Floodplains of Lake Kinkony in the Mahajanga Province, north west of Madagascar

36th place in Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2019

Poland. Pawel Lukasz Kocik

Volume: 600 L
Dimensions: Corner aquarium 600L, with one side longer 120x65h, 95x65h, front is 100x65h. The aquarium is turned so that the 120 cm long side is a panorama, that is, the front.
List of fishes: Paretroplus dambabe, Pelomedusa surbufa.
List of plants: Dry reed Phragmites sp.
Description of decorations: Substrate: Bright sand mix 0.4-1.2mm.
Description of equipment: Filtration: JBL CristalProfi e1901 greenline — 1900l / h bucket capacity 15l divided into 5 baskets with media, one is a protective sponge, the other four is a biology divided between, Jbl Micromec balls and good quality sintered glass (ceramics). Circulation: Cascade filter Seachem Tidal 110 — 2000l / h with built-in water surface skimmer. Filter media is one sponge and matrix. Heating: Two Eheim Jager 200W heaters connected together to the STC-1000 precision thermostat
Light: The basic lighting is Aquatlantis Easy LED Freshwater, 1047mm, 6800 ° K-52w with EASY LED CONTROL, a simulator of the effects of sunrise and sunset. In addition, the lamp 6000 ° K-16w, led lamp 4000 ° K-10w and it has two tasks, to illuminate the left rear, but mainly warm Heniek (turtle) on his islet from plexiglass (I did not see that he used it) I suppose that the water is warm enough. I will briefly describe my experience with RGB LEDs used to give the background color. Ultimately, it was a background with glued matte foil to the outer pane, which allowed to achieve the effect of smudged depth. It consisted in raising the main lighting by 50 cm and placing the material in the chosen color for the aquarium, which, being illuminated, gives us great depth. And so it happened, I was very happy with the result, also putting a dry reed behind the aquarium. Watching similar solutions on the net, I came across a patent using RGB LEDs, and decided to try with a 40cm strap, I glued it from the top, above the water. The effect was amazing, the colors shaded by the pilot, I admit that they look very green, blue and their shades, I also think that yellow will work in BW biotopes and similar. All you need is a little space for the aquarium and a white background to which we direct the LEDs.
Water parameters: Ph 7.5, Gh14, Kh7, Temperature 28°C
Additional info: Tank service: Due to the high organic content, water changes are 50% every 10 days, frequent refills, feeding takes place 4 times a day with JBL AutoFood, Heńiek and fish are often given in the form of mussels, shrimps, etc.


