This question, recently posted on our website by Eric B, got me thinking about some of the assumptions we tend to make about nano aquariums. So, in addition to my original answer to Eric’s inquiry, I’ve included a few more random thoughts on the subject afterward. Question Do you think that nano reef tanks are more likely to have fish jump from them, or is that not really a factor in your eyes?” – submitted by Eric B Answer I think as long as the fish in question is 1) an appropriate nano candidate from the standpoint of maximum size and energy level, 2) not crowded or harassed by tankmates, 3) provided adequate niches for rest and refuge, and 4) kept in good water conditions, there’s no reason it should be especially prone to jumping. Of course, these same caveats apply to fish kept in any system, nano or otherwise. That being said, it is much more challenging to find fish species that are well suited to nano tanks than to larger systems. So I suppose one could argue that fish jumping is more likely to be an issue with nano tanks in general, merely because it’s all too easy to stock them inappropriately. A few more thoughts Building on this last point, it’s tempting to think that all bad things happen more rapidly or are more likely to occur in nano systems than in larger ones, but the reality of the situation is a bit more complex. It’s true that smaller aquariums are inherently less stable than larger systems with respect to temperature and other water parameters (which is why we don’t encourage beginners to start with nanos); however, I believe success or failure with a nano tank ultimately comes down to maintaining a sense of proportionality
The maximum level of acceptable bioload is unique to each system based on a variety of factorsThe bioload in a reef aquarium increases through both the acquisition of new specimens as well as the growth/reproduction of established livestock. So, unless fish and corals are dying in significant numbers (which they shouldn’t be unless there’s a major problem), the bioload in any reef system is usually trending upward. While it’s exciting and rewarding to see our tanks bustling with life, we all know there is a certain threshold beyond which a system contains more organisms than it can reasonably sustain in good health. Unfortunately, there’s no alarm on our tanks that sounds when we’re approaching or surpassing that threshold. There are, however, certain signs that tell us it might be time to back off the bioload by rehoming a specimen or thinning coral colonies.Here are just a few examples: Stubbornly high nitrate/phosphate levels We can’t prevent our livestock from producing waste (not even with little corks!), and we can only limit what we feed our fish and invertebrates to a certain extent. So if your nitrate and phosphate levels remain stubbornly high despite doing everything in your power to minimize nutrient import and maximize its export (using RO/DI-purified tap water, employing a quality protein skimmer, performing copious water changes, etc.), there’s a good chance your system’s bioload is simply too high. Stubbornly low or unstable pH The more animals you have respiring and producing waste in your tank, the more rapidly buffering compounds in the water will be used up (in other words, the lower the alkalinity, or the water’s ability to neutralize acids) and the harder it will be to maintain an appropriately high and stable pH
If there has been a mysterious death in your aquarium, determine the cause before seeking a replacement.In a nutshell, the reason people are drawn to this hobby (not counting the genetic mutation unique to marine aquarists that I can only assume researchers are close to isolating) is to enjoy up-close-and-personal encounters with exotic marine life. In other words, the whole point of this crazy venture of ours is to acquire specimens for our tanks so we can spend as much of our free time as possible viewing and appreciating them—just as the point of taking up golf is to go golfing as often as possible. But one significant difference between aquarium keeping and many other pursuits is that there are certain times when it’s decidedly not in your best interest to engage in one of the core aspects of the hobby—the livestock-acquisition part, that is.Here are five circumstances in which adding another animal is precisely the wrong thing to do. You’ll notice I’ve targeted this post at beginners, but even experienced hobbyists sometimes forget these points or get impatient and add specimens when they really shouldn’t. 1. Before cycling is complete When cycling a new system, you should observe subsequent spikes and declines in ammonia and nitrite levels and then gradual accumulation of nitrate.