Area of protection of flora and fauna of cienegas from River Lerma, Mexico

70th place in Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2017

mexico Mexico. Amadeo Hernández Pérez

Volume: 270 L
Dimensions: 150x40x45 cm
List of fishes: Ambystoma sp. (possibly A. lermaense), larvae of the genus Hyla and Cambarellus montezumae
List of plants: Arenaria paludicola, Azolla mexicana, Berula erecta, Eichhornia crassipes, Eleocharis densa, Eleocharis sp., Epibolium sp., Hydromystria laevigata, Hydrocotyle ranunculoides, Lemna sp., Ludwigia peploides, Myriophyllum aquaticum; although Typha latifolia and Schoenoplectus californicus dominate the environment, they were not used because their height is up to 200 centimeters
Description of decorations: No decorations are used. The substrate used was collected from the natural environment.
Description of equipment: External filter Fluval 205 (680 lph), fluorescent bulbs 4x32W, 6500K; 8 hours of daily lighting with influence of sunlight for 2 hours a day, thermostat is not used.
Water parameters: Dissolved oxygen: 4.8 mg/l, percentage of oxygen saturation is 62.3, ammoniacal nitrogen (N-NH3) is 0.02 mg/l, nitrite (NO2ˉ) is 0.02 mg/l, nitrate (NO3ˉ) is 0.02 mg/l, pH is 6.8, temperature is 16°C and SST is 8 mg/l.

Description of the area surrounding the biotope: The Cienegas de Lerma are freshwater bodies, separated from each other, located in the upper Lerma River basin, south-east of the Toluca Valley, in the municipalities of Almoloya del Rio, Lerma and Atarasquillo in the State of Mexico, Mexico. Locally they are known like Chignahuapan, Chimaliapan and Chiconahuapan, respectively (Zepeda et al., 2012). It is a priority “natural protected area” for the conservation of biological diversity, considered as one of the 150 most important sites for the conservation of aquatic birds of the continent, because in the winter season they constitute the priority habitat for the protection, reproduction and nesting of numerous groups of resident and migratory birds. Because they maintain populations of endemic aquatic species including birds (Geothlypis speciosa and Coturnicops noveboracensis goldmani), amphibians (Ambystoma lermaense), fish (Menidia riojai) and plants (Nymphaea gracilis, Sagittaria macrophylla and Lemna trisulca) in extinction danger (IUCN and NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010) were declared in 2002 as “Area of Protection of Flora and Fauna Cienegas de Lerma”, later in 2004 they were declared RAMSAR site: international category that identifies it as one of the most important wetlands of the planet for its protection and conservation (SEMARNAT, 2002; Ceballos, 2003 and Leopoldo-Flores, 2017).

Description of the underwater landscape of the biotope: The marginal zone of the cienega of Chimaliapan is not greater than the 45 cm of depth where aquatic, underwater and tolerant plants dominate the environment. The water is amber by the large amount of organic matter in decomposition (peat), in addition to little filtration of the sun’s rays in the water column due to the saturation of the surface by floating plants (mainly Azolla mexicana, Eichhornia cassipes and Lemna sp.).

Description of the parameters of the habitat: Dissolved oxygen is 6.5 mg/l, percentage of oxygen saturation is 68.26, ammoniacal nitrogen (N-NH3) is 0.05 mg/l, nitrite (NO2ˉ) is 0.04 mg/l, nitrate (NO3ˉ) is 0.05 mg/l, pH is 6.4, temperature is 15.6°C and SST is 16 mg/l.

List of fishes: Ambystoma lermaense, Ambystoma granulosum, Cambarellus montezumae, Gammarus sp., Menidia riojai, Chirostoma humboldtianum and three exotic species Cyprinus carpio, Oreochromis sp. and Lithobates catesbeianus.

List of plants: Aster subulatus, Azolla mexicana, Berula erecta, Echinochloa holciformis, Eichhornia crassipes, Eleocharis macrostachya, Eleocharis densa, Eleocharis montana, Eleocharis bonariensis, Glyceria fluitans, Hydrocotyle ranunculoides, Hydromystria laevigata, Juncus effusus, Jaegeria bellidiflora, Lemna sp., Leersia hexandra, Ludwigia peploides, Lilaeopsis schaffneriana, Lilaea scilloides, Myriophyllum aquaticum, Nymphaea gracilis, Polygonum lapathifolium, Paspalum distichum, Polygonum punctatum, Polygonum mexicanum, Potamogeton nodosus, Polygonum hydropiperoides, Polygonum hydropiperoides, Sagittaria macrophylla, Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani, Schoenoplectus californicus and Typha latifolia which can be  hydrophyte rooted from emergent, hydrophyte rooted from floating leaves, submerged rooted hydrophyte, rooted hydrophyte from prostrate stems, hydrophilic free submerged, hydrophilic free float or weed (Zepeda et al., 2012).

