Pancho Poza River, Altotonga, Veracruz, Mexico: Xiphophorus variatus habitat

12th place in Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2017

mexico Mexico. Víctor Manuel Ortiz Cruz

Volume: 240 L
Dimensions: 120x50x40 cm
List of fishes: Xiphophorus variatus (wild), Heterandria bimaculata (wild), frog tadpoles, unidentified native aquatic snails
List of plants: Stuckenia pectinata (L.) Börner, Ruppia maritima L., Nasturtium officinale, Eleocharis parvula, native mosses and algae, all collected in small portions of the river and propagated in the aquarium.
Description of decorations: Both wood, rocks, substrate and other elements were taken responsibly from the natural habitat, from areas where the impact was the smallest. In addition the aquarium was installed in the cabins area of the same reserve to serve as a sample of the river’s biodiversity and environmental education.
Description of equipment: Cascade filter of 600 l / h, with a power head and its auxiliary filter of 400 l / h for additional filtration, movement of the surface and extra oxygenation. In the lighting, a home led lamp with white light and a blue light (for the visual effect) were used, as well as the combination with two white light lamps to simulate the sun’s rays (35 watts, 0.3 watts / l); in the bottom of the aquarium was placed a blue acrylic plate inclined to help simulate more depth and nuances in the blue color of the water.
Water parameters: By using the decoration of the habitat and using water from the same recreated river, the parameters are the same that are presented naturally: pH 7.2; NO3: 0 mg / l; NO2: 0 mg / l, GH:> 14 ° d, KH: 10 ° d, Cl: 0 mg / l. T°: 16 -20°C.

Description of the area surrounding the biotope: The Pancho Poza River is located within the fog forest, which is the most diverse ecosystem in Mexico, although it covers less than 1% of the national territory; is very threatened worldwide and disappears faster than any other tropical forest. In Mexico more than 50% of this forest has already been transformed into crops or urban settlements. On the banks of the Pancho Poza river there is abundant riparian vegetation such as Nasturtium officinale, Eleocharis parvula, native mosses covering pieces of fallen branches of the same forest, which is made up of pine and oak, and on the trees there is a remarkable abundance of Orchids endemic and native, there is a large amount of organic matter in the soil consisting of branches and leaves of naturally fallen trees that are dragged into the river by the constant rainfall, another of the representative vegetation are ferns, of average size and giants.
The Pancho Poza River is located within the Pancho Poza River Ecological Reserve, which was declared by the Governor: Lic. Dante Delgado Ranauro, through the decree published in the Official Gazette dated January 23, 1992, with the objective of protecting the birth of the Pancho Poza River and maintain the beauty of the natural landscape of the place. It is located in the municipality of Altotonga in the state of Veracruz in Mexico; limits to the north and the east with the federal highway 131 Perote-Altotonga; to the west, with the terrain Altotonga-Shore of Mount and the Ejido Ahueyahualco; and to the south, with the same Ejido and small properties. Its altitudinal range is of 984 thousand to 2 thousand 095 meters on the level of the sea; covers an area of 56-99-1 hectares. The cause of the river Pancho Poza has its birth in a point denominated Zoatzingo and runs of south to north; in its origin can be observed slopes of 90 °, whose walls of rock sprout most of the births; these slopes soften until reaching an almost flat area at the north end.
The reserve is located within the climate zone Temperate Semiseco [Bs1kw] and Temperate Subhumid [C (w2)] with rain all year. The climatological statistics used come from the Altotonga station, with a coverage period of 35 years (1962 – 1997).
The average annual temperature in the Reserve is 14.3 ° C, the April-June period being the warmest of the year with average temperatures exceeding 15.0 ° C, and for the rest of the year they do not fall below 12 ° C. The average maximum temperature is 20.9 ° C, with the months from March to September being the highest temperature, with monthly averages exceeding 20 ° C. The average minimum temperature is 7.7 ° C, with the months from November to February being the lowest temperature, with monthly averages not lower than 5.0 ° C. The characteristics of the precipitation in the zone are determined during the summer by the convection rains, the passage of tropical waves; as well as by the entrance of cyclonic disturbances. The total annual rainfall in the reserve is in the order of 1.435.6 mm, with the maximum rainfall concentrated during the period June-November, with a total of 966.7 mm and reducing these to 321.1 mm for the period December-May. The fog, which are only abundant clouds at ground level, represent an important meteor for the reserve, since it provides non-measured quantities of water, but they are significant and very important for the flora and fauna of the area, since usually accompanied by fine drizzle that soaks the exposed surfaces, increasing the humidity of the environment. There are 115 fogged annuals, with the most frequent occurrence during the August-March period with more than 10 days a month, and December is recorded with the month of greatest incidence, with 26 days.

