A nano-tank is an all-in-one aquarium system. They are great for aquarium enthusiasts of all experience levels. All-in One tanks typically come with filters and aquarium bodies. Lights and hoods come on many units too. Nano-tank products vary primarily due to inclusive upgrades. This includes features like LED lighting or aquarium heaters. Coralife and JBJ are two of the most renowned brands of nano-tanks. Below, we compare these brands and their top-of-the-line units.
The Coralife BioCube series are fresh and marine-capable nano-tanks. These aquariums provide modern, sleek designs. The front corners curve. This creates a single glass pane that wraps around all four sides of the tank. This gives observers a clear view of the aquarium’s contents. Older versions of the BioCube did not include LED lights or a timer. The 2012 models added 10,000-hour LED lights. This is suitable for low- to medium-light plant-life. Pre-2016 BioCube models are available in 14- and 29-gallons variations. The 2016 BioCube versions measure 2-inches taller. These models exist in 16-and 32-gallons sizes. Moreover, the 2016 LED lighting can support high-light plant life.
The hood covers both the tank and filter on all models. This can be problematic for smaller fish. It may allow them to breach the tank and filter divider. Models from 2012 and on include a small feeding door on the front of the hood.
All units provide a built-in filtration system. These filters allow for easy set-up and maintenance. All models come with a submersible pump, dual intakes, and return outlet. Moreover, the return outlet adjusts on the 2016 model. The large intake grates are not friendly for smaller fish. A chemical and mechanical filter insert comes with the 2016 model. A three-section media tray has space for extra filtration products too. This includes biological filter components or a protein skimmer. Room is available for an added in-filter heater in the as well. The 2012 and 2016 BioCubes are capable of refugium conversions. This is due to the clear glass filter-to-tank barrier.
The backwards compatibility of Coralife tanks is another bonus. These tanks use any of the Coralife products for retrofits or upgrades. If you are planning on purchasing a BioCube, check out our guide for the top six must have BioCube accessories!
LED Series BioCube
- The 2016 LED BioCubes are the most current versions on the market. These BioCubes include a 24-hour LED timer that filters through three light cycles. These cycles consist of day, shimmering night and color-enhancing modes. A 4-button control panels allows owners to program the light cycles. The control panel is on the top of the BioCube. The automatic lighting cycle provides a sunrise/set and moonrise/set mode. The sunrise and sunset mode takes 30-minutes to complete. The moonrise and moonset mode take 60-minutes to cycle through. The light cycles replicate the natural aquatic environment. The PAR on the BioCubes make this reef-friendly. The 32-gallon PAR levels range from 81 to 40. This provides ideal levels for coral growth.
- A single fan comes with the LED BioCube models. Some users have stated these fans are not quiet. However, instructions are available to upgrade the hood fan.
- Compatible with all previous BioCube accessories.
- Wet/dry filtration capabilities prevent burnout
- The large filter allows for easier maintenance
- Integrated LED timer makes light control quick and easy
- 1-Year Warranty
- The single, stock fan may not prevent overheating
- A protein skimmer does not come with purchase. This will be necessary for marine tanks
- Biological filtration items are not included
The JBJ Nano-Cube family includes several sizes. All models are fresh and marine-life compatible. The 6-gallon comes with both florescent daylights and LED night-lights. The 8-, 12- and 24-gallon models come with florescent lights only. There are two 28-gallon models available. The 28-gallon can come with florescent or LED lighting. New, rimless variations are also available in 5-, 8- and 30-gallons. These do not include a light system. All versions, except the 8-gallon, come in cubic form with curved corners. This allows for clear views of tank contents. The 8-gallon model comes in a curved 180-degree style front with flat back. The flat surface can sit flush against a wall. It can also sit against a second 8-gallon tank for a 360-degree view.
The hood comes on all but the rimless models. However, it covers the tank only. This leaves the rear filter open. The open filtration area allows for full access without opening the hood. A small feeding door opens at the front of the hood. Each hood includes fan(s) for increased ventilation.