Threats to the ecology: Today, and as in the whole world, these ecosystems (along with their diversity) are in extreme danger of disappearing due to human activities, among which we can mention: 1) unsustainable use of their natural resources, 2) fragmentation due to the change of land use for the expansion of agriculture, urban and industrial growth and the construction of road infrastructure, 3) desiccation by the exploitation of water from the subsoil and alteration of the hydrological dynamics, 4) water contamination given to solid waste disposal and discharge of domestic and industrial wastewater, 5) introduction of exotic species (Cyprinus carpio and Oreochromis sp.), 6) poorly regulated authorization for hunting, and 7) mismanagement of the area by the relevant authorities. Given the extreme situations that these wetlands face and the threats that put on risk their biodiversity, there is a need to recreate only a small part (marginal zone) of one of these wetlands (Chimaliapan) using mainly plants that we can find naturally at this place (Arenaria paludicola, Azolla mexicana, Berula erecta, Eichhornia crassipes, Eleocharis densa, Eleocharis sp., Epibolium sp., Hydromystria laevigata, Hydrocotyle ranunculoides, Lemna sp., Ludwigia peploides, Myriophyllum aquaticum; although Typha latifolia and Schoenoplectus californicus dominate the environment were not used because their height is up to 200 centimeters, an amphibian emblematic of the area (Ambystoma sp., possibly A. lermaense), larvae of the genus Hyla and a particular crustacean (Cambarellus montezumae). This in order to make known to the world the problems facing one of the last natural lake systems in central Mexico and thus contribute a small conservation effort through biotope aquariums.

Sources of information: Zepeda-Gómez, C., Nemiga, X. A., Lot-Helgueras y Madrigal-Uribe, D. (2012). Análisis del uso del suelo en las Ciénegas de Lerma (1973-2008) y su impacto en la vegetación acuática. Investigaciones Geográficas, Boletín del Instituto de Geografía, UNAM. ISSN 0188-4611, Núm. 78, 2012, pp.48-61; Zepeda-Gómez, C., Lot-Helguera, A., Nemigia, X. A. y Madrigal-Uribe, D. (2012). Florística y diversidad de las Ciénegas del Rio Lerma, Estado de México, México. Acta botánica Mexicana 98:23-49 (2012); Leopoldo-Flores, I. (2017) Ciénegas del Lerma, la conservación de la biodiversidad. Revista Pensarte: Crear y Recrear. Toluca, Edo. de México. Junio 2017. Núm. 82, p 21; Ceballos, G. (2003). Ficha Informativa de los Humedales de RAMSAR: Ciénegas de Lerma. Instituto de Ecología, UNAM. México, D.F.; SEMARNAT (2002), “Decreto por el que se declara área natural protegida … la región conocida como Ciénegas de Lerma en el Estado de México”, Diario Oficial de la Federación, 27 de noviembre de 2002, Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, México, pp. 4-12; SEMARNAT (2010), Plan maestro para la recuperación de la Cuenca Alta del río Lerma, Diagnóstico Ecosistémico, Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Gobierno del Estado de México; SEMARNAT, CONANP (S/F). Descripción de la problemática del APFF Cienegas de Lerma;; Hernández-Pérez, A. (2016). Efecto del alimento balanceado enriquecido con prebióticos y probióticos en el crecimiento de las crías del acocil Cambarellus montezumae”. Tesis de Licenciatura, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México. México.

Comments of the members of the jury of Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2017

It is probably the best imitation of a bank of the pond I have ever seen. This tank has great, very natural bottom, but only with the part above the water the composition is complete. Lots of Lemna sp., lots of grass-like plants, this is exactly how it looks in the wild. And, there are not too many inhabitants, only some amphibians, for whom the available amount of water is perfect.

Piotr Kierzkowski (Poland)

Half full aquariums are very hard to pull off in an eloquent way and even more when they are side sloping. Amadeo Hernández Pérez did an amazing job recreating the Lerma swamps. In my opinion it looks exactly like the habitat images and videos seen in his entry. I have swam in innumerable swamps and let me tell you, they look exactly like Amadeo’s biotope aquarium. The shallow edges of the swamps are thickly vegetated with palustrine plants and the duckweed stops the strong sunlight from illuminating the benthic sediments. In these biotopes the most common aquatic animals to spot underwater are usually tadpoles. One of the things that I was happy to read and hope people would use more is the term “sp.” (Ambystoma sp. (possibly A. lermaense). The abbreviation “sp” means “species” and it is placed after a genus when you are not sure what species the plant or animal really is. In my opinion it is much better to write “sp” when you are not sure than to write the wrong species.

Ivan Mikolji (Venezuela)

Absolutely fascinating, this cross-section of the marginal zone of the River Lerma offers up a unique cast of unusual flora and fauna. Horsetails and fine semi aquatic grasses make up the densely planted shallow zone, while floating plants provide a layer of shade and protection. The growth pattern and arrangement of plants is so well executed it simply appears that they have grown there on their own. An unidentified Ambystoma bumbles about searching for prey, while dwarf crayfish forage and tadpoles shelter among the floating plant roots. It is a lush, calm environment perfect for its inhabitants. I am left wondering what becomes of the tadpoles however, for the Ambystoma will surely eat them if they are small enough. The background is very close as well, so there in little depth to the piece. Nonetheless, it is a pleasing natural scene with an air of mystery to it.

Michael Salter (Canada)