Endler’s Livebearer (Poecilia wingei): Endlers are quickly becoming more and more popular candidates for nano and community aquariums, and it’s easy to see why. These fish are an excellent species for new and experienced owners alike. Male endlers have stunning, incredibly vibrant colors that can be found in various patterns. Like their larger guppy cousin , endlers are known for being prolific breeders. Because nano tanks lack space for additional fish, it’s better to keep all males. Endlers are extremely adaptable, and very entertaining to watch. They tirelessly explore all levels of the aquarium, and add a flash of color and life to the room.
Max size: 1.5 inches
Minimum tank size: 6 gallons (long)
Indian Dwarf/Pea/BB Pufferfish (Carinotetraodon travancoricus): These fish may be small, but they make up for it with a huge personality. Dwarf puffers are one of the few species of fish that interact with their environment and owner. They will happily greet you as you approach the tank, and can even learn to be hand fed. Despite the needs of their larger cousins, dwarf pufferfish need to be kept in 100% freshwater. They cannot survive in a brackish environment, and their lives will be severely shortened if this is attempted. Dwarf puffers do best in a species only tank, as they are highly aggressive towards other tank inhabitants. These guys won’t hesitate to take a chunk out of a slower fish’s fins. Males will also fight fiercely, and its best to have one male per aquarium, or if the tank is large enough, one male per three to four females. Keep in mind, that dwarf puffers eat almost exclusively live and frozen foods. Very rarely will they accept flake or pellet food. If you supplement this as the fish’s staple diet, they can slowly starve to death. Small snails, shrimp, and types of worms are favorite puffer foods.
Max size: 1 inch
Minimum tank size: 5 gallons
Betta Fish (Betta Splendens): Almost everyone has owned a betta at some point in their life. Also known as Siamese fighting fish, Bettas are the iconic first pet, and it’s no doubt based on their stunning looks and ease of care. Bettas can be found in an endless array of colors, patterns, and fin types. Their small size and low bioload makes them an ideal candidate for a nano tank. But, despite their size, bettas have enormous personalities. They are one of the few fish that will interact with their owners, making them a lovable pet for young and old.
Male bettas should be kept singly. They aren’t called fighting fish for nothing. They enjoy having a tank all to themselves, and will patrol every inch of space like a king ruling his castle. However, less temperamental bettas may tolerate small, dull colored bottom dwelling fish in their domain, so long as they don’t pose a threat to the betta.
Female bettas can be housed in groups of 5 or more to form a sorority. Though, they too prefer to be alone.
Max size: 3 inches
Minimum tank size: Single male – 5 gallons. Female sorority – 10 gallons
One of over 70 species of surgeonfish, the blue tang lives in coastal waters, coral reefs and inshore rocky or grassy areas between 6-131 feet deep. They can be found in waters from New York to Brazil and as far east as the remote Ascension Island.
The blue tang goes by several aliases, including blue barber, blue doctor, blue tang surgeonfish, yellow barber and yellow doctorfish. The terms “barber,” “tang” and “doctor” refer to the extremely sharp spines on each side of the fish’s tail, which are said to resemble surgeon’s scalpels. They usually remain flat against the fish’s body, extending only when it is threatened or alarmed. As the tail thrashes from side to side, the fish is capable of inflicting serious damage to an enemy.
Yellow and blue refer to the fish’s color, which changes as the fish matures. Young fish are bright yellow with blue spots near their eyes. As they mature, they become blue over most of their body with a yellow tail. Full-grown adults are a rich blue from head to tail, with narrow dark lines running the length of the body.
Adults average 12 inches in length and live singly, in pairs – or sometimes in groups as large as 10-12. Occasionally, they form larger groups on reefs. The blue tang feeds on algae, using its sharp teeth to rip it from rocks and coral. This diet is important not only for the fish, but also for the health of reefs as it prevents the algae from overgrowing and suffocating the coral. On reefs, the blue tang rests in narrow holes and crevices, protected from predators such as tuna, bar jacks and tiger groupers.