Your Guide to Best Small Aquariums 2019

Published on June 19, 2019
Your Guide to Best Small Aquariums 2019

Small aquariums are the best habitat you could provide for your aquatic pets. They are an upgrade from the classic fishbowl, but they have the charms of a large aquarium.

We know how important that you find the best small aquarium for your fish. That is why we wrote everything you need to know before buying a small fish tank.

What are the Pros?

best small aquarium

photo by Roland Wampers

We all know how aquariums are such a delightful thing to watch. They are relaxing.

However, nano aquariums, in particular, have more than just that quality to feature. We listed the things that might make you love small aquariums more.

It’s Affordable

The good thing about a nano aquarium is that it will not cost you much. You can enjoy the tranquil view of a fish tank by investing just a small amount of money for any small fish tank.

There’s Always Room for It

A small aquarium only takes a minimal space. You could place it in a small college dorm room, an apartment, or even in a nursing home so patients could enjoy the little view.

Unlike fishbowls, which are also small, nano tanks have a more realistic mini underwater view. That is why they are the best choice for a fish habitat that can fit no matter what space.

Easier Water Changes

People often think that an aquarium is a high maintenance because of water changes. Changing the water is not exactly the most exciting of tasks.

However, a nano aquarium is not high maintenance in water changes. You only need to change a gallon or less to keep up the health of your small fish tank.

Effortless Decoration

You need not decorate a nano aquarium that much. That means that you can save both money and time in making your fish’s home look great.

A small fish tank only requires a few practical ornaments for it to look lively. You don’t have to worry about using those artistic skills you’re not even sure are there to squeeze out great ideas to fill your aquarium.

But.. What are the cons?

nano tank maintenance

photo by Chris Penny

Small aquariums are large aquariums’ down-size. That means that they may come with a few disadvantages that are worth checking before getting a small fish tank.

High Maintenance

Water in small fish tanks might be more natural to change, but overall maintenance requires a lot of attention. With less water, the fish in the nano aquarium would need more supervision.

A small volume of water is susceptible to changes in temperature and chemistry that may affect the fish in the tank. That is why small fish tank owners should observe their fish all the time.

Limited Fish Choice

A small aquarium can only have a few fish in it. Also, you will only have a small selection of fish types for it.

For people who want an aquarium where they could have a variety of fish, a nano aquarium might restrict you from that. With such little space, consider things like the maintenance, how the fish will interact, and the overall habitat sufficiency.

Lack of Stability

A small space is not the best home for any fish, although you can set up nano aquariums that can sustain aquatic life. Fish need to swim around freely in space enough to make them feel like they’re home.

A nano aquarium might not promote enough stability for fish. It is possible to maintain aquatic life there, but it will require a lot of work.

Types of Fish for Small Aquariums

When we said that your choice of fish to put in your small tank has limits, we meant that you might not add more prominent types. However, it will surprise you how many kinds of little fish can grace your nano aquarium.

We rounded up a list of the unique looking fish that you might find fascinating enough to get for your nano tank. Forget about the Goldfish; we found more interesting ones.

Betta Fish

Betta splendens

Betta splendens

Bettas have amazing colors and firm texture. They can survive in different water conditions, so they are a perfect nano tank fish.

Still, you cannot put these fish in a small cup or bowl despite their flexibility to live in minimal water. You should keep them in nano aquariums with at least 5 gallons with a heater and filter for them to live.

Dwarf Puffer

freshwater dwarf puffer fish

Dwarf Puffers are mostly saltwater species, but several types of them live in freshwater environments. Pea Puffer is one.

One Pea Puffer can grow comfortably in a tank. This fish only grows up to 1 inch so add this semi-aggressive little puffer in your nano tank.

Bumblebee Goby

Gobies are a unique 1.5-inch aquarium pet. Their bumblebee look must not be mistaken for sweetness as they are a little aggressive.

They are still out-competed for food, though, so you need to make sure that you feed them regularly and adequately. If you want to put Bumblebee Goby with another type of fish, you need to ensure that they are getting enough good.

Endler’s Livebearers

People know these little fish for their vibrant psychedelic patterns. They often breed too, so taking care of a couple might turn your nano aquarium into a full-blown aquatic habitat.

They are the most peaceful small fish you might ever encounter. That makes them the kind with the lowest maintenance, as they can keep calm even in different water conditions.

