If you’re looking for the best nano aquarium, you’ve come to the right place.
Small nano-sized tanks are becoming more and more popular each year with aquarists wanting a setup that they can keep on their desk or in smaller areas. They also enjoy being able to move the tank around without having to dismantle it completely.
If you want to join the latest craze, we’ve taken care of the research and brought together 7 of the best nano tanks available in 2019.
What Are The Best Nano Tanks In 2019?
With so many different nano aquarium kits available, it can be time-consuming to sift through each of them to determine which is the best for you.
1. Fluval Flex - looks sleek and clean
The Fluval Flex is a great nano aquarium size for beginners and experienced aquarists. They are primarily designed for freshwater livestock. For a nano aquarium setup, it’s one of the best kits that we’ve been able to find.
The Fluval Flex is an all-in-one design that helps keep the tank small and compact. It also has a modern contemporary look that fits into many existing design elements. The curved glass is ultra-clear, and the tank features a built-in filtration system that works well.
The kit includes your foam filter to help capture larger particles, algae, debris, uneaten food, and fish waste. You also get activated carbon to help break up organic materials. The bio-filter works to remove ammonia and nitrate buildup.
The Fluval Flex also has an internal pump that pulls water into the filter and expels it through the outlet tube. You can control the LED lighting system, adjust the colors, and time the lights to match a daytime and nighttime cycle.
You can get this tank in either a 9-gallon or a 15-gallon size, depending on how big you want to go with your setup.
- This is easy to set up, all-in-one system that has everything you need.
- The filter and pump are effective with dual outlets.
- The LED lighting system is energy-efficient.
- The included LED light is 7500K to help sustain plant life.
- The Fluval Flex does not include a heater.
- The cover for the tank is not on a hinge.
- You cannot adjust the water flow rate on the pump.
- Some customers are turned off by the curved display.
2. Marineland Contour - Easy to use
The next nano fish tank for sale is the Marineland Contour. This freshwater nano tank comes in a couple of different sizes. You can get it in a smaller 3-gallon size, as well as a slightly larger 5-gallon size. Depending on your needs, we usually recommend the larger tank.
The size difference between the two is almost negligible. To give you an example, the smaller tank measures 12” x 12” x 12.5” and weighs 10.5 lbs. The larger tank measures 11.8” x 11.8” x 16.8” and weighs 12 pounds. Unless you prefer a smaller size, get the 5-gallon.
The Marineland Contour is a glass aquarium kit that includes most of what you need to get started. For instance, you get a bright overhanging LED lighting system with dual settings and a glass canopy. You also get a 3-stage filter that is molded into the tank.
- The Marineland Contour is built with high-quality materials and processes.
- The design of the Marineland Contour is incredibly contemporary and straightforward.
- The included pump operates quietly and allows you to adjust the flow.
- If you’re building a planted aquarium, you may need a different light.
3. Fluval Spec V - Beautiful And Safe
The Fluval Spec V is a glass nano aquarium that offers a modern look that matches most interior decorating and design. The kit includes a tank that measures 17.2” x 10.6” x 6.3” and is constructed from etched glass that is crystal clear.
The kit includes the pump and filtration system. The included pump is more than powerful enough for the small tank but can easily be adjusted based on your needs. You also get a 3-stage filter that includes your porous foam, BioMax rings, and activated carbon.
Most customers have reported using this tank for a single Betta fish, but it can also be used as a planted aquarium with multiple other species. Remember, if you are keeping tropical fish, you will need to purchase a heater separately.
- This tank is wide, which provides plenty of room for your fish to swim.
- The pump operates quietly, making this great for your desk or office.
- This is one of the most competitively priced nano tanks we’ve featured.
- The filtration system and pump are effective and easy to clean.
- The light may need to be changed if you intend to keep plants.
4. JBJ Nano Cube DX - Unique And Dynamic
The JBJ Nano Cube DX is a 6-gallon tank that is manufactured from crystal clear acrylic plastic.
The tank, itself, measures 16” x 16” x 11.5” and comes in at a hefty 21 pounds. You can choose from both 12-gallon and 24-gallon sizes, depending on your plans for the tank and how large you want to go.
