Fluval Spec Review

The Fluval Spec is an excellent value Nano tank that can be used for tropical or cold water fish (Although tropical looks better).

It comes in 2 sizes, 19 litre and 10 litre and a choice of colour. I’ll be reviewing* a white 19-litre tank that will be set up as a tropical step.

Our review will cover setting up the tank, some tips to get it running well, possible design ideas, and general maintenance of the aquarium.

Whats in the box?


Fluval spec whats in the box review

Tank – It says on the outside which colour it is so double check before you open it.

LED lighting kit – This is easily attached as we’ll show you shortly.

Filter sponges and filter – This is all in place and ready to go after a quick soak. This is all built into the back of the Spec like most Fluval tanks.

Aquarium cover – With a hole where the light strip goes.

There’s no heater in the tank or any stones/ decorations so we’ll add these later after the initial setup.


Tropical tank heater

If you want to run this as a tropical tank you’ll need a heater – The recommended one for the tank is the Fluval Edge 25w Heater – Buy it here.

Some stats on the latest version of this tank

Fluval specs

Setting up the tank

What we like about the Spec tank (and Fluval tanks in general) is the absolute breeze to set it up. This is the quickest tank we’ve ever set up, and if you’re nervous about setting up your first fish tank, then this is the tank for you.

Step one – Clean the tank

Use a clean cloth and just water, rinse out and clean over the tank thoroughly. Rinse over the filter sponges and replace them as they were.

Step two – Setup the filter

Once the tank is clean, the next step is to get the filter fitter correctly. Before you put it in set the flow rate on the filter box if you’re unsure just start it in the middle of the setting.

It goes in the end compartment as shown below, push it right down to the bottom (we used a bit of cardboard to push it down as its a bit of a tight fit).

Then pass the nozzle through the hole and connect the output nozzle.

Connecting the output nozzle

Step 3 – Setup the lighting rig

This screws into the end section where the filter is really easily, just slip it over and the tighten it up to secure in place.

You’ll need to tank this on and off to do water changes, float new fish, clean the filter and its easier to take it off to clean the glass too.

Connecting the LED lighting rig

Step 4 – Adding water

Now there is a neat trick you may not know of how to get the water in the tank without disturbing your setup – Bubble wrap!

You place a piece of bubble wrap in the aquarium and very slowly pour the water in over it.

As the tank fills you can increase the speed.

Adding water to the aquarium - the best way

Our thoughts on the Fluval Spec
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  • Value
  • Ease of running
  • Design
User Review
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Water changes

In the instructions Fluval recommend doing a 20% water change every week.

This really depends on what you have in the tank in my opinion, but with this size of tank a 20% water change only takes 5 minutes so I’d stick to it initially and see how it goes.

Filter sponges

These need cleaning every 6-8 weeks, again this depends on what you have in the tank.

If the water is looking murky it may be better to do it more often.

The correct stocking of cleaner fish will help with keeping your water clear just as much as cleaning the filter will.

Here is how you take the pump apart to clean the separate parts

Dismantling and cleaning the filter pump

Setting up the tank with accessories

I’ll soon be adding a guide to setting up a bogwood tank/wall in your tank but here’s how I did it in the Spec tank. I do think this would work better in a deeper tank as it would be easier to setup.

To start with I cut up lots of bog wood and started building it all up (I used this Juwel silicone to stick it to the tank and together like this:

Bog wood in Fluval tank

I then built it up to the hight I needed and added JBL aqua basics soil to it -poured down the back to fill most of the space behind.

I used some more wood to plug the holes where the soil cam down. I was than ready to add the plants.

Adding plants to the spec

I placed the pants in the soil using my Aquascaping tweezers.

I added the moss by super glueing it to the wood (see the bog wood wall blog for how this is done but its soooo easy!).

Then used some bubble wrap to pour the water over to avoid disturbing the setup I have (This is my top tip for filling your aquarium!).

You can see below the video of the installation after its been up and running for 1 week.

Here’s how it looks before the water was added.

Adding plants to the Fluval Spec

My tank setup – Week 1

Here’s my tank fully setup after 1 week.

I’ve added 35 pieces of bog wood and filled it in with aquatic soil.

Then added the pants where there is soil and added moss to the wood using super glue – Yes it really works!

My nano tank – Week 4

And here’s how it looks on week 4. The plants have started to take and the fish are adding some nice splashes of colour.

Other design Ideas

I put some sand in the bottom and dug out some bog wood and rocks to come up with some ideas for designing the tank.

If you want to do this add some sand or aquatic soil to the bottom so you don’t damage the tank.

Bogwood setup

I bought this bogwood off eBay a while ago, it fits perfectly, and the hole in the middle makes it a little more interesting.

I always think bog wood looks a little boring in a larger tank, but in a small Flex tank with some pants around it can be quite a feature.

After some messing around I’ve decided to build a bogwood wall background in this tank – A full blog for this will follow shortly.

My advice at this time is to mess around with what you have already. Then settle on a layout you like.

There are no rules to what you can do so be as creative as you can be.

Bog wood with hole - design ideas for the Fluval Spec tank

Then I tried to prop it upPropped up bog wood design

And finally another piece going straight across the tank for a different effect.

I think this one would work really well with a heavily planted back drop.

Larger bog wood adding height to the tank

Stone setup

I also played around with some stone layouts and this is the best one of the bunch.

Again this would be planted around to make a better look than just the sand but you should get an idea from these layouts.

Stone setup in a small flex aquarium

I’ve now been running the tank for 4 months and I’m delighted with it.

It’s really easy to clean and maintain and due to its size water changes and filter cleans only take around 15 minutes.

Mine is well planted and the open top makes it east to give the plants a quick prune if needed.

*Disclaimer – I was kindly sent the Fluval Spec free of charge to do this review. The opinions on the tank are mine alone and not the view of Fluval.

10 thoughts on “Fluval Spec Review”

  1. Hello,
    We are export breeder of aquarium pond,floating water plants and tropical exotic cichlids,polyterus spps and mire rare fishes from African,
    Best regards,
    K,M,Aquaristick Inc,

    • Fantastic to hear, please let me know when your website is up and running. I’d love to hear some recommendations of slow growing plants for the Fluval Spec.

  2. You haven’t mentioned any down sides. This tank is complete crap to heat. You failed to mention any points relating to fiktertaion being rubbish too. Wouldn’t recommend this tank. ( or this write up either).

    • Hi Barry, I have used this tank for over 6 months and never had any problems with it at all. For mr the filteration wasn’t an issue nor the heating. The only challenge I found was the width of the tank once I’d got the wood in – but thats more to do with my design of the tank rather than the tank itself.

  3. Hello, thinking of buying this tank very soon so this review was very helpful. I had the 10L Fluval Spec a few years ago, but since then I’ve lost my confidence and knowledge of the hobby! Does the 25W heater you recommended fit comfortably in the back of tank with the pump? And does it keep the tank at 26 degrees? I’ve seen mixed reviews..
    Many thanks, Zoe.

    • With the Spec tank, the heater has to go on the inside of the tank rather than the section at the back as mentioned in the review. I had no problems with keeping the temperature steady in the tank.

  4. Thanks this is a really helpful review! Been looking at these tanks for a while, this has clenched the deal to order.

    What have you stocked it with, looks like you have a nice balance!


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