#39: 113L Biotope Aquascape
Steven Pituch, Katy TX USA | E-mail: spituch at ev1.net | Aquascaper Website
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First Place

Aquascape Details

Tank Size
91 x 30 x 41 cm (36 x 12 x 16 in)
Volume
113L (30 gallons)
Background
For the photographs a black plastic background was used. Black paper was used to shield the camera from the glare of the lights for some photographs. Normally, I prefer to view this tank with no background so filtered light from the window can shine past the plants, (but this did not photograph well).
Lighting
Two 25 Watt florescent screw-in bulbs, warm, in two modified Smith/Victor photoflood lamps. An additional bulb was used for the photographs and the bulbs were lowered a few inches.
Filtration
Fluval 204
Additional Information

INTRODUCTION

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.

PLANTS

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

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

Plants
Sagittaria lancifolia, Hydrocotyle sp., Pistia stratiotes (water lettuce), Eichornia crassipes (water hyacinth), Ludwigia repens (red ludwigia), Lemna valdiviana (small duckweed), Wolffilla floridana (mud midget), Utricularia sp. (bladderwort), Myriophyllum spicatum (Eurasian water milfoil), Nitella, Echinodorus Barteroi (swordplant).
Fish/Animals
red shiners (Cyprinella lutrensis), sheepshead minnows, (Cyprinodon variegatus), mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), golden topminnows (Fundulus cingulatus), bullhead minnows (Pimephales vigilax).
Materials
None. All items in tank except top layer of gravel are from local waters. Since there were no rocks or significant pieces of driftwood that were observed in these environments, no ornamental items have been included. The chief characteristic of the waters in this area is that they are muddy-bottomed