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Tali 07-28-2012 01:49 PM

Ideas for a 20gal long biotope?
I was thinking maybe african themed? I want a community tank that is not as common. I'm just looking for some ideas from people who have set up biotopes before. I'm kind of frustrated at the moment. Any ideas or good websites would be greatly appreciated!

sidluckman 07-29-2012 08:36 AM

African Biotopes (save for cichlid tanks) often get "ignored." But then African fishes are not as available and plentiful at your local fish store. African Barbs and Tetras can be downright hard to find. And Cichlids that aren't "assorted africans" aka assorted mbuna, may take some tracking down.

I was recently thinking (dreaming) of doing a big African riverine tank with lots of anubias and other plants, Congos Tetras, Nannaethiops unitaeniatus and some Synodontis cats. . . then I thought "how about some Gnathonemus Petersii, too? And before I knew it, the dream tank became an unrealizeable monstrosity!

But a pair of Kribs would fit. Don't know how amenable to close neighbors they would be in such a tank. My guess is the tank would be pretty much all about the kribs and some biotopically correct plants. Other modest sized african cichlids are the gorgeous but cranky Jewel Cichlid, the interesting "blockhead" cichlids (Steatocranus Casuarius) and "Tadpole Cichlids" (Teleogramma Brichardi). Or maybe some shell-dwelling Tanganyikans (Lamprologus Brevis, L. Ocellatus), since they are small.

Or possibly look into killifish species. I can imagine an open-topped tank with suspended lighting above, half-filled with water and planted thick with miniature papyrus that grow out the top. Little annual killies swim around the submerged papyrus stems.

I know. It's wacky. The reason I haven't done it: my cats would eat the papyrus and then they'd jump in the tank.

I don't like to recommend any schooling fish for tanks much under 55 because of the need to keep them in groups sizeable enough to encourage natural behavior (as far as that's possible in captivity). And truly I am having difficulty imagining an entire "Biotope" from any continent in a tank of this size.

Tht's it. I'm tapped out. Now I will shut up and look for genius ideas to emerge from the great people on this forum!

Tali 07-30-2012 01:56 PM

I like the idea of the shell-dwelling Tanganyikans, could i keep any other fish with them in the 20 gal? Thank you so much!
I have cats too so no open tanks lol

sidluckman 07-30-2012 04:42 PM

Cats are so great, and yet it sucks that I can't do certain things: like have valuable ceramic objects for more than a month!

Those shell dwellers come from a couple different genuses and in large enough aquaria you can have more than one species. I am no expert on Tanganyikans, so maybe if you do a search of past forum postings or post a new thread asking specifically about shell dwellers, you will get some good advice.

Based on what I know, I believe one species is all a tank like this can handle. I can't think of non-cichlids that would fit with them in a 20, either.

Olympia 07-30-2012 05:08 PM

You're really limited with African tanks in a 20 long..
There is a tetra species that you can find on aquabid if you're in the USA: African red eyed tetra.
But they get to 4", like congos so can't fit in a 20 comfortably.

I've down a lot of work looking for African species that aren't cichlids, I'm setting up a 75 gallon West African community. Really, these biotopes are best in big tanks, the fish are large. And African fish are really scarce in the trade in modern times, it's important to remember that Africa isn't a peaceful continent around the jungle areas, and wading through the jungles looking for aquarium fish isn't really worth the risk, plus importing animals from Africa is crazy expensive (Owner of an LFS explained this to me).

If you got a breeding pair of kribensis you could have an African butterfly in there, maybe 2, but that's about it for a 20 longs. :-(

If you have soft acidic water and are willing to search a bit, these are a beautiful African barb that you should be able to find online at least. A group of 15ish in that 20 gallon would be a gorgeous sight to see:
‘Barbus’ hulstaerti (African Butterfly Barb) — Seriously Fish

I've been looking at plants too, lately. Also limited. Anubias are African, easy to find. There's also African water fern, and crinum natans, which I'm going to ask about at my fish store. African fern is a gorgeous plant and it's pretty sought after since it's unique looking.

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