Biotope -- South American Blackwater Creek
BIOTOPE AQUARIA -- South American Blackwater Creek
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.
Always check compatibility! Some species from a particular habitat are not suitable tankmates. For example, the Peacock Bass will eat small tetras since they are their natural food in the wild.
The biotope aquarium can be adapted by adding species from disparate areas that have similar water requirements.
South American Blackwater Creek - near the Rio Sucasari, Peru
This biotope description is derived from an interview I did for SimplyDiscus.com that was posted on February 28, 2003.
The Rio Sucasari is a small tributary near the confluence of the Rio Napo and the Amazon River about 5 hours downriver from Iquitos, Peru. It is an interesting area because of the diversity of habitats: the Rio Napo and Amazon are large whitewater rivers, while the Sucasari is a pure blackwater creek. There are also several Oxbow lakes, both whitewater and blackwater. I will specifically be describing a small creek off the Sucasari, which was under a nearly complete canopy shading.
In the Sucasari creek there were numerous downed trees. Submerged wood is generally very dark in color. There were few living roots, but fallen tree matter (trees, branches) was much more common in this specific biotope.
I only did a limited amount of collecting in the creek using dip nets, throw nets, and traditional fishing line. I snorkeled around a bit during the day and at night examined the creek using a floodlight. Pimelodids and Loricarids were abundant as were silver hatchetfish, Severum, and assorted small tetras in large schools (Hemigrammus, Hyphessobrycon, Boehlkea, and Thayeria). There were Apistogramma spp. and Brochis splendens among the leaf litter. I did not encounter any discus in that specific area.
In the forest around the creek there were a large number of frogs, toads, and snakes. I found mata mata turtles in the shallows of the creek under fallen logs. As for aquatic insects, I saw few "swimmers" but many insect larvae living among the wood matter and rotting vegetation. There were land snails, but I failed to notice any aquatic snails. There were lots of flying insects especially flies and gnats but not too many mosquitoes. In the vegetation along the river there were many highly camouflaged katydids, grasshoppers, and other insects.
Few aquatic plants -- mostly roots and submerged wood. At the time of my visit water levels were at their midpoint, so many semi-aquatic plants that grew along the water are probably submerged at some point during the year. In some areas there were reedy plants growing fully submerged. In this particular area there were no floating plants but in adjacent oxbow lakes they were water lilies, water cabbage, and duckweed-like plants. Sword plants were also present in nearby swampy areas -- these grew both emerged and submerged.
No rocks whatsoever!! In this part of the Amazon, rocks are treated as a commodity and are used for trading because of their rarity. The river bed is orange/pinkish colored clay with several inches of rotting leaf litter and debris. The leaves had sharply pointed tips consistent with typical rainforest leaf shape (the so-called "drip-tips" facilitate water flow off the leaf surface).
pH 5.5-6.5, 0-4 dH, 79-84 F (26-29 C)
Use fine gravel, sand, or clay for a substrate.
Ideally, woody material should be the most prominent decoration in the tank. Use scattered Amazon swords and reedy plants like Vallisneria.
Lighting should be subdued and filter outflows placed to create little current.
Sword plants, Vallisneria
Discus, Angelfish, Dwarf Cichlids, Tetras [Hemigrammus, Hyphessobrycon, Boehlkea, and Thayeria], Hatchetfish, Corydoras, Pimelodids, Loricarids.
"Pimelodids and Loricarids were abundant as were silver hatchetfish, Severum, and assorted small tetras in large schools (Hemigrammus, Hyphessobrycon, Boehlkea, and Thayeria). There were Apistogramma spp. and Brochis splendens among the leaf litter. I did not encounter any discus in that specific area."
Blackwater creek after rain
Blackwater creek after rain
Altum Angelfish Biotope Aquarium Pictures
Discus Biotope Aquarium Pictures
Other Biotope Resources