10 Gallon Fish Tank Kit – The BEST Cheap Nano Reef Aquarium Setup

This 10 gallon fish tank kit won’t break the bank nor will it be a chore to maintain. Purchasing the right nano reef aquarium kit equipment from the start will make your life easier and the design of this kit is to get you set up for success. A 10 gallon fish tank is more challenging than say a 50 gallon fish tank due to the small amount of water. Small water volumes are much more volatile for your aquarium critters so being consistent with maintenance is VERY important. The great thing about a small tank though is that everything is cheaper and regular maintenance is easier although it will be more frequent.

If you’re considering getting into the saltwater aquarium hobby, there are a couple articles you probably should at least skim over to ensure you’re reasonably up-to-speed on what’s involved:

10 Gallon Fish Tank Kit

IM Nuvo 10 Gallon Fish Tank

10 Gallon Fish Tank:

Innovative Marine Fusion Nano 10

This 10 gallon fish tank includes a small sump area in the back of the tank. It’s an ideal design for a 10 gallon nano reef tank.

Kessil A80

LED Light:

Kessil A80 w/Gooseneck Mount

This small LED light is very powerful and perfectly suited for a nano aquarium of this size. Kessil lights are known for their quality of build and light output. If you know you’re going to go with a more demanding tank with light-hungry corals you can step up to the Kessil A160 or A360 or an AquaIllumination Prime HD. If you’re curious about learning more about LED reef tank lights check out LED Aquarium Lighting Review & Guide – 5 Best Reef LED Light Brands.

Light Controller:

Kessil Spectral Controller

Unless you pony up for a Neptune Apex or other Kessil-compatible aquarium controller you’ll want to pick up the Spectral Controller for adjusting and scheduling your light.

Eheim Jager Aquarium Heater

Aquarium Heater:

Ehiem Jager 50 Watt Heater

Ehiem Jager heaters are my go-to heater for their reliability. That said, heaters are some of the most failure-prone devices on your aquarium and I’d recommend picking up an Inkbird Temperature Controller to turn the heater on and off and use the thermostat in the heater itself as a failsafe. It’s a very inexpensive device and if you have issues with too much heat you can have it control a fan to circulate air over the top of the water.

Tunze Nano Osmolator 3152

Auto Top Off:

Tune Nano Osmolator 3152

Fluctuations in water parameters can happen quickly in tanks this small. Having a good auto top off is a no brainer. Tunze makes very high quality products and their Nano ATO is no exception.

Innovative Marine Nuvo Filter Media

Filter Media:

Innovative Marine 3 Stage Filter Media

This filter media system is specifically for Fusion Nano 10 gallon aquarium. You don’t have to go this route but mechanical filtration and replacing the filter pads monthly is a solid route to go.

Innovative Marine Aqua Gadget Ghost Desktop Protein Skimmer

Protein Skimmer:

Innovative Marine Ghost Desktop Skimmer

The design of this protein skimmer is for the Fusion Nano 10 gallon fish tank as well. A protein skimmer is a must in my mind. It works by pulling dissolved organics out of the water before they have a chance to break down and turn into harmful ammonia, nitrate, and nitrate.

Innovative Marine Spin Stream Nozzle

Flow Nozzle:

Innovative Marine Spin Stream Nozzle

Also specifically for Innovative Marine aquariums. The Spin Stream provides random flow to better stir up debris.

Thermometer:

SODIAL Glass Saltwater Aquarium Thermometer and Hydrometer

A good thermometer is a must and this one is super cheap and also doubles as a hydrometer so you can check on your salinity.

If you’re just going to go with a fish only with live rock (FOWLR) setup this should cover you well. If adding corals, you may want to tweak these or maybe add a few items to meet your specific needs. An aquarium controller like the Neptune Apex would be very helpful although a little expensive. Dosing pumps are great if you have corals that need calcium and you intend to dose two-part like Seachem Reef Fusion. You’ll need to weigh what a product offers versus it’s cost. To keep the cost down on this kit the focus is on FOWLR setups.

If you’re just going to go with a fish only with live rock (FOWLR) setup this should cover you well. If adding corals, you may want to tweak these or maybe add a few items to meet your specific needs. An aquarium controller like the Neptune Apex would be very helpful although a little expensive. Dosing pumps are great if you have corals that need calcium and you intend to dose two-part like Seachem Reef Fusion. You’ll need to weigh what a product offers versus it’s cost. To keep the cost down on this kit the focus is on FOWLR setups.

