Backwater in the rainforest in the lower Ogun River in NigeriaSouth American Blackwater Stream

The 1st place in the qualifying stage of the Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2014

russian_federation Russia. Svetlana Kirillova

Volume: 60 L
List of fishes: Chromaphyosemion bitaeniatum, Pantodon buchholzi, Pelvicachromis pulcher
List of plants: Anubias barteri var. nana, Bolbitis heudelotii, Nymphaea micrantha
Biotope description: Ogun River empties into the Gulf of Guinea to the south-west from Nigeria. In the area of tropical rain forests, as we move towards the mouth, it absorbs forest streams and channels, forms a secluded backwaters, home to many species of fish. Seasonal flooding during the summer rains softens the water of the river basin, and pH also shifts to the acid, being a signal for the fish to spawn. The water temperature in the ever-shaded waters of tropical forests is often low (22-25°C). In slowly flowing streams and backwaters there are aquatic plants, ready to settle for a relatively small amount of light, among the roots of trees near the shore dwarf cichlids and non-seasonal killifish hide, under the leaves of water lilies there are Pantodons.

1st place: as mentioned all agreed, it was for me, together with only 3 others in the contest, the only one I gave the highest points. It was done very well, everything is correct to that river habitat, except some fine beige sand is missing. Remember next time, Svetlana.

Heiko Bleher (Italy)

This biotope will make many an aquascaper sit up an take notice as it combines good hardscape, planting and composition with some very content looking fish specimens.

Jeremy Gay (Great Britain)

This layout was my second place in the list but my first choice in my heart. As an aquascaper, I was impressed with the sensibility and natural aesthetic of the way that the author placed the plants and driftwood. The great knowledge of how this kind of plants grow in nature, in bushes, not individually, and good representation of the margin of the river enchanted me. In natural environment, this zone of the river that was represented, is frequently soaked with a fine layer of crystal clear water, what permit that the aquatic plants grow luxuriantly. Good job, nice to see and feel the natural energy.

André Longarço (Brazil)

It is an undisputed leader in this category. In this aquarium we have everything (or almost everything): the complexity of the design and technology, healthy, well-fed fish and good quality of the pictures.

Alexey Malyshev (Russia)

A nice biotope with a good layout and a rich flora. A more generous space is suitable for wildlife.

Victor Mihai (Romania)

It’s a really splendid and wild-looking Nigerian biotope, and proof that West African biotopes do not have to be boring! The placement of the plants among the roots cascading down from one side near the surface is accurate and makes for a plausible and attractive shoreline effect. There is an impression of wild growth exploding out from the shadows. All plants are biotope-correct, although they might not be found in such close proximity. The gravelly, leaf-litter strewn floor enhances the realism of this biotope, and the placement of the roots in ascending layers towards the back increases the sense of depth. All fish are species that would be found together in nature, and correct for the biotope. They look healthy and very active. However, there is one thing I am surprised by – why hasn’t the Pantodon buchholzi eaten any of the Chromaphyosemion bitaeniatum? Perhaps it is well-fed? Nevertheless it is certainly capable of doing so, as I have personally witnessed. The biotope is very nicely presented and photographed.

Michael Salter (Canada)