Lake Mai-Ndombe, shallow black water near the village of Ipeke, Democratic Republic of Congo

105th place in Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2019

Belgium. Ibaa Novitch

Volume: 60 L
Dimensions: 60x30x33,5 cm
List of fishes: Only a couple of Nanochromis transvestitus
List of plants: Anubias congensis, Nymphaea lotus
Description of decorations: Loire sand, some stones of the river, some dead wooden branches picked up in the forest, a nest of dead leaves in the bottom of the aquarium to recreate the heap of organic matter as in Lake Mai-Ndombe.
Description of equipment: internal filter Eden 344 (300 lph), LED ramp 8W – 6300K – 900 lm , heater 50W
Water parameters: Temperature is 25°C; pH is 4,5; Gh is 0; KH is 0; NO2 is 0; NO3 is 5mg/L and TDS is 25 µS/cm (16 ppm)
Additional info: Filtration with peat, water change every two weeks, use of reverse osmosis water


Description of the area surrounding the biotope: Lake Mai-Ndombe (former Lake Leopold II) is a lake in Bandundu, Democratic Republic of Congo. It feeds the Fimi River, a tributary of the Congo River. Lake Leopold II was renamed Lake Mai-Ndombe in 1972. May ndombe means “black water” in lingala. The size of the lake varies with the rains and can double or triple in size depending on the rainy season. The lake remains navigable all the year. Its banks are lined with dense forests to the north and a mix of forest and savanna to the south.

Description of the underwater landscape of the biotope: The soil is composed of sand covered with stones, dead branches, dead leaves and a whole series of decaying organic matter.

Description of the parameters of the habitat: Black water with a concentration of humic acids; pH varies from 4,2 to 5,5; the temperature varies between 22 and 26 degrees depending on the time of the year; the conductivity and hardness of the water are extremely low.

List of fishes and invertebrates occurring in the nature biotope: Nanochromis transvestitus, Nanochromis wickleri, Nanochromis nudiceps, Alestopetersius compressus, Alestopetersius hilgendorfi, Alestopetersius lepoldianus, Alestopetersius nigrodorsalis, Brycinus bimaculatus, Brycinus grandisquamis, Clupeopetersius schoutedni, Hepsetus odae, Rhabdalestes aeratus, Amphilius baudoni, Amphilius inkisi, Amphilius sp. A, Amphilius sp. B, Amphilius sp. C, Amphilius zairensis, Belanoglanis brieni, Belanoglanis curvirostris, Belanoglanis nudipectus, Belanoglanis sp., Dolichamphilus brieni, Dolichamphilus longiceps, Doumae alula, Phractura bovei, Phractura brevicauda, Phractura cf. lindica, Phractura intermedia, Phractura scaphyrhynchus, Phractura sp., Psammphiletria delicata, Tetramphilius, angustifrons, Trachyglanis incac, Trachyglanis minutus, Trachyglanis sp., Zaireichthys flavomaculatus, Zaireichthys mandevillei, Zaireichthys rotundiceps, Ctenopoma gabonense, Epiplatys sp., Parachanna cf. obscura, Parachanna insignis, Hemichromis cerasogaster, Hemichromis elongatus, Hemichromis stellifer, Pelmatochromis nigrofasciatus, Pterochromis congicus, Tilapia congica, Tylochromis pulcher, Clariallabes melas, Clarias theodorae, Dolichallabes microphthalmus, Chrysichthys ornatus, Chrysichtthys praecox, Chrysichthys punctatus, Mastacembelus greshoffi, Mastacembelus leopard, Synodontis cf. nigriventris, Synodontis greshoffi plain, Synodontis greshoffi spotted, Cyphomyrus ghesquierei, Gnathonemus echidnorhynchus, Gnathonemus petersii, Marcusenius moorii, Mormyrops anguilloides, Petrocephalus balayi, Petrocephalus microphthalmus, Petrocephalus sp., Stomatorhinus fuliginosus, Papycranus congoensis, Xenomystus nigri, Aplocheilichthys sp., Congopanchax brichardi, Paralia congica and Schilbe marmoratus.

List of plants found in the nature biotope: Fallen vegetation from the forest

Threats to the ecology: Nanochromis transvestitus is classified as endangered in the IUCN red list because of the use of mosquito nets as fishing nets.

Sources of information:

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