Aquascaping the Nano Tank

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Aquascaping the nano tank

A nano tank can be alluring to a beginner. It’s low cost entry point, the promise of easier maintenance, and it’s ability to fit almost anywhere make the nano tank almost a no-brainer for beginners. After all, aren’t we always taught to start small? It makes sense, right?

However, the reality is, nano tanks are not always easy. They bring some challenges. With less water volume, things happen quicker. Also, such a small footprint makes it difficult to aquascape. Finally, finding the right plants, fish, hardscape and equipment for it can be difficult.

In this episode, we share our thoughts on the pros and cons of nano tanks for aquascaping and give you tips and techniques that you can use if you choose to go the nano route.

Why would someone want to do a nano tank aquascape?

  1. It is cheaper given the smaller equipment needed and some equipment may not be needed at all
  2. People are less intimidated with a smaller tank when they are beginning.
  3. Your significant other may not approve a large tank when you’re starting out. You need time to convince them that a bigger tank really is necessary.
  4. There is a myth that nano tanks take less work than larger tanks.

Challenges of a nano tank aquascape

Look at any aquascaping contest to see what work was the best in show and you will see that nano tanks are never represented.

  1. It is very difficult to properly aquascape a nano tank given it small dimensions.
  2. Given the small amount of water, things can go wrong very quickly.
  3. Maintenance is necessary on a more frequent basis.
  4. Finding plants, fish and equipment to fit the smaller size can be challenging.

Tips and techniques for aquascaping a nano tank.

Choosing the right plants

  • Mosses
  • Anubias nana petite
  • dwarf hairgrass Eleocharis acicularis
  • Cyrptocoryne parva
  • Hemianthus callitrichoides (HC)
  • Pogostemon helferi
  • Staurogyne sp. “repent”‘
  • Bucephalandra spec
  • Marsilea hirsuta
  • Marsilea crenata
  • Eleocharis mini/pussila
  • Eriocaulons

Choosing the right hardscape

  • Choose hardscape dominant or plant dominant not both (ryuboku)
  • Don’t forget detail work is still important in a nano

Perspective and depth

  • Are you after a detailed view of a small space or looking to make the nano seem bigger?
  • All elements must complement each other in terms of size, texture, color, etc.
  • Depending on the size, the rule of thirds may not make the work look better.
  • Keep it simple as complicated aquascapes tend to make the aquascape seem smaller

Fish choices for the nano Tank

  • ember tetra
  • Dwarf pencilfish
  • Scarlet badis (Dario dario)
  • celestial pearl danio
  • White could mountain minnow
  • Killifish
  • Solitary betta?
  • Blue neon (p.simulans)
  • Rasbora espei
  • Corydoras pygmaeus
  • Galaxy rasbora
  • Borara spec

Equipment for the nano Tank

  • Commercial
  • Roll your own
Carbon dioxide

Examples of good nano tank aquascapes

Diego Sandoval - nano tank aquascaperDiego Sandoval is the master of the micro aquascaping. His works are amazingly small and amazingly beautiful.

The featured image at the top of this post is of one of Diego’s magnificent miniature aquascapes. The work is entitled “Towards Destiny” as is a wonderful example of how proper scale can make a nano tank seem much larger than what it really is.

Please go visit Diego’s site and marvel at his artistry. Tell him you heard about him in the ScapeFu Podcast.


Some of the links mentioned in the episode:

Bonus question from George Farmer:

George Farmer‪ – “What’s the best way to minimise equipment on show in a nano tank? Some aquariums are so small that any equipment at all looks very distracting. ‪Keep up the great work, guys!


Thanks, George! Jurijs replied to George at the end of the episode but you’re going to have to listen to it to find our what he said!


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