Northern Madagascar Biotope Aquarium Setup


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. is the sole effort of Rhett A. Butler, who has taken the photos and written all of the content found on the site. If you find a useful resource I hope that you may consider making a contribution to help support the site. You can also assist by purchasing biotope books using links on this page.

Limestone Tsingy in Ankarana
Flooded Forest, Madagascar

Malagasy Crayfish According to Bradt 2001, six species of crayfish have been described in Madagascar, all of which are endemic. What makes this occurrence particularly interesting is crayfish are not present in Africa or India -- meaning Malagasy crayfish may have much older origins. Today crayfish are a vital source of protein to many in Madagascar.
Northern Madagascar Biotope Aquarium Setup
Ankarana Dry Forest Stream

Madagascar's fish species are some of the most threatened on the planet. Habitat loss -- especially the conversion of native vegetation to rice paddies -- combined with horrendous erosion resulting from deforestation and the introduction of exotic species (especially Tilapia, Snakeheads, Mosquito fish) have devastated endemic species. Several of Madagascar's unique species are no longer recorded in the wild. The plight of Madagascar's fish species mirrors the degradation of its terrestrial habitats.

One of the most beautiful aquatic habitats I have ever seen was in Ankarana -- a stretch of dry forest in Northern Madagascar. The creek was shaded by a high canopy but richly endowed with gorgeous aquatic plants (shafts of sunglight penetrated the canopy). The substrate was fine sand and the banks of the stream were packed earth. At the time I didn't pay too much attention to the fish or aquatic vegetation as I was focused on the remarkable crowned lemurs and fascinating reptiles found nearby.

Sadly I do not have any pictures of this magnificent habitat -- it was among the rolls of film that got destroyed over the course of a very rough trip.

More on Madagascar:
  • Lac Alaotra, Madagascar
  • List of Freshwater Fishes for Madagascar
  • Madagascar Deforestation
  • Madagascar Photos

    pH: 7.0-8.0, 8-19 dH, 75-84 F (24-29 C)

    Use silica (silver) or very fine gravel for the substrate. Lighting can be bright and the tank should be heavily planted. Driftwood can be used as desired. The water should be clear and have a slow to moderate current.

    The following plants are among those found in Madagascar: Aponogeton boivinianus, Aponogeton longiplumulosus, Aponogeton Madagascariensis [the plant has been so sought after that is have been depleted over its natural range (care tips, more info)], Aponogeton ulvaceus, Lagarosiphon Madagascariensis, Bacopa Madagascariensis, Hydrotriche hottoniifloria, Blyxa aubertii, and Cyperus alternifolius

    Madagascar Landscape Photos


    By Rhett Butler


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