The amazing thing about aquariums is that there are hundreds of set-ups that you can get. Do you like big fish tanks where you can have up to 30 species? You can go for a large saltwater tank. Are you searching for something smaller that is going to make your living room or office space feel and look better? If that is the case, then nano reef tanks are you need. Nano reef aquariums are the most popular set-ups, and there is a good reason for that. They are easy to maintain, cheaper than bigger tanks, and they look outstanding.

The tricky part about getting into aquariums is finding the best tanks. Here is where we come in. Today we are going to present you an ultimate nano reef tank buying guide. We will go over the top ten best options available online, but that’s not all. We will also share a couple of tips on how to find the best nano reef aquarium and answer the internet’s most asked questions about fish tanks.

ProductCapacity (gallons)Dimensions (inches)
MarineLand 5 Gallon Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit MarineLand 5 Gallon Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit511.8 x 11.6 x 17
Marina LED Aquarium Kit Marina LED Aquarium Kit5/10/2020" L x 10" W x 12.5" H
Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium LED Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium LED16/3215 x 16.8 x 17.5
Fluval Sea Evo Saltwater Fish Tank Aquarium Kit Fluval Sea Evo Saltwater Fish Tank Aquarium Kit5/13.520.5 L x 11.6 W x 7.5 H
Lifegard Aquatics Crystal Aquarium Lifegard Aquatics Crystal Aquarium4/10/2413 x 10 x 9
Coralife Fish Tank LED BioCube Aquarium Starter Kits Coralife Fish Tank LED BioCube Aquarium Starter Kits16/3215 x 16.8 x 17.5
Red Sea Max Nano Aquarium Red Sea Max Nano Aquarium2021.4 x 21 x 22
JBJ Nano Cube LED Aquarium JBJ Nano Cube LED Aquarium1217.5 x 17.5 x 15.5
NUVO Fusion 10 Pro - AIO 10 Gallon Aquarium Bundle - Innovative Marine NUVO Fusion 10 Pro - AIO 10 Gallon Aquarium Bundle - Innovative Marine1011.8 x 15 x 13
NUVO Fusion 20 Pro - AIO 20 Gallon Aquarium Bundle - Innovative Marine NUVO Fusion 20 Pro - AIO 20 Gallon Aquarium Bundle - Innovative Marine2023.62 x 15 x 13




We are going to kick things off with the MarineLand 5 Gallon Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit that is the best nano reef tank for beginners. This is a top-rated aquarium with more than 2,500 positive reviews on Amazon, and this is thanks to the fact that it features a stellar design. The design of the nano tank is paired with rounded corners and clear glass that ensures you will always get a perfect view, no matter what angle you are looking from. Furthermore, the manufacturer has equipped the tank with a canopy top that makes it easy to feed the fish, clean the water, and all the other maintenance work.

This is a 5-gallon aquarium, and therefore, it’s an excellent choice for beginners who don’t want to start with a massive aquarium. The beautiful design and capacity are not the only features that make the product stand out, and instead, it is the fact that it ships as a kit. The MarineLand 5 Gallon Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit contains hinged LED lighting, a Rite-Size Z filter, and a 3-stage filtration system that is hidden from view. Therefore, you will not be required to purchase any additional accessories that are needed to set-up a nano reef tank.

Pros:

  • Affordable price;
  • Hinged LED lighting;
  • 5-gallons;
  • Sleek design with rounded corners;
  • Advanced 3-stage filtration system;
  • Clear glass;
  • The canopy makes maintenance work easier;
  • Ideal for beginners.

Cons:

  • The filtration relies on a proprietary mechanical/carbon filter cartridge.

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There are lots of nano reef tanks available for purchase online, and finding the best one is not going to be an easy task. If we had to pick a product that is a great all-round choice for all types of nano set-ups, then we would go with the Marina LED Aquarium Kit. The reason behind this is that this nano reef tank is available in 5-gallons, 10-gallons, and 20-gallons capacity options. You get to choose the size that fits your needs the best. However, this is not the only thing that you will get by going for the Marina LED Aquarium Kit. This is a kit, and it includes a Marina Slim S15 clip-on filter system that features quick-change cartridges.

If you are not sure what additional items you need to buy to ensure that your fish are thriving, then purchasing the Marina LED Aquarium Kit is the best thing that you can do. The nano reef tank contains everything that a novice fish hobbyist needs to keep the fish healthy and happy. You will be getting extra “goodies” such as fish food, water conditioner, fishnet, and daylight LED lighting module. In addition, the nano reef aquarium ships with an Aquarium Care Guide that includes all the advice and guidelines to maintain your aquarium.

