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What’s New in Nano Tanks

Posted: October 21, 2013, 12:45 p.m. EDT


By David Lass

The popularity of nano tanks is growing as more manufacturers bring out their latest offerings. Very imaginative sizes and shapes are showing up, along with many small fish, shrimps and plants to populate these tanks.

The technology for shaping glass and plastic has improved to the point that now virtually any shape nano tank can be made, but from what I see in my trips to local fish stores across the country, the basic "fish tank” rectangular shape is what is most popular. These nano tanks are being sold in complete kit form, with filter, light/cover, gravel, etc. The only item that is still not usually being included in a nano tank kit is a heater, which is probably because the potential problems of having any heater in a very small volume of water are not insignificant. Five watt heaters are available, but they are not controllable so the risk of overheating is real; some stores are showing nano tanks with heating pads under the tank, mostly those intended for reptile tanks.

Virtually all of the lights being used for nano tanks nowadays are LEDs. This has the advantage of providing plenty of light for the tank (enough to grow plants very well) without the risk of adding too much heat to the tank. Even small compact fluorescent lighting could add too much heat to a nano tank. Filters for nano tanks have also improved greatly. There are now many choices of small outside power filters designed with a low enough flow rate not to create any turbulence in such a small volume of water, but to efficiently filter the tank. There are even mini protein skimmers for hobbyists who want to try a mini reef.

Nano Tank
Nano tank demand is on the rise. David Lass

The options for animals to populate nano tanks keep expanding. Glo-fish are very popular, with many setups designed specifically for them. Tiny rasboras and other fish such as the celestial pearl danio are being commercially bred, and their prices now are lower  in accordance with their small sizes. Ornamental shrimps have become a market unto their own, with new varieties appearing weekly. When the latest and greatest new shrimp hits the market the prices can be staggering – I just saw a blue bolt lighting shrimp offered for $150. This I guess means someone will pay that price. However, since they reproduce easily and quickly, if a new shrimp is popular the price usually comes down to the $2 -- $4 range rather quickly. In addition to shrimps, nano tanks also make great displays for a specimen fish or invert. Small crayfish, that are available in blue, red, white and yellow make an interesting nano tank – and they must be alone, as they will eat anything else in the tank with them.

The best way to sell nano tanks still seems to be to have as many as possible set up and running, preferably right at the checkout counter. Some stores use nano tanks at checkout to sell shrimps from, which works very well.

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