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Saltwater Nano-Cube

A brand-spanking-new 12-gallon nano-cube sits in the AFI editorial office, and you can help me stock it. One hint, though, it’s going to be a saltwater setup.

Posted: February 25, 2011

By Clay Jackson

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Well, it finally happened. I acquired a JBJ 12-gallon nano-cube for Aquarium Fish International’s editorial office here in Irvine, California. Now, what to put in it? I’ve already determined to go the saltwater route, partly because out of the four tanks currently residing on various editors’ desktops all are freshwater setups.

I’m thinking along the lines of about a 2- to 3-inch-deep crushed coral sandbed, two pieces of eco-friendly live rock that when pushed together form an archway, some mushroom corals (Actinodiscus spp.), one orange spotted goby (Amblyeleotris guttata) and three bumble bee snails (Engina sp.) for clean up.

The “shrooms,” goby and bumble bees are easy to care for, all hail from either the Indo-Pacific or Central Pacific and as a result enjoy roughly the same water parameters. While the gobies max out at 3.5 inches and the snails stay small (a half inch), the mushrooms have the potential to grow fast and get sizable, at least for a nano; however, I can always cull and share them with my friends at the Southern California Marine Aquarium Society.

Here are the care requirements for my proposed livestock (thanks to the LiveAquaria website for these values):

Actinodiscus parameters: moderate lighting and water flow, water temperature in the 70s, hardness between 8 to 12, pH between 8.1 and 8.4, specific gravity between 1.023 and 1.025. Manufactures its own food photosynthetically but also benefits from supplemental feedings of plankton or brine shrimp, which are fed to polyps individually.

Amblyeleotris guttata parameters: minimum tank size of 10 gallons, reef friendly, water temperature is the same, hardness and pH the same, specific gravity begins at 1.020 and goes up to 1.025. Requires a varied diet of fresh or frozen Mysis, brine shrimp and table shrimp; feed twice a day.

Engina sp. parameters: reef friendly, same parameters as the mushrooms, foragers that eat detritus from the live rock and sandbed but also benefit from supplemental feedings of meaty foods.

Let me know what you think of my initial choices. If you have some other ideas, I’d be interested in reading what you have to say. Just leave your ideas in the comment field following this article. I’ll let everyone know what I ultimately stock the new AFI office setup with. I for one am looking forward to your suggestions.

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Reader Comments

Hans    Levittown, PA

10/10/2011 9:13:47

Keep a watchful eye on your lights and cooling fan. I had a 29 gallon biocube and something malfunctioned in the lighting area and it set my house on fire. Thankfully no one was home, but it did cause us to be out of our home for four months. Also a friend of mine had his cooling fan burn out on him and his lights started to melt the insides. Fortunately he caught it before any further damage was done.

Ross    Cordova, MD

5/29/2011 10:23:35

I love the idea of a nano reef, now the question is... Where do i get a Tank for free?

Kathy Vitaris    Moose Pass, AK

4/20/2011 9:37:17 PM

I really like the idea of the shrimp/goby combo however after reading of a pair in a much larger tank that the burrowing of the shrimp was extensive - will the 12 gal be large enough to accommodate that behavior? I never have gone saltwater but I hope to someday soon and I am following your setup with interest :)

Scott    Key Largo, FL

4/20/2011 7:48:58

I like most of your choices. I think the goby/shrimp combo would be great. I think you will need to add more "cleaners". The 3 bumble bee snails will not be enough. I have used small atlantic blue leg hermit crabs, but a pacific equivalent should work just as well. I would also hold off on the "hard" corals till the tank has a chance to settle and reaches a balance. Enjoy!!

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