Nano Aquascape

Nano Aquascape | Get it right the first time

Ever yearned to own a piece of the ocean? Then you are in the right place.

Whether your favourite is a freshwater biotope nano aquascape or a nano reef aquarium, you may need to brush up on some basics on how to set it up, the right choice of fish for it, and also the best plants to complete the setup.

A nano aquarium is a small-sized tank full of the small species of fish and slow-growing plants that can be fitted to a small space pretty much anywhere.

You could set it out in your office to boost the ambiance or even at your home. Who would mind a small piece of the ocean in their workplaces?

This small-sized tank makes it a perfect one-size-fits-all for aqua lovers. You just need to be dedicated to making the regular water changes in your tank.

What makes a nano aquascape interesting is the fact that it can be used by a beginner or an aquarist at the advanced level. For a beginner, a nano tank is a great deal for keeping a small number of fish just for the fun of it.

However, the advanced aquarist will be challenged every day to make the best out of it. This can be by making a perfect setup of plants and fish species to resemble a piece of the ocean.

You will be surprised watching summits where people compete to create the best experience of nano aquariums. But let’s save that for another day.

What is considered a nano aquascape?

nano aquascape

Probably when you heard the word nano, the first thing to pop up in your mind was something minute. Well, you have been right all this while.

Although there hasn’t been a standard measurement to refer to a tank as nano, generally any tank that is less than 10 gallons is referred to as a nano tank.

With the ever-evolving world, most people’s interest has shifted from visiting large aquarium museums to put that smile on their face to wanting to own at least a piece of it. It is less engaging to own a nano aquarium than commit yourself to obtaining and decorating a large tank.

There is a wide variety of nano tank setups that include shrimp only tanks, freshwater setups and not forgetting the beautiful nano reef tanks. These setups provide an intriguing environment for a wide species of small fish.

The challenge of owning a nano tank is maintaining the suitable water parameters or your fish. This is caused by the small volume of water a nano tank has.

Unlike a huge aquarium, a small volume of water easily shifts conditions. Therefore, you have to be very vigilant and regularly check for it’s parameters and change the water when necessary.

However, after I get you through the different parameters you need to understand, setting up a nano tank and maintaining it should not be a tussle for you. Set yourself different from other coworkers with a nano tank in your office!

See also: Aquaponics fish tank for beginners

How do you set up a nano aquarium?

For starters, ensure you get a complete kit. This will make setting up a nano aquascape easy.

A complete kit always comes with a filter and a light. In most cases, the light is attached to the top of the tank. If you get the right kit, you may be lucky to find the filters integrated. This even makes the setup even easier.

The first step is selecting the location for setting up your nano tank. It will be lighter to carry your nano tank without water inside.

Ensure that the location is not directly in contact with natural sources of light. This will inhibit the growth of algae (You don’t want to continuously clean algae from your tank).

The location should also be away from heat sources. These include printers, computers, kitchen.

Secondly, clean up the tank. A brand new tank is no exception. There could be dust particles in it.

In the case where you are setting up a previously used tank, clean using warm water and vinegar to kill all bacteria and germs.

The third step is to add sand or gravel. The substrate should cover at least an inch of the bottom. You may need to increase the height of the substrate depending on the species of fish you intend to.

At this stage, you can add your decorations. Make it as beautiful as the ocean.

The next step is to install your equipment. This includes properly installing your filter and heater. When setting up a saltwater tank, you will have to install a powerhead and a protein skimmer too.

It’s now time to prepare your water. The type of water you add will depend on if you are setting up a freshwater or saltwater tank.

Make use of reverse osmosis water or you could alternatively remove the chlorine. If you are setting up a nano reef tank, add your salt.

After preparing your water, add it to the tank to the brim. Here is a tip on how to prevent the substrate from dispersing doing this. Place a small bowl at the top of the substrate and pour water onto it.

After this, you will be needed to cycle your water. This is vital in completing the nitrogen cycle.

The nitrogen cycle will allow the development of beneficial bacteria to grow and pile up. They will enable the conversion ammonia and nitrates to keep your fish healthy. This process takes anywhere between four to six weeks.

The moment you have been waiting for has reached. It’s time to add your precious fish. You will however need to allow them to acclimatize to adapt to the new environment.

First, allow them to float on the water in the bag they came in. Then slowly add a cup of water every five minutes until the bag is full. After this, release the fish into the water and enjoy the work of your hands.

See also: Large bow front aquarium

How do you plant a nano tank?

The type of equipment your nano aquascape needs will solely depend on the type of tank you want to set up, that is; a freshwater or a saltwater setup.

The minimum standard equipment for both is a light source and a filter. You may need a heater if you are into keeping tropical fish and plants. A heater is not required for cold-water fish.

