This 30 gallon tank is set up to represent a biotope of southeastern Texas. All plants and fish in this biotope were collected from the wilds of Harris, Brazoria, and Fort Bend counties within 1 hour of my home, from small streams, ponds and bayous. This setup is about four months old. The only item in this tank that is not indigenous locally is the top layer of gravel over the soil substrate, which was purchased.
The swordplants were collected as very small partially emersed plants from shallow water. They were potted (the bottom of styrene cups) with clay soil, a thin top layer of gravel, and placed in this tank. Once the swordplants stopped their tendency to produce aerial leaves and were thriving they were planted directly into the substrate. The Sagittaria longifolia, water lettuce, water hyacinth, small duckweed, and bladderwort were originally planted in a tub with a clay substrate in the backyard where they multiplied. The Nitella, Ludwigia, Myriophyllum spicatum and Hydrocotyle were acclimated in a separate holding aquarium until they were shown to be prospering. Plants were gradually introduced into the aquarium as the individual plants and the tank itself matured.
Some may question my use of invasive plants in this biotope. However, these invasive plants are extremely prolific and are currently part of the aquatic environment in the southeastern USA. By studying these plants we hobbyists may ultimately contribute to finding the key to controlling them in nature. For example I have discovered and have been observing the activities of a worm that lives in the roots of water hyacinth that will totally decimate water lettuce. These biotopes can have additional value to us other than being just for our personal enjoyment.
Fish currently include beautiful red shiners that are extremely energetic and a good community fish, bullhead minnows that are a bit reserved, bottom feeders and are well behaved, mosquitofish (the guppy cousin), sheepshead minnows (pupfish similar to Florida flagfish), and some golden topminnows. Minnow traps, a dip net and a cast net were used to capture the fish.
I am amazed at the numbers and variety of fish that live in the USA that are ideal community aquarium fish. I don