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Suitable Fish for Nano Tanks

The following is a list of tropical fish considered suitable for small freshwater nano aquaria. The main consideration is their size; all of the fish featured normally attain an adult size of less than 5cm (2"). In addition, the behaviour of the species is considered, e.g. fish with a calm and placid temperament, rather than a lively and boisterous nature that requires plenty of room.

Of course, many of the fish below have also been chosen because they are striking examples of the wonderful little fish available to nano tank hobbyists!

This list is merely a starting point to give you some inspiration about possible choices - please ensure that you research any species that you are considering to make sure they are suitable for the size of your particular nano tank, as well as the water conditions and habitat you can provide.

Ember Tetra
Hemigrammus amandae
Size: 2cm (0.8")
This peaceful little tetra looks great with 'warm' spectrum lighting on the tank, with a contrast of green plants.
Ember Tetra
Glowlight Tetra
Hemigrammus erythrozonus
Size: 4cm (1.6")
The peaceful Glowlight is another tetra that looks superb with 'warm' spectrum lighting, especially against a dark background.
Glowlight Tetra
Neon Tetra
Paracheirodon innesi
Size: 4cm (1.6")
The ever-popular Neon is an ideal choice for nano tanks and is widely available.
Neon Tetra
Platinum Tetra
Hemigrammus vorderwinkleri
Size: 4cm (1.6")
With the right lighting, these little tetras make a stunning display with their bright silvery flashes as they catch the light.
Platinum Tetra
Celestial Pearl Danio, Galaxy Rasbora
Danio margaritatus
Size: 2cm (0.8")
This relatively recently discovered stunner has become a favourite for small planted tanks.
Galaxy Rasbora
Cherry Barb
Puntius titteya
Size: 4.5cm (1.8")
A colourful aquarium favourite that does well in pairs (as well as larger groups) making it ideal for smaller tanks.
Cherry Barb
Pygmy Rasbora
Boraras maculatus
Size: 2.5cm (1")
A striking little fish that's ideal for small planted nano tanks.
Pygmy Rasbora
Clown Killifish / Banded Panchax
Pseudepiplatys annulatus
Size: 4cm (1.6")
A colourful and peaceful killifish, ideally suited to keeping as a pair or trio in a planted nano tank.
Clown Killifish / Banded Panchax
Siamese Fighting Fish, Betta
Betta splendens
Size: 5cm (2")
The hugely popular Siamese Fighter, often known simply as 'Betta', is ideal for housing singly in a nano tank.
Betta splendens, Siamese Fighter
Lamprologus multifasciatus
Size: 4.5cm (1.8")
This small shell-dwelling cichlid from Tanganyika will live happily as a small group and is ideal for a nano tank with a sandy substrate and a few shells and rocks for decor.
Lamprologus multifasciatus
Otocinclus vittatus
Size: 4cm (1.6")
This is the most commonly imported of the Otocinclus species, and an ideal algae eater for small planted tanks.
Otocinclus catfish

Other suggestions:

  • Tetras and Pencilfish:
    • Axelrodia riesei, Ruby Tetra
    • Hemigrammus hyanuary, January Tetra
    • Hyphessobrycon nigricinctus (a recently discovered Peruvian tetra)
    • Nannostomus eques, Hockeystick Pencilfish
    • Nannostomus marginatus, Dwarf Pencilfish
    • Neolebias trilineatus, Three-Line Tetra
    • Paracheirodon simulans, Green/False Neon Tetra

  • Barbs, Rasboras and Danios:
    • Barbus jae, Jae barb
    • Boraras brigittae, Mosquito Rasbora
    • Danio erythromicron, Dwarf Danio
    • Danio kyathit, Orange-finned Danio
    • Microdevario kubotai, Kubota's microrasbora
    • Microrasbora rubescens, Red Dwarf Rasbora
    • Trigonostigma espei, Espe's Rasbora

  • Others:
    • Corydoras pygmaeus, Pygmy Cory
    • Iriatherina werneri, Threadfin Rainbow
    • Lamprologus speciosus, Black Ocellatus
    • Otocinclus cocama, Zebra Oto
    • Poecilia wingei, Endler's Guppy


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