Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Allure Of Nanos

There is just something about these tiny little ecosystems we call nanos that many are drawn to. The idea that an entire world can exist in such a small space is very intriguing, and the fact that we constructed and maintain that tiny world can, perhaps, make us feel powerful. Setting up a nano can be a fun journey and for some people it is easier to enter the world of salt water keeping with little tanks, which usually equates less cost.

What is a nano?
A nano is just a small tank, salt or fresh water. For salt water tanks a nano usually refers to a tank less than 20 to 29 gallons. For fresh water a nano is usually 5 gallons and under. Nanos can be just a regular small aquarium, or they can be a specially made "nano" such as the biocube or picotope tanks, the only requirement is that they be small!

Why a nano?
Well, they don't take up as much space as a large aquarium. They are challenging, they can be cheaper than setting up a large aquarium, and, well they are fun. It can be fun selecting and maintaining plants, or in the case of marine nanos, corals that are small enough to fit into your tank.

Caring for a nano
Nano tanks can be more challenging than larger aquariums to care for. With less water to act as a buffer, things can wrong quickly. Many need frequent water changes, often a few times a week. At least the water changes are usually only a few gallons or less. Algae may grow quicker, and therefore the glass often needs to be cleaned more frequently. Pruning will need to be done much more frequently. With such a small space plants and corals need to be kept in check to ensure they do not overtake the aquarium. Essentially all the normal maintenance needs to be done more frequently, but it is at least on a small scale.

Disadvantages of a nano
What is also an advantage can also be a disadvantage here; space. While the aquarium itself won't take up to much of your living space its small size does not give the inhabitants much room. Many nanos can either only have a couple of tiny fish or invertebrates, or none at all. Some nanos can only have either plants or corals, with perhaps a snail or two. Anything more will overload the tank with biological wastes and crash it. Some might be able to house a few tiny fish such as celestial danios in the case of fresh water, or a single clown fish or pair of small gobies in a marine setup. The other disadvantage is that if things go wrong and you do not catch it immediatly you are almost certain to lose your livestock. The small amount of water does not do much to dilute wastes and toxins, which makes time a priority in the event of a fish dieing or anything else can happen to disrupt your water chemistry.

Whatever your reason for liking them, whether its financial, space or enjoying the challenge of the tiny many can agree there is just nothing quite like a nano!

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