In a world of “the bigger the better”, nano aquariums are proof that great things often come in small packages.
For first-time fish owners, a tank smaller than a standard aquarium is the perfect low-maintenance and budget-friendly home for your swimming friends.
Because of their size, the costs for water and electricity are inevitably low (as well as additions to the tank such as decorations and plants).
Likewise, for experienced fish-fanatics, nano aquariums offer a small yet substantial home to create a new underwater world.
Thanks to their size and weight, nano aquariums can inhabit any space, such as desks or cabinets, kitchen counters, or mantle pieces.
A nano aquarium is also a great opportunity to explore water-based plants with minimal maintenance.
It is therefore vital to assure the right aquarium, ranging from the size according to the fish to the quality of the glass.
Here is a list of our top 5 best nano aquariums to suit your every need, complete with a convenient buyer’s guide and FAQ section.
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
We found the Landen 30C7.1 Gallon Rimless Low Iron Aquarium Tank to be a simple yet ideal beginner tank on the market for every aquatic need.
With a thick 5mm low iron glass and more than 91% transparency, these simple and small aquariums offer a minimalistic and stylish addition to any home.
Hand-made and high standard, these tanks boast crystal clear quality with smooth silicone work, included with a Black Nano foam leveling mat.
Of course, additions such as lighting, plants, a lid, filters, and heaters must be purchased separately as with most aquariums, so the simple design of the Landen Tank allows for creative liberty.
While a lid isn’t included, rimless aquariums offer a simplistic and modern fish bowl style that allows easy access and a natural birds-eye-view into the tank.
Measuring 30cm x 30cm x 30cm, it is an ideal cube shape to fit in any living space.
- Has a thick, 5mm low-iron glass with more than 91% transparency
- Features smooth silicone joints and finishes
- Includes a silicone leveling mat that helps to ensure your tank is kept on a level surface
- Measures 30cm x 30cm x 30cm, making it a compact and minimalistic choice
- Doesn’t include a lid, however, this gives you more versatility over your choice of overhead lightning
Our next chosen product is the Lifegard Aquatics 5 Gallons Beveled Edge Low Iron Ultra Clear Aquarium.
With a full back filter - a top and bottom drain with a plug – cleaning the soil and dirt from the bottom of the tank is made easier and more efficient.
The tank also sports a pump, multi-directional jet, and mat. At 9.84 x 9.84 x 11.81 inches and a weight of 14.33 pounds, this compact and lightweight aquarium is ideal for a family home.
The talent of the craftsmanship is understated in the 45° beveled edge Ultra Clear glass alongside clear silicone glue, allowing for a crystal-clear effect.
While a light and lid would be separate purchases, they are only optional as the tank can function just as well without either.
A tank of this size would be ideal for Betta fish or other small fish, and this particular Lifegard range sells 3 other sizes; a 1.2-gallon tank, a 2.6-gallon tank, and an 8-gallon tank.
- Has a full back filter as well as a top and bottom drain that makes cleaning super easy
- Is compact and lightweight, measuring just 9.84 x 9.84 x 11.81-inches
- Includes a pump, multi-directional jet, and a leveling mat
- The 45º beveled-edge design and clear silicone glue give you an unrestricted view of your fish
- Doesn’t come with a light or a lid, however, these can be purchased separately if required
As there is no size definition of a nano aquarium, the Fluval Sea Evo Saltwater Fish Tank Kit offers 5 gallon and 13.5-gallon tanks.
Designed for saltwater fishkeeping, the Fluval Evo kit is essentially a smaller marine reef tank.
Picture the Great Barrier Reef on your computer desk and you’re basically there – just for a fraction of the price, effort, and space!
The 11000K LED with waterproof casing is designed for reef environments, promotes coral growth, and also works as appropriate for the time of day with touch-start day and night illumination.
With a 3-stage filtration and a honeycomb wrap to cover the filtration compartment and waterline, the aquarium is sure to look stylish both inside and out.
As mostly everything is included in this kit (except decorations and, of course, the fish), it is an ideal setup for beginner saltwater fish-keepers and enthusiasts.
With an easy feed opening in the lid, full removable access to the rear chamber without disturbing the fish or plants, and a customizable water flow, it’s almost incomparable.
For a small amount of water, it packs a punch in bringing the reef to your living space.
- Designed specifically for saltwater fish and coral
- Has an 11000K LED light that promotes coral growth as well as providing both daytime and nighttime illumination
- Features a 3-stage filtration system that helps keep your water crystal clear
- Available as either a 5-gallon or 13.5-gallon tank
- Is better for the novice saltwater aquarium owner, and might be too basic for anybody with a little more experience
Our fourth recommendation for the best nano aquarium is the MarineLand 5 Gallon Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit.
