My 5.5 gallon reef was one of my favorite tank I’ve had. Even though it was small, I was able to have the corals really thrive, so much that I actually set up a 10 gallon frag tank. Eventually I ended up breaking this tank down and moving everything into my 20 gallon long reef. I originally set this tank up at my desk at work in July 2013 after I took home my 2.5 dwarf puffer tank. The tank had a custom built wooden canopy top and a built in refugium.
The wooden top was divided to allow for an alternating light cycle. An alternating light cycle is sometimes beneficial because it helps maintain the pH because instead of biological processes ramping up during the day and slowing down during the night, you have a constant flow.
The refugium part was divided into two sections, one part where I had the pump and heater, and the other I had chaeto, live rock, sand, and miracle mud. The refugium and the whole tank was teeming with pods and other small creatures. This tank had no protein skimmer, and even without one the water stayed crystal clear and I never had any algae problems.
The lighting for this tank was actually the same light I used on my dwarf puffer tank. It’s a Marineland 11 inch LED light. The light is not listed as a reef light; however I’ve been able to successfully keep a variety of soft and LPS hard corals. I did try a low light SPS coral, but I think the light just didn’t have enough power unfortunately. I also added a blue LED light strip just to bring out the colors of the corals in the tank.
Aquarium: 5.5 Gallon Fish Tank
Heater: Marineland Visi-Therm Heater
Pump: Rio+ 800
Lighting: Marineland LED 11 inch Light & GloFish Blue LED Waterproof Light
Filtration: Biological – Reef Miracle Mud, Cheato, Live Rock, Live Sand
Algae Scrapper: Mag-Float Mini
1 Scarlet Red Hermit Crab
1 Trochus Snail
1 Nassarius Snail
1 Gold Ring Cowrie (Was a hitchhiker that lived in my refugium until he escaped. Hasn’t caused any issues so I let him stay)
1 Blood Red Fire Shrimp (Sadly died December 2015)
Candy Cane Coral
Pulsing Xenia Coral
Kenya Tree Coral
Mandarin Dragonet! (Before you get angry, read my article about how I successfully kept my mandarin in my 5.5 gallon reef)