Coralife BioCube

NanoCube vs BioCube 2020 Comparison (Comprehensive Review)

The Dennerle Nano Cube and the Coralife BioCube are two popular aquariums you might have heard of. Although they sound fairly similar, there are a few key differences between them.

Both of these aquariums can be used for freshwater, coldwater, and nano marine setups, but depending on your specific needs, one might be a better choice.

So, the Nano Cube vs the BioCube, which one is better? I’ve provided an extensive review and comparison of both of these aquariums to help you decide which one is your best option.

Dennerle Nano Cube Aquarium

The Nano Cube is a visually stunning glass tank. Due to its small size, it can be placed almost anywhere provided the surface is strong enough to support it.

Coralife BioCube Aquarium

The BioCube is a stylish glass tank with a black plastic cover, base, and glass back panels. In the back of the tank, there is an in-built filtration system.

Nano Cube Design, Construction, and Materials

The Nano Cube is a visually stunning glass tank. Due to its small size, it can be placed almost anywhere provided the surface is strong enough to support it.

The Nano Cube is a visually stunning glass tank. Due to its small size, it can be placed almost anywhere…

If you don’t have a lot of space, then the Nano Cube is a great option as the biggest size is only 60 liters (roughly 15.85 US gallons).

The aquarium is taller than it is long, which gives it its cube-shaped appearance. The panoramic front corners of the tank allow you to view the tank from practically all angles.

With the Nano Cube, you get a glass cover, black decorative foil background, and a base protection sheet. In general, glass tanks look more aesthetically pleasing than acrylic tanks. Acrylic tanks are also unsuitable for saltwater and reef setups.

Take a look at what the NanoCube looks in the unboxing video below.

Unboxing Dennerle 30 Liter Nano Cube

BioCube Design, Construction, and Materials

The BioCube is a stylish glass tank with a black plastic cover, base, and glass back panels. In the back of the tank, there is an in-built filtration system.

The BioCube is a stylish glass tank with a black plastic cover, base, and glass back panels…

The smallest size of the BioCube is 14 gallons, while the largest size is 32 gallons. The bigger sizes of the tank require a bit of space to set up, so they wouldn’t be suitable on a side table or desk, unlike the Nano Cube.

The cover for the BioCube is attached to the top of the tank via a hinge, so you are unable to take it off without force. Although this isn’t as sleek as the Nano Cube’s glass cover, it does provide you with a handy opening for feeding.

The edges of the tank are curved, which is a nice added touch. Overall, I think the design and style of the Nano Cube are more interesting and attractive. For planted setups, the Nano Cube would look particularly lovely.

See how the BioCube looks in the unboxing video below.

Unboxing The Coralife 32 Gallon LED BioCube

Nano Cube Pump, Filtration System, and Noise Level

The Nano Cube comes in two varieties: Basic and Complete. In the Basic version, the tank comes with a filter and LED light. The Complete edition includes a filter and LED lamp, but also contains a few extra products like a thermometer, substrate, and nutrient-rich soil for plant growth.

The provided filter is your average run-of-the-mill internal filter. It’s not overly powerful but is suitable for tanks of this size. The filter is positioned in the corner of the aquarium, which makes it very easy to hide behind plants and other decorations.

NOTE

It’s not clear whether the filter has the same specs for each size of the Nano Cube, but this seems to be the case. Most internal filters require an air pump to work, but this one doesn’t need one.

Made for Smaller Fish?

Guppy Swimming Inside an Aquarium
Guppy Swimming Inside an Aquarium

As the Nano Cube is targeted for shrimp and small species of fish, I don’t think this is a huge issue. While not the most complex or powerful filter in the world, it’s adequate for shrimp-only setups and small species of fish.

Dennerle’s Nano Marinus Cube (available in 30 liters and 60 liters) comes with a Biocirculator filter and a surface skimmer. For the 60l Nano Marinus Cube, the pump power is 500l per hour. This is plenty for an aquarium of this size.

