Best Nano Aquarium: Our Top 6 Picks

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If you long to keep fish but don’t have a lot of space for a big fish tank, don’t despair! Why not consider keeping a nano aquarium? 

First off…what is a nano aquarium? Are these tanks harder to look after than full-sized ones? What creatures can even live in one?

This guide tells you everything you need to know about choosing, stocking, and maintaining a nano aquarium. We’ve also included reviews of our five favorite nano tanks on the market today to help you choose the perfect small aquarium for your home. 

What’s a nano aquarium?

The term nano is colloquially used to describe anything very small, such as a nano-second or nanometer. Therefore, a nano aquarium is a small fish tank that fits into a small living space or office. 

Nano tanks are often a popular choice for apartment-dwellers who want a pet but don’t have the space, time, or landlord permission for a dog or cat. That said, even a small fish tank needs maintenance, and you’ll need to carry out regular tasks like weekly water changes, vacuuming the gravel, and managing the filter media. 

Another reason for these tanks’ popularity is that nano tanks are one of the cheapest options on the market for a wannabe fishkeeper. Many experienced hobbyists love the challenge of using a nano tank to create a beautifully aquascaped biotope tank or even a mini reef aquarium. 

How big is a nano aquarium? 

A nano tank is generally regarded as being an aquarium that holds 10 gallons of water or less. 

Our Top Picks: Best Nano Aquariums

Now that you know what nano fish tanks are, let’s take a closer look at our favorite small tanks on the market today. 

Most Affordable Nano Aquarium Kit: Tetra LED Cube Kit

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Tetra LED Cube Shaped 3 Gallon Aquarium with Pedestal Base

  • Equipped with a Tetra 3i filter to keep your tank clean and provide a perfect environment for small tropical fish.
  • The tank features an LED light to show off your fish
  • Lid features a convenient feeding hole. Material : Glass and acrylic

Tetra LED Cube Shaped 3 Gallon Aquarium with Pedestal Base 

Tetra hangs with the best when it comes to manufacturing fishkeeping products, including a range of fish foods, fish medication, plant fertilizers, and miscellaneous equipment. 

The company also makes high-quality aquariums, and this nano tank is no exception. This 3-gallon tank fits just about anywhere in your home or office, and it’s a perfect option if you’re looking for something to perch on your desk or counter. The unit is made from robust, crack-proof, and shatter-resistant plastic and sits on a pedestal base. 

The well-designed LED lighting unit is suspended over the tank, and the filtration unit is incorporated into the design, and there’s a neat feeding hole at the top of the tank.

What We Like: 

  • Simple to set up
  • Adjustable flow rate
  • Superb lighting unit
  • Makes an excellent starter kit

Room for Improvement: 

  • Does not include filter instructions
  • Made from plastic instead of glass
  • No heater is included

Best Overall Nano Aquarium Design: Marineland Portrait Blade Light Aquarium Kit 

Marineland Portrait Glass LED aquarium Kit, 5 Gallons, Hidden Filtration 

Marineland makes some very stylish tanks and assorted fishkeeping sundries, and their super-chic portrait nano tank makes a super feature in any room.

The glass tank features curved corners and an LED rail light, and the aquarium is super-simple to set up and maintain. It has to be one of the top quality tanks on the market, despite its extremely affordable price tag. 

The energy-efficient LED lighting unit has two settings: one to replicate daylight and the other to mimic moonlight. There’s a three-stage filtration system to keep the water clean and safe for your fish, and you get a spare filter cartridge included. 

The aquarium top has a glass cover slide for hassle-free feeding and easy access for tank maintenance. 

What We Like:

  • Simple to set up
  • Beautifully designed, curved-sided aquarium
  • Superb lighting unit with two ambient light settings
  • Very quiet filter unit

Room for Improvement:

  • The filter unit is small and very fiddly to clean
  • Lighting unit has to be removed to clean the tank

Best Starter Nano Tank: Penn-Plax Water-World Vertex Desktop Aquarium Kit

Penn-Plax Water-World Vertex Desktop Aquarium Kit – Perfect for Shrimp & Small Fish – 2.7 Gallon…

  • CONVENIENT FOR SMALL SPACES: The VERTEX Desktop Aquarium Kit is perfect for small or unused spaces: a desk, dresser, or even on top of the old file cabinet that hasn’t been touched in years.
  • UNIQUE DESIGN: The frameless tank is made from finely constructed bent glass that’s 1/8” thick. At the front, it features 2 curved corners, allowing for unobstructed views from all angles.
  • GREAT FOR BEGINNERS: The VERTEX Desktop 2. 7 Gallon Tank Kit makes for a simple and easy introduction to aquarium ownership. Ideal for adults and children alike.

