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Discussion Starter #1
For those who don't know a biotope is a specialized setup where only fish and plants from one section of the world are used. They can be very broad like an "SA biotope" or they can be as specific and specialized as you (and your wallet) want. Recently I have been doing a little bit of reading about a discus biotope. This would be a type of Amazon biotope but would only be able to include species that can tolerate the warm water discus need like rams and rummynose tetra. But the setup needed to make this a reality would probably be in the 4-5 figure range. This dream is a long way off. But I thought I would share with everyone some videos from my research.

This is probably the most true to life biotope that I found. Notice the lack of plants aside from floating and how the water is stained a tea-color.

This one lacks the floating plants and you can see how it causes the fish to all huddle around the bottom. This is because they don't like the bright lights and would prefer to have them blocked.


This is my favorite video because the cinematography is great as is the music. It's a great shot of a discus setup, however it isn't a true biotope because it has fish from other parts of the world. Great tank, tho. In the description is a link to the forum post where the author describes his setup in great detail.

To compare, here is a video of wild discus in the Amazon courtesy of PFK: YouTube video of the week: Discus in their natural habitat | Blog | Practical Fishkeeping

Now I invite you to talk about your biotope projects! Later on I will post some stuff from PFK about setting up certain biotopes.
 

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I could have sworn I saw you post on TFK that you aren't a fan of biotopes! ;)
I have one on my list that I've been thinking of the past few days. Ironic that you started this thread. Especially on here, I don't think as many people on here plan out biotopes. After I set up my rainbowfish tank though (rainbows are the priority!) it's next if I get a big enough tank (key word).
It's a hardwater African biotope. It's different, because it's not chiclids! (which are nice but I just think they are way too overdone..)

I haven't done a lot of research on it yet (mostly because I feel like I'll never achieve it).

By hardwater, I mean more around my hardness, still under 15dH.
The reason I will probably never accomplish this: It has to be about a 70 gallon. :'(
Heavily planted with native African plants. Of course I have no idea what that would be. Everything is either from Asia or SA. :( Except anubias, that's the only one I know of so far.

It's going to have one elephant nose fish (Gnathonemus petersii) as the center piece. I want everything to revolve around him, tank mate and set up wise. This is why I need a huge tank, these guys get to around 9".

After that, a group of African butterfly fish. They are so cool, and when I found out them + elephant nose = African hardwater fish, the idea came into my head.

Next, a medium (too big for the butterfly fish to eat) schooling fish. This is where I got stuck... There seems to be nothing from the region. I've been mostly looking at barbs since I know many of them are African, but nothing seems good for 12-13dH. Everything African is either soft water or "extremely rare in the hobby." I may settle for a small catfish if there is one. Or anything really.

After that, African filter shrimp (or just regular Asian ones if I had to settle). These should be too big for the elephant nose to eat.

That's it. :D It seems different, haven't seen anyone else do similar, which as you guessed by my rude comment at chiclids earlier, is a huge plus for me. I like different. The problem with different is that there's no fish or plants in the hobby for me to use pretty much. :(
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You're right! I'm not. ;) I usually just throw whatever I think is pretty together. However a discus biotope has the potential to combine so many lovely fish it's almost impossible to pass up. Schools of cardinal tetra and rummynose tetra. The regal discus centerpieces. Gold nugget plecos dotting the wood. Cute little cories scattered on the sandy bottom. One of the reasons I like this biotope is that most of the research is done for me! Like yours, this dream is decades away. Discus require pretty specialized setups that are very expensive.

An African biotope is certainly something you don't hear about every day. Have you checked out this PFK article on biotopes? It's got your African one in there along with some suggestions for fish. http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/content.php?sid=4811

I guess I wanted to post this here because most everyone over there already knows about biotopes and some even have them set up. I wanted to bring it to the betta keepers here because some of them like to keep other fish, too.
 

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I don't know if there's any cories that can handle high temperatures well.
I touched my friends discus tank. The glass was warm. :| His tank is lightly planted, with a few pieces of driftwood. But he uses carbon to keep the water really clear, no surface plants. The fish never hide (he got a few new ones and they chill in the back still). They follow you from one side of the tank to the other. Discus are considered pretty smart fish. The fish are pretty cool though. He's got some that are like, huge, maybe 7-10" top to bottom? They'll eat from your hand and everything. And they feel so funny when their faces touch your finger. He's got some really bright ones. I like the orange/yellow, white and wild types best. I'm not a fan of deep reds and blues together, which is what many of them are.

