Intermediate Rocky Habitat, Kapumfi, Lake Tanganyika, Zambia

_th place in Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2020

Volume: 406 L
Dimensions: 125x50x65 cm
List of fishes: Telmatochromis vittatus (2 Breeding couple+ juvelines), Cyprichromis leptosoma (15 juvelines)
List of
Description of decorations: Roundish white and grey stones (120 kg) were collected from a nearby river for my previous aquariums, and in shape/colour/size, they were compatible with biotope, so I used them for rockscape. Like sand, I used natural sea sand (40 kg) which is nearly same in looking with sand of biotope. I wanted to recreate bottom part of habitat where rock piles are embraced by sandy bottoms. First, I positioned rocks by getting inspiration from bitope videos and added sand to empty front bottom to show the transition between rocks and sand. I left an open water area between rock piles for open water species. I used transparent light blue colour background and a lightening system behind of tank. The most exciting feature of aquarium is that species with different dwelling characteristics live in harmony as in nature.

Description of equipment: SAMP 380 l.:

  1. Lightening: 12x Led Bulbs (5 w Daylight, 4000 K)
  2. Filtering: 2x External Filters each 1000 L/H,
  3. Heating: 300-watt heater,
  4. Timer Plug for lightening system,
  5. Cooling system (8 x 12 v fans with a digital thermostat).

Water parameters: TEMP: 25° C, EC: 600 µS, GH:11, KH:19, PH:8, Nitrate: 5 ppm Nitrite: 0 ppm, Do: 0,7%

Additional info:  I feed fish in a feeding plan with three well-known brand foods two times in a day. Choosing species with different dwelling habits and decorete tank according to their different needs make it easy to keep aggression very low in the tank. For keeping the population in controlled condition, I watch fry and get them out of the tank in the night when they are big enough to be caught. I watch water parameters closely and do not do any changes in the tank that can effect parameters. I light tank in a lightening plan (6 hours daily). To maintain healthy water for fish, I do regular water changes.
The tap water’s pH was 7,5 at 12°C degrees, so to raise this value; I used natural sea sand in the bottom and natural crushed coral in external filters. After a few weeks of setting up the pH of my tank raised to 8,5 at 25°C degrees and till now it is stable. For maintaining this value, I do weekly %20 water changes by siphon cleaning between of rocks and keep tank temperature stable at 24°C degrees with a cooling system. Not to cause high saturation, I set the cooling system in an angle which it makes a minimum surface movement as much as possible. I clean equipment and glasses from algae weekly. I clean the filters in every three months.


Description of the area surrounding the biotope: Biotope is situated near (350-450 meters) to the shore of Kapumfi Village in Zambia. There is a narrow plain shoreline, and then hills covered with trees start to rise. In narrow shoreline wherever available, village houses are built. The shoreline is stony and rocky. Hill parts are covered with lush plants and trees. There is a high inclination rate in the area. Residents are meeting their needs for food and income mostly with fishery from the lake. Sustainable agriculture and husbandry are not developed in the area. Residents utilize from agriculture and husbandry (goats and chickens) only for family needs. Large scale industrial facilities are not found in the region. (Ref.10-13,17-19).

Description of the underwater landscape of the biotope: Underwater habitat of biotope (GPS:8.270500, 30.571972) is in 15 meters depth. Habitat is an intermediate rocky habitat which meeting with sand in the bottom and, It gives the impression as if a large rock stream is flowing on top of the sand. Rock piles consist of roundish grey/white various sized rocks and the largest ones are not bigger than one meter. Rock piles are steep towards the surface of the water. Sand is beige coloured thin mixed sand in the bottom. Rocks are buried partly to sand in the bottom. Algae is seen on rocks as layer and sediment is found as dust on the rocks in the upper part of rock piles. Sessile algae firm as biofilms over rocks are covered with sand in the bottom part. There is a gradual and high inclination which starts from the top of rock piles and goes down to sandy bottoms. This makes the habitat looks scenic and interesting. Rock piles and connections points of rocks with sand create lots of shelters for species. Habibat is in the range of heavily populated depths of intermediate habitats. Mass existence of floating planktons invites the flocks of fish to feed in this habitat. Mostly for carnivore and omnivore species exist in the habitat. Water transparency is medium. The colour of the water is light blue. Ref (10,13,17-19)