Description of the underwater landscape of the biotope: In the absence of a characterization of the habitat, personally during the month of March of 2017 I dive to film and photograph the components, which allowed me to determine that the river presents low parts with a depth of not less than 30 cm, reaching the deepest areas up to 3 m, in turn are 4 main components: shallow margins where there is abundant presence of plants that converge from the aquatic to the terrestrial part such as Eleocharis parvula, Nasturtium officinale and grasses, together with fallen branches of nearby trees or dragged by rain, which are usually covered with a combination of native moss (not yet identified) and algae, which sometimes go unnoticed in color as they are covered with small particles of detritus; another portion consists of areas of varying depth where there are large metamorphic rocks covered with algae and mosses, where fish graze and there are also large numbers of snails (as yet unidentified); a third representative portion consists of abundant patches of two distinctly aquatic species that are of the genus Ruppia and Stuckenia, to the margins of the previous zones an abundance of dry leaves exists and small branches sunk in decomposition of Encino mainly, which accumulate in these portions by incidence of the 4th component identified: it consists of the central zone of the river, which carries a current of moderate to strong according to the conditions of depth and width, reason why is a fine sand made to the borders of color very white and where the strongest current goes, the substrate is washed away with exposed rocks ranging from 3 to 10 cm in diameter on average. Due to the conditions of the environment where the river (fog forest) is located, there are moments when the water is very crystalline but with a watery blue tone when the rays of the sun strike without osbetas, however, there are periods in that clouds or at dusk that low the fog only filter some rays of the sun, becoming the color of the water in marine blue, adding also the minerals dissolved by the own dragging of the water of the river and the runoff that occurs in the forest of fog.

Description of the parameters of the habitat: Due to the incidence of light as well as dissolved minerals, the water has a blue hue that varies from a light blue to a dark blue according to the incidence of sun rays, forest shade and depth, having very transparent areas and others where there is accumulation of abundant organic matter that is disturbed by the slightest movement in the bottom, turning at times the water slightly cloudy but without losing the blue color. There were no records of water quality, so in March 2017 were measured with a ProScan test of JBL finding the following (2 p.m.) : pH 7.2; NO3: 0 mg / l; NO2: 0 mg / l, GH:> 14 ° d, KH: 10 ° d, Cl: 0 mg / l. T°: 19 -20°C

List of fishes: Xiphophorus variatus (moderate abundance/native), Heterandria bimaculata (high abundance/native), tadpoles of an unidentified frog species (native or endemic), Unidentified snails (native or endemic).

List of plants: Stuckenia pectinata (L.) Börner (native), Ruppia maritima L. (native), Nasturtium officinale (introduced by the Spanish and of gastronomic interest), Eleocharis parvula (native), native or endemic mosses (not yet identified) and filamentous algae .

Threats to the ecology: This aquarium tries to show the beauty of the Pancho Poza River, to show people a aquatic posthumous of what seen from outside the water our eyes are not able to appreciate. Of all the river, only in the area that includes the ecological reserve inhabits a population of Xiphophorus variatus (with a unique morphology), which is of interest of a group of citizens to foment their interest among the rest of citizenship, to cultivate them to conserve them and to protect them since downstream already exists the impact of the human being by discharge of waste water and the unique population of X. variatus runs the risk of disappearing. The biotope aquarium is located within the same reserve to show visitors the flora and fauna of the river and thus revalue their resources, protect them and require the authorities to do the same.

Sources of information:

Comments of the members of the jury of Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2017

I loved created style of this biotope very much. While the positioning of the materials creates depth perception, the aquarium is not removed from the natural. The background and light used are really great for representing the habitat. All of the animals that are fed belong to the habitat. The species are very healthy and seem happy with their condition. I wish the photos and the video to be better in order to be able to watch this biotope more pleasantly. Good work, congratulations.

Mert Aykuta (Turkey)

The first thing that drew my attention in this biotope Aquarium was that arch or bridge of plants near the water surface. I have photographed and videoed these structures in the wild. They are not common but when you do find them it is fun to swim under them. Also, the dirty look of the benthic sediments and rocks covered in periphyton make this extraordinary biotope aquarium a fundamental example to be referenced by all biotopers in the future. Congrats Victor Manuel Ortiz Cruz, it’s a classic!

Ivan Mikolji (Venezuela)