Besides that PFK article saying elephant nose are "not hot" which I assume is due to their more difficult care, I like it. I already planned around the elephant nose.. Nice sand substrate (which I want in all my tanks anyways), heavily planted. Plus I want to get him first, and not add anything until he's eating well. Specialized diet, I'm guessing it's heavily based off frozen foods for that tube mouth. I read on the PFK forum about someone having lot's of trouble getting theirs to eat, so precautions!
The article helped me out though. :D Or maybe it's just pushing me down a hopeless road even more!
1 elephant nose, a few butterflies, and these:
1 kribensis (did not know they were African!) just to keep him peaceful.
And a goooood sized school of these if I ever found them. They remind me of pencilfish, which I love. Should be big enough to not be eaten, over half the size of a butterfly fish:
Pareutropius buffei (Three Striped African Glass Catfish) — Seriously Fish

edit; just saw on a PFK article about elephant noses that they should be kept in groups of 5? The kind I want at least.
This is conflicting, I read on seriously fish that they should be kept alone, unless you have a very large tank because they fight each other. Thoroughly confused.
 

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I would love to one day have a San Marcos biotope completed with many native plants such as ludwigia Repens, giant vallisneria, etc. and a small breeding colony of mosquito fish
 

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Discussion Starter #6
There are a few species of cory that can. But they're not your common cories. I plan to keep the temp down around 81F so I can keep other species with discus. Also remember there are something like 200 different species of corydoras, so I think it's just a matter of finding the right one. Well maybe not all the research is done for me, but a lot is. :p

Hmm. It sounds like you have your work cut out for you in researching you African biotope. It would be amazing to see if you ever get it set up! Plus elephant nose fish are pretty awesome. They're the smartest fish!!

Mo, will you do it in a tank or a pond?. I have Gambusia holbrooki in my pond, and they get pretty big. I probably have some females that are pushing 4 inches.
 

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In a large pond just for the summer than converting it into a tank. The mosquito fish I'm getting are a different variety, they are gambusia affinis, which are relatively smaller
 

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I have two biotope style tanks. One is for my Melanotaenia maccullochi Skull Ck and the other is for my Pseudomugil mellis.

My Skull Ck biotope just includes native plants and native fish (also have some Pseudomugil tenellus in there) whereas I am making my mellis biotope much more specific. I have dug out a whole heap of tea-tree roots to use in the tank and already the males are carving out territories. Next step is adding native sedges and leaf litter from eucalypts and other natives.

I love biotopes and I feel they show the fish off at their best. My next 'biotopes' will be for some Pseudomugil gertrudae and some Threadfin rainbowfish. Just need to find the room and the plants.

My camera is charging but once it is done I will upload some photos of my two tanks.
 

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I am in the slow process of putting together a Japanese agricultural stream biotope - AKA "Fish and plants I can find near my house":lol:
It is apparently far more impressive to people who don't live in Japan.

One more fish to complete the stocking. I have the proper soil in the tank, but the covering gravel is not right. I have found some nice fine gravel taken from a relatively local stream - just need to pick it up when I have the money.
The plants are harder to come by as the majority are annual grasses. I have managed to get some nice floating plants that are native - now just have to find something native to plant into the soil.

Right now I have medaka, southern marsh shrimp and small spotted loaches. I just need to find some local freshwater goby to finish the tank. :lol:
 

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Here's my rainbowfish tank. There's actually one pygmy perch (accidentally got netted with some other fish I bought), ten or so Skull Ck rainbows and nine or so Delicate blue-eyes. It's overstocked as the guy I bought the fish off chucked in some extras. Hopefully moving the blue-eyes out into their own tank.


Ignore the blyxa I removed it from another tank and it is not staying



Then this is my Pseudomugil mellis/Honey blue-eye tank

Honey blue-eyes (Pseudomugil mellis) on a mission through the blyxa


Freaking out because I turned on the light


FTS. Tea-tree was just chucked in there so ignore the lack of 'scaping'.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
The smartest fish? o-O
Ya. The mormyrids (elephant nose fishes) produce a weak electrical current that they use for everything from finding food to communicating with each other. The ratio of brain to body weight is comparable to humans. It's theorized that thier brains are so large because they have to process so many electrical signals.

I am in the slow process of putting together a Japanese agricultural stream biotope - AKA "Fish and plants I can find near my house":lol:
It is apparently far more impressive to people who don't live in Japan.
Native tanks always seem to be more impressive to those who don't have the same fish around them. When I show people pictures of darters and dace they always oohh and ahhh, but to me they are just backyard fish. I would love to see some pictures of what you have already done with it.

A native biotope is another that I would love to do. The major problem is that I would need a large tank as I'm assuming most of the fish I want are schooling. There really isn't much known about their behavior in the aquarium. The second major problem is that they are true coldwater fish and will die at temps around 75F. I'm looking at middle Appalachian mountain streams, ie trout streams. So I will need a chiller (which is a little out of my price range at the moment).

Interestingly enough, Nathan Hill talks about how native biotopes aren't being done enough in this PFK article: 8 biotopes that aren't being done enough | Blog | Practical Fishkeeping

Beautiful tanks, LBF. They look like something I would see at a public aquarium. I love the honey blue-eyes playing in the wood.
 

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I want to do a betta imbellis biotope, and a fundulopanchax gardneri gardneri one. I'd also love to do one for my embers.
 