Pros:

  • Available in the following size options: 5-gallons, 10-gallons, and 20-gallons;
  • Aquarium Care Guide;
  • Daylight lighting module;
  • Fish food, fishnet, and many other accessories;
  • It contains Fluval Cycle Biological Supplements;
  • Ideal for beginners.

Cons:

  • The LED lights are not remote-controlled.

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Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium LED is a modern nano reef tank for beginners that stands out with a distinct design that features a sleek hood and powerful LED lighting that enhances the colors of your fish. In fact, the lighting system is equipped with an integrated 24-hour timer that provides three independent channels for bright white, sparkling blue, and other color enhancing LEDs. You can set up the lighting system to look any way that you want. The reason why we are dubbing the Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium LED as a modern nano reef tank for beginners is because when we take a look under its
“hood,” we can see that the tank is equipped with a compact and customizable filtration system.

The nano aquarium includes all the components that you need to set up a fish tank. For example, you will get a submersible ump with dual-intake and adjustable return nozzle. If that is not impressive enough, then you should know that the Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium LED tank is bundled with automatic 30-minute sunrise/sunset and 60-minute moonrise/moonset timers. Moreover, the aquarium is available in the following size options: 16-gallons and 32-gallons.

Pros:

  • Available in the following size options: 16-gallons and 32-gallons;
  • Modern design;
  • Integrated 24-hour timer with three independent channels;
  • Color enhancing LEDs;
  • Light functions that replicate a natural day/night cycle;
  • Quiet submersible pump;
  • Dual intake and adjustable return nozzle.

Cons:

  • It uses acrylic and not glass.

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Ask any experienced aquarium hobbyists about what is their top three nano reef tank manufacturers, and Fluval is definitely going to be mentioned on that list. The company is an industry leader, and it has established its brand as a household name by producing high-end products. The Fluval Sea Evo Saltwater Fish Tank Aquarium Kit is the perfect example of that combining a stylish honeycomb design with useful features that make maintenance work a pleasant activity. The honeycomb design features a special filter compartment so that the view is always stellar, no matter where you are looking from. In addition, the fish tank is equipped with a 3-stage filtration system that features oversized mechanical, biological, and chemical Fluval filter media.

The Fluval Sea Evo Saltwater Fish Tank Aquarium Kit is a premium product shipping with an all-aluminum case that is fully waterproof. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about leaks. Not just that, but aluminum is light, and the tank weighs in at only 11 pounds when empty. Some other notable features are the high-output 11000K LED lighting, touch-start day and night illumination, circulation pump with output nozzle, and a multi-functional canopy. The last thing that we want to mention about the Fluval Sea Evo Saltwater Fish Tank Aquarium Kit is that it is available in the 5-gallons and 13.5-gallons size options.

Pros:

  • Available in the following size options: 5-gallons and 13.5-gallons;
  • 3-stage filtration system;
  • Honeycomb design;
  • Aluminum casing;
  • High-output 10000K LED lighting;
  • Touch-start day and night illumination;
  • Multi-functional canopy.

Cons:

  • The base has plastic parts that will deteriorate over time.

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Are you looking for a nano reef tank for beginners that fits in the affordable category? If that is the case, then you are going to love the Lifegard Aquatics Crystal Aquarium that sells for a budget-friendly price. However, the affordable price tag doesn’t mean that you are not getting access to premium features, quite the opposite. The Lifegard Aquatics Crystal Aquarium is bundled with a back filter, submersible pump, bio ball, bottom drain/plug, bottom insulation pad, and many other useful accessories that you would generally have to purchase separately. Also, the back filter is hidden behind a black panel that will enhance the beauty of your fish.

The simple, yet elegant design of the Lifegard Aquatics Crystal Aquarium is perfect for a nano reef tank. The reason behind this is that your species will always be in the center of attention and pair that with the ultra-clear 45-degree precision cut edge tanks, your view will be extraordinary. We also want to highlight that the manufacturer has used invisible glue joints to ensure a sleek design that will look great in any living room or office space. What’s amazing about the Lifegard Aquatics Crystal Aquarium is the fact that it gives you the option to choose the best nano reef tank size for you. Therefore, you will not end up with too much free space in the tank.

Pros:

  • Available in the following size options: 4.14 gallons, 9.98 gallons, and 24 gallons;
  • Budget-friendly price;
  • Includes a back filter that is complete with all accessories;
  • Invisible glue joints;
  • All-black back panel;
  • Elegant design.

Cons:

  • The pump rate could be higher.

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As the product’s name implies, the Coralife Fish Tank LED BioCube Aquarium Starter Kits is designed as a premium bundle that containers everything beginners need to set up their first nano reef tank. The highlight feature of this aquarium is the integrated 24-hour timer that allows users to control the three independent lighting channels (blue-white, sparkling blue, color enhancing LEDS) from anywhere in the room. You can change the lighting without ever having to get up from the couch. That’s not all. The lighting system also features an automatic 30-minute sunrise/sunset and 60-minute moonrise/moonset functions. Your fish will not only look better in the natural day/night light cycle, but they will also feel happier.