Penn-Plax Water-Word Vertex Desktop Aquarium Kit – Perfect for Shrimp and Small Fish

This tiny nano tank is ideal if you want a small aquarium for a betta or some shrimp. And you get a free fishnet and an aquarium thermometer included with the kit.

Although the pump is nice and quiet and does the job just fine, the flow might be a little strong for bettas. However, the filter flow is adjustable, which solves that problem. The lid is hinged for easy access, unlike some small tanks where you have to remove the lid altogether to feed your fish or carry out water changes. 

The main downside to this aquarium is that it doesn’t come with a lighting unit or a heater, which you’d need to buy separately. 

What We Like: 

  • Perfect tank for beginners to keep shrimp or bettas 
  • Hinged lid for easy feeding and maintenance
  • Very quiet filter unit

Room for Improvement:

  • Doesn’t include lighting unit
  • Need to buffer the filter pump flow for a betta

Best Overall Value: Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit

Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit, 5-Gallon, White

Fluval makes extremely high-quality pieces of equipment and accessories for fishkeeping, including aquariums of various sizes. So, this beautifully etched glass tank should last you a lifetime. 

The filtration system is neatly concealed behind a honeycomb mesh screen and is very efficient, although the flow might be a bit too strong for bettas and shrimp. The lighting unit that comes with this kit is bright enough to support plant growth, which is essential if you want to provide your fish with living aquatic plants. 

If you want to keep this tank in a kid’s bedroom or on your desk at work, you won’t be bothered by the filter pump, as it’s very quiet and fully adjustable. Plus, all the incumbent cabling that’s required for the filter and lights are kept neatly in one place. 

The kit comes with a three-stage filtration system, including a sponge, carbon bag, and biomax filter bag. The only thing you don’t get is a heater, but that can be bought separately and should be relatively inexpensive. 

What We Like:

  • Neatly concealed pump and filter
  • Good-quality lighting that’s bright enough to support plant growth
  • Very quiet filter unit

Room for Improvement:

  • Filter compartment is small and fiddly to clean
  • Filter flow may need to be buffered for a betta

Best Complete Nano Aquarium Kit: GloFish Aquarium Kit Fish Tank

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Glofish 10 Gallon Aquarium Fish Tank Kits, Includes LED Lighting and Décor (Amazon Exclusive)

  • INCLUDES ALL THE ESSENTIALS FOR SUCCESS: This GloFish aquarium kit includes a 10 gallon glass aquarium, low profile hood with LED energy efficient lighting, unique combination of white and blue LED…
  • LED LIGHTING TRANSFORMS YOUR AQUARIUM: A combination of blue and white LED lighting to give both GloFish and tropical fish a vibrant look.
  • COMPLETE THE LOOK WITH COLORFUL ADDITIONS: Complete the look by adding pops of color among any gravel you choose with the varying plant sizes and colors included.

GloFish Aquarium Kit Fish Tank with LED Lighting and Filtration Included 

This aquarium kit is designed to provide a home for a community of the nano varieties of the incredibly popular GloFish

The idea of this nano aquarium is to use the included decorations and lighting to create a magical underwater fluorescent wonderland that kids and adults alike will love. The accessories that come with the tank are designed specifically to work with the unique, multi-setting, energy-efficient GloFish LED lighting unit. You can even change the items of decor that come with the kit if you want to!

This tank is crafted from scratch and shatterproof glass, and the kit includes a Tetra Whisper power filter and a cartridge to keep your water sparkling clean. Unlike most other nano aquarium kits, this one includes a heater, and you get an aquarium thermometer, too. The white and blue lighting is designed to fluoresce your GloFish and decor. 

