5 gallon reef/invert tank conversion


Active member
Hello all,
I have finally gotten back into the hobby a little bit and I am switching my 5 gallon betta tank over to a Pico reef tank. The tank is a standard rectangular 16 in x 8 in base and it is about 11 in tall I think. This is a birthday project. I want to house zoas, pulsing Xenia, various mushrooms, other soft corals and maybe LPS. I want to get a nice cleaner shrimp and possibly a green clown goby perhaps with a blenny. Hermit crabs and snails obviously for cleanup crew. I have already changed the old lights over to a clip-on 48 LED 21 Watt full spectrum light with different color modes and timers. The old hang on the side filter died so I replaced it with a nano 10 canister filter by zoo med. I have ordered a better heater that can be very well controlled. And an extra small adjustable powerhead just for the extra flow. Other dry products like spectrometers are on the way now. Currently the beta still lives in the tank and it's freshwater however within the next couple weeks I will be switching him to a new home and putting in live course sand and rubble as a base and live rock from my local fish store as available when I go by to get it. I will most likely need five pounds of live sand and 5 lb of live rock for the project. I am looking for suggestions about cycling. I was thinking about ghost feeding the tank and letting it cycle naturally with the live rock. Also I'm looking for suggestions and advice on what critters will get along well in such a small tank. I have done a nano tank before but it's been a long time and new products are out. Looking forward to everybody's advice!


Active member
This was before I removed the hang on filter but have the lights on


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RC Staff
Staff member
Welcome back. I'm in a similar situation with a 20 gallon tank I recently setup. It's great to have a tank again. Good luck and keep us updated.


Active member
run can on other side of the hob for extra flow thats laminar but not with the betta cause you will suck it up. id get a pair of gcg if you arent goig to have any acropora. 10 lbs of live rock and then cheap coral will be all that you need. you really just need 10 gal of distilled water and a bag of salt ~$20 , some aragonite sand $20 for 10 lb which is perfect amount (optional but reccomended) 10 lbs of gulf live rock $128 digiten ato $45 (extremely reccomended but if you have a very tight lid that works too and will cut out evap.) the pair of gcg ~$20-$40 and cheap coral depending where you buy it probably like $200 to like fill that thing to the brim with coral.


Premium Member
Hey, welcome to reef keeping. Have fun, it's a great hobby and this forum has lots of knowledgeable folks to help if you need it!