open" ecosystem implemented by the owner. Here are the tank specifications and owner's comments:
Setup Date: April 26, 2000
Volume: 25 liters (7 gallons)
Lighting: 2x25 W Power Compacts (6200 K)
Internal Equipment: 900 L/h PH powerhead, densimeter, thermometer, 50 W heater, DIY overflow
Live Rock: About 5 Kg (Recife, Guarapari)
Substrate: Deactivated UGF grid, crushed shells and halimede adding up to about 10 cm.
"Contesini" Semi-Open System: A bucket of sea water placed over the tank, dripping renewal water at a rate of ~10 liters per week. Overflow syphon allows the old water to exit the tank and be collected in another bucket below. A small reduction of the new water's salinity level is made, to compensate for water evaporation in the tank.
Maintenance Routine: Once a week 10 liters of natural sea water is bought, replacing the empty top bucket with a new one. Once or twice a day the Clown is hand-fed with pieces of shrimp or squid on a toothpick, sometimes he gets live brine shrimp. A timer controls the lights, keeping them on from 10:00AM to 11:00PM.
Owner's Comments: The Nano-Reef myth brings an image of instability and painful work, not to mention an almost impossibility of maintenance, and in my experience none of that is confirmed. The way I maintain my Nano is the simplest possible, as there is no equipment to regulate or clean, no tests to be made, no supplement to add. As I see it, the problem is that whenever someone thinks about setting up a Nano-Reef he/she wants to do it like a large tank, forgetting that the small size allows the possibility of treating it like a semi-open ecosystem. This system allows simple and inexpensive renewal of water, dismissing the need of controllers and other equipment. When I mention this system, people cannot get rid of the negative image of WATER CHANGES and imagine that the system is too troublesome, when it actually comes down to replacing an empty bucket of water with a full one, once or twice a week at most.
If you'd like to submit an aquarium for Tank of the Month, just contact me.
Clown and Zoanthus
Photos taken by Luiz Contesini and displayed here with his permission.