A biotope aquaria is an aquarium that is set-up to simulate a natural habitat. The fish, plants, water chemistry, and furnishings are similar to those that can be found in a specific natural setting. (more)
Always check compatibility! Some species from a particular habitat are not suitable tankmates. For example, the Peacock Bass will eat small tetras since they are their natural food in the wild.
The biotope aquarium can be adapted by adding species from disparate areas that have similar water requirements.
++++++++++++++++++ African River Rapids ++++++++++++++++++
The Zaire (Congo) River is the second largest river system in terms of volume. This mighty river drains much of West and Central Africa. Along its 2800 miles, the Zaire River moves through many environments including over 200 miles of rapids and cataracts. This rapid region is the inspiration for this biotope aquarium, although similar environments exist in other African rivers.
The water in this habitat is highly oxygenated due to the turbulence created by the rapids -- therefore the water in the aquarium should be well-aerated.
Leave plenty of open swimming area, but use some large rocks.
The substrate should be fine gravel or sand.
To create water current, place a spray bar from a canister filter, or a strong circulating pump at one end of the aquarium.
Because of the strong water current, the rapids are not a hospitable place for plants.
In the aquarium, plants can be used if they well anchored or protected from the current.
Plants suitable for such an environment include the African Water Fern (Bolbitis heudeloti) and Anubias species.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++ West or Central African River +++++++++++++++++++++++++
West and Central Africa are full of rivers. Some of the better known are the Zaire (Congo), Ubanghi, Niger, and the Gambia.
Within each of these river systems are numerous biotopes -- this description will focus on species found in slow-moving sections and side streams.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Southeast Asian Blackwater Pool ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Creeks and streams originating from deep in the rainforest are often blackwater.
With decaying plant vegetation and few, if any, mineral sources, the water is acidic and very soft.
This environment provides a home to many species of plants and fish.
pH 5.5-6.5, 0-4 dH, 81-84 F (27-29 C)
The tank should be densely planted with a fine gravel or clay substrate.
Use wood to create hiding places and use peat filtration.
There should be little surface current.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Southeast Asian Mangrove Estuary +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Mangrove swamps are found through the world where freshwater rivers come in contact with the ocean.
The result is a tidal region with varying salinity and water conditions.
The tides affect some of the types of fish present in the estuary, although fish termed ñbrackish
water species" remain no matter the condition.
pH 7.2-8.0, 10-20 dH, 75-82 F (24-28 C), 1.006-1.015 specific gravity.
The tank should have a coral sand substrate.
Use wood and roots to recreate the mangrove roots of the swamp.
Use an efficient filtering system, because brackish water fish are heavy eaters, yet sensitive to water pollutants.
One popular brackish-water set-up is to leave the tank only half full with water. A sandy beach is constructed and potted mangrove seedlings grow above the water surface. Such a set-up allows an aquariast to observe unusual behavior from brackish species such as Mudskippers and Archerfish.
Few plants can tolerate brackish conditions besides the mangrove.
Java Fern appears to be one of the only aquarium plants suitable for a brackish water tank.
Mangrove seedling can be kept in pots as long as the bulk of the plant is out of the water.
The Mangrove will require frequent pruning to keep it small enough for the aquarium.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ South American Clearwater Stream ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Clear or blue water streams are transparent rivers that drain the Guyana highlands and the Brazil rocky highlands.
These rivers are fast-flowing at times, but slow-moving at others.
The Rio Xingu and Rio Tocantins are typical clear water rivers.
The tank should have good filtration which keeps the water clear and creates a moderate current.
The lighting should be bright and plant
life should be rich.
A substrate of fine gravel is suggested, as are a few pieces of wood.
Aerate the tank well.