Last updated: August 8, 2021

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A nano aquarium is the perfect small water tank that can be placed almost anywhere in the home or office. The small size makes it an ideal choice for aquarium fans and makes it one of the most affordable on the market, which is why they are so popular.

To maintain the water quality in the mini aquarium, regular water changes should be planned. However, the time required for cleaning and maintenance is manageable and you can fully develop your nano aquarium aquascaping.

We hope that our nano aquarium test 2021 will help you find the best nano aquarium for you. We have listed buying and evaluation criteria to make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




Summary

  • A nano aquarium is the smallest form of aquarium. The capacity is usually between 10 - 60 litres. Nano aquariums are usually sold in cube form and are very popular due to their space-saving properties.
  • Even with a compact design, it is recommended to get a larger tank. From 30 litres upwards, there are more design options, more stable water values and a greater variety of animal species.
  • Compared to conventional large aquariums, the purchase and operating costs of nano aquariums are low. The time required for set-up and regular maintenance is also limited.

The Best Nano Aquarium: Our Choices

Nano Aquariums: Buying and rating criteria

In the next section, we will go through attributes that can help you choose nano aquariums.

The criteria below are designed to create a comprehensive picture of a nano aquarium:

In the following sections we explain a few of the most important criteria:

Size and capacity

The advantage of a nano aquarium is its smaller size compared to conventional aquariums. Even in a small format, it is advisable to buy a larger tank. A larger capacity means more design freedom, more stable water values and more options of animal species.

There are four main sizes of Nano Cubes. The capacity starts at 10 litres.

Size Volume
20 x 20 x 25 cm 10 litres
25 x 25 x 30 cm 20 litres
30 x 30 x 35 cm 30 litres
38 x 38 x 43 cm 60 litres

The design options for smaller aquariums are limited because you still have to calculate the filter and heater. For 10- and 20-litre tanks, it is suitable to raise small shrimps or snails.

Furnishing the nano aquarium with plants and decorative materials further compromises the habitat.

It is therefore advisable, especially for beginners, to have a tank of at least 30 litres, starting from a size of 30 × 30 × 35 cm.

From a water volume of 30 litres, you can keep small ornamental fish or a fighting fish. With a larger volume, it is also easier to maintain water stability, as the water volumes are not as sensitive to environmental factors.

Material and workmanship

Nano aquariums are made of high-quality glass. The difference in glass thickness depends on the design and size of the tank. The glass panes are glued together with a special, usually transparent silicone.

The housing for the lighting and the material for the heating rod are made of plastic. It is important to pay attention to high-quality material, as the use and regular cleaning of cheap plastic may cause cracks or other defects to appear.

For larger aquariums, it is advisable to add a base cabinet. The base cabinets, which are usually made of wood, should be able to withstand the weight of the aquarium. A spirit level should always be used to check the correct position.

Easy care

After successfully setting up the nano aquarium, it is easy to set up a maintenance routine with little effort.

It is important to clean the tank of dead organisms and uneaten food. Since there is a smaller amount of water, a water change is done quickly. A quarter of the water should be changed weekly.

Regular cleaning of the glass, filter, equipment and substrate will ensure that you enjoy your aquarium for a long time.

Certain types of snails can also be kept and help to remove dead organisms.

Accessories

For species-appropriate and ecological keeping of animals and plants, additional accessories are needed:

  • Nano aquarium filter: The most important component of the aquarium is the filter. The filter cleans the water and reduces algae growth. There are internal and external filters that should be matched to the size of the aquarium.
  • Nano aquarium lighting: The lighting is used to simulate sunlight. Powerful lighting promotes healthy plant growth. In larger aquariums, the lighting is built into the cover. In nano aquariums, external lights can also be used.
  • Nano aquarium heater: To ensure an even and constant temperature of the water, a heater is needed. Even a small temperature difference of two degrees can have negative effects on living organisms. Temperature fluctuations can be regulated by an automatic switch-off function.

Additional accessories, as a supplement to the Nano Aquarium:

  • Hoses and pumps
  • Mulm vacuum cleaner (bottom vacuum cleaner)
  • Care products
  • Fish nets

All the necessary items are available in specialist shops or online. In the nano aquarium complete sets, the important components are included, but you can also buy all accessories individually.

Nano aquariums: Frequently asked questions and answers

In the next section, we answer frequently asked questions about nano aquariums. We have selected the most important questions for you and listed them below.

After reading our guide, you will have all the information you need about nano aquariums.

What is a nano aquarium?

The nano aquarium is a small, modern mini aquarium. The trend towards the small format of the underwater world originates from the bonsai art of Japan. Nano aquariums can contain freshwater or saltwater.

With a capacity of 10 to a maximum of 60 litres, you can place a nano aquarium on almost any cabinet.

The trend towards small and compact also exists in aquaristics. Nano aquariums are becoming more and more popular. (Image source: Huy Phan / unsplash)

Usually in a cube shape, also called Nano Cube, they are a stylistic eye-catcher. You can keep small dwarf shrimps, small ornamental fish, crayfish or snails in nano aquariums. However, nano fish (mini fish) should only be kept in a water volume of 60 litres.

Plant aquariums are becoming more and more popular and a nano aquarium is very suitable for this. The advantage is that the plants can grow unhindered without being bitten.

