African Biotope Aquariums



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.

[Photos from various habitats/biotopes]

Freshwater fish species listed by country and ecosystem -- excellent resources for constructing biotope aquaria.



I highly recommend taking a look at Natural Biotopes For Xenopus Species which includes pictures of African freshwater habitats, Commercially available plant species for African Biotopes, and Suggestions for biotope tanks.

++++++++++++++++++
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.

ECOSYSTEMS:
Congo_Zaire, Agnebi, Bandama River, Benue River, Bia River, Buba River, Casamance River, Cross River, Gambia River, Kariba, Little Scarcies, Niger River, Ogun River, Rokel, Saint John, Saint Paul, Saloum, Senegal River, Volta, Weme, Como River, Corubal River, Ebrie, Fatala, Geba, Kainji Lake, Kogon, Kolente, Konkoure, Loffa, Mano, Mao, Mono River, Nipoue, Pra, Sassandra, Sewa, Tano

WATER:
pH: 7.0-7.5, 6-10 dH, 77-81 F (25-27 C)

TANK:
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.

PLANTS:
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.

FISH:
Eutropiellus, Distichodus, Synodontis, Steatocranus, Teleogramma, Lamprologus


+++++++++++++++++++++++++
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.

ECOSYSTEMS:
Congo_Zaire, Agnebi, Bandama River, Benue River, Bia River, Buba River, Casamance River, Cross River, Gambia River, Kariba, Little Scarcies, Niger River, Ogun River, Rokel, Saint John, Saint Paul, Saloum, Senegal River, Volta, Weme, Como River, Corubal River, Ebrie, Fatala, Geba, Kainji Lake, Kogon, Kolente, Konkoure, Loffa, Mano, Mao, Mono River, Nipoue, Pra, Sassandra, Sewa, Tano

WATER:
pH 6.9-7.2, 3-8 dH, 75-81 F (24-27 C)

TANK:
The tank should be furnished with wood for hiding places, and fine gravel or sand for a substrate.
The lighting should be muted, and the water should have a slight current.

PLANTS:
African Water Fern, Anubias, Vallisneria, Eleocharis.

FISH:
African tetras, Mormyrids, African Knifefish, African Butterfly fish, Synodontis, Hemichromis, Pelvicachromis, Tilapia

PHOTOS:
This picture was taken in Madagascar but is similar to habitats in West Africa, albeit with cooler temperatures [Mandraka, Madagascar, Mandraka, Madagascar].