What is a biotope?
Biotope is an area of uniform environmental conditions providing a living place for a specific assemblage of plants and animals. Biotope is almost synonymous with the term habitat, but while the subject of a habitat is a species or a population, the subject of a biotope is a biological community.
It is an English loanword derived from the German “Biotop”, which in turn came from the Greek bios=’life’ or ‘organism’ and topos=’place’. (The related word geotope has made its way into the English language by the same route, from the German “Geotop”.) The word biotope, literally translated, means an area where life lives.
The term biotope is also used by aquarium hobbyists to describe an aquarium setup which tries to simulate the natural habitat of specific fish. The idea is to replicate conditions such as water temperature, natural plants, water type (fresh, saline or brackish), lighting, and other native fish which represent a particular real-world biotope. An example of one South American biotope type might be lots of bog-wood, a few native plants, with dark substrata and subdued lighting with floating plants, along with marbled hatchets, angels, cardinals, otos, corys and plecostomus.
What should I consider for a specific biotope?
Fish come from all over the world and do not live in the same environments and therefore it is important to recreate their native habitats. Even in a community aquarium with just a basic setup could potentially be dangerous to the fish e.g. Cory Cats have barbels on their month, using the wrong substrate will severely hurt them leading to death.
Some fish require fast moving water; some fish require dense vegetation (plants); some fish require low lighting; some fish require tinted water referred to as Black Water which has a colour of a light tea. Through this series we will show you how to go about attaining selected biotopes; the fish that can thrive in these biotopes and the necessary requirements for plant growth.
I strongly suggest that you ensure that you have the correct biotope for the fish you want to keep.
African River Rapids Biotope
The ‘Natural’ Biotope
Lake Malawi Top Biotope
Lake Malawi Mbuna Biotope
Lake Malawi Hypo Biotope
Lake Malawi Bottom Biotope
Lake Victoria Biotope
Lake Tanganyika Biotope
Amazon Basin Dense Planted (slow moving) Biotope
Amazon Basin ‘Rapids’ Biotope
Amazon Basin Black Water Planted Biotope
India General Biotope
Open Water Generic Biotope
Terrarium Biotope (without amphibious species)
Terrarium Biotope (with amphibious species)