Amazon Biotope Aquarium
The Amazon biotope aquarium is a popular set up kept by numerous aquarists, from beginners to experts. Most beginners start out with community aquariums with fish and plants from all corners of the world, but keeping a biotope aquarium is by no means more difficult than keeping an international community aquarium. If you are a beginner, you should therefore not hesitate to set up an Amazon biotope aquarium, as long as you are okay with sticking to sturdy plants and fish species from the Amazon region until you gain more experience. Setting up a biotope aquarium is actually ideal for a beginner since all plants and fishes will need exactly the same water conditions, water temperature etcetera to thrive. So, what is a biotope aquarium? As you might have guessed already, a biotope aquarium is simply an aquarium containing plants and animals from the same biotope. An Amazon biotope aquarium will for instance only contain plants and fish native to the Amazon region in South America.
The Amazon waters are densely grown with aquatic plants and including a lot of live plants is recommended if you want to mimic the Amazonian environment. Also include plenty of bogwood and allow the bogwood to colour the water. Hardcore enthusiasts arrange the bogwood in a tangled fashion to make it look as if it had got stuck in the aquarium after drifting down the Rio Amazon.
Water chemistry and quality
The water in the River Amazon and its tributaries is soft and acidic, and most waterways have dark water. The darkness is caused by naturally occurring humic acid. The recommended pH range in an Amazon biotope is pH 6.0-6.9. Some species will prefer even more acidic water, down to 5.0-5.5. When it comes to water hardness, the GH should be around 3-7 and the KH 2-4.
Keeping the water quality up is naturally important. The amounts of ammonia and nitrite should be below detectable levels and the amount o nitrate should never be allowed to rise above 10 ppm. How often you have to change the water depends on aquarium size, filtration, fish species and fish density, but changing 20-25% on a weekly basis is a good rule of thumb.
Always keep an eye on the pH-value in your aquarium since the bogwood can make it drop to far down.
The recommended water temperature for most Amazonian species is 74-78 degrees F (23.5-25.5 degrees C).
The sun is very strong in tropical South America, but as mentioned above the water in the Amazon region is often very dark due to high levels of humic acid. The water is also shadowed by overhanging lush vegetation in most parts of the Amazonas. If you want to keep light craving plants in your Amazon biotope aquarium you will need 2-3 tubes with spectrums for plant growth that stretches the entire length of the aquarium and comes with proper reflectors. If you do not have a lot of light, stick to low-demanding Amazon plant species.
Amazon biotope fishes
A lot of popular aquarium fish hails from the Amazon region and will love to be placed in an Amazon biotope aquarium. If they have been captive bred for generations they might have adapted a tolerance for harder and less acidic conditions, but many of them really flourish when they are placed back in the type of environment that their ancestors hail from. Be careful however, changes always have to be slow and gradual.
If you want to set up an Amazon biotope aquarium, you can for instance use almost all types of small tetras, since a lot of them (but not all!) hail from the Amazon region. The Amazon region is also home to a lot of popular catfish species, such as Whiptail catfish, Bristlenose catfish and Corydoras catfish. Other suggestions are Hatchetfish, Pencilfish and larger characins such as the commonly available Silver Dollars. If you have some previous experience on keeping the water quality up, you can for instance go for Dwarf cichlids. Angelfish is another alternative, but not if you want to keep small tetras because the Angelfish will consider them lunch.
Amazon biotope plants
A lot of commonly available plants hail from the Amazon region. You can for instance pick plants from the Echinodorus genus, e.g. Echinodorus paniculatu (Amazon sword), Echinodorus tenellus (Dwarf sword plant) and Echinodorus amazonicus. Eleocharis acicularis, also known as Hair grass, is another popular Amazon species. Cabomba and Myriophyllum are other alternatives, but they need quit a lot of light to do well.
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