The filter on the standard Nano Cube is pretty quiet, but the pump and filter for the Nano Marinus Cube can make a small amount of noise. It’s not overly loud and should blend into the background fairly well.

BioCube Pump, Filtration System, and Noise Level

The BioCube comes with a built-in filtration system that’s located in the back of the tank. This system includes a submersible pump, a dual intake tube, and an adjustable return nozzle that allows you to change the water flow rate.

There are three chambers that the filtration system uses. The first one is used for treating water, the second one stores the submersible pump, and the third one holds the heater and filter media.

Pump

The water flow rate for the BioCube 16 pump is 185 GPH, which is increased to 264 GPH for the BioCube 32. Although a built-in filtration is an impressive feature that the Nano Cube lacks, it does mean the BioCube isn’t as compact or easy to move. The weight of the tank, even in the 14-gallon size, is 29.10 pounds.

Weight

While the weight of the 60-liter Nano Cube is not specified, I can’t imagine it being nearly as heavy as the BioCube 14. 

Noise

In terms of noise, the filtration system for the BioCube is not overly loud during operation. There is a small amount of noise if you listen closely or press your ear against the tank, but that’s the case with most filters, even silent ones.

Submersible Aquarium Heater
Submersible Aquarium Heater

NanoCube Heater and Temperature

The standard Nano Cube does not come with a heater, unfortunately. If you were thinking of keeping freshwater shrimp or fish in this aquarium, then you would need to purchase a separate heater.

The Marinus Nano Cube, on the other hand, does include a heater. It’s a 50-watt heater that’s pre-set to 25°C (77°F)so it doesn’t let you adjust the temperature. A nano-thermometer is included with the aquarium so you can keep an eye on the temperature of the tank.

BioCube Heater and Temperature

The temperature of your water is important when you’re keeping fish, especially for certain species. Unlike the Nano Cube, the BioCube comes with cooling fans to prevent your tank from getting too hot from the LED lights.

The BioCube aquarium also comes with a temperature control system that enables you to adjust the warmth of your water…

The BioCube aquarium also comes with a temperature control system that enables you to adjust the warmth of your water. In the back of the BioCube, there are three chambers, and one of them is designed for the placement of your heater.

I like this feature as I prefer a naturalistic look in my tank. This means I often hide my heater behind plants and rocks to hide its visibility. With the BioCube, I wouldn’t have this issue as my heater would be out of sight in the designated chamber at the back.

NanoCube Lighting and Ambience

The Nano Cube comes with a 3.5-watt LED light with the 10-liter size, 6-watt for the 20-liter and 30-liter sizes, and 8-watt for the 60-liter size. These lights also come with a switch so you can turn them off when they’re not in use.

The Nano Marinus Cube includes a 24-watt LED light with a switch timer. This is really handy as you can simply set the amount of time you want the light to run for, without needing to manually switch it on or off.

NOTE

For the most part, the lights for the standard and Marnius Nano Cubes work fairly well. They don’t come with additional features, such as a night-time mode or other ambience settings. For basic setups and undemanding plants, I think they’re more than suitable.

BioCube Lighting and Ambience

All sizes of the BioCube come with a 24-hour timer affixed to the hood, which allows you to set the amount of time you want the LED light to run for. It also gives you an array of different ambiance settings so you can set the right mood for your aquarium.

These settings include bright white, sparkling blue, and color-enhancing LEDs. You can also set your light to have a 30-minute or 60-minute sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset. This is helpful for your fish as it gives them time to adjust to gradual darkness or bright light.

TIP

Some species of fish prefer low-light conditions, so being able to adjust the LED lamp is useful for keeping these types of fish more comfortable and stress-free. The lamp is suitable for freshwater plants and soft corals.

However, the lighting system on the BioCube is prone to malfunctioning and breaking fairly quick. If you’re planning on getting the BioCube, it might be best to have a backup light prepared, or some tools handy.