All LED models keep energy efficiency in mind. The LED systems consume low-energy inputs but provide high-powered lighting. The 50,000-hour LEDs radiate heat output upwards. This helps to prevent overheating the tank water.
Every JBJ Nano-Cube comes with their 3-stage filtration system. A removable compact filter media basket pulls out quickly. It includes chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration.
JBJ LED Professional Series
The LED Intermediate and Professional series are the best JBJ units. These are 28-gallons each. The Intermediate tanks provide light for low- to medium-light corals. The Professional version increases lighting for high-light corals. These Nano-Cubes come with three lighting patterns. These are daylight, dawn/dusk, and night. These lights plug in separately and do not auto-cycle through. A word of caution regarding the lights. When one LED bulb burns goes out on a strip of lights, all of them will go out. JBJ Nano-Cube hoods are compatible only with JBJ LED light strips. Therefore, this can be expensive to correct. Buyers beware with this because it is a known issue with the JBJ brand.
Both come with a clear filter screen on the media basket. This allows for refugium use. The rear filtration area provides dual return pumps on either side. There is space for an optional in-filter heater. In addition, both versions come with four fans within the hood. This feature helps to prevent overheating. A thermal protection sensor turns off the LED lights if the fans die. It will restart the lighting once water temperatures are safe. Again, some users have complained of unexpected noises from the fans.
Both of these Nano-Cubes come with an Ocean Pulse Wavemaker. The Wavemaker allows owners to adjust wave intervals. They can run between 10 seconds and 6 minutes. This provides additional oxygen and circulation. It also helps prevent surface waste buildup.
- An adjustable Ocean Pulse Wavemaker helps create natural currents
- The dual return pumps help create natural circulation throughout the tent
- The lighting design and four cooling fans prevent overheating
- 1-Year Warranty
- The filtration system is hard to manage due to how narrow it is
- To automate light cycles, purchase a household timer
- The hood lighting is poorly made and expensive to replace
- Hood lighting is poorly made and expensive to replace
- A protein skimmer does not come with purchase
Coralife BioCube vs. JBJ Nano Cube – The Comparison
JBJ offers the adjustable Ocean Pulse Wavemaker. This feature provides circulation that goes above the Coralife package. JBJ offers dual return flows too. Therefore, JBJ takes the lead when it comes to circulation.
However, the LED lighting on the Coralife is superior to the JBJ. JBJ has a known issue with its lighting system. With respect for customers, JBJ has capitalized on this problem. After the first year warranty, the company will not replace these lights for you. They will not replace lights on second-hand systems. JBJ also does not replace parts if the tank is not registered. Owners claim it took less than a month for all lights to fail after a bulb died. To put it bluntly, most owners can expect a $350 price tag just to fix one blown bulb. That is practically the cost of a brand new unit from either company. The LED control panel on the Coralife automates all light cycles. JBJ lights cycle manually. Overall, Coralife provides more value here.
JBJ hoods come with four fans. Coralife models include one. Both come with noise complaints. The Coralife may need a fan upgrade. Tutorials showing cheap fixes are available on the internet. This means some tank owners may have some hands-on work to do with the Coralife. With that, it is important to note that fans cost much less than the LED replacements.
The filtration system is comparable for both the Coralife and JBJ. The Coralife return pump adjusts to divert flow in any direction. Each tank provides space for the addition of an in-tank heater. Both brands provide refugium growth compartments too. Nevertheless, Coralife offers a larger filtration area overall. This allows easier access and more add-ons than the JBJ.
The inter-compatibility of the Coralife is a great feature. It allows all models to upgrade to a 2016 hood system without having to buy a new tank.
Our Final Pick is…
The Coralife Biocube! The BioCube is made with better quality materials, has less problems, and is fitted with a much better LED light fixture. We recently did a comparison of the BioCube and IM Nuvo Fusion, of which the BioCube won as well. Throughout the years, the BioCube has improved vastly and we highly recommend it to beginners and experts alike!