You can get the Coralife Fish Tank LED BioCube in the 16-gallons or 32-gallons size options. However, we advise you to go for the smaller option because it is ideal for a nano reef tank. If you take a look at the picture shown above, you will notice that the fish tank is equipped with a feature that we didn’t see on previous products. We are talking about the stylish stand. The stand does a fantastic job of keeping the aquarium safe, and it hides the filtration system. Not just that, but the stand also provides you with a drawer where you can store all the maintenance tools.

Pros:

  • Available in the following size options: 16-gallons and 32-gallons;
  • The lighting replicates the natural day/night cycle;
  • Stylish stand;
  • The built-in filtration system is hidden from view;
  • It includes great tools such as a quiet submersible pump, dual intakes, and an adjustable return nozzle;
  • Rounded corners.

Cons:

  • The stand does not ship assembled.

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If you are looking for an aquarium that sports a stylish design and ships with all the tools that you need for maintenance, then the Red Sea Max Nano Aquarium is your best choice. The design of this fish tank is truly outstanding, combining rimless glass with the latest technology available for aquariums. The lighting system is cleverly positioned above the open-top of the aquarium to provide good lighting that showcases the colors of your nano reef tank. Since we mentioned the open-top, we want to note that it is very handy because it allows for easy access to the fish.

The biggest challenge when setting up a nano reef tank is finding matching components. Fortunately, this is not going to be an issue if you choose to go for the Red Sea Max Nano Aquarium that features all the necessary tools and accessories. The only thing you need to do is find a safe spot to place the tank. After that, you can go ahead and fill it. On a final note, we want to mention that the Red Sea Max Nano Aquarium s equipped with an innovative lighting system, Wi-Fi control, filtration and circulation systems that guarantee the water stays clean at all times.

Pros:

  • Sleek design;
  • Open top for easy access;
  • It includes all the necessary components;
  • Wi-Fi control;
  • Innovative lighting system;
  • The capacity is 20-gallons;
  • It includes a top-off unit.

Cons:

  • The rear filtration system uses 3.5-gallons.

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Whether you are a novice or an aquarium expert, the JBJ Nano Cube LED Aquarium is always a great option. The nano reef aquarium from JBJ Lighting is available in 6-gallons or 12-gallons capacity, and it features a dynamic panoramic view. Therefore, nothing can get in and ruin the view of your nano reef tank. The aquarium measures in at 17.5 x 17.5 x 15.5 inches, and thanks to this, you will have an easy time finding a safe spot to place it. You don’t need to purchase a cabinet or dedicated stand for it.

One of the highlight features that the JBJ Nano Cube LED Aquarium offers is the 3-stage filtration system. The water is guaranteed to be clean at all times, and if this isn’t impressive enough, then you should know that the aquarium is equipped with a transparent filter basket. We also want to point out that the manufacturer has fitted the JBJ Nano Cube LED Aquarium with a high-intensity LED illumination system that is designed to make the colors of your fish stand out even more. There are different intensity levels that you can select in order to find the best lighting.

Pros:

  • Available in the following size options: 6-gallons and 12-gallons;
  • High-intensity LED illumination system;
  • Transparent filter basket;
  • 3-stage filtration system;
  • Classic design;
  • Dynamic panoramic view.

Cons:

  • You only have one plug for all lighting modes.

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The NUVO Fusion 10 Pro has everything that you need to build a thriving ecosystem for your fish and coral. The aquarium features a capacity of 10-gallons, and it sports a beautiful design that is paired with a glass thickness of 6mm to ensure that you never have to deal with leaks. In fact, the manufacturer took extra precautions against leaks and equipped the nano reef tank with a built-in acrylic overflow wall. The great thing about this aquarium is the fact that it ships in a bundle. The bundle contains lots of “goodies,” such as a 200-micron filter sock, rubber leveling mat, and glass cleaner, for example.

The annoying thing about setting up a new aquarium is struggling to assemble the parts. Here is where the NUVO Fusion 10 Pro comes in and saves the day. The aquarium ships semi-assembled so that you don’t have to spend more than thirty minutes putting everything together. Not just that, but you will also get access to integrated hardware, hex torque wrench, and all the other tools that you need for assembly. In addition, the NUVO Fusion 10 Pro features a modular design so that you can customize the hardware to your liking.

Pros:

  • It ships as a bundle (lots of accessories);
  • Modular design;
  • Easy setup;
  • Corrosion-resistant;
  • Leak-proof;
  • HDF adjustable shelf;
  • Built-in acrylic overflow wall;
  • The capacity is 10-gallons;

Cons:

  • The filter sometimes vibrates loudly.