Each tank comes with a proper 3-stage filter and a lighting kit. Both include cooling fans to help keep the heat at bay. However, if you are keeping tropical fish, you may need to purchase an external heater to maintain your water’s temperature.
- The design is functional and straightforward.
- The price tag is attractive.
- The lighting kit and filtration system work great.
- Acrylic has been known to scratch easily and builds up a hazy look.
- Customers have complained that JBJ’s customer service is horrible.
5. Fluval Edge - Easy To use
The Fluval Edge is the best nano tank for shrimp we have found so far. You can find the Fluval Edge in two different sizes. The 6-gallon measures 13.7” x 17” x 14.3” while the larger 12-gallon size measures 13.7” x 17” x 26”. The 12-gallon is nearly twice as high as the 6-gallon.
Both tanks feature the same filter, pump, and lighting system, so it’s recommended to get the smaller 6-gallon tank. The 6-gallon tank features a 21-lamp LED lighting kit to simulate both daytime and nighttime cycles.
When you’re getting the 6-gallon tank, the included pump and filter more than enough and shouldn’t need to be replaced. However, with the 12-gallon tank, the pump and filter may be weaker than you prefer. This is something to think about before you buy it.
If you’re looking for a rimless nano tank, this is one of the best you’ll find.
- The design of the Fluval Edge makes it incredibly attractive.
- The lighting system is sufficient for both sizes of tanks.
- The included filtration system makes maintenance easy to do.
- These tanks are constructed from high-quality materials.
- The design of the cover makes it hard to get into the tank.
6. Marina 5G LED - safe for fish
The Marine 5G LED kit comes in a few different sizes. You can get the tank ranging from a 5-gallon size up to a 20-gallon capacity, depending on what you want from your setup. The kit comes with everything you need for installation and maintenance.
Marine packs their S10 filtration system, along with an LED lighting system, and a guide that helps you care for your new aquarium. You also get a few other goodies, like fish food samples and water conditioners that let you use your faucet’s tap water in your new tank.
This is a great tank for beginners that allows you to get up and to run as quickly as possible.
- Marine includes everything you need to get started.
- The included guide makes setting up and maintaining your tank easy to understand.
- The filtration system works excellent for the smaller tank size.
- The tank does not include any decorations or substrate.
7. Vepotek Nano - high-performance energy-efficient
One of the most significant selling points for a nano tank is the design and functionality. The Vepotek Nano tank is tapping into that desire by delivering an uncompromising design that has proven to be timeless and aesthetically pleasing.
One of the most significant selling points of the Vepotek Nano is the LED lighting kit. It features 39 LED bulbs that come in 4 different shades, giving you quite a bit of adjustment. It is also one of the only tanks that have a built-in timer to control the lighting system.
Another selling point is that this is a glass aquarium. While acrylic may be prevalent in some circles, many people find that it scratches and hazes too quickly. Glass, on the other hand, maintains its clarity for years and doesn’t face the same issues.
- The filtration system works great for a small number of fish.
- The LED lighting system with 39 LED bulbs is sturdy and adjustable.
- This is an incredibly aesthetically pleasing, minimalist design.
- This tank does not have a lid -- be careful with fish that are known to jump.
- Some customers complained about having to replace the filtration system.
What’s The Ideal Nano Aquarium Size?
This is a question that’s going to require a personal answer. For the most part, “nano” tanks refer to any aquarium that’s smaller than 30 gallons. You can find them as low as 1 gallon in the case of Betta tanks.
You’ll want to think about your level of experience. Is this your first system? If it is, you may benefit from a tank at the larger end of the spectrum.
However, if you’re an experienced aquarist, a smaller tank may be more comfortable for you to maintain.
Larger tanks are less susceptible to swings in water quality, temperature, and nutrient levels, which makes them great for experienced aquarists.
If you aren’t already familiar with how to maintain the water’s quality, though, a larger tank will make it easier for you to keep a healthy balance for your livestock.
Acrylic Nano Tanks vs. Glass Nano Tanks
This is a common question many new nano tank owners find themselves wondering. Which is better, an acrylic nano tank or a glass nano tank?
