If you have been involved in the aquarium hobby for a while, you may be looking for a new and interesting challenge. Perhaps you have upgraded to larger tanks and tried your hand at breeding aquarium fish, but nothing seems to pique your interest in the right way – starting a biotope tank may be just what you need! Cultivating a biotope tank is different from maintaining a typical community tank because every element of the tank is carefully selected in order to recreate a certain type of natural environment. Biotope tanks are not only a fun challenge for aquarium hobbyists, but they can also be a great learning experience.
What Are Biotope Tanks?
A biotope tank is simply an aquarium in which all of the tank elements (fish, plants and decorations) come from the same area in nature. For example, a South American biotope tank would likely include a few corydoras catfish, a school of tetras as well as a few livebearers and the tank would be decorated with South American species of live plant such as Amazon swords, Alternanthera and Echinodorus. You might also expect to see natural décor items such as large water-worn rocks and driftwood roots or branches in a South American biotope tank.
A biotope tank can be designed around virtually any natural environment. Amazon biotope tanks are one of the most popular types to cultivate because Amazonian species of fish are readily available and they are typically easy to maintain. If you are really looking for a challenge, consider cultivating a more specialized biotope tank such as an estuary tank - a type of brackish water environment - or a Southeast Asian river tank. If you enjoy keeping cichlids, think about developing a tank around a particular cichlid environment such as Lake Tanganyika or Lake Malawi – not only will this be a fun challenge for you as an aquarium hobbyist but designing a tank around the native environment of your fish may also help your fish to thrive.
Tips for Biotope Tanks
No matter what type of biotope tank you choose to cultivate, it is important that you perform some in-depth research before you begin. You should familiarize yourself with the ideal temperature and pH range for that ecosystem as well as the other elements of water chemistry such as water hardness and salinity. The more accurately you are able to simulate the native environment of your fish, the healthier and happier they are likely to be. You should also be careful about the fish you select for your biotope tank – though some species of fish are highly adaptable to varying water conditions, it is generally best to only select species that come from that particular biotope.
Once you have set up your biotope tank you will need to maintain it just as you would maintain a traditional community tank. Be sure to keep up to date on your weekly water changes and always replace your filter media every three to four weeks. To make sure that the water in your biotope tank stays clean and clear, consider adding an EcoBio-Stone – these stones are made from porous volcanic rock and cement and they are infused with live beneficial bacteria as well as the nutrients they need to thrive. Once introduced into your tank, these bacteria will multiply and immediately begin working to maintain the nitrogen cycle in your tank, removing harmful toxins and helping to keep your tank water clean, clear and odor-free.