Picture of A low maintenance/self sustaining Saltwater ecosystem
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I have always been fascinated with miniature ecosystems. When I became interested in saltwater aquariums, I was always attracted to the smaller systems. At first many would say that it was difficult to maintain a small aquarium. After experimenting with many setups I came up with a setup that is easy to maintain and self sustaining for long periods of time. Here are the instructions in how to create one.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
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The most important component of the build is the PJ reef lamp. This lamp can be purchased at PJreefs.com. It includes special LED lights that allows for corals to grow and thrive. 

The other required components are a:
- Hand towel
- Water pipette 
- Tweezers
- Gel super glue
- Saltwater
- Live rock
- Corals and macro algae

Optional items if you want to make your own saltwater,
- Stirrer
- Saltwater mix
- RO/DI water
- Refractometer
- Small pipette

jamob2 years ago
Wow that's not bad at all! Wish this was available a year ago before I threw $400 into my nano. Great idea!
rafysart6 months ago
do you still have it alive ? if so. how did you did it without a filter or water pump???
jbarber86 months ago
hey Davef2, thank you so much for the ible! It's very rare to see one of this quality, that seems to be informative, but in the end, turns out to be an infomercial... Keep up the great work, it's unbelievable that its possible to buy some live rock, which is already cultured, stick it in a $.50 cent jar, then buy coral, that someone else spent the time to raise, and only pay $100 for the "whole setup". Thank you again for your contribution to this DIY community. Only one problem I see at this point, is there a number you can post for free so that people can purchase these $100 mason jars? I'd hate for you to lose any commission opps...
slo5oh1 year ago

This instructable reads like a sales pitch for PJ reefs. I personally don't see this working with NO water flow, but anyone can buy a glass cookie jar and a full spectrum LED bulb (look for 6500k to 10000k on ebay) and try it on their own. Live rock can be purchased at most mom and pop fish stores.

pjreefs (author)  slo5oh8 months ago

The Instructables was made for people that like to DIY things, and was not intended as a sales pitch, just straight instructions on how to make one.

Exactly my plan :)

DaveF28 months ago

It should be noted that you need to use Super Glue >GEL<. Not plain super glue. Super Glue Gel has Cyanoacrylate that give it the ability to cure (dry) underwater and will not poison your inhabitants.

The lack of any flow greatly disturbs me as well. The live rock acts as natural filtration as the water flows through the rock. No flow = no real filtration. Yes, it could be argued that there's SOME filtration as the bacteria on the surface interacts with the water in direct proximity to it, but it will not filter the bulk of the water.

Source: I'm the vice president of the Chicago Marine Aquarium Society.


pjreefs (author)  DaveF28 months ago
Hi Dave, I documented my idea in nano-reef.com a few years ago and has quite an interesting story, here is the thread. The original aquarium is still alive and gives me a reason to continue with PJ reefs.

djsmiley2k1 year ago

Looks awesome and easy - I'd like to point out you should never really have any fish in a setup of this size, but you can get lots of extra animals who come along for free when you get live rock - some are really interesting to see! :)

neetz1 year ago

Hi! I would love to buy one of these , I have always wanted a saltwater aquarium but I don't have the room or time for a huge one! Do you have to have experience with saltwater aquariums to keep one? Is it hard to maintain? I have only kept freshwater aquariums. What do you feed the coral, animals?

thank you!

Very neat idea. I have one concern/question. We know that corals rely on water movement to supply them with oxygen and food so what does this system do about water flow and gas exchange?

I'd like to know about this also.
deth2all1 year ago
Sweet, now the fun part, trying to find a way to build one myself for cheaper...
jamob2 years ago
How much did the cylinder tank and lamp cost?
pjreefs (author)  jamob2 years ago
Hey jamob, it cost $100.

The live rock and corals are aquaculture.