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June 12, 2015

Happy weekend, friends!  


In case you haven't heard, June is National Zoo and Aquarium Month.  While we aren't exactly a public aquarium, I thought it might be fun to do a series of newsletters themed around aquaria.  This week, I'll cover the humble nano tanks up to ten gallons, with larger aquaria to come throughout the month.


I am defining a nano freshwater tank as those ten gallons or under or an aquarium with at least one dimension at eight inches or less - in Marine keeping these are defined as 35 gallons or less, but as ten and twenty gallon aquaria are very prevalent in the freshwater hobby, it seems a reasonable place to draw a divide.


Nano tanks are known as advanced tanks due to their small size - it is much harder to keep a small volume of water chemically stable.  I find it helpful to think of it like cooking:  If I'm cooking soup in a quart saucepan, just enough for one person, and I add an extra half a tablespoon of salt, it's going to be noticeable, quite untasty, and not exactly fixable without a lot of dilution.  On the other hand, if I'm cooking up a giant, several-gallon kettle of soup and I add an extra half a tablespoon of salt, it's not likely to taste that much saltier - not a real big deal. 


The same is true for an aquarium.  If you add an extra bit of buffer to your 55 gallon aquarium, it's not a big deal, but if you add the same amount to your 5 gallon nano tank, your pH and hardness will change dramatically, necessitating a rapid series of water changes to bring the aquarium's chemistry back to acceptable levels.  This applies, of course, to any aquarium additives, including fertilizers for plants, extra fish food, medications and algae treatments.  Therefore, I think it's important to know your dosages and to exercise caution whenever working with a nano tank.


Nano tanks are very popular as planted tanks and for good reason - a little bit of work and a small investment can get you a stunning aquarium.  The general short depth of the tank makes it easy to grow a carpet of high-light plants and only a few pots are needed to cover the aquarium's substrate.  Good plants include any known for being "foreground" plants such as Glosso or Micro Sword, small-leaved or creeping stem plants like needle leaf Ludwigia or Cardamine lyrata, and dwarf varieties and species such as Rotala sp. Bonsai, Anubias barteri var. nana "Petite" and "Bonsai". The variety of colorful, plant-friendly nano fish also helps with this popularity.  Dedicated shrimp tanks are also a popular nano aquarium style, and with a size of up to ten gallons, one can even keep a small group of Tanganyikans.


A non-exhaustive list of fish suitable for Nano aquaria is below - click on the common name to be taken an image of the fish!



Some Centerpiece Fish for the Nano Aquarium


Common Name

Scientific Name


Dwarf Freshwater Shrimp

Caridina spp., Neocaridinaspp.

2 gallons, lightly heated.

Small tankmates.

Fancy Male Betta

Betta splendens

2.5 gallons, heated.

No tankmates.

Blue Paradise Fish

Macropodus opercularis

2.5 gallons, unheated.

No tankmates.

Cherry Betta,

Strawberry Betta

Betta channoides,

Betta albimarginata

5 gallons for pair.

10 gallons for group.

Flame Red Badis,

Flame Jewel Badis

Dario hysginon,

Dario kajal

5 gallons for group.

Quiet tankmates.

Dwarf Pea Puffer

Carinotetraodon travancoricus

5 gallons for first puffer.

2.5 gallons per add'l. 

No tankmates.

Sparkling Gourami

Trichopsis pumila

2.5 gallons for few.

6 gallons for ten.


Lamprologus multifasciatus

10 gallons for a pair.

No tankmates.

Crocodile Toothpick Fish

Indostomus crocodylus

10 gallons for a group.

No tankmates.


Caridina cf. cantonensis var.


