Shallow Reef Tank

Shallow Reef Tank

Once viewed as only useful as lagoon or frag tanks, shallow reef tanks have experienced a surge in popularity among aquarium enthusiasts in recent years.  While there is no firm definition of what makes a shallow reef tank, generally tanks that have a depth that is less than their back to front dimensions are considered shallow tanks.  At Reef Casa, we offer a number of Shallow Reef Tanks for reefers of all experience levels.  So why is behind the rise in popularity of shallow tanks and are there any drawbacks to this style of tank?

One reason for the popularity of shallow reef tanks are the interesting types of unique aquatic environments that can be created.  For example, a shallow tank makes it much easier to include mangroves or macro algaes that reach the water’s surface.  Ever wanted to keep fiddler or soldier crabs and need rockwork that will rise about the water’s surface?  A shallow reef tank makes the perfect canvas for a one of a kind tank.  Shallow tanks can also be used to set up a traditional reef system as well, and since the rim of the tank is lower they are great for getting that beautiful “top down” look that all reefers love.

Shallow reef tanks are also generally less expensive to set up with gear and stock with corals than more traditionally shaped tanks.  For example, a shallow reef tank will not require as powerful a light as a deeper tank, since PAR levels are dramatically reduced by water depth.  Similarly, less water also means that the tank will require smaller wavemakers, and potentially even a smaller return pump.  It will also mean that bills for salt and other additives will also be reduced.  And, of course, a shallower tank will require fewer corals in order to appear “full” and will reach the “beautifully filled in tank” stage much sooner.  The one downside of shallow tanks is that they can be somewhat hard to set up as true mixed reefs, due the fact that it can be difficult to meet the different lighting needs of SPS, LPS and soft corals in a shallower tank. However, a mixed reef is undeniably difficult in a tank of any depth.

Finally, shallow reef tanks are far easier to maintain than deeper tanks.  Imagine being able to trim corals, flip over snails and move zoa rocks, all without getting your sleeves wet!  With a shallow reef tank maintenance is far simpler and less messy.  No more stools, wet sleeves or water on the floor when performing routine maintenance and adding corals!


One of the great things about the reefing hobby is the wide variety of tank styles that are available.  The emerging popularity of shallow reef tanks gives hobbyists one more option to create the tank of their dreams or a unique project tank.  If you have any questions about shallow tanks please reach out to us, we are happy to help!