What We Like: 

  • Made of high-quality glass
  • Superior-quality LED lighting unit
  • Includes a heater 
  • Has a leading brand pump and filtration unit

Room for Improvement:

  • A little pricey compared to similar nano tanks (but bear in mind, you get a lot of bang for your buck!)

Most Beautifully Designed Nano Tank: Hygger Horizon 8-Gallon LED Glass Aquarium Kit

Hygger Horizon 8 Gallon LED Glass Aquarium Kit for Starters with 7W Power Filter Pump, 18W Colored…

  • 🐠【Hygger Aquarium Kit Includes】one 7W 110GPH internal power filter pump, one colored led aquarium light, one 8 gallon glass tank with a decorative 3D rockery mountain background. The 3D…
  • 🐠【Mutil-modes LED Light】The aquarium led light is DC12V/18W, with extendable brackets, length can be adjusted from 0 to 19 inch. It has a external digital controller, you can use it to set the…
  • 🐠【Durable Power Filter】The aquarium power filter is 7W 110GPH, for 2-8 gallon tank use. It’s a super quiet and durable filter, and can be use for low water, the upper part is the 2 stage…

Hygger Horizon 8 Gallon LED Glass Aquarium Kit for Started with 7W Power Filter Pump, 18W Color led Light, Wide View Curved Shape Fish Tank with Undetachable 3D Rockery Background Decor

This glass aquarium’s curved shape makes a captivating focal point for your home or office, and you can set it up for either freshwater or saltwater fish. 

The tank comes with attractive 3D background decoration, a power filter pump, and a strip LED light. The tank is extremely simple to set up and includes a non-slip cushion pad that you can fix to the bottom of the tank to prevent it from sliding on a countertop or desk. 

The tank’s unique curved arc shape is aesthetically pleasing and provides you with a panoramic view of your fish and aquascaping. 

What We Like:

  • Very attractive aquarium design
  • 3D background included
  • Has a high-quality pump and filtration unit

Room for Improvement:

  • Heater not included
  • Tiny fish may be sucked into the unit (Consider covering the inlet pipe with a piece of sponge to prevent accidents.)

What to Consider When Purchasing a Nano Aquarium

There’s quite a bit to consider when you set out to buy a nano tank, mainly because changes in temperature and water parameters are more pronounced in small tanks.

Buy a kit

We recommend you buy a nano aquarium kit to get you started, as that generally ends up cheaper than buying all the elements you need separately. Kits usually come with integral filtration and lighting, so all you’ll need to buy is a heater.

Tank location

Even though a nano tank is small, it can still be heavy when it’s filled with water, substrate, and decorations. Choose a proper aquarium stand for your tank unless you have a very robust countertop on which to place your tank. 

Species of fish

Before you buy your tank, think very carefully about what fish species you want to keep. Not all fish are suitable for nano tanks. For example, even though neon tetras are tiny fish, they prefer to live in large schools, and a tiny 3-gallon nano tank simply won’t be big enough.

Often, nano tanks are best-suited for solitary fish like bettas that will be happy with only a few shrimp or snails as companions. 

What are the benefits and drawbacks of a nano aquarium? 

Benefits

  • Nano tanks are usually much cheaper to buy than larger aquariums, and they don’t use as much power. Also, you don’t need to buy as many decorations, substrates, and plants. If you have a marine setup, you won’t need as much synthetic sea salt, either. 
  • A nano aquarium saves space in your home. So, if you have a small apartment or if you’re living in a college dorm, a 10-gallon or smaller tank is a great way of enjoying keeping fish without the setup taking over the whole place. 
  • Although you still need to maintain your nano tank by carrying out partial water changes every week, staying on top of filter management, cleaning the glass, and more will take a fraction of the time and effort that it would with a 125-gallon aquarium.

Drawbacks

  • The first potential problem is that you can only keep a few small fish in a tiny tank. So, you need to choose very small fish species and be careful not to overstock the tank. 
  • Small tanks don’t allow much room for rookie errors with water quality, overfeeding, and the like. In a larger tank with greater water volume, mistakes are more easily diluted, which doesn’t happen in a tiny tank. 
  • Equipment failure in a nano tank can very quickly be disastrous for your fish. For example, if your filter fails and you don’t notice, the water will very quickly become polluted, and an ammonia spike could occur very quickly, and you could lose your fish. 

