2018’s Best Nano Aquariums: Top Small Desktop Tanks

best nano tankWe are sure that you all know what the word nano means.  Just like the real meaning, a nano aquarium is a smaller fish tank that is quite popular with many people.  There isn’t really a set rule on what is considered “nano” or not.

Different people will have different definitions on what is considered to be and what isn’t.  Some will consider a tabletop aquarium to be nano sized while others will think that anything up to 30 gallons qualifies.  They come in different types that can be used with saltwater and freshwater.  We will highlight some of the advantages and disadvantages of them below, as well as what the best nano tanks are and which ones aren’t worth your money…

Top Rated Nano Desktop Aquariums

Here are our top picks in this category of tanks for sale.  We have come to these conclusions based on their price, quality, and reviews.

1. Fluval Spec III Aquarium Kit – 2.6 Gallon

This nano aquarium is commonly used on spaces like tables, as it is measures in at 8.7 x 10.8 inches with an 11.8 inch height.  This size is good for small fish.

The design of this product features 31 LED lights that hang over the top and illuminate the inside.  The pump that circulates the water is very powerful and it has an adjustable nozzle too.  A 3 stage filtration system ensures that the water is kept clean for long periods of time.  It is able to do this thanks to the exceptional design that offers biological, mechanical and chemical filtration by using activated carbon and BioMax bio rings.

To top it off the modern design of this tank will surely make a great addition to pretty much any room in your house.


  • Very reasonable price
  • Easily removable lid
  • Sleek and compact design looks great anywhere


  • Setup is a bit more complicated as with a lot of nano tanks, so make sure to watch some video tutorials
  • Requires accessories to function properly like a fish tank heater if you were to put betta fish in there
  • Not suited for absolute beginners as there may need to be modifications made like putting a sponge on the output nozzle and puncturing holes in the filter tubing (you can read the amazon reviews for an example)

2. Tetra Aquarium Cube Kit – 3 Gallon

Instead of using glass, the Tetra cube kit aquarium uses styrene plastic which some people seem to prefer but we are neutral to.  The side measures 10 inches and there is a pedestal base to raise it off the table.  It holds 3 gallons of water and has a clear canopy top that allows easy feeding through a hole so the canopy doesn’t need to be removed.

It is a light weight nano tank that can be carried around with ease.  The filter is strong and driven by a air pump where you simply plug in the power adapter to turn it on.  A bonus LED light does a good job of illuminating the inside so you can see what your pets are up to.


  • Affordable price
  • Filter is pretty quiet
  • For a plastic tank it looks quite good


  • Filter may need to be upgraded if it isn’t big enough for the tank size
  • Some people report getting delivered defective parts

3. Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit – 5 Gallon

This one is bigger than other nano tanks and measures 17.2 x 10.6 x 6.3 inches. The long and narrow design features etched glass for a modern and stylish look that goes well almost anywhere,  complete with the 37 light LED system that illuminates the inside.

The pump and filtration system is quite powerful and the output muzzle can be adjusted to suit different needs.  The system includes all the usual stuff like activated carbon, porous foam block and BioMax bio rings.  This product makes a good tank for Betta fish but make sure not to forget the heater if that’s what you will use it for.


  • Is small enough to fit on a desk or counter yet still offers quite a bit of space
  • Price is very good if you consider the specifications and quality of this tank
  • Filtration system is efficient and easy to clean
  • The pump is quiet


  • Light might not be enough for some plants

4. Fluval Edge Aquarium with LED Light

The Fluval Edge Aquarium comes in 2 different sizes.  One has a 6 gallon capacity and measures in at 13.7 x 17 x 14.3 inches while weighing 23 pounds.  The other 12 gallon version weighs 34.5 pounds and is twice as tall.  What version to buy depends on how many fish you need to contain.  The smaller version will be sufficient for a lot of people with the large version being needed for a lot of fish.

