I have a 30L Fluval nano cube, and I would like to keep something a bit different from the norm. I would prefer colourful and active or quite rare. I’m open to cichlids as an alternative to the Standard tropical set-up. Any suggestions?
Nice question Tim, and it’s nice to see people looking to keep something a little different from the norm. The volume of your tank does lend itself to one or two difficulties, however and cichlids can be all but ruled out due to their size requirements. Stocking a 30 litre tank is always going to be tricky, however you’re not completely devoid of options.
Some dwarf cichlids are possible in a 30 litre tank however most are much more comfortable in tanks of 10 gallons or more. Apistogramma such as the one displayed in the photo are relatively easy to find and care for but are more of a challenge in smaller tanks.
If you wanted some shoaling fish, you could opt for some Mosquito Rasbora, Boraras brigittae or some Danio erythromicron which grow to around 2 cm each. Other small shoalling fish that don’t exceed an inch or so in length would be suitable for your setup in most cases.
Very small shoaling fish can accompany shrimp too which is an emerging part of the fishkeeping hobby, especially in nano setups. The variety of shrimp available is outstanding these days and many are exceptionally colourful. Most of them can be bred in nano tanks too. Just make sure you have a very healthy tank environment as shrimp are particularly sensitive to water pollution.
One fish that springs to mind is the Dario dario or Scarlet Badis which exhibits interesting behaviour and is fascinating when breeding. It’s not always easy finding a pair of these however a 30 litre tank would be the perfect size for housing a single pair. They are incredibly colourful too.
A single Betta splendens would certainly add a splash of colour to your tank however you would need to choose any potential tankmates wisely.