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Shrimps, corals or fish? - Suitable animals for nano aquariums

Nano aquariums, which are particularly small tanks between 10 and 150 liters, are very popular in marine water aquaristics. Especially because of the compact shape and the relatively low price many aquarists, mainly beginners, choose this type of aquarium. (A detailed overview of the advantages and disadvantages of nano tanks you can find in our corresponding blog article.)

Nevertheless there are a few things to consider, especially in the stocking, since not all potential aquarium inhabitants can cope with that little space. Most importantly you should never keep animals in a tank with less than 10 liters.

In the following we would like to give you a brief overview which animals you can keep in your nano aquarium and which are rather reserved for large pools. 

Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)

Suitable: Invertebrates like shrimps

The field of invertebrates offers a wide selection of potential candidates for your nano aquarium. For example shrimps, snails, some crabs and tubeworms are suitable. Starfish and sea urchins are not suitable for nano tanks due to their size and feeding requirements.

Especially with shrimps, which can be kept well in tanks from 20 liters, you are on the safe side. The animals are very unpretentious, peaceful and resistant and also omnivorous, while vegetable food such as algae and plankton is their favorite.

Because shrimps are very sociable you should always keep several specimens together. However you should avoid keeping them together with too agile or aggressive animals as shrimps quickly get shy. The Sexy Shrimp (Thor amboinensis) and the Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) are among the most popular dwarf shrimps for nano tanks. 

Snails - small, convenient, perfect for nano aquariums

Due to their small size and easy care snails are also an ideal choice for nano aquariums of 10 liters or more. They also have a practical use since they eat algae from the windows and the decoration. For example the Algae Snail (Tectus sp.), the Sand Snail (Nassarius sp.) or the Cayo Lago Snail (Vitta virginea) are popular. Our tip: Keep one specimen on 10 liters. In addition there should always be enough spare snail shells in the tank. 

Caribbean Algae Snail (Tectus sp.)

Suitable crabs for the nano tank

Some crab species are also suitable for nano aquariums of 30 liters or more. These include for example Pom Pom Crabs (Lybia tesselata) which are particularly popular because of their interesting behavior and Mithrax crabs / the Emerald Crab (Mithraculus sculptus) which can also be used for algae control, especially against ball algae.

Tubeworms - filigree animals for the nano tank

Tubeworms (Sabellastarte sp.) are very popular in nano aquaristics due to their fascinating, filigree shape. They are suitable for tanks from 50 liters.

Tubeworm (Sabellastarte sp.)

Fish only from at least 30 liters!

Fish stocking is a delicate subject in nano aquaristics since only a few fish can cope with that little swimming space. Therefore only choose fish that are clearly declared as suitable for nano aquariums - everything else would be animal abuse. Particularly large or active fish are generally not recommended. A simple rule is that your tank should contain at least 30 liters for keeping fish.

Here is a exemplary selection of fish species that are also comfortable in nano tanks:

However you shouldn’t keep to much specimen of this species in your nano aquarium. In addition you should just keep fish in well-acclimated and biologically stable tanks which can take several months. 

Okinawa Goby (Gobiodon okinawae)

The most beautiful coral riff for your nano tank

The advantage of corals is that the majority of them also gets along with small tank volumes from 10 liters and so are suitable for nanos. Soft and leather corals as well as disc and crust anemones are particularly easy to care for. On the other hand madrepores are quite demanding and therefore less suitable for nano tanks. 

Conclusion: Which animals are suitable, which not?

Here you find a brief summary of the most important tips:

1) In general you should only keep animals in nano aquariums from 10 liters.

2) Fish stocking is only recommended for tanks of 30 liters or more.

3) Suitable: small animals with little territorial and swimming requirements, e.g.

  • shrimps (from 20 liters)
  • snails (from 10 liters)
  • tubeworms (from 50 liters)
  • some crabs (from 30 liters)
  • a few nano fish (from 30 liters)
  • corals (from 10 liters)

4) Not suitable

  • big animals
  • animals that need much swimming space
  • animals with special feeding requirements (e.g. starfish, sea urchin)

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact our Whitecorals team. We wish you lots of fun with your nano tank!

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