Blackwater stream Batu Pahat, Johor Peatland of South west Peninsular, Malaysia

37th place in Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2018

russia Malaysia. Mohamad Zul Aizad

Volume: 34 L
Dimensions: 45x25x30 cm
List of fishes: Sphaerichthys osphromenoides, Parosphromenus sp., Boraras maculatus
List of plants: Stenochlaena palustris, Eleocharis sp., Macaranga sp.
Description of decorations: Medium size of dead old tree root from the habitat and recently dead Melastola root was used as the main decorations. For detailing design, I used smaller size Melastola root to create deep effect to mimic stream. The floor was sand with half decomposed bog woods, new dead branches and Almond leaves. Stained Dark color water produce by decaying dead leaf of Stenochlaena palustris & almond leaf. Furthermore, I used fish taken from the real habitats to ensure fish can easily co-op each others & mimic the real ecosystem.
Description of equipment: EHEIM classic 150, DIY lighting (3 bulb 40W, 5432 lm).
Water parameters: Temperature is 28°C, TDS is 60ppm, pH is 6, KH 2 and GH 3.


Description of the area surrounding the biotope: State of Johor has the largest coastal estuaries ecosystem in Peninsula Malaysia and one of wetland type is peat swamp forest which has variety of unique flora and fauna. In early 1974, Peat swamp forest has been converted for agriculture purpose and most of it was oil palm plantation. Therefore biotope was surrounded by oil palm plantation field and workers house. Most of fishes live and adapt in heavily-modified peat swamps such as irrigation ditches and roadside canals, and for endemic species considered in gave danger of extinction.

Description of the underwater landscape of the biotope: Peatswamp stream was stained black tea color with surrounded by plant root and floor was covered by peat and acid sulphate soil. Aquatic plant dose’t exist in this biotope and water was flow slowly which is suitable for endermic sp. such as Parosphromenus sp. to live.

Description of the parameters of the habitat: Habitats is highly acidic dark stained water of between pH 4-6.The temperature range between 22°C to 28°C. Water hardness below 50 ppm.

List of fishes and invertebrates occurring in the nature biotope: Chocolate Gourami (Sphaerichthys osphromenoides), Hexazona Barb (Desmopuntius hexazona), Licorice Gourami (Parosphromenus sp.), Giant Pikehead (Luciocephalus pulcher), Dwarf Rasbora (Boraras maculatus), Brilliant Rasbora (Rasbora einthovenii), Bangka Snakehead (Channa bankanensis), Croaking Gourami (Trichopsis vittata).

List of plants found in the nature biotope: Eleocharis sp., Utricularia gibba, Stenochlaena palustris.

Threats to the ecology: The aquarium was set up to attract public attention especially Malaysian to the problem of endangered endemic species which is parosphromenus sp. Most of the specimen was found in the canal in front houses of farmer and oil palm plantation. The uncontrolled used of herbicides, insecticides and fertilizer may treated this endemic sp. and also the ecology of their habitat.

Sources of information:

Comments of the members of the jury of Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2018

For me this is a nice design. I only miss more peat. Sadly enough this tank is not big enough for these fish combination and it lacks a bit of hiding possibilities. My opinion: choose less fish.

Jeroen Vanhooren