Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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SlimStretch 02-17-2011 08:14 PM

Biotope Info
 
Are there any good resources for biotopes that are reliable, i was looking at a book "Aquarium Designs: Inspired by Nature" that at first I thought was a great resource only to find out the book wasn't accurate, though the style it was presented is what I'm looking for, It covered substrate, plants, and fish, it always has pictures of the finished tank. Are there any reliable websites or books that would have this information for a number of different Biotopes.

I'm interested in starting up a Amazon Biotope in a 30 gallon tank. And a blind tetra cave biotope in a 30 gallon. The Blind Tetra is fairly straight forward but the amazon could go many different directions.

Byron 02-17-2011 08:41 PM

If that is Peter Hiscock's book, I have it. It is very good for the overall layout of the respective aquascapes, by which I mean the sand/gravel, wood, rocks arrangements. But I was disappointed that he is not authentic in his selection of plants for many of them. But it is still one of the best books on the subject i have come across.

An older book is one from TFH publications entitled The Nature Aquarium. It is "authentic" in terms of plants and fish for the geographic areas, but not as useful as Hiscock's for layout.

As you specifically mentioned the Amazon, there is the book entitled The Amazon: Below Water, written by Oliver Lucanus, concentrating on Amazonia. Oliver has made several collecting trips to Amazonia; he operates a fish importing business in Montreal, Canada. I have not seen the book myself, but from what I have read about it (reviews, etc) I gather it is very good. Here's a link to info:
Below Water - The Amazon

Oliver also has a blog with lots of info on Amazonian habitats:
Below Water Colombia: Sierra de la Macarena

There is also our fellow forum member Heiko Bleher, the renowned explorer and collector. Heiko has written of Amazon habitats often, setting up specific ones for the Rio Negro or Rio Guapore for instance. Here's a link to Heiko's site info on biotopes:
Aquapress Bleher - Bleher's Biotopes

There is, I think, a link somewhere on that site to some photos and info on biotopes.

The problem with authentic biotope aquascapes is the "barren" aspect; most of the streams in Amazonia have few if any plants [the Rio Negro and Rio Guapore are major exceptions to this] so one is left with a tank that has sand, a few branches, and one or two fish species. Re-creating a stylized Amazonian riverscape can be done, have a look at the photos of my 115g aquarium which is one of these [photos under "Aquariums" below my name on the left]. A flooded Amazon forest is more interesting because you can include many plants. Echinodorus (swords) are naturally marsh or bot plants, emersed half the year, submersed the rest, so this is very authentic. My 90g Flooded Amazon Forest aquascape is a representation of something like this.

Byron.

SlimStretch 02-17-2011 09:17 PM

Thank you so much!! That is some great information. I'll take a look at some of that.8-)

SlimStretch 02-17-2011 09:21 PM

Byron you have beautiful tanks! How strict are you with your biotope tanks? As far as staying true to species of fish and plants in them. Is it frowned upon to do a Amazon tank, but not be specific of what type and be able to combine fish and plants from all over the amazon. I know some obviously are brackish but besides that, they seem like most of them are okay in the same ph ranges and temps.

Byron 02-18-2011 11:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SlimStretch (Post 593497)
Byron you have beautiful tanks! How strict are you with your biotope tanks? As far as staying true to species of fish and plants in them. Is it frowned upon to do a Amazon tank, but not be specific of what type and be able to combine fish and plants from all over the amazon. I know some obviously are brackish but besides that, they seem like most of them are okay in the same ph ranges and temps.

Thank you for your comments on my aquaria.

There are basically 4 types of community aquaria [this leaves out species only tanks]: biotope, geographic, habitat and general. Biotope means that everything in the tank--type of substrate, decor (wood, rock), plants and fish--are specific to a particular stream, river, lake or pond. Geographic to me means that all plants and fish occur in the same geographic area but not necessarily together in any particular watercourse. Habitat means all fish occur in the same type of environment such as a pond, flowing river, meandering stream, or lake; in this setup the fish might come from different geographic areas, example a riverscape with loaches, characins and danio. General obviously means there is no particular reference other than basic compatibility in terms of water parameters (which obviously must be present in any tank) and behaviour/suitability.

