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Big vs Nano Aquariums

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The Difference Between Big vs Nano Aquariums

With nano tanks becoming a trend in the aquatic world, a big question that comes up is: “What are the considerations between big vs. nano aquariums?”. Besides the size difference of the tank itself, there are some major factors that can weigh in your decision making.


When speaking of footprint, it means the size of the tank on a surface (Length x Width). The larger the footprint, the more surface space for substrate, plants and shrimp. When getting into shrimp keeping, having a good size footprint for a shrimp tank is extremely valuable. ( It gives your shrimp colony more room to stretch their legs.

Big Tanks

Bigger is better, but could this actually be true for larger aquariums?

Larger Colonies

With a tank 10 gallons (38 L) or larger, your shrimp will be more inclined to start mating because of the abundance of resources and space compared to a nano tank.

Forgiveness for Errors

One of the great things about owning a larger shrimp aquarium is more forgiveness with dosing errors and swings in water parameter and water level.

Maintenance Woes

A downside to owning a larger tank is potentially complicated maintenance routines, such as trimming your plants, cleaning the glass & substrate, etc. The dimensions of the tank may require the use of a step stool to reach down to the bottom of the tank, or longer scaping tools for those hard-to-reach pockets. There is also more water to change/replace during water changes.

Nano Tanks

Start small they say, but could this actually be the same for aquariums?

Restricted/no breeding

Depending on how small your aquarium is, your shrimp will not have to urge to reproduce because of the confines of the tank. Typically, aquariums 10 gallons or larger are recommended to encourage breeding.

Be Precise

When dealing with smaller aquariums, you have to be on top of your game with maintaining water parameters. Smaller bodies of water are more sensitive to fluctuations than larger ones. Fluctuations in water parameters can be from: accidental/inaccurate fert overdosing, water changes, evaporation, CO2 gassing, or overfeeding.

Trimming Delight

Depending on the tank, trimming and maintenance is very simple seeing how there isn’t much to work on. Excluding the water parameter balancing, nano tanks are simple to keep clean and looking beautiful compared to larger tanks.


A nice starter tank is 10 gallons or more. This size tank will allow you to avoid checking water parameters daily. Once you obtain more knowledge on how to balance a tank, nanos become easy to handle. Also, you will have the capabilities to breed Red Cherry Shrimp or other various types. I personally recommend Mr. Aqua 12 Gallon Long for a great footprint shrimp tank, giving you all the benefits of a big tank with very little downside.

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