New reasons to embrace thinking small...

Not all that long ago, as I was playing with a new "nano" aquarium system for a friend, it occurred to me that I have become a hardcore fan of nano aquariums...when done correctly!

 Ok, in the past, I was totally on the anti-nano bandwagon, vigorously maintaining that they were little more than death-row holding cells for their inhabitants, encouraging irresponsibility and overstocking- the usual stuff.

How narrow minded of me.

I’ve since reversed my position on the topic…well, sort of! Let’s just say that, if you don’t know how to maintain an aquarium, you’ll fail regardless of its size. Period. A nano will simply bring you to that point that much more quickly! 

One cool thing I’ve have learned from nano tanks of late is this:

Nano tanks are a valuable tool for experienced hobbyists to practice new concepts on a smaller, more affordable scale.

This is especially true in the reef aquarium genre, but is entirely applicable to freshwater systems, of course. 

This is not my first run with nano tanks, of course. As a lifelong hobbyist, especially as a kid, I was contained by space, time and budget to maintain a series of smaller tanks in my bedroom, for stuff like killies, Tetras, Guppies, Apistos - even a breeding pair of Kribs inhabited one of my 2.5 gallon systems for years. 

These days, I like to play with new concepts: Different aquascaping configurations, unique system designs,  etc. You know I love the idea of using leaves and alternative substrate materials in my tanks, right? Nanos offer a flexible, relatively simple means of  trying new things like that without the heavy work involved with a larger system. I love the idea that I can visualize something, sketch it out on Friday afternoon, and have it well underway on Saturday, completed that evening.

And, like everything in this hobby- nanos WILL become addictive. 


When I started playing with nano systems, I decided from the outset that each nano would have to stand up on its own as an example of good aesthetics. No dangling powerheads or heaters, mix-and-match tank components, etc. for me. If these little things are going to be in my living room, they are going to have to look nice. And, unfortunately, for me- “nice” occasionally translates into “pricey.” Why is that? 

I also decided that Tannin Aquatics would cater to fans of nano tanks, because, in addition to the reasons outlined above, nano tank offer flexibility, economical advantages, and a required level of commitment that may be more suitable for a lot of people's lifestyles.

You don’t HAVE to spend tons of money on a nano tank- and I discourage you from feeling obligated to do so- but it amazes me what you can end up with when you start out with quality, even on these tiny tanks. I mean, how you choose to outfit your nano is totally up to you- and you can push it as far as your desire, creativity, time, and budget allow!




If done responsibly, a nano system can be every bit as sexy and interesting as that 400 gallon behemoth you’re drooling over-and still allow you to meet the monthly mortgage. And you won’t have to worry about weather patterns forming in your living room from the moisture! But most important of all-nanos allow us as hobbyists to more easily push the state of the art. They are way more than “the goldfish bowl of the 21st century!”

So, use your nano tank for good: Test an idea that’s popped into your head. See if you like it. See if it is even workable. Practice working in the tank. Study flow, evaporation, concealing plumbing, etc. You’ll definitely learn things and hone skills that you will incorporate daily with your larger systems. Keeping a nano can and will demand more from you than you think, and it will make you a better,  more well-rounded hobbyist!

Without beating the proverbial dead horse, I encourage those of you who have not yet done so to hop on the “nano train”. See where it takes you- push yourself-advance the hobby, and share your brilliance!

There has never been a better time to “think small”.

Let’s see those cool nano tanks you’ve been working on! Don’t be shy! Inspire everyone!

Till next time…

Stay wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics


Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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