Description of the parameters of the habitat: Measurment was done by diver at May 2015 and at 28 ° C air temperature, Ph:8,5-9, Ec: 620 μS/cm, Gh:12, Kh:20, Temp: 27,5, Do:%0,65,

List of fishes and invertebrates occurring in the nature biotope: Altolamprologus calvus (Poll, 1978), native Aulonocranus dewindti (Boulenger, 1899), undefined Cyprichromis sp. 'leptosoma jumbo' , native Eretmodus cyanostictus Boulenger, 1898, undefined ex Gnathochromis pfefferi (Boulenger, 1898), undefined ex Lamprologus brevis (Boulenger, 1899), native (Konings, 1998) ex Lamprologus multifasciatus (Boulenger, 1906), undefined ex Lamprologus ocellatus (Steindachner, 1909), native (Konings, 1998) ex Lamprologus sp. 'Ornatipinnis zambia' , undefined Grammatotria lemairii Boulenger, 1899, native Interochromis loocki (Poll, 1949), undefined Julidochromis dickfeldi Staeck, 1975, native Julidochromis regani Poll, 1942, undefined Lepidiolamprologus elongatus (Boulenger, 1898), undefined Lepidiolamprologus sp. 'meeli southeast' , undefined Neolamprologus crassus (Brichard, 1989), native Neolamprologus mustax (Poll, 1978), undefined Neolamprologus obscurus (Poll, 1978), native Neolamprologus pulcher (Trewavas & Poll, 1972), undefined Neolamprologus sexfasciatus (Trewavas & Poll, 1952), undefined Neolamprologus tetracanthus (Boulenger, 1899), undefined Ophthalmotilapia nasuta (Poll & Matthes, 1962), native Ophthalmotilapia ventralis (Boulenger, 1898), undefined Paracyprichromis brieni (Poll, 1981), native Petrochromis famula Matthes & Trewavas, 1960, native Petrochromis fasciolatus Boulenger, 1914, native Petrochromis horii Takahashi & Koblmüller, 2014, undefined Petrochromis polyodon Boulenger, 1898, undefined Petrochromis trewavasae Poll, 1948, native Pseudosimochromis babaulti (Pellegrin, 1927), undefined Pseudosimochromis curvifrons (Poll, 1942), undefined Simochromis diagramma (Günther, 1893), undefined Telmatochromis temporalis Boulenger, 1898, undefined Telmatochromis vittatus Boulenger, 1898, undefined Tropheus sp. 'red' , native Xenotilapia flavipinnis Poll, 1985, undefined Xenotilapia papilio Büscher, 1990, undefined Xenotilapia spilopterus Poll & Stewart, 1975, undefined, various invertabres.

List of plants found in the nature biotope:

Threats to the ecology: Large agricultural areas or industrial facilities are not found in the surrounding area of biotope, so there is no danger of pollution or sedimentation. However, again danger is created by human. Residents are highly depended on fish for protein and making money. This situation causes residents to catch fish even with mosquito nets and even 2-3 cm length fish are sold in markets. Unless residents are educated for meeting their needs (money and food) with sustainable agriculture and husbandry, overfishing can break the balance of underwater life and diminish biodiversity in future. Another problem is global warming over habitat like all around the world. Luckily solutions for preventing global warning are known by everyone, but unfortunately, nothing is done by anyone. Ref (14,15,17,19)

Sources of information:  

  16. Personel conversations and documents from Prof.Dr Ercument Genc about set up, water chemstry, assessment of biotope, fish health, water plants and tips for a healty tank. (
  17. Konings, A. 2019. Tanganyika Cichlid in Their Natural Habitat. 4th Edition, Cichlidpress, El Paso Tx.
  18. Personal converstaions with diver about his observations of habitat and surrounding area.

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