Betta albimarginata  Trichopsis pumila


Some Schooling Fish for the 5-10 Gallon Nano Aquarium


Common Name

Scientific Name

Adonis Tetra

Lepidarchus adonis

Ruby Tetra

Axelrodia riesei

Ember Tetra

Hyphessobrycon amandae

Dwarf Pencilfish

Nannostomus marginatus

Dwarf Amber Barb

Barboides gracilis

Spotted Danio

Brachydanio nigrofasciatus

Celestial Pearl Danio

Celestichthys margaritatus

Emerald Dwarf Rasbora

Celestichthys erythromicron

Chili Rasbora

Boraras brigittae

Exclamation Point Rasbora

Boraras urophthalmoides

Pygmy Spotted Rasbora

Boraras maculatus

Phoenix Rasbora

Boraras merah

Strawberry Rasbora

Boraras naevus

Green Rasbora

Microdevario kubotai

Neon Rasbora "Axelrodi" Blue

Sundadanio goblinus

Neon Rasbora "Axelrodi" Green

Sundadanio margarition

Neon Rasbora "Axelrodi" Red

Sundadanio rubellus

Dwarf Scissortail Rasbora

Rasbosoma spilocerca

Norman's Lampeye Killi

Aplocheilichthys normani

Clown Killi

Pseudepiplatys annulatus

Spotted Blue Eye Rainbow

Pseudomugil gertrudae

Aru IV Spotted Blue Eye Rainbow

Pseudomugil gertrudae "Aru IV"


Dwarf Scissortail Rasbora


Celestichthys erythromicron Pseudomugil gertrudae "Aru IV"


Some Specialty Fish for the 5-10 Gallon Nano Aquarium


Common Name

Scientific Name


Pygmy Cory

Corydoras pygmaeus

Bottom dweller

Burmese Mini Bumblebee Goby

Brachygobius xanthomelas

Bottom dweller

Filament Moth Cat

Hara filamentosa

Bottom dweller

Dwarf Anchor Cat

Hara jerdoni

Bottom dweller

Burmese Rosy Loach

Petruichthys sp.

Bottom dweller

Panda Loach

Yaoshania pachychilus

Algae eater; 

Bottom dweller

Common Oto

Otocinclus arnoldi

Algae eater

Sun Snail

Neritina sp.

Algae eater

Zebra Nerite Snail

Neritina natalensis

Algae eater

African Dwarf Frog

Hymenochirus boettgeri


Assassin Snail

Clea helena

Pest snail control


Hymenochirus boettgeri


Petruichthys sp. Rosy  Hara jerdoni


There are a surprising number of options for the humble 5 gallon aquarium, and these tiny aquariums are light enough to place on a table, desk or even a nightstand.  Their ease of relocation and upkeep time make nano tanks a very popular option, especially in an office.  Don't let the tiny size fool you - these little tanks pack a lot of punch wherever they're seen.


In addition to being National Aquarium Month, it's also National Rivers Month!  As such, I'd like to tell you about a few of our nearby rivers - this week, the mighty Columbia River.  It is, by far, the largest river in the Northwest and fourth largest river in the United States.  The river measures about 1,243 miles from its headwaters to the ocean and originates in British Columbia.  



Its heavy flow has made it a prime place for the building of hydroelectric dams and it currently sports fourteen of these massive monsters - the Columbia and its tributaries are the greatest producers of hydroelectric power in the States.  I'm sure those of you who have played the Oregon Trail in the  late 80s and early 90s remember floating down this river - I guarantee you it's not that straight, and the building of the dams have all but eliminated mid-river rocks and rapids. 



Of course, these dams have caused many issues with the river's fish and we here in the Pacific Northwest have put a lot of time and effort into improving the migratory options for native salmon, sturgeon and other migratory fish.  Native fish include such tasty fish as Bull, Cutthroat, Steelhead and Rainbow Trout, Chinook (King), Coho and Sockeye Salmon.  Not so tasty native fish include several species of Catostomus suckers, minnows and daces, over five species of sculpins, two lampreys, and the absolutely amazing White Sturgeon, the largest freshwater fish in North America.  We rarely see them at this size any more, but the maximum size of this fish is twenty feet in length. It's no surprise that the Columbia is a prime sport fishing location in our area, even for our famous Anthony.


Anthony Perry on the Columbia


Well, thank you for reading and we'll see you back here next week!


Jessica Supalla