Micro, nano, pico, femto tanks... are there definitions?

Discussion in 'General Planted Tank Discussions' started by Egmel, 16 Jun 2008.

  1. Egmel

    Egmel Member

    Messages:
    724
    Location:
    Guildford, Surrey, UK
    I was just considering setting up a pico tank when I wondered, is there actually a definition of what makes a planted tank a nano or a pico?

    I've seen a couple of discussions that say that a planted nano is anything under 10USG (~40l) some prefer to use size rather than volume say under 20" width and that a pico is anything under 2USG (7.5l).

    While I was looking around the site there were photos of 'scapes in glasses and even one in a CD spindle lid. These don't tend to have filtration but instead rely on frequent water changes... could these be femto tanks?
     
  2. a1Matt

    a1Matt Member

    Messages:
    2,518
    Location:
    Bromley
    I don't know how it relates to aquaria, and I may be telling you something you already know, but micro, nano and pico are genuine terms of measurement.

    If you start from zero and go up by a power of 3 you get thousand, million, and billion respectively
    If you start from zero and go down by a power of 3 you get milli, micro, nano, pico respectively.

    eg...

    if you start with 1watt, and go up by a power of 3 (i.e. you add 3 zeros), you get 1000watts = 1kw.
    if you add another power of 3, you get = 1,000,000 = 1MegaWatt

    going smaller....

    1watt, down by a power of 3 = 0.001w = 1milliwatt
    and again by a power of 3 = 1microwatt

    You can use it to measure lots of things my example is for power, but it could be weight, size\distance etc for example.

    So in the true sense of the phrase micro - a micro tank would measure between one thousandth and 999 thousandths of a millimeter!

    I hope that makes sense and is insightful!

    I'd be interested to know if there is another 'genuine definition' with regards to auqariums. I suspect not though, I suspect that someone just took the terms and misapplied them to aquaria as they describe something small. ...
     
  3. Egmel

    Egmel Member

    Messages:
    724
    Location:
    Guildford, Surrey, UK
    Don't get me started, I have friends who work with things like carbon nano tubes, they get really annoyed by the misapplication of these terms. They were not impressed with the iPod Nano I can tell you ;)
    <angry engineer>What really gets my goat though is the mix up with KibiBytes and KiloBytes etc, it's really not difficult to use the ones you mean, and please stop mixing them... a 1.44MB floppy disk :twisted: </angry engineer> ;)

    But for tanks it is a nice way of grouping together sizes. While they aren't factors of 10^3 the feel is similar and the sizes discussed above follow a sort of exponential pattern. (femto being under a litre, pico being up to about 7l and then nano being up to about 40l).

    Besides this all falls down because to use the pre-fixes properly they should be applied to a unit of measure. Since a tank is not a unit of measure the term nano or pico-tank has absolutely no scientific meaning.

    Which sort of brings me back to my original question of whether there is a commonly accepted scale for what is described as a nano/pico tank.
     
  4. a1Matt

    a1Matt Member

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    2,518
    Location:
    Bromley
    Oops. once again I am teaching someone how to suck eggs!
    I'm not impressed with the iPod Nano either, but for different reasons that I won't go into here!...
     
  5. Egmel

    Egmel Member

    Messages:
    724
    Location:
    Guildford, Surrey, UK
    Not really, while I may know the prefixes it's easy to forget that the rest of the world may not! Your post was informative and in layman's terms, I'm sure someone reading this thread will find it useful.

    You may want to be careful defining a billion as a thousand million, that's an American billion, the British billion is a million million (the Americans just wanted to be billionaires quicker ;) )
     
  6. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    Messages:
    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    Couldn't agree more with this although I'm afraid our financial/political services have already adopted the American billion. It sounds much better if the government can say it is spending five billion pounds on a complete waste of money than if they say five thousand million pounds! It also makes banks profits sound better when they say £145 billion....
     
  7. George Farmer

    George Farmer Founder Staff Member

    Messages:
    7,091
    Location:
    Cambridgeshire
    I say under 35 litres (10 US gal) = nano
    Under 12 litres (3 gal) = pico

    There's no rule per se. Different manufacturers disagree too.

    'Nano' tends to encompass all small aquaria.
     
  8. Egmel

    Egmel Member

    Messages:
    724
    Location:
    Guildford, Surrey, UK
    Can you imagine if every time someone used the term billion in a press statement they were asked to clarify whether they were using American or British Billions... now how to beef up spending/profits without appearing to be pandering to the Americans. ;) *puts away wooden spoon*

    While I have nothing against change it does annoy me when things get changed for no reason and often out of pure laziness. Current bug bear - sat vs sitting. The man sat you down at the table but you were sitting there. You are not sat at your computer reading this you are sitting there! I heard a news reporter do the same with stood and standing too :twisted:

    Thanks George, it's similar to what I've found through my searching. I think the term nano-aquaria must have originally come from the marines where anything under 20USG is nano. Though tropical tanks are more adaptable to small scales so our nano has to be smaller.

    Do they not have rules for 'scaping competitions? I seem to remember hearing that flower arranging has size rules when you do it competitively and it would make sense for aquascapes to have the same. Though those would then be certain dimensions rather than just a certain volume, a mixture of the 2 would probably offer the best description. Something like a footprint between A square meters and B square meters with a volume not greater than X litres or less than Y litres.
     
  9. beeky

    beeky Member

    Messages:
    879
    Location:
    Chippenham, Wiltshire
    I believe the AGA refer to gallons when defining their sizes for competition.

    The whole American billion thing was officially adopted some months ago. It always seems this country that changes to be the same as others, never the other way round....
     
  10. a1Matt

    a1Matt Member

    Messages:
    2,518
    Location:
    Bromley

    Is that UK or US gallons? :rolleyes: (...sorry I couldn;t resist that one!)
     

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