Hey guys, Craig here again. With an increase in technology, the economic crunch, and just the versatility of smaller tanks in general, the popularity of nano tanks has exploded in the past 5 years. Not surprising, since many kits are now available with everything you need to get started. In addition to the obvious advantages of these tanks, I feel these small tanks give aquarists an opportunity to go back to their roots, so to speak, and focus on why they started in the hobby in the first place, their love of aquatic species. Nano tanks bring to the forefront the activities of the creatures within, and more accurately, provide access to a wealth of animal behaviors that may be missed in a large aquarium environment. Sam has talked about some of his experiences with marine nano tanks, now let’s explore some freshwater ideas!
The Shell Dwellers – Small in Size, Big on Attitude
Perhaps one of the most amazing behaviors exhibited by any fish is that of the shell dwelling cichlids from Lake Tanganyika. Several species exist, each of them exhibiting the curious habit of living in abandoned snail shells. Not only do they use the shells as shelter, they even spawn and rear their young the shells! Neolamprologus multifasciatus, for example, can thrive in a small aquarium and may exhibit courting and dominance behaviors within its own colony. In a small aquarium, each member of the colony will pop in and out of its own shell and guard the entrance like a little bulldog. Even when cleaning the aquarium, your giant hand does nothing to discourage a dominant male from nipping at you to protect its little home! A sandy substrate and some empty snail shells that are about 2 or 3 inches in diameter are about all you need to give these fish the décor that they need to perform!
Dwarf Rasboras – Fish for the Smallest of Spaces
Smaller freshwater tanks can have their mini-fascinations too. With several new species of tiny fish being brought into the hobby, putting together a stunning little freshwater nano tank is easy! One of the little fish from Thailand, Boraras sp. “South Thailand”, could easily be the centerpiece to such a tank. These little guys are less than an inch long at adult size. In a 12 gallon aquarium, you could easily keep a school of 10 to 12 fish. Given their diminutive size, keeping these fish with anything else would be extremely hazardous to their health, making them ideal candidates for a small species set-up. Dwarf Rasboras also show some interesting behaviors. Males of this species will often move away from the school and stake out a little territory in an attempt to coax willing females down to spawn. In an aquarium with many other fish, intriguing little actions like this might easily go unnoticed.
Cherry Shrimp Colonies for Tiny Tanks
Nano tanks aren’t just suited for observing fish. You may want to consider keeping freshwater shimp! Little Cherry Shrimp are fascinating to watch as they graze on algae and skitter around the aquarium. In a small aquarium, you could start with 5 or 6 of these shrimp and you may have double that number within several weeks. Cherry Shrimp are known to be prolific, and with no fish in the aquarium to eat the baby shrimp, you can see the development of your very own little colony. An easy set up for these would include dark, natural sand with a couple of moss balls and a nice small piece of driftwood for decoration. The moss balls will help to provide natural food as well as an intriguing habitat for your shrimp.
Something for Everyone
These are just a few of the exciting freshwater creatures and aquatic behaviors you may have missed in a larger tank. From cichlids to shrimp, just a little creativity can really make something small into something special. Does anyone out there have their own little stunning aquarium they would like to share? Please feel free to comment and tell us what you keep in a nano tank.
Until Next Time,