Can a nano aquarium be saltwater or freshwater?

Yes, you can keep a freshwater or saltwater nano tank.

However, it’s recommended for beginners to stick with freshwater aquariums, as there’s more room for error than there is with marine tanks. Also, the fish species you’ll keep in a freshwater tank are much cheaper than those you would have in a saltwater tank, so if you’re unlucky and get things wrong, you won’t take such a financial hit if your fish don’t make it. 

What fish can you keep in a nano tank? 

When choosing fish for a nano tank, you need to do your research first, and do so thoroughly

As previously mentioned, it’s not only the size of the fish that must be considered but their habits, too. Nano tanks are not generally suitable for schooling or extremely active fish species, as there is too-limited space.

Steer clear of keeping aggressive species like bettas in a very small nano tank with one or two companions or females. If the betta picks on the other fish, the victim won’t have anywhere to take shelter or get away from the aggressor. Bettas generally do fine in a nano tank when kept alone or with a few shrimp or snails for company, however. 

You also need to avoid choosing fish that produce a very heavy bioload since the environment and water quality can be somewhat fragile in a nano tank. 

Perfect Nano Tank Fish

Here are some fish species that make good candidates for life in a nano tank:

You can also keep a few freshwater shrimp and aquatic snails in a small tank, and in fact, some of the shrimp species are even more brightly colored than many fish, so they make an interesting, unusual display. 

How many fish can be in a nano tank?

As a general rule of thumb, you can keep one inch of fish to one gallon of water in your aquarium. That allows space for the fish to move around comfortably and prevents the filtration system from becoming overloaded. 

FAQs

How big is a nano aquarium? 

A nano aquarium is generally considered to be a tank of 10 gallons or less. Bowls and betta vases, which we never recommend, are not considered nano tanks since they don’t accommodate a filtration system or heater. 

Are nano tanks hard to keep?

Nano tanks need regular maintenance, just like any size aquarium. However, since the water volume in a nano aquarium is so small, there’s very little scope for error, so you must be prepared to monitor the water quality and stay on top of housekeeping jobs. 

How often should you clean a nano aquarium?

Assuming your nano tank isn’t overstocked, you’ll need to clean it once weekly. Carry out a 25 percent water change, vacuum the substrate, and clean algae from the aquarium glass once a week. Rinse the filter media once a month in tank water you collected while performing water changes and replace spent media as per the manufacturer’s guidelines. 

What’s the best shape for a nano aquarium? 

Nano tanks come in various shapes, including cubes, rectangles, and bowls. The shape of the tank you choose will be dictated to some extent by the fish species you decide to keep.

For example, if you decide to keep some bottom dwellers, like pygmy corydoras catfish and a few shrimp, a long and shallow tank is best. We generally don’t recommend a bowl-shaped aquarium, as the surface area they provide is very small, which can prevent efficient gaseous exchange and leave the water oxygen-depleted. 

What extra equipment does a nano aquarium need? 

Just like any size of a fish tank, your nano aquarium needs a filtration system to keep the water clean and safe for your fish. 

If you’re keeping tropical fish, you need a heater to keep the water at the correct temperature. Don’t assume that because the tank is small, the water will be fine at room temperature. Most fish species are highly sensitive to changes in water temperature, and the ambient temperature is generally subject to fluctuations throughout the day and night. So, you need a heater. 

An aquarium thermometer is also necessary so you can keep an eye on the water temperature and make any adjustments to the heater if required. Some nano tank kits come with a free thermometer as an added extra.

You also want a lightning unit for your tank. Lighting is important if you want to keep live plants in the tank, as they won’t thrive without it. Plus, you want to see the stars of the show — your fish!

In Summary

A nano tank is generally an aquarium that’s less than 10 gallons, and it could be the ideal choice if you live in a small apartment or want something relaxing and interesting for your workplace desk. 

Even though nano tanks are small, they still require the same basic maintenance as larger setups. However, looking after a nano tank is much less time-consuming and expensive than caring for a full-size setup. 

Research your fish species carefully before stocking your new nano tank. Choose peaceful compatible types that won’t grow too large, and steer clear of territorial and aggressive species. 

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