Aquarium advice

Nano Aquarium - Desktop Fish Tank Ideas

Nano Aquarium - Desktop Fish Tank Ideas

Desktop Fish Tank

Nano aquariums are a great project for an experienced fishkeeper. If you work from home or an office, a nano desktop aquarium is great option. Desktop tanks work well for smaller spaces or homes where you do not have the room for a larger freestanding aquarium. Having a small aquarium on your desk will bring a piece of nature into your office allowing you to have a moment of relaxation as well as enjoyment as you tank develops. A desk is the perfect place for a nano aquarium as you are sat closer to the tank meaning you can enjoy the finer details in the aquascape and smaller inhabitants. Also, the fact that you probably spend a lot of time at your desk means you will also be able to keep a good eye on how your tank and fish are doing. In this article I am going to cover three fantastic options for a nano desktop aquarium.


Shrimp Tank

The first option I want to talk about is a shrimp tank, this is a great option for a nano planted desktop tank. Cherry shrimp can breed and thrive in a 5 gallon planted aquarium. If you focus on aquascaping your tank with smaller more detailed pieces of hardscape, azalea root wood works well in small tanks allowing you to achieve a sense of scale. In terms of the aquascape I always advise using plants in a shrimp tank. Adding smaller leaved species like Monte Carlo, Mosses and Anubias Nana Bonsai can look great! In terms of equipment, cherry shrimp and their shrimplets are tiny so a sponge filter is the best choice as this will create minimal flow and will ensure the shrimplets do get pulled into the filter. When shrimp are kept with fish, they will normally be quite shy but in a shrimp only tank they will be far more confident and will spend a lot of time out in the open.


Nano Planted Tank

The second option is setting up a planted fish tank for your desk. A betta tank is a good option for a 5 gallon planted tank. Another option is a small school of Mountain Cloud Minnows, Ember Tetras or Chilli Rasboras if you tank is 10 gallons or larger. Most small schooling species can also be kept with shrimp. Having fish in a nano aquascape will add so much activity and movement to your desktop tank. The aquascape advice is similar to that for setting up a shrimp tank, use detailed hardscape and small leaved plants to create a look which is in scale with the small size of the tank.


Nano Reef

If you are looking for something a bit different and have an aquarium on your desk which is slightly larger (around 15 gallons) then why not try setting up a nano reef tank with a pair of clown fish? There are three main types of coral; soft coral, LPS and SPS. If you are an experienced reefer you can try keeping some of the more demanding coral species but for most people I would recommend keeping hardy soft corals such as Xenia, Toadstools, Sinularia and Mushrooms. Soft corals are much more forgiving in terms of water parameters and some types will provide movement to the aquascape. Although soft coral is sometimes not appreciated by experienced reef keepers, soft corals are extremely beautiful especially when a tank is completely dedicated to them. Soft corals generally thrive with lower flow and lower light intensity, I’ve seen people keep healthy soft corals with standard freshwater lights but upgrading to a reef tank light at the correct spectrum will really bring out the amazing colours of the corals. Clownfish are a great choice for a small reef tank as they usually stay in one area of the tank, mimicking their natural behaviour when being hosted by an anemone in the wild. As much as you maybe tempted to keep an anemone in a small tank it is not a good long term idea as anemones require very stable water parameters, will move around the tank as they please and grow very large (easily large enough to completely fill a 10-15 gallon aquarium). Clownfish can choose to be hosted by soft corals rather than an anemone in captivity, it is common to see Toadstools and Xenia hosting clownfish in our tanks at home which is a joy to see! A pair of clownfish swimming amongst a variety of soft coral can look amazing and will look far different to a usual planted tank. A beginner desktop reef tank is what got me into the saltwater side of the hobby in the first place. A soft coral tank is a great entry point for newcomers, just be sure to research the fundamentals of reef keeping and plan ahead in terms of equipment and livestock.


Please note: Some soft corals such as Palythoa and Zoanthids contain palytoxin which can be dangerous if correct safety precautions are not taken. Please research you coral species thoroughly before purchasing them and always wear protective gear when required.



AQUAnatur was created by an established UK aquarium installation and maintenance company near London which has been running for over 25 years! Our team are very experienced and happy to help offer advice with any aquarium questions. We are always available via phone or email Monday-Friday, feel free to contact us, we would love to help! AQUAnatur supply a range of aquariums and aquascaping products. If you have a question, please leave a comment or contact us via phone or email.

By Alasdair McPhail

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