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From Fish to Tanks, the Nano Category Continues to Expand


December 4, 2018

“Nano” is officially defined as a prefix meaning “one billionth,” as in “nanosecond.” But as the aquarium industry embraces small tanks and capitalizes on the term “nano,” the word has also come to signify versatility. The growth of the nano category makes it possible for people to have small aquariums in almost any location—on their desk, on the kitchen counter, or in a small apartment.

Nano aquariums are also appealing to a wide variety of hobbyists, whether just beginning or more experienced. All-in-one nano kits make an easy entry point, while the ability to have many different small tanks affords the experienced hobbyist a chance to experiment. The small size makes it easy to try out marine, planted or freshwater aquariums, or one of each. The category only continues to expand, thanks to advances in filtration, CO2 diffusers and LED lighting that make it easier to care for different types of plants and animals in small spaces.

Shrimp Take the Spotlight

There is a lot of excitement surrounding the nano category, and shrimp are at the center of it all.

“Shrimp have really taken the industry by storm, and it’s partly because they’re fun to watch,” said Shelby Bush, brand ambassador for Segrest Farms. “They each have individual personalities and are just hilarious.”

Coming in around two centimeters long, these little creatures get lost in a larger tank with other fish. But a nano tank is the perfect way to spotlight these creatures and enjoy their antics.

“The Neocardinas, or cherry shrimp, are a popular variety and are good for beginners, as they are a little more forgiving than other shrimp,” said Emily Bruer, a sales representative for Nautilus.

Neocardinas come in a variety of colors, including red, yellow, blue and green, and new colors are coming out all the time. Caridina shrimp, while a little harder to keep, offer even more variety. These come in solids or stripes including blue and white, green and white, and orange and white. But even with all the variety available, the Bloody Mary still remains one of the most popular shrimp.

“People seem to be drawn to that solid cherry red of the Bloody Mary, and the farms we purchase from have taken the time to develop a lone of hardy shrimp with an incredible depth of color,” Bush said.

In response to the increasing popularity of dwarf shrimp, Aqueon developed a shrimp aquarium kit, available in a 7.5 gallon or 8.75 gallon size. Each is equipped with a QuietFlow 10- or 20-shrimp filter that has an intake grid and removable pre-filter sponge foam, which prevents shrimp from being drawn into the filter.

A Growing Variety

Shrimp aren’t the only livestock making a big splash in the nano category.

“As the hobby grows, the number of breeders is growing, too, and we’re able to offer more variety in our selection,” Bruer said.

One of the newest from Nautilus is the Neolebias powelli, or Domino tetras, that is a silvery color with a bluish dot on the side. This fish is a good complement to the popular Galaxy rasboras, with their deep blue body and white spots. At Segrest, the Brittanichthys axelrodi tetra is one of the newer, more exotic offerings for nano tanks. Small rainbows are another good fish for nano tanks, including the Pseudomugil paskai, the P. gertrudae and the P. furcata.

“In a larger aquarium, you’d need a whole school of rainbows, but in a nano environment, you can isolate them and have just a few, which allows you to really see their personality,” Bush said.

And don’t forget the rasboras and cory cats—bottom feeders that help keep the tank clean.

Small-Scale Aquascaping

In addition to fish, plants are taking center stage in small aquariums, thanks to advances in LED lighting.

“We’ve always had small filters that would work well enough, but what has really set this trend apart is the lighting,” said Damian Hall, senior marketing manager at Rolf C. Hagen USA Corp. “Now you can put plants in and they will grow and thrive, no matter what size aquarium.”

Aqueon offers new flexibility in lighting with its clip-on LED lights that are not only thin but can be used on framed or frameless aquariums. The planted version has 60-bright LEDs to support plant growth, and the lights are suitable for aquariums up to 20 gallons.

Fluval has integrated its plant LED into the new Flora aquarium, a planted kit set to come out in early 2019. This kit includes a 15 by 15 by 15 rimless aquarium along with a CO2 system and a Fluval clip-on filter. The kit made its debut at the 2018 Aquatic Experience, where it was used during the Fluval Aquascaping contest.

“We had 30 contestants participate and they were all pleased with the new kit,” Hall said.

Aquarium Kits with Flair

It’s not just the inside of nano aquariums where hobbyists can express their creativity. These small tanks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes to accent the fish and provide the perfect habitat. For a unique look, check out the TriScape LED kit from Aqueon, a three gallon, all-glass triangular aquarium that offers an alternative to the traditional rectangle or cube. Curved glass makes for a great presentation, and the Fluval Flex takes the conventional left-to-right curve and rotates it so the bow goes from top-to-bottom, so you don’t have a distorted view into the tank.

Aquatop’s popular bowfront glass aquariums, which offer a panoramic view into the tank, will soon be available in a new Pisces series of All-in-one Nano Aquariums. The Pisces line will also include cube and bullet glass aquariums.

“These kits join our line of aquariums and provide the convenience of getting everything at once, including an integrated filtration system and touch-sensitive LED lighting with moon lights,” said David Chai, president of Aquatop.

Show your customers just how creative they can be by setting up a few of these new aquariums in your store.

“You cannot underestimate the power of a good display tank,” Bush said. “It’s so important to have something visual for the customer that they will think about long after they go home.”

There’s no better way to show off the flexibility and versatility of nano tanks and bring new people into the hobby than by showing by example.

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