Nitrogen Cycle

If you’re new to saltwater aquariums you’ll want to read up on the nitrogen cycle. I’ll keep it brief and simple. The nitrogen cycle is when biological matter breaks down in your tank via bacteria. Organic matter breaks down into ammonia first. Then other bacteria breaks the ammonia down into nitrite. After that, other bacteria breaks nitrite down into nitrate. Finally another bacteria breaks nitrate down into nitrogen gas which then bubbles out of your aquarium. The bacteria needs to establish so that the cycle can be effective “prior” to adding your fish and other critters. Live rock in your aquarium contains the beneficial bacteria. Purchase some live rock and place it in your aquarium and monitor your nitrate levels over the course of a week or so. Add very small amounts of food so there’s a little for the bacteria to eat and break down. When your nitrate levels drop to near zero you’re good to go!

Stocking Your 10 Gallon Fish Tank

10 gallons is a fairly small container. Also, considerations need to be made for compatibility between fish, invertebrates, and corals that you might also add. This article titled Reef Safe Fish and Invertebrates – Top 10 Best Options for Each is a good read on this topic but it’s not specifically aquariums as small as 10 gallons. Here’s a short list of some suggestions specific to a tank this small:

Fish

Clownfish

Clownfish are very hardy fish although a bit of a stretch for a 10 gallon fish tank but still quite doable. There are an amazing variety of clownfish to choose from. Tank raised clowns will be more hardy than those captured in the wild.

firefish

Firefish

A gorgeous and hardy fish and ideal for a 10 gallon fish tank. Typical Firefish are a vibrant orange and white with a long dorsal fin. They also come in purple and exquisite variations which are even more stunning.

Neon Goby

Neon Goby

A very small fish with an electric blue stripe. In the wild they feed on parasites found on other fish but will need to be fed a carnivorous diet in the home aquarium.

Invertebrates

sexy-shrimp

Sexy Shrimp

The Sexy Shrimp is a small shrimp that can be kept in a group in a 10 gallon fish tank. They are quite the adorable little shrimp and a very entertaining addition. Carnivorous fish should be avoided when keeping sexy shrimp because they are small enough to be easily eaten.

Pom Pom Crab

Pom Pom Crabs are amazing little crabs. They carry a small anemone in each claw which they use for defense. This symbiotic relationship is also good for the anemone as it gets to eat the crabs leftovers.

Small Hermit Crab

A very small fish with an electric blue stripe. In the wild they feed on parasites found on other fish but will need to be fed a carnivorous diet in the home aquarium.

Corals

Zoanthids

These small polyp corals come in an amazing variety of incredibly vivid colors.

mushrooms

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are extremely hardy corals that come in drab to quite compelling variations. They can sometimes grow quite rapidly in certain conditions.

green-star-polyps

Green Star Polyps

Green Star Polyps are beautiful little flower-like polyps that grow very well in the reef aquarium.

Nano Reef Aquarium Maintenance

Daily

In addition to feeding you’ll want to attend to coralline algae or any other algae build up on the glass or elsewhere. A good tool set for daily maintenance includes a good magnetic glass cleaner and some long tools for getting into those difficult to reach places.

Weekly

Use a turkey baster to blast the corals to remove build up of debris. Stir sand up to get debris into the water column and out of the sand. Siphon 2 gallons of tank water and replace with new saltwater. Be sure that you get your new saltwater up to the temperature of your aquarium before replacing it because it can put too much stress on the delicate inhabitants.

Monthly

Finally, siphon out debris in the sump area of the aquarium and replace filter pads.

Additional Nano Reef Aquarium Kit Suggestions

  • First of all, depending on what you stock your aquarium with you may want to add a reactor or two to help keep nitrates and phosphates down. A carbon reactor and a GFO (granular ferric oxide) reactor. A biopellet reactor would also be a worthwhile consideration.
  • Go slow with any changes whether it be adjusting your lighting, adding corals, fish, or invertebrates, or changing out filtering methods.
  • When things look like they’re not going well do a water change. Consider getting a RO/DI filter so you can make your own freshwater for auto top offs and saltwater for water changes.
  • Finally, don’t procrastinate. Procrastination with a tank this small will lead to trouble fast.

In Conclusion – 10 Gallon Nano Reef Tank Kit

Nano Aquariums are more of a commitment than larger aquariums. They require more frequent attention but the effort involved is lower. The cost may also be lower initially although they can end up being as expensive as larger aquariums due to the more frequent maintenance expenses. Additionally, you may find you need to spend extra on dosing certain chemicals to maintain more demanding corals.

If you’ve never maintained a saltwater aquarium before you can definitely do a 10 gallon fish tank but you may have an easier time with something larger like a 50 gallon aquarium with a decent sized sump. If that sounds more appealing check out the following articles for information on larger aquariums and a larger suggested complete reef tank kit setup:

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