Small SPS Aquariums


It's all about the flow
Ok so heres the deal everyone im thinking of starting a small sps project im thinking its going to involve something like 30 gallons of water and t-5s, high flow..ect. I have had sps for over 3 years now and i feel confident at my abiltys to care for them, i just have not really ever attemped something on this small of a scale. Any ideas on what will help and what not to do. The tank will be skimmerless, bb, HO t-5s and a 30x turnover.


New member
BB and skimmerless don't normaly go together very well, unless the tank is also fishless and the rock is well cooked.



It's all about the flow
Well having such a small tank i didnt plan to keep fish in it. all i would be able to keep is some sort of small goby....maybe a damsel or pseudo


Getting back into it!
Not BB 20L "needed" fish and the feeding that goes with them. Without the fish, coral health (color, growth, PE, etc.) went downhill after about 3-4 weeks in the system. Too sterile is my hypothesis.

Try for info on small SPS reefs. I had a very successful 5.5ga/70w MH with close to 25 frags in it.

EDIT: I added a dottyback and clown goby initally, and I'm planning on a couple perc. clowns in the next few weeks.


New member
have a look in my journal i just start a 30g tank :) very compacted thought as said be4 i think skimmer is very important for a BB


Premium Member
i used to ahve 10gal and 20gal SPS tanks. i would add fish and add a GOOD skimmer. seems like that is the best results.



New member
Very true. In a barebottom tank there is very little anaerobic bacteria. Without a skimmer its going to be tough to keep the nitrates low. I say go with a skimmer, just my opinion though.


New member
I've recently moved many SPS over to a 37. It is hard!!!! Its really hard to measure out alk buffer. Its a LOT easier with a larger tank. Also salinity fluctuations are much more difficult to control. I added too much alk buffer one night and was lucky to only have one colony RTN on me.

IMO you have to be more on top of your testing with smaller volumes of water.


New member
Good skimmer and a sump that is small enough to have a high water level swing so that a auto-topoff is more accurate. I have run small BB tanks with no fish and a skimmer, you would be suprised what comes out. But this also leads to much poor-er color over time. Keep one fish, keep it well fed, and SKIM.

just my .02c



New member
i have been running a 20L that is primarily SPS with a sandbed. PRetty decent, but I have had a few setbacks (don't we all?) such as red bugs, heater failure, and getting the calcium/alk situated. With a lot of SPS and 2 clams I had to use kalk water for all my topoff, and it is working great now.

The only thing I would change is having a sump. The HOB remora just doesn't cut it for a sandbed nano and SPS.


Getting back into it!
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=6947881#post6947881 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by gjuarez3
Very true.

You misunderstood my point of view. I wasn't talking about not having a skimmer (although do-able). I was talking about having "no" fish.


New member
Hi, I have 2 nano reefs of 10g and recently 1 galon with sps and lps for 10 months now. No skimmer.

The growing rate of acropora (blue hairy acro) is near a cm per month. The Galaxea has developed 20-30 new colonies all around the original polyps. Ricordeas and specially zoanthyds grow rate is huge.

As I was experimenting the 10g has DSB, and the 4g is clean of sand, both of course fishless except 2 wurdemanni in the 10g

Water changes of 1g / month, I use live food (artemia, fish, crab eggs, etc) and coraliquid to feed corals. Growing rates are good, NOx consistently indetectable. Never had cyanos, or algae explossions, and even the dsb is clean as the first day.

I believe dont using skimmer is the reason a have a huge amount of criptofauna in my systems (specially in the 10g DSB) Tons of mysids, microstars, small worms af many kinds, gammarus, etc etc. And the great thing is that of course many of them fall in the corals mouths, what is the objective of the experiment. I've fonded a huge amount of fitoplacton in the surface of the water in the microscope.

But of course exists a bad side. Well, in fact 2, one consequence of the other. Basically evaporation and hot.
Kh and CA are quite easy to maintain if you pay attention. -In fact you can easily change the whole water if necessary.

But this tiny systems run near the 86F fronteer very very easily. And of course the issue evaporation comes with salinity changes.

This is my experience at least. If you are able to pay small but consistent and continuos attention to your system, is ok.
SPS and LPS (and of course other corals, will grow) but keep in mind they are very demanding systems.



New member
I just finished changing over most of my 29gal to SPS. I've got to admit I wasn't quite prepared for the cal/alk increase, but with Randy's 2pt additives it's been pretty easy to deal with. for the past year I've had a couple of montis and a couple of acros that were growing under 2x24wT-5 and a 55w PC. I was getting really good growth on everything so I just upgraded to 6x24W T-5. I think it will be a couple of months to know if everything is going to be happy or not (I've got some pretty demanding frags like the Org.Tort). Right now I'm running skimmerless with a 5gal HOB fuge stuffed with macro, for three years like this I haven't had any problems with keeping my nitrates low, but I also only have 1 midas blenny and don't plan on any more fish.


It's all about the flow
Okay i have a few more ideas on the tank and what it will consist of:

tank: 20H

Light: 4x24W HO t-5 I know this is the wrong place to ask but what color bulbs and where do i get them at?

Flow: 2x MJ 900

Filter: HOB small CPR refugium with a small amount of sand and var. macro algea

Skimmer: im still thinking no

Fish: starki damsel and/or royal gramma

Top off: via dosing pump I have found salinity to be a very important factor with keeping sps


New member
Brian, I've gotten all my T-5 stuff from They are really nice there and do a great job packing the bulbs for shiping. With a 4x24w retro I would go with
2 x 24W 11000K Aquablue Plus T5 HO Fluorescent
2 x 24W Actinic/Blue Plus T5 HO Fluorescent
This will give you a white look with a blue tint kind of like a 15k MH. On mysetup I've got 5 bulbs over the tank and one over the HOB fuge. Over the tank I run the bulbs in this order

11000k Aquabule Plus
Actinic/Blue Plus
6000K Midday Sun T5 HO Fluorescent
Actinic/Blue Plus
11000k Aquablue Plus

The Aquablue Plus sounds blue, but it's actually pretty white light. I threw the Midday Sun in mine just to increase the spectrum that my tank gets, if I was to replace it I'd probably get another 11k. My next project will be to make a skimmer out of the intake portion of my CPR HOB fuge, when I get it done I'll post some pics just incase you later find you want one but don't have the room.