At 12 pounds and 11.81 x 11.62 x 17.05 inches, it is the perfect bog-standard nano tank size.
With a sleek black design with rounded corners and clear glass, it is certainly dressed to impress for any stylish home.
As with the Fluval Evo kit, the MarineLand offers a 3-stage filtration that is hidden out of the view of the aquarium.
It also has bright white LEDs in the day that can be switched to blue LEDs at night. This allows you to create suitable and natural lighting.
Switching between lighting modes is simple too with easy access through a sliding glass canopy.
As the tank is a portrait design, it allows for tall decorations and plants as well as the necessities for the fish. It also provides an interesting shape and takes up less space than a tank that would lie horizontally.
- Has a portrait design measuring 11.81 x 11.62 x 17.05 inches, allowing for taller plants and ornaments
- The rounded corners and clear glass give it a stylish appearance, as well as offering you an unrestricted view of your fish
- Features a 3-stage filtration system that aids in keeping the water crystal clear
- Also features white and blue LED lights that allow you to create the illusion of daylight and moonlight inside the tank
- The sliding glass lid design could make feeding fish a little more difficult for some people
Last, but certainly not least, is the Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium LED. Possibly the most efficient all-in-one tank, the Biocube offers an environment for both freshwater and saltwater fish and plants.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this tank is the 24-hour timer boasting three independent LED color channels and automatic sunrise and sunset cycles.
With a compact filtration chamber and a quiet submersible pump, cleaning is a low-maintenance task.
A sleek and trust-worthy hood with a feeding slot allows for a modern and functional look, along with unique curved edges that do not distort the view.
Coralife is undeniably aware of the importance of hygiene, as shown through their 3-stage filtration system, and temperature, with a control system that allows the user maximum control.
The all-inclusive aquarium is ideal for beginner to novice fish-owners who are ready to take their underwater home to the next level.
- A great all-in-one tank that is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater fish
- Features a 24-hour timer with three independent LED color channels, allowing you to cycle between sunrise and sunset
- The sleek hood with integrated feeding slot makes easy work of offering your fish their daily meal
- Has a 3-stage filtration system that lends that extra hand with cleaning and helps prevent biomaterial-buildup
- Although the 3-stage filtration system helps with keeping the tank clean, accessing the filter sponge can be a little tricky
Best Nano Aquarium Buying Guide
Whether a first-time buyer or a fishkeeping-enthusiast, it is very important to choose your nano tank wisely. Get the wrong tank, and your fish could end up in ill health or, even worse, dead.
Below, we’ll go through some of the most important factors to bear in mind when you’re making your final decision.
A nano aquarium does not have a definitive maximum size. As the name suggests, it is a small tank made for small fish, as well as being perfect for your personal interior design and ideal for underwater friends and plants!
Tanks can differ in size, but on average most nano tanks range from 1.2 gallons to 15 gallons.
Nano tanks are generally simple to build too, particularly the simple fish-bowl type with no added extras, as kits come with instructions and online websites that showcase tips and instructional videos.
If your purchased tank does not include add-ons (such as filters, pumps, LED lights, or hoods), companies often create bundles online that help save money and make the purchasing of every need easier.
In terms of decorative creativity, the beauty of nano tanks is that you can be as creative as you like! Though a small tank may put off those who are not minimalist inclined, the larger nano tanks are ideal for coral reef and aquascaping.
This is because they require minimal maintenance due to the size, while simultaneously allowing you to create the illusion of space.
Our top tip is to place plants with smaller leaves at the back and bigger leaves in the front to create a perspective of distance, as well as tapered sand or pebble pathways that form the illusion of depth.
The more advanced and experienced the fish owner, the more you will learn and progress your tanks.
Aquascaping is not only gorgeous for the human eye, it is an important step to making your fish feel at home by creating their natural environment.
Number of Fish
In terms of how many and what fish are advised to suit a nano tank, the general rule is 2 fish for every gallon of water. Smaller fish prefer groups of at least six to avoid loneliness and anxiety, especially in new surroundings.
Popular freshwater fish include neon tetras, bettas, guppies, and minnows – all schooling fish that require fishy friends.
The best saltwater fish for a nano reef tank include neon gobies, shrimp gobies, clownfish, and royal grammas.
It’s best to research and decide on the species before finding the best habitat. It is also wise to avoid purchasing multiple of the same species, as some fish – for example, a helfrichi firefish or angelfish – are not suited for community atmospheres.
So, you’ve picked your fish and the size of your tank. Next is the deceptively confusing technical side of aquarium maintenance.
While a tank is a home for fish, they do not have private bathrooms, so nitrogen cycles are important for the upkeep of cleaning.