Description of the area surrounding the biotope: Lake Kinkony is located on the geographical coordinates 16 ° 9’0 “S 45 ° 50’0” E and its area is about 100 km², at the end of the rainy season reaches 150 km² and is the second largest lake in Madagascar after Lake Alaotra. The lake has a maximum length of 15 km, a width of 10.5 km and is surrounded by small temporary and permanent lakes, its south-eastern parts are fed by many rivers and small streams, the main tributary is a side leak from the Mahavavy River. The maximum rainfall is 1550 mm and occurs in January and February and the dry season lasts, about 210 days, periodically changing the panorama of the entire region. The assumed fluctuations in the water level are 4m, in the dry season the maximum depth is 2.5m, depth measurements of the lake have shown values in the range from 2.15m to 8.21m where water is cleaner. The water temperature on the surface is on the order of 25.5 ° C with a variable oxygen level between 5.85 and 8.50 mg / l, depending on the place and season varies 24 ° C – 33 ° C, the conductivity is 300/420 μS / cm and the pH is 6.7 – 8.3. The vegetation of the lake includes extensive Reed Reeds dominated by (Phragmites mauritianus) and where there is a Papyrus (Cyperus) you can also encounter several aquatic plants such as: Nymphaea lotus, Nymphaea stellata, Salvinia natans, Potamogeton sp. And even Pistia stratiotes. The name of the genus Paretroplus comes from the Greek “para”, which means “on the side”; in taxonomy is widely used in generic names to express similarity or kinship. Hence the name of the genus literally means “next to Etroplusa” and means a close relationship of these two types. The name of the dambabe species translates into the local language as “damba that is large”. Damba is the general name of the cichlids Paretroplus sp. In Madagascar divided into clades. Like all cichlids, P. dambabe has pharyngeal teeth. The upper and lower throat dental plates are well developed with strong teeth, the body is covered with large, overlapping scales. The color of this fish is grayish, pink or bluish green, depending on the mood and mood. The body is generally darker dorsal, but sometimes uniform in color. On the sides there is a variable intense red pigmentation (larger dots), especially below the upper branch line of the lateral line. Some individuals have each side scale outlined in red, while in others red pigmentation is limited to the area below the upper branch of the lateral line. Like most cichlids from the P.dambabe family, it does not have any sexually dimorphic features, that’s why they are bred for 6 pieces until they mature and choose a couple. In the natural environment, fish reproduce seasonally, in the aquarium approach spawning after a water change at 28 ° C, territoriality, stimulated aggression and increased appetite can be observed, on the other hand lowering the temperature to 24 ° C, we slow down the metabolism and the fish become milder. A few words about the turtle in Poland, also called Pelomedusa African or helminth (Pelomedusa subrufa) from the Greek pēlós, mud + name of the jellyfish, belongs to the suborder of the Pleurodira Turtles from the Pelomedusidae family. As of today, the genus Pelomeduza represents only one species, but it is quite possible that ongoing research will contribute to the identification of both new subspecies and species. This turtle is found throughout Africa south of the Sahara, Madagascar and part of the Arabian Peninsula. Pelomeduza is a common species and inhabits all kinds of shallow, muddy sweet water with standing water, or calmly flowing, both periodic and permanent. These are backwaters, ponds, lakes, rice fields, coastal areas of rivers and streams. African pelomedusa grows up to 15-20cm mostly and females are smaller than males, turtle has a light brown shield with black spots in the upper part, yellowish cream in the lower part. In nature, these turtles feed mainly on animal feed; they are snails, insects and their larvae, crustaceans, fish, amphibians, but sometimes they also devour a small reptile or a mammal. There have been reported successful hunts of pelomeduz group for water birds. They also feed on carrion. Turtles were also removed to remove ectoparasites from the skin of rhinoceroses visiting the water. During drought these turtles are buried in the muddy bottom. Pelomeduses go ashore to lay eggs, migrate between tanks in the rainy season (which may explain their wide range) and sunbathing. They prefer to choose logs lying in the water for heating. It is not necessary to warm up turtles living in shallow, and therefore quickly heating tanks. These turtles, while emptying, often bury the droppings in the ground, which must be remembered when cleaning the tank. Maintaining the right water quality, in addition to providing the optimal diet, is the most important problem in breeding these reptiles.

Description of the underwater landscape of the biotope: The aquarium presents a biotope of the flooded shore of the lake (reed beds) in the north-eastern part of the lake, at the beginning of the dry season. Hardscape is made of two artificial stones (imitating the edge) with dimensions of approximately 50×30, they are arranged on the sides and are separated by a 50×15 trunk creating a kind of ground clearance. Behind each stone, 10cm of reed space was left to omit the effect of the plane and muc to attach its bundles to smaller pebbles. These stones are properly prepared with roots, soil and sand, they perfectly simulate the shore of a flooded lake. Konar naturally divides the aquarium into a rebrand and in a short time its left side was occupied by a pair of P. dambabe, which chose a strategic place for spawning. Fish in just a few hours have dug a hole at the branch, leaving the shore behind, such habitats in nature are very important, because they provide young fish not only shelter, but also a secondary source of food rich in various forms of life.