Tank Filter

Filters are vital when setting up a nano tank. Since the volume of water in a nano tank is small, pollutants tend to accumulate fast.

A good filter will provide a constant flow of water into your tank. This will keep your water always clean providing a good environment for your fish.

A majority of nano tanks available in the market will come with an inbuilt filtration unit right at the back.


Any live creature needs light. If you are planning on having life in your tank, then you certainly need adequate light.

Most tanks come with inbuilt lighting systems. If yours misses it, then don’t be afraid to purchase one.

Since most people put live plants in their nano tanks, the light will enable the plants to photosynthesize. Most species of fish also need light to assume a natural wild environment.

Also, the light will make your aquascape look even brighter. You will also be able to identify ill fish early.


You will also need a heater if you are planning on keeping tropical fish. Tropical fish require a consistent temperature of the water.

To achieve this, you will need a heater. Fish are cold-blooded; meaning they cannot regulate their temperature. They entirely depend on the water temperature to do this for them.

The optimum temperature for tropical fish ranges from 75 to 800F. Adjustable heaters will allow you to achieve this.


To have a great plant aquarium, CO2 is vital. Plants use this gas to manufacture their food.

This is quite a commitment to provide but it will reward you in the long run. You could use automated systems as they are easy to use.
You can also opt for affordable DIY systems; they are less difficult to build. Other options such as liquid carbon are also available.

When supplementing the water with carbon, it is important to ensure you supply adequate tablets and liquid nutrients to the water to keep up with the fast synthesizing plants.

Nutrients and fertilizers

Aquatic plants may feed through the leaves, others through the roots while others may use a mixture of both. It is therefore important to supplement the plants with the needed nutrients for growth.

nano aquascape gardening

Nano Aquascape Ideas

When deciding on the species of fish to stock in your nano aquascape, there are some things you need to consider. The major one being how large the fish will eventually grow.

Your eyes may deceive you upon buying the fish. They may look small at first but eventually turn out to grow big.

Ensure that the species of fish you acquire are not overly active swimmers since this means they will require large volumes of water to swim through.

Here are some great fish ideas for you to pick from;

Freshwater Fish

  • Sparkling gourami
  • Pea puffer
  • Scarlet badis
  • Green neon tetra
  • Betta fish
  • Endler’s livebearer
  • Chili Rasbora
  • Salt and pepper cory

Saltwater Fish

It is rare to find a saltwater fish that can comfortably live in a 5-gallon tank. The following fish species should be kept in a 10-gallon nano tank.

  • Neon blue goby
  • Firefish
  • Banded possum wrasse
  • Panamic barnacle blenny
  • Pygmy coral croucher goby

If you need to ignite the spark in your nano reef tank, here are some great ideas of soft corals you can add.

  • Clove polyps
  • Zoanthid Polyps
  • Xenia polyps
  • Green star polyps
  • Toadstool corals
  • Other great Aquatic Species

Shrimps and snails will add some omp to your nano aquascape. Here are some great candidates:

Making a nano aquarium is all about getting a little bit creative. Plants are a nice addition to your nano tank.

You should however be careful to ensure that the type of plant add to your tank is not the fast-growing type. You don’t want to spend all your time trimming them.

You could take your nano tank to the next level by incorporating a paludarium. This is a mixture of water and land.

You could put land species as well as water species in your water to create beautiful scenery. You could go by this slow-growing plant species.

  • Dwarfhair grass
  • Anubias nana
  • Staurogyne repens
  • Nano bonsai aquascape

Traditionally, these trees were grown in pots and kept in the compounds to glow the environment. Did you know it is theoretically possible to grow these trees in your nano tank?

If you want to take your aquarium even a notch higher, you can incorporate bonsai trees in it. This is a fascinating way of bringing beauty to your nano tank.

These trees can grow with their roots submerged in water. This is referred to as hydroponic growth. Here are a few things you need to do to successfully grow these trees in your nano tank; The water must be regularly changed to inhibit the rotting of its roots and the growth of algae.

You will be needed to add liquid nutrient supplements to your nano aquascape to supply the tree with the nutrients it requires.

Try to add nutrients at least once a week. In case the tree has initially been grown on soil, it must be given time to slowly adapt to the life of submerged roots.

See also: Are Air Bubbles Good for Fish Tank

Nano aqua

Is nano aquascape for you?

Passion has no limits. Get a nano aquascape if you are passionate about fish. We recommend you acquire a tank of a least 5 gallons.

A nano aquascape is a good treasure to hold in your house or workplace. It is also great for people already running a large tank. It can be used as a breeding tank or a quarantine tank for sick fish.


Tropical Fish Magazine [TFM]: Aquatic Gardening, Nano Style

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