Biotope tank

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Advice -

For decades, Apis­togramma have been loved by the fish­keep­ing com­mu­nity all over the world, but it feels as if there’s an up­wards wave of apisto ap­pre­ci­a­tion right now – es­pe­cially for the less-com­mon species. also en­joy­ing a boost in pop­u­lar­ity at the mo­ment is the use of botan­i­cals or leaf lit­ter in aquaria and, par­tic­u­larly if you’re look­ing at set­ting up a biotope tank, this goes hand in hand with the keep­ing of dwarf ci­ch­lids. Not only do leaves and seed pods make the tank look and feel nat­u­ral for Apis­togramma, they also leach hu­mic and tan­nic acids, have a back­ground an­ti­sep­tic qual­ity, and build up a layer of biofilm – the first food of many fry.

Fallen leaves ac­cu­mu­late in the steady mov­ing for­est streams of south amer­ica that Apis­togramma species in­habit. The leaves cover the river bed, form­ing an ‘ac­tive’ sub­strate that’s busy with all sorts of bac­te­ria and enzyme ac­tiv­ity, it also hides higher life­forms such as in­sect lar­vae, aquatic mol­luscs and crus­taceans. at times of higher flow, sand can cover the set­tled leaves too, re­sult­ing in a sub­strate made up of lay­ers of leaves and sand.

Twigs and branches con­stantly fall from the canopy above. once wa­ter­logged and sunken, this ar­bo­real waste makes ideal shel­ter and play ar­eas for a fam­ily of small ci­ch­lids. With sand and leaf lit­ter un­der­neath the fallen wood, it’s easy for ma­ture Apis­togramma to ex­ca­vate a cave if they can’t find a ready-made one in among the branches.

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