Here at PFK, we’re of­ten guilty of show­cas­ing big and beau­ti­ful tanks. But smaller set-ups can re­ally look the busi­ness, so here are some great ideas for those more eas­ily ac­com­mo­dated two-foot­ers.

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Welcome - Words: Nathan hill

Smaller set-ups can re­ally look the busi­ness. Here are some great ideas for the more eas­ily ac­com­mo­dated 60cm/2ft aquar­i­ums.

While many fish­keep­ers dream of su­per­sized lay­outs, the re­al­ity on the ground is that most of us are try­ing to find smaller con­cepts to fit into more mod­est ac­com­mo­da­tion, so we’ve de­cided to bandy some ideas around for a tank that’ll fit in any home.

Just above the nano mar­ket, you’ll find the en­try level ‘sub­stan­tial’ tanks, and the small­est of these is likely the clas­sic 60cm/2ft — many a new aquar­ist cut their teeth on one of these.

You can buy an all glass 60 x 30cm tank from around £50, or if you want a big­ger foot­print, you can look at TMC or Evo­lu­tion Aqua 60cm tanks, but the price will be higher on these due to in­creased glass thick­ness and qual­ity.

The best deals usu­ally come as com­plete set-ups, so if you can bud­get around £175 to £250, you can get some­thing with cabi­net and all es­sen­tial hard­ware. Then it’s just sub­strate, decor, plants and fish to worry about.

Al­ter­na­tively, build the set-up to suit you from scratch, for in­creased ver­sa­til­ity. You’d be sur­prised what op­tions open them­selves up if you de­vi­ate a lit­tle from the beaten track…

Ob­vi­ous, for sure, but there’s no rea­son you can’t pull off a great com­mu­nity in a small tank. The trick is not to over­stock it (re­ally easy to do) and to get a good bal­ance be­tween your shoal­ing fish and your show­case (the stand­out) fish — the ten­dency is to go too mad with pick ‘n’ mix fish like platies, and sud­denly find you’re all out of space.

If we’re go­ing a clas­sic com­mu­nity, I’d want to tick a few boxes.

Firstly, in­clude some small te­tra. So many are farmed en-masse now that they’re ac­cus­tomed to wide wa­ter chem­istry ranges. Avoid the big­ger ones and plump for some­thing like the adorable Em­ber te­tra (six min­i­mum), Hyphes­so­brycon aman­dae.

Next, I want an Asian mid­wa­ter swim­mer as my ‘other’ small shoal, such as one of the Har­lequin ras­b­ora species (Lamb-chop ras­b­ora are quite lovely) in a shoal of six.

As a show­case fish, ei­ther a small cichlid or a small gourami type will be prom­i­nent enough. Avoid­ing those with ex­treme pref­er­ences, a rou­tinely farmed fish is wise. In my case, I’d go Kriben­sis cichlid, just so that we’ve cov­ered all three con­ti­nents.

While it’s al­ready a bit of a squeeze in there, if you fan­cied some cats in­stead of ei­ther the te­tra or ras­b­ora then for­feit one of the above choices and source your­self a shoal of small Co­ry­do­ras. Border­line dwarf species like C. habro­sus would go per­fectly. • Spe­cial re­quire­ments: None.

Biotope set-ups don’t have to be huge to look ef­fec­tive.

Don’t try and cram too many fish into your com­mu­nity tank.

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