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Biotope Inspiration

Tyko_N

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25 Aug 2021
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I thought that an inspiration thread might be helpful for someone attempting to create a biotope aquarium, or just wanting to learn in what sort of place their plants and fish live in the wild. I’ll start off with some more well known resources: The Biotope Aquarium Design Contest (Biotope Aquarium. Welcome! • Biotope Aquarium) and Biotope Aquarium Project (Home BIOTOPE AQUARIUM Project – BAP). I can also recommend Ivan Mikolji’s “Fishes of the Orinoco in the Wild”, for anyone who likes that area (or nice photos). I have some pictures of places with possible aquarium potential as well that I’ll be happy to share if anyone is interested, such as the one below, just don’t expect Mikolji-level photography :)

Smallish hillstream at Danum Valley in Sabah, Borneo, with Gastromyzon (lepidogaster?). The substrate was bare bedrock with sand filled depressions (where the Gastromyzon was found), while other stretches had more gravel. There was some algae growth on the exposed bedrock but no aquatic plants, the whole stream was partly shaded by riparian vegetation though. No idea about water parameters other than that the water was pleasantly cool compared to the air temperature (~30C).
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Tyko_N

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I didn’t hear any loud protests so here are some more photos from Danum Valley. These ones are from tributaries right of the main river, pretty small when I was there (almost possible to jump over in places), although it would look completely different during the wet season. Fishes found were schools of algae eaters (maybe Garra borneensis, but hard to find good pictures of them), and some larger barb species in the bigger pools. The fluctuations in water level between dry and wet season must make life hard for any truly aquatic plants, but the riparian vegetation can be pretty impressive. (Side note: I'm still trying to figure out exactly how the forum works, but I hope the pictures are available in full size when you click on them.)
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Tyko_N

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Keep them coming,I love seeing the habitats where fish come from 😁
Will do :)

Here are some from the Kinabatangan river delta (still Sabah, Borneo), the water there was rather murky though, so no underwater photos and the only submerged life seen were groups of archerfish (Toxotes sp.). Closest to the sea the vegetation was either mangroves or nipa palms (Nypa fruticans, pretty much always forming monospecific stands), while further inland you got some more variation with the decrease in salinity. In the oxbow lakes this gave rise to large mats of floating vegetation, although sadly these were partly made up of invasives like water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). Interestingly the island's flora didn’t appear bothered by the proximity to the sea, with plenty of Nepenthes found (like the N. ampullaria pictured below), so a biotope paludarium with archerfish and pitcher plants could be an unusual setup.
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Tyko_N

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These are the last batch of pictures I have from Borneo, well that’s not quite true, I have loads of other photos from there but no more freshwater biotope ones. These ones are from around Mount Kinabalu, a much colder area than the previous ones as is evident by the patches of Sphagnum moss present (and a nice change after a month at tropical temps...). There were no standing water bodies, just lots of small rivulets running down the mountain, although since I was there during the dry season there wasn’t much flow. Despite being shaded by overhanging branches a few amphibious plants could be found (Bucephalandra maybe?), clinging to the exposed rocks. The only fish seen were small loaches, which were well camouflaged against the dark background (so you'll have to excuse the ugly foot in their photo).
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Aqua360

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Your pictures dearly make me want to visit habitats like these and get in touch with nature, there's something very special about seeing the fish we keep in their natural environments...
 

Tyko_N

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Your pictures dearly make me want to visit habitats like these and get in touch with nature, there's something very special about seeing the fish we keep in their natural environments...
Yes it's a special experience, and I feel very lucky to have made that trip (it was part of a course in tropical ecology I took, turned out it was the last year it ran and we managed to time it to just after most tourists disappeared (this was 2020) and Malaysia going into lock down). If you haven't tried it yet, exploring local waters, while not quite the same, can still give some inspiration (just the highlights below, more in Post Your Pics & Videos of the Great Outdoors):
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