Without bathroom cleaning, ammonia (NH3) is produced and gathered and is very toxic for fish and plants.
Luckily, there are several filtration systems and bacteria that help to break down waste.
Nitrogen cycles eat off the ammonia and replace it with nitrite, which is then eaten and turned into nitrate.
Because it takes a while for bacteria to work properly, it’s best to get this sorted before adding fish, so they are welcomed into a functioning cycle – this usually takes 4-6 weeks.
In terms of filters, finding the rating of the filter is easiest by measuring the gallon per hour (GPH) – as some filters can pump more gallons of water than others. You’d ideally want a filter with a GPH of at least 40.
However, it is best to keep the species in mind to see if they like a strong current (bettas aren’t the strongest of swimmers) to judge the strength of the flow, as the last thing you want to see in the morning is your swimming friends no longer swimming.
Reef aquariums will require a powerful protein skimmer due to the smaller volume of water and the sensitive corals. These also maintain low nitrate levels and remove waste.
Cleaning is especially important for the health of nano tank inhabitants.
The best way to do this is to remove 10-50% of water, clean the filtration system (which usually resides at the back of the tank), trim overgrown plants, clean the glass on the inside of the aquarium, refill the tank with pre-conditioned water, and clean the outside of the aquarium.
Luckily, due to the size, nano tanks are very low maintenance. Don’t worry about cleaning it too regularly, as fish waste creates the CO2 that plants need to grow, so they only need to be cleaned every few months depending on the situation.
Don’t be put off by the coral reef tanks either, as they are actually not that difficult to maintain if set up well. They are more suited for experienced fishkeepers, however, as they require stability with temperature, nutrients, and regular reef salt upkeep.
Lighting is a really important step for the growth of plants, the comfortability of fish, and the overall appearance of your nano tank.
It’s not as simple as sticking a bedside light over the top of the tank though! Aquariums need particular usable light sources that produce a spectrum light enough for everything to work smoothly.
Some come with automatic time-appropriate settings that mock a sunrise, sunset, and blue coloring for the night, which is a great addition for the visual aesthetics of the tank.
You will know your fish tank is happy by the health of the fish (which usually just requires ensuring they are swimming fine), the visual appearance of the water and plants, and the quality of the cleaning cycles.
Our top tips for avoiding mistakes are using cheap filter equipment, not routinely testing water, using fake plants (they help to prevent algae!), not being patient, overcrowding the tank with fish (and mixing incompatible ones), overfeeding, not doing enough research, constant rearranging, and no cleaning schedule.
After all, it’s not just a pretty addition to a home, this is a living cycle that needs proper attending to.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need for a nano tank?
Everything you would need for a normal tank, except adapted to the size and volume of water!
You will need a filter, heater, appropriate LED lighting, a kit that measures the chemicals and bacteria appropriately, and a passion for fish and plants.
Your tank will be a small biodiversity that requires a healthy and working cycle, so everything needs to work smoothly.
What plants do I need?
Plants are super important for the maintenance of bacteria in your tank, so the more the merrier!
Of course, the size of the tank has the potential to limit lots of plants, but the correct placement of greenery creates illusions of size and a fun environment for your fish.
We recommend Christmas Moss, Eleocharis sp. ‘Mini (basically a grass lawn), Rotala Wallichii for a pop of color, Mayaca Fluviatilis, and Hemianthus Micranthemoides.
Of course, for a reef tank, the plants must be different. We recommend Dragon’s Tongue Algae, Green Finger Algae, polyp corals, mushroom corals, and soft corals (which are very low-maintenance!).
Don’t forget about rocks either, which should be placed before corals to help them grow into interesting designs.
What type of fish are best for nano tanks?
Whatever you do, don’t just buy fish because they look pretty. Small fish does not mean lack of potential growth, friendliness, or no chance of babies.
Bettas, tetras, and guppies are the most popular for nano tanks, as they are communal and easy-going fish.
Be mindful to not overcrowd your tank as small fish can often be viviparous, meaning lots of baby fish! If your fish don’t get along, there aren’t many places for them to hide, so choose wisely.
I’m a beginner, is a nano tank for me?
Absolutely! The beauty of nano tanks is that the size means low-cost and low-maintenance, meaning you can just focus on the basics until you are comfortable enough to advance.
They are a great addition to a home, whether on a work desk or kitchen counter, as they provide a great source of interest and beauty.
However, they do not come without their cons, as the size means any slight change in the environment can change the whole of the tank quickly.
Temperature changes, either too hot or too cold, can affect the quality of the tank.
A nano tank is literally a bitesize version of a normal tank, which makes them a great and rewarding starting point for your underwater adventure.
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