The BioCube definitely has a more complex and better lighting system than the Nano Cube. It allows you to choose from a variety of atmosphere settings to create the perfect ambiance for your tank.

NOTE

The interface on the lighting system might be a little complicated at first, so if you’re not bothered about the atmosphere, then the Nano Cube’s simpler setup might be a better pick.

Child In Front of an Aquarium
Child In Front of an Aquarium

Is the Nano Cube Good for Children?

The standard Nano Cube is an excellent beginner tank for children. They’re not very big, which makes them easy to maintain and clean. They’d be a perfect addition to a bedroom or living room as they don’t take up a lot of space.

Saltwater aquariums are a little more difficult than freshwater tanks, so they’re not the best option for children. If you’re set on keeping a saltwater tank, however, then the 60-liter Nano Marinus Cube is better than the 30-liter

TIP

The 30-liter Nano Marinus Cube is only suitable for coral, so it wouldn’t make for a particularly lively or exiting aquarium. The 60-liter widens your prospective stocking choices and is a decent size for certain fish and shrimp.

Is the BioCube Good for Children?

All sizes of the BioCube are suitable for certain species of fish and shrimp. As I mentioned earlier, saltwater setups are complicated and are not the best choice for children.

If you’re prepared to put in the work for maintaining the aquarium, then any one of the sizes the BioCube comes in can hold saltwater fish or shrimp.

Obviously, with the larger sizes like the BioCube 32, the type of fish you can keep widens up. In the BioCube 14, you can keep species like crown gobies, peppermint shrimp, and blue-legged hermit crabs.

With the BioCube 32, you could keep larger fish such as a Royal Gramma, Ocerllaris Clownfish, and Lawnmower blenny.

TIP

The larger sizes of BioCube does allow for more interesting and colorful fish, so it might be more exciting for children to observe and help take care of.

Shrimps inside Aquarium
Shrimps inside Aquarium

NanoCube Ideal Fish

As the Nano Cube comes in relatively small sizes, your stocking choices are a bit limited. The 10l Nano Cube isn’t large enough for any species of fish to live in comfortably, so I’d only recommend using it for plants or a small colony of shrimp, such as cherry shrimp.

the Nano Cube comes in relatively small sizes, your stocking choices are a bit limited…

The 20-liter Nano Cube still restricts your stocking choices. It is a decent size for small shrimp, a single Betta, or a single pea puffer.

The 30-liter Nano Cube opens up your options marginally. Suitable fish for this tank includes a small shoal of neon tetras, a single betta, pea puffer, and small shrimp.

The 60-liter Nano Cube is a great size for the following species of fish: platys, guppies, harlequin rasboras, white cloud minnows, dwarf danios, dwarf Corydoras, honey gourami, and dwarf gourami.

TIP

A 60-liter tank is the bare minimum for any coldwater species of fish, such as white cloud minnows. Obviously, 60 liters is far too small for anything bigger like a common or fancy goldfish.

The 30-liter Marnius Nano Cube is a little small to house fish, so it’s best to just use it for corals. The 60-liter Nano Marinus Cube is suitable for species like coral gobies, coral banded shrimp, Nassarius snails, and blue-legged hermit crabs.

Close up Photo of Green Chromis
Close up Photo of Green Chromis

BioCube Ideal Fish

The smallest size of the BioCube is 14 gallons, while the largest size is 32 gallons. With the BioCube 14 and 16, the stocking choices are relatively similar to the 60-liter Nano Marinus Cube.

The BioCube 29 and 32 are much larger tanks, which enables you to keep a wider range of species…

The BioCube 29 and 32 are much larger tanks, which enables you to keep a wider range of species. Bigger setups are better in the long-run as they’re easier to maintain in terms of water chemistry. Additionally, toxins or other harmful substances are more diluted in larger tanks.