Norman’s Lampeye Killifish

One of the best small aquarium fish is the Lampeye Killifish, for it can thrive in any water environment. It is suitable for amateur aquarists, too.

They need plenty of live plants for them to be at their best health in your nano tank. They are peaceful and comfortable to take care of, so get one if you love a unique-eyed and calm fish.

Crystal Red Shrimp

They aren’t technically a fish, but they make great pets for a nano aquarium. Crystal Reds are not the ideal company of bigger fish as they might turn into their snacks.

However, they look beautiful, so if you want them, you would have to stick to a shrimp-only nano aquarium.

Celestial Pearl Danios

This type is among the smallest of the Danios group. It is colorful, fun to watch, and understandably the favorite of many nano tank owners.

We recommend that you keep them in groups of 4-6 since they are naturally schooling types. These fish are at their best when placed in 5-gallon fish tanks.

Their peaceful nature makes it easy for you to take care of them. They do not have issues with fighting for food.

They are omnivores so you can feed them both plant-based and meat-based foods. That is helpful for aquarists because they would have more options for food to choose from, especially if they are on a budget.

Small aquarium fish are usually just 1 inch to 1.5-inches. In terms of how many fish could fit in a particular nano tank, there is one way to determine that.

Keep in mind that the healthy ratio for aquarium space to the number of fish is 1 gallon = 1 inch of fish. It is vital that you follow this to maintain the sufficiency in the aquarium and life for your aquatic pets.

The Best Small Aquariums

There are a lot of nano aquariums out there, but not all of them can possess both beauty and function. That is why it could be hard to choose a nano aquarium despite how easy you might think it is.

Remember that in finding a small aquarium, you do not just see what suits your space best. You are also searching for the perfect home for your aquatic pet.

To make this task more comfortable for you, we listed the best picks we could find. It could be time-consuming to search for stable homes for your fish that also look pleasing, so we did the work for you.

Below are the top five small fish tanks for every aquarist—amateur or experienced.

MarineLand 5 Gallon Portrait Glass LED Aquarium

If you are looking for an unconventional nano aquarium, this portrait tank might be just for you. We highly recommend this nano aquarium for people who want a clear view of their mini aquatic world.

This preference is because this aquarium has hidden filtration and rounded corners that look neat from every side. It also has an LED lighting system that highlights the elegant finish of the tank, and you can even adjust it to natural daylight or moonlight settings.

The colors of the LED light could either be a sunlight-like bright white or night glow blue. The tank has a 3-way switch to toggle between the blue and white lights, off and blue-only option.

This curved glass aquarium provides easy access with its sliding glass canopy and hinged light, which might be helpful for new aquarists. This portrait nano tank is also easy to assemble and maintain so it could serve as a stable habitat for your little aquatic pets.

This 5-gallon portrait tank measures 11.8 x 11.6 x 17 inches and weighs 12 pounds. This aquarium kit comes with Marineland’s Rite-Size Z Cartridge, Bio-Foam, and an adjustable flow filter pump.

You can get this aquarium for an affordable price too. It even comes with a warranty.

Aqueon Betta Falls Kit

This nano fish tank follows a waterfall design. We included this small uncustomary aquarium in the list for people out there who want to try something unusual.

The waterfall, as they call it, provides a constant flow of filtered water into the three separate compartments that act as micro tanks. If you are not looking to put over three fish in your small aquarium, this might be the nano tank for you.

This aquarium does not require too much decoration and can only house up to three small fish (one for each compartment). It might be suitable for those who want to take care of different fish that might not exactly live in harmony if enclosed in one tank, though.

Here, you can display separately into compartments three different species of fish. The chambers also come with frosted panels to prevent the fish from seeing each other.

Betta Falls is contemporary, and its design fits any space—home or office. Its curved design that mimics a majestic waterfall makes it even more stylish.

It is the perfect aquarium for people who don’t like a style compromising function. The nano tank comes with a full indicator that shows the internal water level at a glance.

The tank also has a clean finish that prevents the system that keeps life in the compartments from being tastelessly exposed. It measures 16.9 x 11 x 11.4 inches and weighs just 4 pounds.

