Blackwater stream of the Rompin River in a peat swamp forest, Pahang, Malaysia

_th place in Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2020

Volume: 220 liters
Dimensions: 100x40x55 cm
List of fishes: Harlequin rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha), Pearl gourami (Trichopodus leerii), Croaking Gourami (Trichopsis vittata), Pangio kuhlii
List of plants: Cryptocoryne sp., Blyxa japonica, Microsorum pteropus, Rotala rotundifolia, Limnophila sp., Nymphaea sp., Pistia, Lemna minor L, Vesicularia sp.
Description of decorations: Soil from a mixture of sand 0.5-2 mm and granite crushed stone with a fraction of 2-5 mm. It was selected to resemble the soil in a natural biotope. The soil is covered with ketapang leaves and fruit tree leaves, which are used to naturally obtain tannins and lower pH. The driftwood was taken from the river. The color of the water mimics the original habitat.
Description of equipment: Eheim Professionel 2226 (one of the filter fillers is granular peat, which acidifies and softens the aquarium water), Heater Aquael Comfort Zone Gold 250 W, LED floodlight 30 W 6400 K – 2 pieces.
Water parameters: Temperature is 25°C, light brown, GH – 6,5 pH 6.
Additional info: The idea of the aquarium began with an interesting driftwood that I found on river bank and with a desire to do something unusual. Aquascape is very beautiful, but it is too perfect. And I wanted to create an aquarium in which it would be comfortable inhabitants. I began looking for inspiration on the Internet and discovered a new for me the topic is biotope aquariums. Several months excitedly read information about various biotopes, collecting information – so captures. I guess I would have long determined which biotope to try to recreate, but chance helped: I was offered to buy Pearl Gourami (Trichopodus leerii). I looked at many biotope aquariums with Trichopodus leerii on the site and decided to simulate the coastal zone of the Rompin River in a peat swamp forest, Pahang, Malaysia. I enjoyed the process of creating a biotope and observing the maturation of the inhabitants. I’m not sure if all the plants I have chosen can grow in one place, but I wanted this biotope aquarium to please the eye and suited the inhabitants, and they obviously like it. Very interesting watch the Pearl Gouramis majestically swim out from behind the driftwood, the Croaking Gourami sparkles with blue eyes among the thickets of blixa, restless Pangio kuhlii dart among the foliage in search of food, and the Harlequin rasbora play catch-up.


Description of the area surrounding the biotope: The Peat Swamp Forests of Malaysia is largest wetland type accounting for about 75 per cent of the country’s total wetlands. An estimated 1.54 million hectares still remain, with more than 70 per cent in Sarawak, less than 20 per cent in Peninsular Malaysia and the remainder in Sabah. This remnant is restricted to small areas in northern and southern Selangor, Tasek Bera (in Pahang), a large forest complex in South-East Pahang, the Klias Peninsula in Sabah, and inland reaches of Sungai Baram including the periphery of Loagan Bunut in Sarawak. Water flows that fall from the highland and rain to peat soil form a stream and catchment area in dense forest or bushland. In some areas, peat swamps have a slow flow of water while some are water reservoirs through the process of absorption of rainwater. This peat swamp biologi is a unique wetland ecosystem where it is a combination of two peat swampforests and a growing tropical rainforest for thousands of years. Referred as “black water” due to it stained dark brown color, associated with soft water conditions in terms of hardness, lower nutrient content and acidity ph as low as 4 in certain locations. It is caused by release of tannins and humid acid from organic matter such as driftwood, branches twigs and fallen leaves. Sun ray throughout the year has also created an ideal biological environment for unique species of flora and fauna, some ofwhich are endemic. Typical habitat is a closed forest where there is a dark forest bottom and there are thick vegetation on the banks of black rivers and peat swamps where these fish live among submerged trees.

Description of the underwater landscape of the biotope: The coastal area of a shallow reservoir with a weak water flow, sandy soil, stones and stone chips are found. The bottom is littered with fallen leaves, branches and flooded tree roots. In some places you can find aquatic plants.

Description of the parameters of the habitat: Clear tea-colored water with a pH of 3.5 to 6,5. Shaded shallow waters, the temperature of which ranges from 22 ° C to 28 ° C depending on the season.

List of fishes and invertebrates occurring in the nature biotope: Harlequin rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha), Brilliant rasbora (Rasbora einthovenii), Dwarf Rasbora (Boraras maculatus), Betta Livida, Pearl gourami (Trichopodus leerii), Chocolate Gourami (Sphaerichthys osphromenoides), Croaking Gourami (Trichopsis vittata), Pangio kuhlii, Halfbeak (Dermogenys pusillus), Acantopsis dialuzona, Barbucca diabolica, Betta sp.

List of plants found in the nature biotope: Cryptocoryne sp., Blyxa aubertii, Blyxa japonica, Microsorum pteropus, Barclaya motleyi, Rotala rotundifolia, Eleocharis sp., Utricularia gibba, Limnophila sp, Hygrophila sp., Nepenthes mirabilis, Nymphaea sp., Pistia, Lemna minor L, Vesicularia sp.

Threats to the ecology: The tropical peat swamp forests of Malaysia and the fauna and flora that inhabit these habitats have global as well as national significance. Malaysias peat swamp forests not only comprise unique ecosystems that are home to many endemic species but also provide sanctuary for viable populations of more than 60 animal and acts as a gene bank that harbours potentially useful varieties of plant species. These moist forests also serve as a natural gene bank of potentially useful plant species as well as providing highly valuable forest products such as timber and food. Many unknown species still remain to be discovered. Conserving the forests is crucial not only to ensure sustainable use of the country’s rich resources and protection of endangered species, but also to maintain environmental stability. Peat swamp forests act as a carbon sink, helping to slow global warming. It also plays a critical role in regulating water over vast areas, supporting agriculture by reducing the impact of floods, revitalizing the soil and providing a limited source of water during droughts.

Sources of information:,_Malaysia.JPG

Comments of the members of the jury of Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2020