PICO: 1  4    FEMTO: 1  9

- the world in a glass

  The art of building a tiny and working piece of nature for your desk.
To some of us, a tiny aquarium is just as entreating as a huge, and you can have several in a small room. It is more about the appearance than the animals, although for example shrimps are quite fascinating.
Today, it seems like it is more about huge tanks and loads of technical gear, but a few geeks do Nano, Pico and even Femto aquariums. The share size means the amount of technical equipment is kept at a minimum, just like I prefer it.

                 This is the glasses I started with. Hoover to expand.
It has to be said right away; tiny aquariums are challenging. The natural balance is more sensitive, and finding sufficient small plants and animals can cause problems. See what plants and animals I have found on each Pico and Femto page and all on the Info-page. On the bright side; if something fails, it is easy to re-start. See more on these pages about the build, maintenance and the gear.
The names for these small aquariums are a bit miss-leading, as nano is 10-9, pico 10-12 and femto 10-15 (femto actually originates from the Danish word 'femten' meaning fifteen). There are no official guideline to the terms used for aquariums, but I will use Nano for aquariums between 10 and 100L, Pico for those between 1 and 10L, and Femto for those below 1,0L. Your are welcome to disagree.
Many years ago, I had a few, tiny aquariums. The only technical gear was an old light bulb above. They worked great, despite they were only 15-25 litres, and I newer changed the water. The only problem was, the plants grow so big within a year, they squeezed the fish to death!
It might be better, using rainwater, as the tap-water I have is rather rich in calcite. However, I have no easy access to rainwater, and the shrimps need the calcite to their exoskeleton anyway. Downside is some of the plants don't appreciate it - but none seems to suffer, and I get a ring of calcite on the top of the glasses.
I can't be bothered with the noise of water- and air pumps, CO2 , and neither the wire for an internal heater. The only technical gear I use, is the lighting. But I have swapped into LED, reducing the heat exposure and energy consumption.
As I want the aquariums to sit on a narrow shelf, they have to be tiny. And I take that challenge gladly, hoping my gardener and general technical skills can come in handy.

My first attempt was a 4,3 l glass bowl for my desk: Pico Aquarium. It turned out to be a challenge, as the view changes drastically, when I filled in the water. It is a massive magnifier, and you end up only seeing the middle third of the interior.  As I had no material at all, it turned out to be a bit expensive; around 100 in total.
As I got it to work, I looked for the next challenge: I bought two large red wine glasses, which turned out to be my first Femto Aquariums. Then more came along, and I added a bit to the challenge by attempting to build aquascape aquariums. Some surely worked better than others!

This is a one litre glass. Haven't changed the water for more than three year.

After 18 months, I made a new, shorter shelf. At present, I only have the four tall glasses.

PICO: 1  4    FEMTO: 1  9