Must-Have Supplies for Nano Aquarium Enthusiasts: A Comprehensive Buying Guide

Big or small, every aquarium requires certain equipment to function well. When you’re working with nano aquariums, maintaining high water quality and stable parameters is particularly challenging. Outfitting your tank properly gives you the best chance of success and may reduce maintenance challenges down the line.

In this guide, you’ll learn the basics about what supplies are needed to set up and maintain a successful nano aquarium.

Nano Tank and Stand

Unsurprisingly, the most important supplies for nano aquarium setup are the tank and stand themselves. Don’t underestimate the need for proper support even with a small tank. Choose a stand designed specifically to carry the weight of a full aquarium.

When choosing a nano tank, think about whether you want a traditional tank with a frame of if you want to go rimless. Rimless tanks offer a unique aesthetic appeal, but they have a greater risk for cracking, so make sure the tank is completely level. It may also be wise to place a thin foam mat under it to absorb uneven pressure.

Filtration System

An aquarium filter circulates water to keep it oxygenated but it also helps remove unwanted substances from the water column. Different types of filters perform different functions, so consider your priorities. Mechanical filtration is a must to remove large particles like uneaten fish food but chemical filtration may only be necessary if you’re trying to remove specific substances (like medication) from the water.

In a nano tank, space is limited. Sponge filters work well for nano tanks because they support both mechanical and biological filtration with a fairly small footprint. If you want to be able to customize your filtration with different types of filter media, however, an external filter like a canister filter might work better. All nano tanks require some kind of biological filtration, so keep that in mind.

Lighting and Heating

Before you choose your tank lighting, decide whether you’re going to decorate your tank with live plants or if you’re keeping a fish-only tank. In fish-only tanks, lighting serves a primarily aesthetic purpose. You don’t necessarily need to worry about intensity or wavelengths—you just want to be able to see your fish.

If you’re cultivating a planted tank, you’ll need full-spectrum lighting. The intensity of your tank lighting should be scaled to the size of your tank and the density to which it is planted. Remember that excess lighting will encourage algae growth, so don’t assume that brighter is better when you’re working with a small tank.

Whether you keep live plants or not, installing a heater in your tank is important. Some aquarium fish don’t require heated water, but a submersible heater will still help you prevent temperature fluctuations that might stress your fish. Consider purchasing a separate thermometer as well, so you can monitor the tank temperature.


When it comes to decorating your nano tank, it’s important to have a plan in mind—or at least a theme. Too many decorations will clutter your tank and make it a less hospital environment for your fish. A layer of substrate, a few hardscape items, and some plants may be all you really need.

Before you fill your tank, play around with the decorations a bit to find the right placement. In nano tanks, it often works well to concentrate the décor on one side or in one corner of the tank. This ensures your inhabitants have places to hide, if they want to, but it doesn’t limit open swimming space.

Maintenance Supplies

Getting your nano tank set up and fully cycled is your first priority before you add any fish or other inhabitants. Make sure you stock up on water conditioners to remove chlorine, chloramines, and other substances from your tap water that could harm your fish. Invest in a good gravel vacuum for water changes, nets in different sizes, and at least one bucket to designate for aquarium use only.

It’s not a bad idea to purchase some basic fish medications before you set up your tank, just so you have them on hand if your fish get sick at some point. You can cover your bases with an antibiotic, antifungal, and antiparasitic. Avoid adding treatments to your tank water as much as possible, however. Don’t rely on chemical solutions for algae or cloudy water, as these treatments could negatively impact your tank parameters or stress your fish.

Fish Food

Once you’ve decided how you’re going to stock your tank, stock up on the feeding supplies you’ll need to keep your fish healthy. Many fish do just fine on a staple diet of flakes, pellets, or wafers—you can even find varieties formulated for herbivores versus carnivores. Don’t be afraid to introduce some variety into the diets of your fish, however.

Offering a rotating diet of different types of food helps ensure nutritional balance. In addition to staple foods, pick up some freeze-dried or frozen foods for variation. Make sure you’re choosing foods that are appropriate for the type of fish you’re keeping and don’t buy anything in too large a container until you’re sure your fish will eat it before it starts losing nutritional value.

Other Supplies for Nano Aquarium Hobbyists

If you’re just getting started in the aquarium hobby, the supplies above will ensure you have a solid foundation to work from. As you gain experience, you may find other tools and accessories can be helpful.

Here are some additional things to consider:

  • Every aquarium hobbyist needs a good water testing kit to use during the initial cycling process and to monitor ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels thereafter.
  •  If algae becomes an issue in your tank, an algae scraper or sponge can be useful in removing buildup from the glass and other tank surfaces.
  •  Some aquarium fish need higher levels of oxygen in the water or prefer faster flow, in which case it might be helpful to install an air stone or small powerhead.
  • Have a plan for quarantining fish when necessary—a small tank with a sponge filter is sufficient, just make sure it’s kept ready at all times.

Maintaining a thriving nano aquarium can be challenging but extremely rewarding. If you take your time choosing your equipment and getting your tank set up, you can minimize the risk of problems down the line.

Contact us today to start your perfect freshwater aquarium.

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