#738: 115L Biotope Aquascape Flood is coming! Small igarape near Barcelos, Rio Negro, Brazil

Valeriy Shylenko Vinnytsia, Ukraine

Awards and Comments

Top Five
What a display! This is the kind of biotope which I wished we would encounter in zoos and public aquaria rather than the usual generic 'Amazon' displays.

Clearly the aquascaper has spent a lot of time researching and developing this display with great results. The use of biotope-correct leaf litter and terrestrial plant leaves adds not only to the visual appeal and authenticity but confirms their dedication to the project.

The choice of fishes and the numbers relatively few is apt; the display requires you to search for the animals rather than providing instant impact something which anyone who has explored the tannin-stained waters of neotropical habitats can attest to; sometimes you really have to hunt and wait before you encounter the fishes. Additionally the stocking levels are appropriate.

The use of lighting creates a natural ambience and importantly provides dappled shade and deep shadows beneath cover where fish can feel secure.

I have recommended this display for Most Innovative because the aquascaper has taught me something new and explained their process; rather than boiling botanicals they soak them in RO water for a week. This allows the tannins to leach slowly and naturally into the water column as they would in nature and crucially avoids the inevitable fluctuations in pH when adding lots of boiled botanicals which can be lethal especially to sensitive soft-water species. I will be utilising this strategy in the future!

One point to raise (this may only be a translation issue is the listing of the wood used as 'oak' which to judges may appear biotope-incorrect. However judging from the aquascaper's description of other elements and how they collect them including plants it appears they are based at the location of their biotope (Barcelos) and therefore the wood is local and authentic.

I know first-hand the challenges of setting up aquaria in Brazil from sourcing lights to filters to substrates and dealing with fluctuations in ambient temperature and I am therefor very impressed at what the aquascaper has managed to achieve here even more so given their location in the Amazon region.

I commend them for creating this display so faithfully but also for their passion in sharing the natural habitat found on their doorstep. Contrary to what we might think most aquarium stores in Brazil are filled with livebearers marbled angels balloon fish and other exotics while local species are often over-looked and sometimes hard to acquire (as they are usually exported abroad). This is another reason I recommend this display for its innovation; faced with a local hobby-culture of fancy exotic species the aquascaper has decided to showcase native species and a local habitat. How many biotopers (or even us judges) in the UK or the US would choose to recreate their nearby stream or pond over an Asian African or South American display on the other side of the world?
— Tai Strietman

Aquascape Details

Dimensions 100 × 50 × 23 cm
Title Flood is coming! Small igarape near Barcelos, Rio Negro, Brazil
Volume 115L
Background light blue cardboard behind
Lighting 2 Led lamps (6500 K) x20 Wt, daytime period - 13 hours (12:00-01:00)
Filtration internal filters SunSun HJ-311B and SunSun HJ-111B, both filled with Pachira and Anthurium leaves and used for creating water flow and faster tannin release
Plants Aquatic: none;
Terrestrial (partly submerged): Pachira aquatica, Ficus americana subsp. guianensis, Anthurium sp., Cattleya violacea
Animals Nannostomus marginatus (~10), Hyphessobrycon socolofi (3), Apistogramma bitaeniata (4)
Materials oak roots; branches, twigs and leaves of Pachira, Ficus, Monstera and Anthurium, imported Amazonian fine white sand
Additional Information This is my oldest biotope ecosystem: I started it in December, 2018. From then it moved 3 times into bigger tanks, and since August, 2020 it's been developing here.

The main principle of this biotope ecosystem is its naturalness. I created it as close to the original biotope, as I could achieve. And here are some of its innovations:
I NEVER BOIL BOTANICALS, because in the natural habitat all the leaves and twigs are never boiled by the nature.
To "cook" proper blackwater I use technical osmosis water (it's a bit "dirtier" than distilled) and pour it into 6l plastic containers, add botanicals and let it saturate with tannins for a week.
In this biotope tannins and other chemicals are released into the water in a natural way slowly like in an igarape near Barcelos. This also lets me avoid fluctuations of water parameters.
As water is acidic with pH<5 there are no algae problems, as algae cannot grow in acidic environment (pH<6). And this is exactly what you have noticed in the original Rio Negro underwater images and videos.
FILTRATION of water is done by roots of terrestrial plants: Pachira, Ficus, Anthurium, Cattleya (the first plant’s roots also prevent sand from sliding from the right corner hill).
RIO NEGRO LOCAL PLANTS FOR DECOR AND GETTING TANNIN. I use 3 species of Barcelos native plants as a source of botanicals and decor, I collect their leaves and twigs right in my flat where I grow them as house plants. This self-grown material gives a true natural look to the biotope, ensures absence of dangerous elements and organisms, and lets me avoid boiling.

https://www.instagram.com (yes, this social network is good for watching fresh photos and videos right from the place, and for personal communication with local people)
and many-many more sources of information...
The quality of this ecosystem is proved by the russian invasion war against Ukraine. Electricity blackouts in winter (we had power outages for 16 hours every day for about 3 months), lack of quality food and technical equipment influenced this aquarium only a little bit: I lost 1 Hyphessobrycon and 1 Apistogramma due to a filter crash.
And as a reward in spring I enjoyed birth of Nannostomus and Apistogramma fry! You can see them in the photos

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