With the holidays upon us I decided to say a few words about some exciting new nano tank kits coming to us from Fluval. Not long ago we introduced you to the Fluval Edge aquarium, the unique nano aquarium from Hagen with the Frank Lloyd Wright-like design. Hagen has developed a whole series of Fluval aquariums over the last several months to complement the Edge tank, the first of which is the Fluval Chi. Hitting the market earlier this summer, the Fluval Chi is another unique aquarium, designed to radiate positive energy (“chi” is roughly translated as energy in Chinese). Read More »
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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,
One of the areas of the aquarium hobby that has boomed in recent years is the phenomenon of the mini, or nano, aquarium. Many models of small complete systems have hit the market, and it is now easier than ever to succesfully keep these pint sized wonders.
There are a few important things to consider when planning your nano-tank set up. Small tanks are notorious for having unstable water quality. Water quality and temperature changes occur much easier, and faster, in a small tank than in a larger system simply because there is less water to buffer and absorb changes. Even a five gallon water change can take out a lot of good bacteria and may be causing the same “new tank syndrome” that many aquarists experience when setting up their aquarium. Cloudy water and a brown algae bloom typically mark the end of the cycling process as bacteria neutralize nitrites and create nitrates that feed algae. These blooms usually die off on their own within a few days, but try keeping your water changes small to avoid this “re-cycling”. For example, instead of changing 25 percent of your water a couple times a month, try changing 5 to 10 percent every week or two. If you have to do a larger water change, keep a product with a live bacteria culture like Biozyme or Hagen’s Cycle on hand to replace the bacteria you remove. Increasing the amount of water in your system can also help to keep the water quality more stable. A small pump, some tubing and an extra tank can make a simple refugium to increase the volume of your system, allowing for a more stable display tank . With the addition of a light source, this extra tank can also be used to grow macroalgae to eat up extra nutrients, as a nursery for copepods and other live foods, or even as a safe haven for harassed fish and invertebrates. An extra 5 or 10 gallons will help to stabilize your water quality and prevent algae and bacteria blooms. Between water changes, avoid overfeeding your fish and invertebrates by using a feeding station to contain floating foods and a feeding syringe to target-feed directly to your animals. Make sure that you are choosing size appropriate species of fish and other animal, while this is important in any size aquarium, it is crucial in small aquarium. Try to stick to community fish, and be conservative with the number of fish that you are keeping. Heavy fish loads require heavy feeding, and can quickly overtax small filtration systems. Small systems take a little extra TLC than large tanks but can be well worth it in the end.