There are a few pros and cons to each material. Depending on what you need from the tank, one may work better in your situation than the other.
Glass Nano Aquarium Pros
- Glass tanks tend to cost less than acrylic tanks, size for size.
- Glass tanks are more comfortable to obtain than acrylic tanks.
- Glass tanks do not distort your vision into the tank.
- Glass inherently maintains it’s clarity.
- Glass tanks are built using standard industry specifications.
Glass Nano Aquarium Cons
- Glass aquariums are heavier than acrylic aquariums.
- Scratches in glass aquariums can be impossible to fix.
- You’re limited to square and rectangular shapes.
- Glass is easier to break than acrylic.
Acrylic Aquarium Pros
- Acrylic tanks are easier to move around because of their lighter weight.
- Acrylic tanks are, in general, more durable than glass tanks.
- You can choose from a wide variety of shapes and sizes with acrylic tanks.
- You can quickly drill holes into the side of acrylic without it cracking.
- You can re-polish an acrylic tank if it dulls, yellows, or gets scratched.
- Acrylic tanks are, in general, more transparent than glass tanks.
Acrylic Aquarium Cons
- Acrylic tanks are susceptible to scratching and gouging.
- The bottom on acrylic tanks is weaker than glass.
- Acrylic tanks may become discolored or hazy over time.
- Acrylic tanks tend to cost more, on average, than glass tanks.
- Acrylic tanks with unique shapes can be hard to fit equipment around.
Glass Or Acrylic? Which Should You Choose?
Each material has its own set of pros and cons. What works for one person may not work for another. The answer truly comes down to what you need and, in some cases, simply what you want from the tank.
If a square or rectangular tank is all you need and weight doesn’t matter, a glass tank is often more affordable. However, if you want a unique shape or want to keep your weight down, an acrylic tank could be worth the extra investment.
Benefits Of Nano Tanks
There are quite a few different reasons nano tanks are quickly becoming so popular. Below are a small number of the critical benefits that nano aquariums have over their larger counterparts.
You Save MoneyThis is one of the biggest reasons nano tank setups are so attractive. You save a significant amount of money over the cost of putting together a larger tank. Everywhere you look, you’re saving money.
From the amount of substrate to the number of decorations, the number of fish, amount of water, and the size of your equipment, everything is smaller and designed to cost less. You also use less power, fewer chemicals, and have less livestock than many other larger tanks.
You Save Space
You Save TimeWhile initially setting your tank up may take as much time as a standard tank, nano tanks require significantly less time overall.
Take, for instance, water changes. Changing the water in a 100-gallon tank takes quite a bit more time than changing 20% of the water in a nano tank. Instead of swapping 20 gallons in the more extensive system you can get away with moving 2 gallons in a smaller system.
Water changes and maintenance (in general) are usually enough to keep people from wanting to get into the hobby. Knowing they can spend less time performing them can be a huge selling point.
You Save WeightThis is an area that many people do not think about before they start putting together everything needs to assemble a tank. Weight can be a huge factor, though.
Aquariums get heavy. There’s no way around it. The bigger the aquarium you have, the more weight you’re going to need to support.
Take, for instance, a 125-gallon tank that could weigh more than 300 pounds. Compare that to a smaller 5-gallon nano tank that weighs 50 pounds, and you start to see the difference.
More substantial tanks could require additional expenses in the form of a custom aquarium stand. When you’re building a smaller nano tank, you typically do not need to worry about where you’re placing it once it is set up.
You can also move a smaller nano tank around if you get bored with where it’s located.
Size is the name of the game with nano tanks. A nano aquarium requires significantly less space than a standard aquarium. A nano tank is specifically designed to fit into smaller spaces, such as your desk or countertop.
If you live in an apartment, a dorm room, have a small office or want to set up a tank on your desk, you’re going to be hard-pressed to fit a standard-sized aquarium. Standard aquariums become an even bigger issue if you ever need to move the tank.
Drawbacks Of Nano Tanks
Now comes the time when we are going to get real with you. Nano tanks are incredibly attractive. However, they’re not for everyone.
