The One Gallon Bonsai Nano Reef

The One Gallon Bonsai Nano Reef
This amazing one gallon bonsai reef aquarium — created by YouTube user Ocellaris71 — is home to two clown fish, one piece of live rock and carefully managed green algae.

When you first see this nano reef you may think that it was setup just long enough to take the video because there’s no way a tank like this would last long right? You would be wrong. Ocellaris71 has successful managed this eXtreme nano reef aquarium since he first set it up on Feb. 14th, 2011. The two clown fish in the tank were born on Jan. 1, 2011 and were introduced to the bonsai reef on March 3, 2011.

I contacted Ocellaris71 and asked him how he has been able to successfully maintain this nano environment all year. Here are the details of his setup in his own words (Ocellaris71 lives in a small town on the coast of Italy):

Sorry for my english…. I use Google translator and some school memories. :-)

These are the details of the current and final setup:

  • Acrylic tank – external size (inch): 8.87 x 5.71 x 11.23(h) (cm 22.5 x 14.5 x 28.5 h)
  • 1 gallon (4,2 liters) of real sea water (taken in the Adriatic sea just 20 meters from the beach)
  • Weight fully set up and working : 41 oz (5.8 Kg)
  • Lamp more powerful as the original: from 5w (white-blue) to a 7w -6500°K (to increase the growth of green algae which use nitrates and phosphates removing them from the water)
  • The Lamp holders was increased reflecting surface with aluminum reflective adhesive tape and heat dissipation through additional holes (in summer, need to lift the cover a little to increase the dissipation of heat produced by the lamp and the filter pump.)
  • 2 Watt filter pump 40 gallons per hour (150 l/h) (flow reduced and deflected to the top by a modified tube that has been adapted to the pump).
  • Undergravel filter (Personally improved by adding specific permanent substrate for colonization of aerobic and anaerobic selected bacteria)
  • Heater 10W plastic preset at 77°F (25°C)
  • 11 oz. (300gr.) medium coralline sand (granulometry: 3-8 mm).
  • 9 oz. (250gr.) excellent quality live rock.


Every week:
Partial water change only 0.08 gallon (0.3 litres!)
Refilling the water evaporated

Every 2-3 weeks:
Gently clean the walls of the tank. I use a special weak magnet modified (by adding a cloth for cleaning eyeglasses) to avoid scratching the acrylic tank during cleaning. The walls of the tank does not require frequent cleaning: lots of algae in the upper part of the live rock absorb most of the nutrients such as phosphates and nitrates by decreasing the formation of algae on the walls.

Every 4-6 months (major cleaning and maintenance):
1) 50% water change: 0.5 gallon (2 litres)
2) Rinsing the sand in the water to change
3) Brushing part of the live rock (with a toothbrush)
4) Light trimming of the green algae (with bonsai scissors)
5) Clean the pump rotor
6) Gently clean the whole tank (coralline algae removed using a credit card)

The bonsai reef was set up for the first time on 14.02.2011.
These are the two little clownfish that populate the “Bonsai Reef” from 27.03.2011
They were born in the hatching of 20.01.2011
Look at the size for an exceptionally small Amphiprion Ocellaris of one year old, possibly because they are grown in a very small tank and a specific and controlled diet.
The Female is the largest while the male is the smallest.
Cans of CocaCola are included in the video to compare the size of the tank! :-)

My next challenge is to lay eggs at this miniature pair of clown fish in the Bonsai Reef.


Keep updated with the progress of the bonsai reef by subscribing to Ocellaris71 on YouTube (

Comments (1)

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  1. art J says:

    that’s cool do you have a update on how your fish are doing and that bonzi tree i wanna try to do the same thing plz reply back with some info ……THANK YOU!!!!!!