Is a Nano Aquarium right for me?
In recent years, the nano aquarium section of the aquarium hobby has been exploding in popularity. With many small fish becoming more available in the hobby, increased popularity of shrimp and other inverts, and even a few striking new discoveries in the last several years, the appeal has never been higher. For many people, the convenience of a small home aquarium is very inviting; however, there are some potential difficulties to consider.
There are many definitions of “nano aquarium”, and each person’s interpretations will differ. I’ll be talking about tanks between five to twenty gallons. A five gallon tank is only appropriate for a small number of species. Fish aquariums smaller than five gallons are too small to keep any aquatic creature in long term, so they should be avoided if possible. I will also be referring to freshwater set-ups exclusively, as salt water is outside of my base of knowledge.
Let’s start with acknowledging the difficulties of a smaller aquarium. If you have been in the aquatics hobby for any amount of time, you have probably have heard the saying “bigger is always better” in reference to aquarium size. Like many sayings, this is absolutely true. You have more room to make mistakes if there is more water in your aquarium ecosystem. Regular water changes are a necessity to maintain good water chemistry, which is something most people recognize. However, you should also consider that smaller tanks are more susceptible to temperature swings. Avoid placing them near heat vents or drafty doors that could cause them to cool down. Consider heat when choosing the light fixture you will use. Some fixtures can heat nano aquariums. You must take into account the adult size and aggression of each species when deciding which species to keep. This is important for all aquariums. However, small aquariums are less tolerant to overstocking because there is less space for fish to escape from each other.
There are many benefits to having a nano aquarium. The main reason most people start with smaller aquariums, is the price. There are inexpensive options for nearly all the necessary components, such as heaters and filters. Some places offer all-in one kits at an affordable price. You will also need fewer aquarium supplies, such as substrate and chemicals. This helps to lower initial costs. Because of their small size these aquariums fit easily in almost all homes. It is important to place the aquarium somewhere that can tolerate at least a little moisture.
When it comes to what to keep in a nano aquarium, the possibilities are endless. Stock with many of the smaller danio and rasbora species, if you are a fan of schooling fish. If you prefer more of a centerpiece fish, there are several apistogramma species that would do well in twenty gallon aquariums. Freshwater shrimp from the genus neocaridina are suitable for even the most beginner hobbyist, with just a little bit of research, and are available in just about any color imaginable. Some types of snails, such as mystery snails or nerite snails, can add a bit of color to the nano aquarium, while also helping keep things tidy. If you are looking for a fun breeding project for the whole family, many type of livebearers, such as guppies or endlers, can thrive in smaller tanks.
In a nano aquarium, live plants can be a wonderful accent. Aquatic plants are a great asset in these petite environments as they assist hobbyist in removing nitrate and other pollutants from the water, keeping the tank in better balance. Nano aquariums make it easier to create high-light environments for live plants because they have shallower depths for light to penetrate. You can even get all-in-one co2 kits for high tech environments, but these are not the most economical.
Nano aquariums can be very rewarding, no matter if you’re a beginner or an expert fish keeper. There are some advantages and also some disadvantages to a nano aquarium. If you don’t have enough space or wish to keep your aquarium hobby affordable, a nano aquarium could be the right choice.
– Josh Phillips