Summary: The Biotope Aquarium

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The Biotope Aquarium Explained

In a biotope aquarium, the aquarist attempt to simulate a natural habitat, assembling fish species, plants, water chemistry and decorations found in that specific ecosystem. A “true” biotope should be a mirror of a natural habitat.

There are many good reasons for setting up an aquarium that simulates a natural habitat. Those of us who have done everything, bred everything and kept most fish might simply want a new challenge. Another good reason to setup a biotope aquarium is to see the fish interacting in their “natural” environment which is completely different from what you will see in a community setup.

In my opinion, there are several types of biotopes.

1. The true Biotope is a recreation of a specific
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Here again, coral sand can be used to buffer the water. Some cichlids from this area are Neolamprologus multifasciatus, Neolamprologus brevis, N. occellatus, N. mealegrise, N. caudopunctatus, N. signatus, Altolamprologus compressiceps and A. calvus.

An open water biotope should provide plenty of open water to swim around. Unlike most other Lake Tanganyika species, males cichlids from this environment will not need any decor, rocks or sand to mark their territories. However, female will need some hiding places where they can hide as they cannot get way from the male in an aquarium. A sandy substrate can be used to mimic the natural conditions of the lake. Cichlids from this environment include: Cyprichromis leptosoma, C. microlepidotus, C. pavo, C. sp. leptosoma jumbo and C. sp. “Zebra”.

Whatever you chose to go with a rocky, open water or a sandy biotope environment, all Lake Tanganyika cichlids must be provided with a large open swimming areas. The water chemistry should match that of the lake with a temperature of 75-84°F (24-29°C), a pH from 7.5-9.0, and a water hardness from 7-18
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Within the first group, Haplochrominae, there are two subgroups. Both subgroups require different environments which is something that you should consider when setting up the tank. The first one, known as Haps, consists of open water and sand dwelling species. The second subgroup is known as mbuna, which means “rockdwellers”. The Mbuna fish are smaller, and both sexes are often brightly colored, though in some species the females may be brownish overall. The second group, the tilapiines, consists of the only substrate-spawning species in the lake (Tilapia rendalli), and four species of chambo

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