Description of the parameters of the habitat: The water temperature on the surface is on the order of 25.5 ° C with a variable oxygen level between 5.85 and 8.50 mg / l, depending on the place and season varies 24 ° C – 33 ° C, the conductivity is 300/420 μS / cm and the pH is 6.7 – 8.3

List of fishes and invertebrates occurring in the nature biotope: Paretroplus dambabe, Paretroplus kieneri, Erymnochelys madagascariensis, Pelomedusa subrufa. Invasive sp. Carassius auratus, Tilapia rendalli and Oreochromis macrochir.

List of plants found in the nature biotope: Phragmites mauritianus, Papirus Cyperus, Nymphaea lotus, Nymphaea stellata, Salvinia natans, Potamogeton sp. Pistia stratiotes, Eichhornia crassipes.

Threats to the ecology: The entire Mahavavy-Kinkony wetland complex is an ecologically diverse and economically critical set of habitats. Wetlands are an important place for aquatic flora and fauna, and despite receiving national protection, including the Ramsar Convention and several other conservation programs, the ecological integrity of Lake Kinkony is still threatened by the conversion of adjacent, unprotected areas into rice fields. The historic topographic range, on which the reed habitat from 1949 was applied, was compared with the deployment in 2008, and its result indicated a surface loss of 80% in the last 59 years. The results of the study confirm that the main factor contributing to the loss of reed was the increased turbidity associated with the seasonal river erosion and siltation of the area. Further degradation of habitat degradation increases in the face of serious threats of already critically endangered species of birds, fish and reptiles, a total of 97 species were recorded, of which 26 are endemic from Madagascar, Amaurornis olivieri, Paretroplus dambabe, P. kieneri, Erymnochelys madagascariensis are just a few examples of endemics on the red list of IUCN and CARES endangered species Paretroplus dambabe has CR (critically endangered) status and is a quite large cichlid, in nature reaches 19 centimeters in length, although they were discovered in the 1960s, they were confused with P. petiti for a long time and after DNA testing in 2002 by John Sparks from the American Museum of Natural History have been described as a new genre of P.dambabe. Radiological examination of the intestines of these fish revealed that the basic diet is small crustaceans, and this explains the attachment of this species to the edges of reed-rich reeds rich in various forms of life. The dambabe population has fallen drastically due to loss of habitat and overfishing, it is not about selling fish for commercial purposes. It should be remembered that Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, the average monthly earnings are $ 50, the local population, in order to be able to feed their own family is doomed to poaching or growing rice. It is worth noting that due to the ban on the sale of these fish we will not buy at the local market, and their catches are food. The second important element which affects the gradual disappearance of P. dambabe from native biotopes, is associated with the introduction of alien invasive species, which compare to paretroplus sp. Do not need two years to pair up, grow faster and reach only one year, sexual maturity occupying the habitat. Previous studies have shown that tilap cichlids can live in water at temperatures above 35 ° C. A member of this invasive fish is able to survive in salinity 35 ‰, and the maximum lethal salinity for P.dambabe is 10 ‰. Tilapia in nature wreaks havoc, it is a very large cichlid, aggressive, durable and very fertile, bred in the ponds for commercial purposes and its meat is eagerly eaten, often sold in markets and markets along with fries or rice in many African countries.

Sources of information:
Book: The endemic Cichlids of Madagascar de Patrick de Rham, Jean-Claude Nourissat, Association France-Cichlid: ISBN: 9782951350212
Book: Lakes of Madagascar — Lake Alaotra, Lake Tritriva, Lake Tsimanampetsotsa, Lake Ihry, Lake Kinkony: ISBN: 13-978-1-158-41247-1
The journal AIC Associazione Italiana ciclidofili, 1999 No. 2 Interview with Patrick de Rham, Jean-Claude Nourissat.
Why was the background color chosen: https://www.lakescientist.com/lake-color/
https://issuu.com/angelc7/docs/wildlife_of_madagascar_2016 str 182

Comments of the members of the jury of Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2019