My current tanks are all geographic. All fish and plants occur in the same general geographic area. I would do biotope tanks if I had more space; obviously they are much more restrictive in the number of fish species, and plants, when you are considering this or that stream or pond. To do biotope tanks for all the varying species of fish I now have would mean dozens of tanks. I am planning a habitat tank for a flowing stream since my 70g and 90g need re-doing for various reasons.

One of the benefits of geographic tanks is ensuring identical water parameters, though some differences do occur in nature; in this case one has to limit the geographical area. This is why I frequently advise aquarists to research the fish first; if the fish in a given tank are not compatible in terms of water parameters, habitat (some may require wood, rock, caves, plants, leaves, sand, gravel, flowing water, still water, dim light...) and obviously behaviour, they will be under stress and therefore not as healthy.

In my 90g flooded Amazon forest for example there are several species of Echinodorus plants. One would never find all these together, but one would find them in different areas within the Amazon basin. The fish in this tank all prefer quiet water, such as one finds in a flooded forest, and they spend half the year in such an environment and the other half in very slow-flowing streams and lagoons. Knowing this, I can ensure that they will be compatible. And the tank is large enough that I can push the boundaries in behaviour a bit, and have a couple pairs of dwarf cichlids (Apistogramma) in with fish that would never come into contact with each other in nature but do nonetheless share near-identical habitats.

Within the Amazon basin the water parameters are very close in terms of hardness; most waters are very soft, though there are a few exceptions. With pH there is more variableness, as some streams have very low pH (3-4) and some are actually basic (low 7's) though still with soft or very soft water. Many species have a limited distribution; considering only the genus Corydoras, there are many species such as C. duplicareus that are endemic to one smallish stream and occur no where else, while a species like C. aeneus is found over much of the northern half of South America and even on an island in the Carribean. One species of characin I am familiar with, Pristella maxillaris, occurs in soft, acidic water but also occurs in populations near the coast that have slightly brackish water. This is the exception however; most characins cannot tolerate salt, nor minerals (hard water), so again one has to research h the habitats and acquire fish that are compatible. And the particular fish themselves never migrate between the two, the populations are distinct which is an important consideration.

Byron.

SlimStretch 02-18-2011 01:20 PM

Wow! excellent information thank you so much. I have been doing tons and tons and tons of research. I'm always looking for more and more accurate information. I guess i would be more interested in the type of tanks you are doing than biotope. It's hard to come acrossed some of the plants and fish that I would want/need for a true biotope. Do you know what kind of tanks
Takashi Amano does?

You have been such a great help, if you have any good informative resources you would be willing to share, they will not go to waste with me.

P.s. I really want some of Takashi's books but they are so pricey yet beautiful!!

Byron 02-18-2011 03:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SlimStretch (Post 593871)
Wow! excellent information thank you so much. I have been doing tons and tons and tons of research. I'm always looking for more and more accurate information. I guess i would be more interested in the type of tanks you are doing than biotope. It's hard to come acrossed some of the plants and fish that I would want/need for a true biotope. Do you know what kind of tanks
Takashi Amano does?

You have been such a great help, if you have any good informative resources you would be willing to share, they will not go to waste with me.

P.s. I really want some of Takashi's books but they are so pricey yet beautiful!!

From what I have seen, Mr. Amano does not do geographic or biotope tanks. He calls them "Nature Aquaria" and the plant and fish species are quite cosmopolitan. Of course, he is far more interested in the artistic side of aquaria designs, using natural material to create a work of art, and the fish are somewhat secondary.