In the BioCube 29 and 32, species of saltwater fish you can house include Ocellaris clownfish, Royal Gramma, Pyjama Catfish, and Blue/Green Chromis.

Nano Cube Available Sizes

The Dennerle Nano Cube comes in four sizes: 10 liters, 20 liters, 30 liters, and 60 liters. The Nano Marinus Cube is available in 30 liters and 60 liters. These sizes are roughly 2.64 gallons, 5.28 gallons, 7.92 gallons, and 15.85 gallons.

The specific dimensions for each size are as follows:

  • Nano Cube 10l – 20cm x 20cm x 25cm (7.87” x 7.87” x 9.84”)
  • Nano Cube 20l – 25cm x 25cm x 30cm (9.84” x 9.84” x 11.81”)
  • Nano Cube 30l – 30cm x 30cm x 35cm (11.81” x 11.81” x 13.78”)
  • Nano Cube 60l – 38cm x 38cm x 43cm (14.96” x 14.96” x 16.92”)

BioCube Available Sizes

The Coralife BioCube is also available in four sizes: 14, 16, 29, and 32. Each size is equivalent to the number of gallons it can hold. For example, the BioCube 32 can hold up to 32 gallons of water.

The specific dimensions for each of these sizes are:

  • BioCube 14 – 15” x 15.5” x 14”
  • BioCube 16 – 15” x 16.75” x 17.5”
  • BioCube 29 – 20” x 20.8” x 18.8”
  • BioCube 32 – 20.25” x 21.87” x 21.5”

The BioCube does come in much larger sizes than the Nano Cube, so it’s a better option than the Nano Cube if you’re looking for a larger tank.

The 10-liter and 20-liter Nano Cube limit you a lot when it comes to stocking choices, so it’s only suitable for plants and shrimp. Similarly, the 30-liter Nano Marinus Cube is not big enough to comfortably house any saltwater fish.

Nano Cube Maintenance

Cleaning the standard Nano Cube and the Nano Marinus Cube is relatively straightforward. As the tank doesn’t have a built-in filtration system, replacing your filter if it breaks is a lot simpler than the BioCube.

The largest size the Nano Cube comes in is only 60 liters, which saves you a lot of time during maintenance and water changes as you don’t need to remove as much water.

TIP

If you want a fairly low-maintenance aquarium, then Nano Cube comes up top.

BioCube Maintenance

The built-in filtration system of the BioCube can make cleaning and maintenance a little more difficult. If something breaks or isn’t as functioning as well, then repairing it is more complicated than simply going out and purchasing a new filter.

Additionally, the Bio Cube has bigger sizes than the Nano Cube, which can make cleaning and water changes more time-consuming.

Conclusion

After looking at the highlights and drawbacks of the Nano Cube and BioCube, I think the better aquarium is the BioCube (especially the BioCube 32).

Advantages of the BioCube

The BioCube has an impressive lighting system that allows you to change the ambiance of your aquarium. It also has cooling fans to prevent the tank from becoming too hot when the lights are turned on.

The larger sizes of the BioCube means you have a bigger selection of fish to keep. With the Nano Cube, your stocking choices are limited.

I like that the BioCube has an inbuilt filtration system with three chambers at the back to hide your filter media and heater in. As someone who enjoys an all-natural setup, I really appreciate this feature. 

Replacing or fixing the inbuilt filtration system might be a little complicated, but I don’t think it’s a huge deterrent when you look at the other positive aspects of the tank.

Advantages of the Nano Cube

However, the Nano Cube is more aesthetically pleasing and is an excellent option for aqua caping and shrimp-only setups. The small sizes it comes in makes it less time-consuming and difficult to clean.

Additionally, the small size of the Nano Cube makes it ideal for small living spaces as it takes up very little room. Personally, I think it’s a better tank for children as it’s low maintenance and small.

The only downside with this is that your stocking choices for the tank are restricted. That said, the 30l or 60l Nano Cube is a good starter tank for a single betta or pea puffer.

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