A nano tank with Microsorum pteropus and Staurogyne sp. “repens”; adding just a few rocks or pieces of driftwood adds an attractive element to the setup.
CO2 for a
While most aquatic gardeners
use pressurized-gas CO2 systems
on their larger tanks, a yeast
reactor is more than adequate
for nano tanks. There are
wonderful small commercially
made yeast reactors, or you can
easily make one from a soda
bottle, a rubber stopper, and a
piece of airline tubing.
To diffuse the CO2 in a nano
tank, you can either feed the
CO2 into the filter or use a glass
diffuser specifically sized for
nano tanks (again, you can find
these with a quick online search
if your local pet store doesn’t
carry them). Neither of these
methods are terribly efficient, but
you don’t need a lot of CO2 in
such a small tank anyway.
that is appropriately sized for them. There are
now heaters that fit this description for tanks
as small as 2 gallons. Unfortunately, for tanks
below this size there are no good options for
thermostatically controlled heating.
Don’t overlook other types of containers
for nano tanks either. A large flat-sided vase
can be a lovely little planted tank. I’ve seen
aquascapes done in petri dishes, and even
inside a light bulb! Obviously, these smallest
containers are not suitable for animal life,
but that also means that you do not need to
worry about filtration or heaters.
While it is perfectly possible to choose
plants for a nano tank that will not require
supplemental CO2, the use of supplemental
CO2 will open up a world of exciting plants
to you. If you use CO2 on your larger tanks,
I’m sure you would want the same for a
nano tank. If you haven’t quite dared make
the leap to CO2 supplementation, a nano
tank is your opportunity to get your feet
wet. Chances are, once you’ve tried it, you
will be a complete convert!
Setting Up Your Nano Tank
The equipment setup on a nano tank is
exactly the same as for any aquarium unless
you are using a really tiny container. For
these very small tanks, you don’t need a
filter or heater.
I use the best substrates available when
setting up a nano tank. There are several
good commercial substrate alternatives on
the market these days, and while these might
seem expensive when used in a large tank,
even a small bag of substrate will be more
than enough for several small nano tanks.
If the substrate you choose has a fair amount
of organic material, consider using it only as a
base layer, and covering it with a layer of
fine, well-rinsed quartz gravel. This will save
you a lot of early water changes while excess
nutrients leach out of the substrate.
Similarly, because the tank is small,
consider treating yourself to some of the
fancy rock and driftwood that is available.
You won’t need that much to make a stunning
display. Alternatively, you can collect your
own. That way these design materials are
free, and collecting them is half the fun. (Use
standard precautions when collecting any
materials for use in an aquarium.)
for the Nano Aquarium
Because the tank is small, you need to
choose plants carefully. It is important
that the leaf size is in good balance with
the size of the tank—large leaves will
simply look cramped and out of place in
a nano. You also want to avoid plants that
grow so vigorously that you need to trim
them every few days to prevent them from
overflowing the tank. This still leaves you
many choices, however.
One way to go with a nano tank is
a slow-growth/lower-light setup based on
mosses, small Microsorum varieties, Anubias
barteri var. “nana” and “nana petite,” and
possibly small Cryptocoryne. While regular
Java moss Taxiphyllum barbieri grows
too quickly and tends to overrun a tiny
tank, some of the other mosses, such as
Christmas moss Vesicularia montagnei, and
other decorative mosses such as flame moss
and weeping moss, grow more slowly and
are very beautiful. There are also a number
of species in the genus Fissidens that are
wonderful accents in a nano tank.
For a brighter look, dwarf hairgrass
Eleocharis acicularis or E. pusilla will make
a dense carpet without growing too tall in
all but the smallest tanks. A tank like this
can remain very stable and look very good
with very little maintenance for a long
period of time.