Penn Plax Vertex Desktop Aquarium Kit

If you want to view your plants and aquatic pets, this 2.7-gallon aquarium might be for you. It has a frameless design that makes viewing from every side seamless.

This nano aquarium also features a unique bent glass that makes such a seamless view even more spectacular. You can correctly place a 2.7-gallon fish tank on an office desk or a side table at home.

Any small space can host this breathtaking mini view of the ocean. It measures 10 x 8 x 9 inches, and its glass is ⅛-inch thick.

The unparalleled view made by the glass design and seam-free corners is not the only great thing about this aquarium kit. The aquarium kit comes with everything that you need to build a fish tank.

It has a free thermometer, net, and a water filter. You could easily use these things for maintenance because the tank has a plastic lid with hinges that are both secure and accessible.

This nano aquarium is the best for kids or amateur aquarists because it is simple. However, one disadvantage of it is that you can see the filter displayed right with the seamless view of the tank.

Tetra LED Half Moon Betta Aquarium

Another irregularly shaped nano aquarium here might strike your fancy if you are looking for a small fish tank that can almost blend in the wall. You can flatly place against the wall the regular side of this nano tank so that one can enjoy its semi-cylindrical view.

The manufacturer made this tank out of clear plastic, unlike most aquariums in this list. The manufacturer made the others out of glass. The plastic makes this aquarium ideal for environments that may have children running around.

Aside from the promised safety of this aquarium in that aspect, this 1.1-gallon nano tank is also a stable home for a single fish. Yes, this half-moon tank can only be home to one fish, following the one inch of fish per gallon rule.

You can decorate the tank in different ways because its shape can fit a variety of ornaments that could make a mini version of real-life underwater sanctuaries. The nano aquarium also has an LED light that you can place either above or below it.

That re-positionable lighting undoubtedly highlights the full view featured by this small fish tank. Light can do a lot to upgrade your fish tank’s look, so having one that you can move in different areas is a significant advantage.

We also highly recommend this half-moon nano aquarium for Bettas, one of the most popular fish for low water volumes. The aquatics industry also trusts the brand. It ensures that the plastic material for this nano tank is as sturdy as glass.

It measures 4.6 x 9.1 x 9.9 inches and is a light 1.43-pound small aquarium.

Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit

If you are looking for a regularly shaped nano aquarium, this might be the best option for you. We selected this Fluval Spec 5-gallon aquarium as it is high quality and highly recommended in the aquarist community.

This aquarium might have a classic shape, but its design is modern. It might not offer a seamless view with its aluminum trims, but its maker placed them stylishly.

The etched-glass tank measures 17.2 x 10.6 x 6.3 inches. That size is right for several little fish and different types of aquarium decorations.

It can serve as a nurturing home for both fish and plants. This nano aquarium has a 3-stage system with the following oversized filters:

  • Mechanical
  • Chemical
  • Biological

These filters are essential for the maintenance of life inside the aquarium. Also, the organic media keeps water clarity so people can enjoy an unparalleled view of what’s in it.

Aside from this state-of-the-art filtration system, this aquarium also has a high-output 7000K LED light. The light generates 20% brighter lighting compared to most aquarium LED lights.

It highlights the colors of the decorations and unique patterns for the fish boldly. A sound lighting system also contributes to the health of the plants and fish, so expect to have impressive growth from them.

The aquarium might have aluminum corners, but it conceals the filtration area at the back with a beautiful honeycomb design that blends with the aesthetic of the nano tank. For the standard nano aquarium, that is cool.

We also added this in the list because its package comes with a foam block, activated carbon, and BioMax bio rings. These things are essential when you’re just beginning with running a fish tank, and you want to be off to a good start.

A Few More Tips

Small aquariums serve different types of purpose to everyone. That is why we have suggested different types of fish, small tanks, and pros and cons to consider before getting one.

We believe that most aquarists use nano aquariums to spice up space. It is also important to acknowledge how it keeps the life in them. The aquariums above are aesthetically pleasing, but we also picked them because they can provide a stable home for little fish.

Choosing a small aquarium should not just be about whether it fits the style of your space. It should be a practical selection of something that could host and maintain both aquatic and plant lives.

Always be mindful of the gravel or sand to fill your aquarium, and it would serve as one of the integral parts of the mini aquatic life you’re creating. Research things about your fish choice and that can make a huge difference in your selection of a nano tank.

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