Cenotes biotope, a freshwater habitat in the forests of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico

Cenotes biotope, a freshwater habitat in the forests of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico


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.

The Yucatan peninsula has virtually no surface streams due to its limestone foundation -- a relic of its past life as coral reef on the bottom of the ocean. Ground water sinks through the porous limestone and travels to the sea in underground rivers and caves (formed from millenia of acidified water dissolving conduits in the limestone). To date, almost sixty cave systems with more than 300 miles of passageways have been discovered.

These underwater streams can be accessed through cenotes, sinkholes in the surface limestone. Below you will find pictures from a surface cenote and a cave cenote. Because the water is mineral rich and remarkably clear, plant growth is especially vigorous. The plants you see in these pictures are a Chara, or freshwater macroalgae, species. Chara is also known as "stonewort."

In the photos below you will find tetras, mollies, and catfish. Cenotes are also home to some of the following species:
Astyanax fasciatus

Archocentrus octofasciatus
'Cichlasoma' urophthalmus
'Cichlasoma' synspilum
Parachromis friedrischstahli
Thorichthys meeki

Dorosoma sp.

Rhamdia guatemalensis

Gambusia yucatana
Poecilia mexicana

Rivulus tenuis

[Other pictures from the Mexican Yucatan: Caribbean | reefs | cenotes caves | lagoon | Tulum | Cancun region]

Except where noted, all images are the property of Rhett A. Butler, copyright 1994-2004. Contact me with questions regarding use, reproduction, or purchase of any of the pictures.