If you are planning to create a highly-diversified ecosystem, full of different plants, fish, and live rocks, a nano tank may not be what you need. You probably won’t be happy with it.
Likewise, if you’re a complete beginner, maintaining a nano tank can be slightly more challenging to do. Smaller tanks are more susceptible to temperature fluctuations and buildup of toxins.
There’s significantly less room for error. To give you an example, if you notice algae building up in a larger tank, you have time to get rid of it. However, in a smaller tank that bloom could completely take over within a day or two.
This is especially true with systems smaller than 10-gallons in size.
A larger nano tank (in the 20 to 30-gallon range) will be less susceptible to the swings in water temperature and quality but are still more vulnerable than a larger 100-gallon tank, for instance.
Larger tanks give you the ability to make mistakes without being punished as bad for them. Smaller tanks require more attention to detail but aren’t impossible to maintain, by any means.
Quick Nano Aquarium Setup Guide
Because of their smaller size, nano tanks are incredibly easy to set up. The kits that you’ll find typically include everything you need outside of your plants and fish. If your filter is already attached to the tank, your set up is even easier.
Even if your tank comes with everything you need, however, there’s still a specific set of steps that you’ll want to take to ensure you’re giving yourself the best chance at success.
Set Your LocationThis is something you need to think about long before you begin adding water to your tank.
The location you choose is, in general, the place where your tank is going to remain. As you’re setting it up, the tank doesn’t weigh much. Once you install your substrate, rocks, plants, light, filter, heater, pump, and add fish, though, moving it becomes incredibly difficult.
Make sure that wherever you intend to install the tank can withstand the weight of the system once it is fully assembled. You also want to set up the tank away from natural light sources.
Natural light will cause your water temperature to fluctuate wildly while it also creates a scenario where algae can begin to grow out of control. On the same token, keep your tank away from heating and air conditioning vents. These will both cause temperature fluctuations.
Clean Your New Tank
Add Your Substrate & DecorateOnce you’ve properly cleaned your decorations, substrate, equipment, and tank, it’s time to begin adding it all together.
Start by lining the bottom of your aquarium with your substrate. Once you have lined the bottom of the tank with sand or gravel, it’s time to start adding in your plants and larger rocks.
This is your one chance to get everything the way you want it. You will be able to slightly shift things around once the water is in the tank, but it’s significantly harder to do than when your tank is still empty.
The type of livestock and plants that you’re going to use will determine the amount of substrate you need to use. Some fish do not mind how deep the substrate is, while others will require enough to burrow themselves into.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to ensure you have at least one inch of the substrate at the bottom of your tank.
Install Your AccessoriesNow, you’re going to need to begin installing your equipment.
It’s worth noting that you want to place the equipment in a way that isn’t going to disturb the hard work you put into your decorations and substrate.
For instance, if your filter’s outlet is too close to your substrate, it could end up repositioning your sand or gravel. Likewise, if you have planted too close to your light, it could create heat issues.
Begin by attaching your filter. Then, add your heater. Finally, if you are using one, install your powerhead and protein skimmer -- for saltwater tanks.
Begin Preparing Your WaterOnce you have your equipment installed and your tank decorated, the next step is to add water to the system slowly. Depending on whether you’re keeping a freshwater or a saltwater tank, your water preparation process will be different.
If you’re using tap water, you will need to let the water sit out, uncovered, for a few days. This will allow the chlorine to evaporate. If you want to bypass this step, you can use reverse osmosis water to cut to the chase.
If you are keeping a saltwater tank, you will need to add salt to the water. Balance the water to what your future livestock or corals will require from it.
Fill Your Tank
Test & Cycle Your WaterBefore you begin adding fish and plants to your water, you need first to make sure the quality is present. Your water may need to be cycled before you can add live organisms to it.
By now, you should already be operating your pump, heater, and filter. This will keep your water cycling on its own. However, running test kits to ensure that no harmful bacteria have begun to grow and that you aren’t housing toxins (like ammonia and nitrates) is critical.
Again, this is a slow and steady process. Freshwater tanks usually cycle pretty quickly. However, saltwater tanks can take anywhere from six to eight weeks before you reach your optimum quality.