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Some of those in that article aren't even possible. Lake Baikal? Talking about the deepest freshwater lake, a fish that dissolves when it is removed from this pressure. Of course it's not being done enough! Just now we have one aquarium (in France) with a deep sea tank opening soon. It's on PFK, it's a 3 gallon tank that will contain shrimp and such, but the amount of pressure being put on it takes up so much space. O_O (sorry, that really aggravated me!)
Gourami biotope would be amazing though!

They do seem fascinating. This is from a PFK article of someone who saw them in the wild:
"It was pitch dark and I looked in the water where I was standing and suddenly it started to blink around me. Near my legs was a group of five or six elephantnoses swimming over fallen leaves and tree branches.
Why could I see them? Their eyes were flashing on and off in bright (infra-red?) colours and, while watching this for some 15-20 minutes, I began to realise that they were using some form of communication, like Morse signals."
Like... WHAT O_O
Such a weird fish, experts struggle to keep them alive, since they starve themselves, then there's some inexperienced person with a 30 gallon tank hand feeding his on youtube! :s

A native tank would be cool but I could never reproduce a Canadian winter in my tank!
 

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Well my rainbows hated my old tank design as they were always surfing around at the back or hiding. Took all my old wood out and put in a hep of tea-tree branches and now everyone is out and about exploring. Hoping the tannins that wood is going to release will dilute my light as this washes out their colouring a lot.

Sorry it's a bit cloudy but here's an updated shot. Looks better in RL as you can see all the wood clearly.



I thought Elephant Nose fish were in the same category as Ghost Knife fish. My older brother had one for a while in his community tank, but he didn't quarantine and whatever it brought in wiped out his entire community. I find them weird looking. Sounds like a biotope around them would be cool.
 

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Yea, they are both fish that communicate and navigate using electric pulses (and apparently flashing lights out of their eyes). If you youtube them, their movements are very similar to a BGK's as well. Are they common in shops in Australia? I've only seen them online, there's one on aquabid, but it's in the states.
I've been thinking about this too much now and feel like I'm actually setting up a 70 sometime soon. :(
I thought about a biotope for my rainbows, but then I decided I want some whiptail catfish in there. Yours looks pretty awesome, though. Do you just take the tree branches from outside? We don't have any good trees for that here. $10 for a tiny piece of driftwood. Ugh.
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Tea tree grows feral here and when I went up to my grandparents' farm they had a section they'd clear a couple years back leaving stumps behind. I wanted the root ball so I dug about 30 stumps out and got some wood of varying sizes. This was soaked in a tub of water for a week or so until it sunk and I stripped off most of the bark.

Then I just put it in my tanks, and I have yet to see any adverse effects. They have leeched a lot of tannins though, but I want that look.

The aquarium I saw the elephant nose fish at gets in a lot of oddball fish as they have their own quarantine facility on site. Don't know how common they are outside of that.

And here's an interesting fact I found in regard to ENF and GKF
Individuals of a single species produce either wave signals or pulse signals, but not both. The Black Ghost Knife fish (Apteronotus albifrons) is a wave producing fish, while the Elephant Nose fish (Gnathonemus petersii) produces pulses (von der Emde 1999).
 

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Here's my rainbowfish tank. There's actually one pygmy perch (accidentally got netted with some other fish I bought), ten or so Skull Ck rainbows and nine or so Delicate blue-eyes. It's overstocked as the guy I bought the fish off chucked in some extras. Hopefully moving the blue-eyes out into their own tank.


Ignore the blyxa I removed it from another tank and it is not staying



Then this is my Pseudomugil mellis/Honey blue-eye tank

Honey blue-eyes (Pseudomugil mellis) on a mission through the blyxa


Freaking out because I turned on the light


FTS. Tea-tree was just chucked in there so ignore the lack of 'scaping'.
Beautiful tank! :thumbsup:
 

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LittleBettaFish - those tanks are beautiful. The blyxa may not necessarily belong, but it looks wonderful.

Native tanks always seem to be more impressive to those who don't have the same fish around them. When I show people pictures of darters and dace they always oohh and ahhh, but to me they are just backyard fish. I would love to see some pictures of what you have already done with it.
I think the impressiveness of the tank goes up based on how rare the fish are in that location. My incredibly cheap little medaka (sadly, my wild caught passed away recently) seem to be hard to find outside Japan, my native little freshwater shrimp almost unheard of, and my local loach something exotic. The type of goby planned is also native to a lot of other places, so isn`t quite as interesting. :lol:

For me it is just easy to do a native tank. Everything is easy to obtain and information abounds (even if it is aimed at people raising them for bait - like the loaches).

I would show the tank, but it looks nothing like it should at this point. :lol: The fish and shrimp are fine, the wood and rocks are fine, but the gravel at this point is white (easy to see and remove from atop the soil) and there is hornwort standing in for the planned spiralis and palustris.

The tank doesn`t look horrific, but it certainly isn`t a biotope at this point. :lol:
 

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If I were to setup a biotope it would be South America. No neons or cardinals as they don't school very nice, rummynoses are my #1 Tetra of choice.
 
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