I am quite the opposite, on two counts. First, my fish are the priority, and the plants and wood/rock are there for both the aesthetic value and the "health" aspect. Most forest fish expect "stuff" around them, be it aquatic plants, overhanging or marginal vegetation, wood, rock, branches, leaves. This is where understanding the habitat of each species is of tremendous value. With the correct environment, fish are less stressed and thus healthier.

But second, I prefer a truly "natural" aquascape. While it is certainly stylized, in that it "replicates" but not strictly "duplicates" the habitat, it is still something very close to what could be seen in nature. Mr. Amano's tanks are works of art, but not something I would want to sit in front of for very long. And aside from the appearance, the maintenance is as high as one can get. Mega light (which is stressful to these forest fish), CO2 diffusion, and daily addition of considerable nutrients via fertilizers to balance the high light. I prefer to let nature do most of the work without my interference.

On finding the fish you want, I sometimes wait months for the fish; they may not be readily available, or only seasonally, or only once in a decade. I always ensure there is room in the aquarium should I find them.

I have done a fair bit of research on fish habitats, esp for Amazonia, and I am still learning. I'll end with a video I have previously posted, on the habitat of angelfish. One often sees this magnificent fish in bare tanks and under bright light. Provide it with something akin to its habitat and one can truly appreciate the fish's behaviour and demeanour. As this video shows, even though made during the bright day under a full sun, little light penetrates the water.

Byron.

SlimStretch 02-18-2011 06:12 PM

I completely agree, I love putting fish in the environment where they will actually act as they would in the wild, more so than in a community tank, you can really start to study the behavior of the fish, and get a better understanding and respect for the fish. I have a few 30 gallon tanks that I want to get started soon, would you have any suggestions of some setups that would work well in a 30 and be able to have a variety of fish and plants. Perhaps a planted one that would be good for a plant beginner. I really like the 30 gallon tanks cause the size isnt too small nor too big, in the future i want to get some bigger tanks, but in the mean time could i work with the 30s and have a beautiful tank like yours?

Byron 02-18-2011 11:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SlimStretch (Post 594181)
I completely agree, I love putting fish in the environment where they will actually act as they would in the wild, more so than in a community tank, you can really start to study the behavior of the fish, and get a better understanding and respect for the fish. I have a few 30 gallon tanks that I want to get started soon, would you have any suggestions of some setups that would work well in a 30 and be able to have a variety of fish and plants. Perhaps a planted one that would be good for a plant beginner. I really like the 30 gallon tanks cause the size isnt too small nor too big, in the future i want to get some bigger tanks, but in the mean time could i work with the 30s and have a beautiful tank like yours?

Certainly. My 33g is aquascaped as a SE Asian pond, see the photos. I have thickly planted 10g and 20g tanks, though they are just a mass of plants, mainly spares and adventitious plants from my larger tanks. Some of the plants in my Amazon tanks are too large for a 33g, but several remain small and work fine. Check out our plant profiles for some ideas. I might have some ideas if you indicate the theme--geographic (from where), habitat (what type), etc.

SlimStretch 02-19-2011 11:48 AM

I have actually decided on what i want to do with a couple 10 gallon tanks.

1st is DPs, 2-3 Dwarf Puffers, heavy planted, I'm going to use plants that would be found in the India/Sri Lanka region, sand and red gravel, Maybe some Bamboo Plant, Blyxa japonica and Giant Hygrophia, Nomaphila stricta? Is this hard to find? Should I use a substrate to help the plants since it will be heavily planted?

2nd tank, I still have a lot of research to do, but i was thinking bee shrimp and crystal red shrimp, with heavy planted aquarium, a lot of moss. Could i put snails in with the shrimp? What would be a good snail to breed for my DPs?

3rd I want to do a tank with Bumble Bee Gobbies, I don't know if i should use a 30 for a brackish type Tank, or if i should do a smaller tank or even the 30 with BBGs only?

:-P


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