Small tanks, typically referred to as “nano tanks”, have become very popular, and we carry a large selection of them. Nano tanks are most usually used for bettas – Siamese fighting fish. These brightly colored fish with long flowing fins are all male Betta splendens. They are all commercially bred by the millions in Bangkok, and they are especially suited for small tanks, because they are not very active or fast swimmers, and they have the ability to take oxygen from atmospheric air through an organ they have called the “labyrinth”.
The very small tanks for bettas really do not require a filter, although we do have small filters for these tanks. Bettas will do just fine with a weekly water change. The limitation is that you really cannot keep any other fish with a betta in a small tank. Bettas do best on their own, in a tank with some gravel and a few plants.
The next step up in nano tanks are the small tanks that are complete systems, where the tank includes an integral light and filter. These range in size from around 5 gallons up to 20, and they make terrific aquariums for desks, the kitchen, or a child’s room. Very often, the complete systems are the first tank that hobbyists start off with. With a good gravel substrate and some growing live plants, these nano tanks are excellent for small fish. The fish that do best in these tanks include fancy guppies, honey and dwarf gouramis, platies, White Cloud Mountain fish, zebras and other danios. For scavengers you can keep any of the smaller corydoras catfish, or otocinclus algae eaters.
We have a large selection of these small complete system tanks, as well as a large number of different fish that will do very well in them.
Species or “Pet Fish” Tanks
Many people enjoy keeping a tank with only one species, or genus, of fish – or a single fish that they consider a real “pet” in that the fish learns to relate more to its keeper that a typical community tank of fishes. By far the most popular “pet” fish are oscars (Astronotus ocellatus). These large cichlids are native to South American, and get to be about 10” – 12” in a tank, eventually requiring at least a 55-gallon tank just for them alone. Other cichlids such as Jack Dempseys, Jaguar Cichlids and Red Devils also make good “pet” fish.
Other fish that hobbyists enjoy keeping in a species tank are fish like gars, puffers and “oddballs” like lungfish and electric cats. We do offer these fish for sale at times, but want to make sure that you realize that they are not for inclusion in a community tank. We try to clearly mark these fish that are best kept alone in a species tank.
The Planted Tank
We encourage all of our Customers to keep live plants in their tanks – the fish do better, the wastes are used by the plants, and the tanks look great with live plants. Some folks may want to go beyond a fish tank with plants and have a planted tank with fish, where the plants are the real featured items. For densely planted tanks, there are a few requirements.
- Substrate – rather than regular plain gravel, planted tanks do much better when any of the special substrates that we carry for planted tanks are used. These should be put into the tank when it is bare and without water, and they should not be washed, as this will remove all of the good things that have been added to make plants grow well.
- Lighting systems – the standard one lamp light that is fine for fish tanks with plants is insufficient for a tank where plants are the focus. Two lamp fixtures are best, and the amount of light is dependent upon the depth of the tank. With tanks that are 12” deep or so, 2 watts per gallon will usually be sufficient; in deeper tanks you may need as much as twice that amount, 4 – 5 watts per gallon
- CO2 – Carbon dioxide “injection” makes plants grow better, as long as they have enough light to produce that faster growth. We have simple CO2 systems that run on yeast, and need to be replenished every few weeks, or you can get systems with canisters of compressed CO2 that will last much longer.
- Foods and Additives – To support faster plant growth, and for some of the more delicate plants, it is necessary to monitor levels of iron and other components of the water, and to regularly use additives as needed.
One final thing you need to know about tanks where plants are the focus – you cannot keep a lot of fish in the tank, and we usually recommend only certain fish – small tetras such as cardinals and neons, rasboras and the like. We also recommend many algae eaters such as shrimps and otocinclus cats. If what you want is primarily a planted tank, please consult with us on any fish you add, as most fish will at least nibble at, if not eat, some of the more delicate plants that people keep in these heavily planted tanks.