A quality test kit will let you know how you’re doing. If the tests come back showing you need to cycle the water, remove half of what you have in the tank and replace it. Then, run your heater, pump, light, and filter again.
Eventually, your water will be ready for your livestock. Cycling before you add fish and plants will help cut down on the maintenance you have to do once you introduce live organisms to the system.
Add Your LivestockNow comes the fun part. Once your water has become stable, you can begin to add your livestock, plants, corals, and live rocks (for saltwater tanks).
You don’t want to drop your fish and plants into the water, though. You’ll want to give them time to acclimate to the change. Your fish should have come in a float bag. You can let them adjust to the water by allowing the float bag to sit in your tank for up to an hour.
This will gradually adjust the temperature in the bag to the temperature in your tank. That prevents you from shocking their system when you add them into the tank. Once the fish have become acclimated, you can release them into the tank.
Even if your system is brand new, you’re going to want to run through it with water and dish soap to remove any residue that could be leftover from the manufacturing process.
Scrub the insides of your tank with soapy water. Run fresh water through your filtration system.
Clean any equipment that is going to be submerged into your water. Add your substrate to a bucket and shake the substrate around to free and dirt and dust left behind. Strain the substrate back into another container and let it dry.
Clean your rocks and decorations.
The key here is to make sure you aren’t introducing any chemicals that were left behind during the manufacturing process. These chemicals, especially in a smaller nano aquarium, can be potentially harmful (even fatal) to your fish.
After your water has been prepared, you can start adding it to the tank.
Filling your tank with water requires a slow and steady process. You do not want to rush through adding the water because you will upset your substrate and have to start from the beginning.
The best approach to take is using a small cup or container to transfer the water from a larger container into your tank. The key to focus on is ensuring you aren’t displacing the substrate while you’re doing it.
What Equipment Does Your Nano Tank Need?
The type of equipment that you’re going to use in your nano tank isn’t much different from the equipment that you use in standard tanks. The main difference is in the size (and cost) of the equipment that you’ll be using.
Regardless of whether you’re keeping a freshwater or saltwater tank, you’re going to need (at least) a filter and a lighting setup. Then, choosing the remainder of your equipment comes down to the type of tank you’re going to be building.
FiltrationA quality filtration system is an absolute necessity for nano tanks. If you aren’t filtering your water, you could find yourself in a situation where the water needs a complete change within 24 hours or less.
Toxins and unhealthy bacteria quickly build up in nano tanks. Due to the smaller size, it takes far fewer of these to have a dramatic impact on your livestock’s quality of life.
Most nano tanks (especially kits) will come equipped with a filtration system built into the tank, itself. If the aquarium you’re thinking about purchasing doesn’t have a filter built into it, you’ll need to think about the size and quality of filter you’re buying.
A filtration system that hangs onto the back of your tank is going to be the safest and best bet for nano aquariums. You can find filtration systems that give you all three types of filtration -- chemical, biological, and mechanical.
Fish cannot regulate their body temperature, and smaller tanks are more susceptible to temperature fluctuations than larger tanks.
If your nano aquarium kit does not include a heater, you’ll want to purchase one that is adjustable and lets you control the temperature of the water. Tropical fish prefer conditions between 75 to 80 degrees so you can’t rely entirely on room temperature to keep them happy.
Your nano tank is also going to require a specific type of light. Again, most kits will come with a light that is designed to work with the size of the tank you’re getting. However, if it doesn’t, you need to make sure the light you’re buying isn’t going to overpower the small tank.
A quality light will mimic both daytime and nighttime cycles. Lights are required for just about everything from your fish, to your plants, coral, and live rocks.
A good light will let you see everything inside of your tank without being too bright. It will also be small enough to illuminate your entire tank without bleeding light outside of the tank. Too much light becomes a distraction and can be stressful to your fish and plants.
What Is The Best Nano Tank In 2019?
After thorough research, comparing different nano tanks, and sifting through hundreds of customer reviews, we have found the best nano tank in 2019 is the Fluval Flex.
Affiliate links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Last update on 2019-10-18.