Some other features of this tank are a 21 LED lamp that has 18 white LEDs and 3 blue LEDs.  Also there are 3 different settings (daytime and on/off).  This will allow you to adjust the light to different times of the day.  This aquarium comes in different colors like white, black and silver to blend in with numerous settings.

This aquarium has a filtration system so good that you only need to clean it once every 3 months.  This is possible because the filter has Cycleguard with Nutrafin Cycle and Nutrafin Aquaplus.  These are top of the line water treatment systems that work efficiently to clean the tank extremely well.  Finally there is a perforated removable cover to easily feed the fish.


  • Lighting system illuminates the whole tank without making it too warm so you wont have to change it
  • Efficient filtration system that makes maintenance easy
  • Design makes the tank appear weightless and all the unattractive parts like wires are hidden from view
  • Solid build quality made to last


  • The opening at the top may be a bit small for some people measuring in at a bit less than 5 x 7 inches so some ornaments/accessories might not fit inside

5. Marineland Contour Glass Aquarium Kit

The Marineland Contour Glass Aquarium Kit is another nano aquarium that offers 2 different sizes.  The 3 gallon size weighs 10.5 pounds and comes in at 12 x 12 x 12.5 inches.  The other option is the five gallon one which weighs 12 pounds and measures 11.8 x 11.8 x 16.8 inches.  The one you go with will depend on how many fish you have, but the bigger one doesn’t take up any more space really.  It also uses curved glass which looks quite good and hides the seams.

The LED light system on the marine tank is overhanging and can shine either white or blue light to simulate both sun and moonlight.  There is enough space to get in the top and feed your fish as the canopy cover slides back.

Regular tank cleaning is a thing of the past as well because the 3 stage filtration system screens out debris thanks to a filter cartridge.  Inside the filter cartridge there is a molded ribbed back that maximizes water to carbon contact.  This eliminates chemical smells and impurities and smells.


  • Quiet pump enables this nano to be used in the office or at home
  • Sleek design looks amazing with the curved glass
  • Built to last with a solid design


  • The light might be too dim for some live plants

Who Should Get a Small Fish Tank?

Overall anybody that wants to save some money or wants an addition to their easy clean fish tank would do well with a nano aquarium.   The small size makes them convenient for small spaces.  Having said that, they still require some caution to make sure that they are maintained properly.

Some Advantages of Nano Tanks

One of the advantages of all in one nano aquariums is that you will save a ton of money.  It makes sense that a mini aquarium will cost less.   There will also be fewer accessories that you will need inside the actual tank.  For example, you won’t need as much gravel, lights, and salt, etc which helps to save even more money.

Another huge selling point of these fishtanks is that they take up way less space.  Nano cube aquariums, for example, are quite suitable for offices and dorms where they can simply sit on a desk or counter.  This enables people to bring their pet fish with them when they go studying or even have them at the office.

Maintenance with nano aquariums is quite a lot easier too.  If you have a huge fish tank that isn’t self cleaning then you know just how much work this can be.  It’s quite simple that if you have less than 1/4 of the amount of water then it will be much faster to clean.

The final reason why this type of tank is superior to other types is that they are a lot lighter.  You can read on the internet horror stories of people having heavy fish tanks fall through the floor and break.  A nano tank is easier to find a place for that will be able to handle the weight.

Small Nano Aquarium Disadvantages

The most obvious problem that people will come across with nanotanks is that they can only hold so many different fish.  Usually around one or two which may not be enough for some people.  You will also have to get smaller fish species in general and won’t be able to house some of the bigger species.

Mistakes, unfortunately, happen a lot faster with nano tanks.  What we mean by this is that say for example the heater fails.  Because of the small space, the temperature will end up dropping much faster than with a bigger reef aquarium and your fish could end up paying the price for this.  Also, other mistakes such as overfeeding can be magnified in the smaller space whereas in a bigger tank they are more diluted.

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