What types of nano aquariums are there?

A nano aquarium is usually a nano cube. There are also cuboid tanks, but the advantages and disadvantages do not differ here. We have compiled the most important points for you below:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Cube/Tank Inexpensive purchase, Fits in small flats or offices, Easy to transport, Good for beginners Difficult to maintain water stability, Fish species breeding is limited
Aquarium base cabinet Large formats with higher volumes, Larger selection of animal species, Built-in storage space for accessories Additional costs of the base cabinet, Space is limited, Difficulty in moving

The small design offers advantages in set-up, maintenance and purchase. A nano aquarium for the desk is quite possible and if you change your location, the carrying capacity is also of great advantage.
There are limits to the variety of species and the stability of the water can be a major challenge.

For nano aquariums with a larger volume, it is advisable to add a base cabinet.

A base cabinet can safely support the weight of the aquarium. Additional costs are incurred for the purchase, but you also automatically gain storage space for fish food and care products.

What does a nano aquarium cost?

Nano aquariums are often sold as a complete set. The costs depend on the size of the tank and the accessories. Of course, additional costs are also required for the furnishings, decoration, plants and living creatures.

Acquisition costs

Nano aquariums are often sold as complete sets in shops. Depending on the size, the purchase costs range from 70 to 190 euros. The set includes the tank and the necessary nano aquarium technology such as a filter and thermometer.

Type price range
Nano aquarium complete set approx. 70 to 190 euros
Base cabinet approx. 45 to 80 euros

Especially for nano aquarium beginners, it is usually a cheaper option to purchase a complete set.

Maintenance costs

The costs of maintaining a nano aquarium are lower than for conventional aquariums of 100 litres or more. The costs that should be calculated:

  • Storm (lighting, filter and heater)
  • Water consumption
  • Food
  • Care products

As a rule, running costs are around 30 to 100 euros per year. The larger the tank, the higher the costs.

What alternatives are there to a nano aquarium?

Aquariums with a capacity of 100 litres or more are usually recommended for aquarium beginners. A larger water volume offers space for different species and the water quality is easier to stabilise.

Nano aquariums are an inexpensive way to get started in the aquarium hobby. (Image source: Huy Phan / unsplash)

A larger tank also takes up more space and incurs higher purchase and maintenance costs. Aquariums from 100 litres are also available in various forms.

  • Rectangle: Described as a classic, this shape can be integrated well as a beginner's aquarium.
  • Panorama: The Panorama is an aquarium with a rounded front pane. A visual eye-catcher in any living space.
  • Corner aquarium: A space-saving variant of the large aquarium tank. It can easily be placed in any corner of a room.

Most aquariums have glass panels. You can see the differences mainly in the amount of space saved and the amount of cleaning required.

What can be kept in a nano aquarium?

The variety of species is limited, as the nano aquarium inhabitants need enough room to move around in order to lead a happy life.

Depending on the capacity, we can recommend the following species:

Size volume number of species
20 x 20 x 25 cm 10 litres 1 shrimp or 2 snails
25 x 25 x 30 cm 20 litres 1 shrimp or 1 crayfish and 1 snail
30 x 30 x 35 cm 30 litres 2 shrimp, snails and crayfish
38 x 38 x 43 cm 60 litres 1 shrimp, 1 nano school of fish, snails and crayfish

A size of 30 litres is recommended for keeping dwarf shrimp. When choosing decoration materials (such as stones, gravel and pieces of wood) and pens, it is also important to ensure that there is enough space for the animals. The larger the tank, the more design options are available.

How do I clean a nano aquarium?

Nano aquariums usually require relatively little effort. In the following section we explain how to set up a regular maintenance routine.

To make cleaning easier for you, we have divided the maintenance routine into four main points:

  1. Daily control: When feeding your animals, you can make sure that they behave according to their species. Are the animals lively or do they swim around listlessly in the tank? Check the functionality of the technique or if there could be a disease.
  2. The weekly water change: A quarter of the water should be changed every week. You can regulate the amount of water removed with a hose. Then refill the nano aquarium with fresh water.
  3. Filter cleaning: If too much filter sludge has formed, it is advisable to clean the filter. Generally, filter sludge is very nutritious and useful for the biological balance of your tank. After removing the filter, you can easily rinse it with lukewarm water.
  4. Cleaning the tank: When cleaning the discs, you can either use disc magnets or cleaners with a blade. A vacuum cleaner also helps to keep the mulm (brown sludge made of matter such as food scraps, plant parts or fish droppings) in check. It is advisable to use a vacuum cleaner briefly when changing the water.

To keep the water stable you should remove dead animals and large dead plant parts immediately. Snails may also help to remove dead organisms.

Conclusion

As a beginner or long-time aquaristic fan, you can appreciate the special features of a nano aquarium. A mini aquarium brings friends and beautiful views of the underwater world without much effort. When buying a nano aquarium, you should decide on a certain size.

For nano aquariums with plants only, you can already create something creative with a 10 litre tank. Since the variety of species is limited, we recommend keeping small dwarf shrimps, small ornamental fish, crayfish or snails. Nano fish (mini fish) should only be kept in a water volume of 60 litres. Finally, we wish you lots of fun with your aquarium.

Picture source: Anusornkamala / 123rf

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