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Freshwater Biotopes

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Freshwater Biotopes

OCReef Freshwater Biotopes

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What is a Biotope Aquarium?

The word Biotope in Ecology means "the area of a habitat associated with a particular ecological community". A biotope aquarium is an aquarium that is set up to imitate a natural habitat. The idea is to move toward the reproduction of a biotope, i.e. to try to associate plants and fish of similar origin and having the same requirements. It is obviously not possible to recreate in an aquarium the conditions which exist in a river or a brook, but the Biotope Aquarium tries to approach that by careful choosing of the essentials, the decoration, and the population. See the following link, to view a spectacular You-Tube video of freshwater biotope aquariums. Opens in new window.

Representation of a Particular Environment

A Biotope is a region that has particular environmental conditions and a native population of plants and animals. A single stream or lake may include numerous biotopes. For instance, a stony riffle in a stream may be one biotope while a nearby silt-bottomed pool on the same stream may be a dissimilar biotope. On the other hand, the same biotope may occur in many streams in an area where all rocky riffles or silt-bottomed pools support the same community of plants and animals. Biotope Aquariums are planned to be a representation of a specific aquatic system or place. For example these tanks may stand for a black water river, a stream such as the upper Orinoco in South America, rapids of rivers such as the Rio Xingu, Rio Tapajos and the like in the Amazon, African Lakes or an Asian stream and many others. The tank, plants, wood, substrate and other decor are selected and configured to represent those elements found in the fish's natural habitat. Lastly, ponds can be made into biotopes which can support a variety of habitats, with fish including Killifish, Gouramis, Rainbowfish, Mollies, Swordtails, and Koi to re-create natural streams found in the Amazon, Africa, Asia, China and Japan.

Biotope Aquariums made a big splash in the aquarium world a little more than 10 years ago. These tank designs resemble a photo of a real natural place. The plants are arranged so they symbolize the real place. They can be based on a large scale natural location, such as mountains, scaled down and represented by plants or wood. Or it can be a 1:1 representation, like a small nook of moss and ferns by a forest stream, represented by moss and ferns in the aquarium. These aquariums can be very similar to and are often compared to Japanese gardens. The Nature Aquarium World system also brought the use of shrimp as algae controllers, such as the Amano shrimp, into widespread use.

Why Biotope?

There are many good reasons for setting up an aquarium that tries to simulate the natural habitat of fishes. The foremost is probably from an ecological perspective. With the destruction of the tropical rainforests worldwide it is essential to preserve the native surroundings of our fish before they vanish forever.

Tropical fish interacting in their natural waters are totally different than the community set-up we are all use to. This leads to the second reason - with all the advances in aquatic technology, maintaining such a tank is now easier than ever and obtaining the proper species, whether fish or plants, is usually not difficult either. Another reason is just for the challenge. Most of us at one time or another get bored and start to look for something new, why not try a Biotope? There is already a growing population following in the "mini reef" field, with some specializing in specific sections of reefs. This can done similarly with fresh water!

This material is provided for informational purposes only. It uses material from the Wikipedia articles "Aquariums" and "Fishkeeping" as well as various United States Government publications and contributions by various authors.

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