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On the final spot, we have another fish tank from NUVO. The NUVO Fusion 20 Pro is a premium aquarium bundle that features a capacity of 20-gallons and a glass thickness of 6mm. What sets this product apart from all the other aquariums reviewed today is the fact that it uses low-iron glass with beveled and polished edges. Nothing is ever going to ruin your view. To make things even better, the NUVO Fusion 20 Pro is paired with a MightJet DC Pump that fits perfectly in the back-filter chamber. The pump runs quiet, and it features two return flow modes with nine-speed settings.

Since the NUVO Fusion 20 Pro is a bundle, then it should come as no surprise that it provides lots of useful accessories. The MicroMag magnetic Glass Cleaner is the perfect example of that. The cleaner is the best tool that you can use to get rid of aquarium algae and all other debris. Moreover, the NUVO Fusion 20 Pro is made from 100% recyclable aluminum, and it packs an HDF adjustable height shelf that is going to make it super easy to find the right viewing spot for your aquarium.

Pros:

  • The capacity is 20-gallons;
  • 6mm glass thickness;
  • Built from 100% recyclable aluminum;
  • HDF adjustable shelf;
  • Easy setup;
  • Corrosion-resistant;
  • Integrated hardware;
  • Modular design;
  • Color: matte black.

Cons:

  • The pump is loud, and the filter socks are difficult to use.

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Nano Reef Tank Buying Guide

Let’s go ahead and check out the most important features that you need to search for in the best nano reef tank:

Capacity

Since you are interested in building a nano reef tank, then the capacity of the aquarium is the most crucial feature. First, ask yourself how many species do you want to fit inside the fish tank? After coming up with an answer that you are happy about, the next step is to look for a nano reef tank that has the necessary capacity to hold all your species. However, we do need to mention that smaller tanks are not easier to maintain, quite the opposite. This is because smaller tanks get dirty faster.

The Filtration System

We previously mentioned that smaller tanks get dirty faster. This is why having an excellent filtration system is essential. A great filtration system is going to make sure that the water is clean and that your fish are healthy. Not just that, but it will cut down on how much time maintenance work takes. We highly recommend the Fluval Sea Evo Saltwater Fish Tank Aquarium Kit that ships with a 3-stage filtration system.

Glass or Acrylic

Another important question that you need to ask yourself is either to go for glass or acrylic? Both materials have their pros and cons, and we are going to present them below so that you find it easier to make the right choice.

Glass

If you do some research on aquariums, you will quickly notice that glass is the most popular option. The reason behind this is that glass is cheap, and it makes it possible for the manufacturers to lower the price. However, there is a big downside that you need to take into consideration. Glass shatters easily, and aquariums that use it are available only in square or rectangular shapes.

Acrylic

On the other hand, we have acrylic that stands out with its versatility. Nano reef tanks that use acrylic are available in all types of unique shapes that enable dynamic panoramic viewing. The JBJ Nano Cube LED Aquarium is a great example here. To make things even more impressive, acrylic is 17 stronger than regular glass and very clear. The con is that while acrylic might be more durable, it gets scratches really fast.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are nano reef tanks hard to keep?

No, nano reef tanks are not hard to keep. The only difference, when compared to regular aquariums, is that you need to pay more attention to maintenance so that things don’t get out of hand. Otherwise, you will need to take out the water to do a proper cleaning. A high-performance filtration system is your best friend.

What is a nano reef tank?

If you are new to aquariums and you are still wondering what classifies as a “nano reef tank,” then you should know that it is their capacity. This type of aquarium holds miniature reefs and is usually under 30-gallons. Furthermore, nano reef tanks are ideal for housing corals, invertebrates, and small fish.

Does a nano tank need a protein skimmer?

Considering that nano reef aquariums are small and have a low volume of water, you will need to use a powerful skimmer in order to make sure that your inhabitants are healthy. A good alternative here is a filtration system that guarantees the water is always in pristine quality.

What fish are good for nano tanks?

Here are the top 10 best freshwater fish for nano tanks: betta fish, dwarf puffer, celestial pearl danios, bumblebee goby, sparkling gourami, Endler’s livebearers, least killifish, Norman’s lamp eye killifish, crystal red shrimp, red cherry shrimp. The rule of thumb that you need to follow when selecting fish for your nano reef tank is to look for small ones that are not very active because they will not have lots of room to swim.

How many fish can there be in a nano tank?

First off, we want to highlight that the answer to this question depends on what type of fish you are planning to place in your nano tank. Generally, you want to have only 4-6 fish in a nano tank. If you are going for something bigger that has a capacity of 20-30 gallons, then you could place some more species.