How to Set Up a MicroHabitat Nano Aquarium

The rise in massive aquarium tanks has not slowed down the popularity of nano tanks.

There are tons of products being developed for nano-tanks which are affordable and easy to maintain.

For home owners looking to bring a piece of the magnificent outdoors into their homes, the nano tanks are the best.

Nano tanks have a low space footprint, require little maintenance and the make your home or office pop. TMC has made a name for itself by producing quality nano tanks.

The one used in this set up is the  TMC AquaGro Microhabitat 8 which houses a little more than 8 liters of water.

tmc microhabitat

It might be a little small for keeping fish. Fortunately, fish are not the only thing you can keep in your aquarium.

This little beauty is perfect for a small group of shrimp or snails. You just need to set it up correctly and run maintenance regularly.

AlternativeCheck this article were we talk about the best nano tanks.

Step by Step Guide On How to Set UP Your New Nano Tank

Positioning the tank

Once the tank arrives, the first step is to pick an ideal spot for it.

Because it’s a small tank and it’s not heavy, there are several places around the house you can position it.

Just make sure the location is away from direct sunlight, it is not within the reach of small children and it’s not in a high traffic area.

Add the Substrate

It’s going to be a planted tank so you need the right substrate in the right amounts.

For this set up, TMC’s Nutrasoil substrate is the best.

Nutrasoil doesn’t need rinsing before adding to the tank.

The layer of substrate should be thick and slope towards the back.

An important point to note is that Nutrasoil releases nitrogen in the first few weeks after setting up. You need to run an ammonia test before adding your live pets.

Bring in the Drift Wood

Classic Ornamental Driftwood Arch And Plants for Nano Aquariums

The next step is to add the drift wood. But, there’s prior treatment required before adding the wood.

If you’re using treated drift wood, you need to soak it in water for a few hours to keep it from floating or staining the water.

Some types of wood require up to 2 weeks of soaking for total saturation before adding them to the tank.

It’s okay if a piece of the wood sticks out of the waterline. It brings an additional dimension to the aqua scape.

Smaller pieces work just as well and allow you to use the clear cover that comes with the tank.

Add a little water to the tank

Before you can start planting, add a little water to the tank.

To make it easier to see through the glass, add the water slowly through an airline to prevent clouding.

Add just enough water to cover the substrate.

The wet substrate makes it easier to plant using tweezers.

Because the substrate used in this case supports a wide range of aquatic flora, there’s a wide range of plants you can choose. Even those with delicate root structures.

Start Planting

When planting, you want the taller plants in the background. Since this is a small set up, you should be cautious about the types of plants you choose.


Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘green’

For this tank, the Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘green’ is the perfect background plant.

At its peak it measures about 6 inches.

What’s more, it doesn’t require intense light and will do well in the nutrient-rich Nutrasoil substrate.

Middle ground

Tropica Staurogyne repens

Staurogyne repens goes in the middle ground.

It’s a new plant, but it’s perfect for small set ups because it remains compact.

Regular liquid fertilization is required to keep the plant looking healthy and regular pruning will encourage that thick bushy growth.

Fore ground

Aquafleur Pogostemon Helferi

In the foreground, you need short plants like the Pogostemon helferi.

You’ll need a pair of tweezers to make planting easier. Pogostemon Helferi requires regular pruning to keep it short.

The plant requires a comprehensive liquid fertilizer especially when you notice it turning yellow.

Transitioning plants

The transition from the foreground to the background should be smooth and create that sense of depth.

To give it that smooth edge, plant a few stems of Staurogyne repens between the Pogostemon and the wood.

The completed setup will be easier on the eyes and have a natural appearance.

Other Plant Considerations

For keepers that would like to try different plants, mosses and small Anubias make great alternatives.

They are short and slow growing which is perfect for long-term aquascapes.

You can also try out the Riccia. With this option, be prepared to do more maintenance. Low maintenance plants like crypts are also perfect for aquascaping or you can try out the hairgrass as well.

Fill Up the Tank

After all the plants are in the tank, you can use the same airline to top up the water until the tank is half full.

Use a bucket to fill the tank the rest of the way through the filter chamber.

Take care when filling to avoid clouding and dislodging the plants.

Install the Lighting

Finally, you can install the lighting by clamping it to the outer aquarium wall.

Flip on the filter switch, and check the nozzle to ensure proper circulation.

The lighting should run for only eight hours a day. You can use a timer so you don’t forget.

You might need to cycle the tank for several days before you can bring in the shrimp.

This ensures the bacteria has established and the water quality is perfect!

What Types of Livestock Can You Add into Your Nano Tank?

The size of the tank reduces the variety of livestock you can add into the tank. Snails and shrimp are the most recommended. They are small and will make proper use of the small space.

For nano tanks, shrimp is the best. They come in different sizes, shapes and colors that will brighten up the tank with loads of contrasting colors.

With breeding shrimp becoming an increasingly popular hobby, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try this out.

Some great types of shrimp to start with are;

  • Cherry shrimp

These interesting critters are natives of Taiwan.

They grow up to an inch in length which makes them perfect for nano tanks because you can have several of them in the same tank.

They prefer slightly acidic water (pH6.5 -7.5) and water temperature between 16 – 28 degrees Celsius.

Cherry shrimp are easy to cater for. They eat algae and small granular foods or flakes. You can also supplement these with a special shrimp diet when you want them to feel extra special.

Cherries are one of the easiest shrimps to keep and they are affordable. They are perfect if this is your first shrimp tank.

Another popular shrimp type for nano tanks is the crystal red shrimp. Like the Cherries, this variety only grows to about an inch in length.

A native of Japan, these little ones share the same water parameters with the cherries and eat the same food.

However, they are not as hardy and require regular monitoring of water quality. CRS works great for breading and the specimen can fetch you a good amount of money.

How to Maintain a Nano Tank

Because the tank is small, maintenance is easy, but frequent to keep the environment and water stable.

50% water changes should be carried out every week. Use dechlorinated and temperature adjusted water so as not to affect the shrimp.

Final Thoughts

Nano tanks are a great way to introduce aquarists into the hobby.

They are easy to maintain and keep which doesn’t leave the new entrants feeling overwhelmed.

As you get more ambitious, you can grow the size of the tank if you prefer having a community tank where you have your shrimp, snails and fish living in harmony.

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