Rio Cinaruco: Clear Water Territory of the Caribas

92nd place in Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2017

germany Germany. Alexander Görz

Volume: 1400 L
Dimensions: 270x80x65 cm
List of fishes: Pygocentrus Cariba, 6 fishes.
List of plants: Cryptocoryne wendtii brown and green, Different species of Anubias, Vallisneria
Self-critic: I know that these are not the plants which are in the natural habitat. I made some mistakes in plantings at the beginning, and I will change that into 100% Ludwigia plantings. But at the moment I do not want to stress my Piranhas with new plantings and workings in the aquarium because it seems that they are starting with the breeding mode – a bigger one is a little bit more aggressive and I saw a whole in the substrate. So as soon as possible I will change the plants, but not now at the moment. With the very big Anubias sitting on the top of the roots which are hanging into the water, I tried to imitate leaves on wood. The Piranhas seem to like the shadow very much.
Description of decorations: Driftwood, some bigger stones from 20 up to 50 cm, natural gravel from 2 mm – 3 cm.
Description of equipment: 2 external canister filters (Fluval FX 5) with in summary nearly 5.000 liter filtration per hour, Eheim heaters, LED light from LUPYLED, Streaming pumps (2x 12.000 liter) which are running from time to time, not always 100%. Automatic water change, 3 times per week with each 200 liters per water change.
Water parameters: Temperature is 26° C, pH is 6,8. Further, individual information: The nutrition is always very important. It has to be healthy, natural and in the right amount (not too much…). At the beginning the Piranhas were fed 1-2 times per day, with small fish filet and small uncleaned dead fish.

Description of the area surrounding the biotope: Rio Cinaruco is a smaller river with 480 km length in Venezuela. This river runs into the huge Orinoco
river. Rio Cinaruco is crossing the Santos Luzardo National Park at the last part before it runs into Orinoco.
Round about 10% of the rivers length is a clear water part, the rest is mostly blackwater.

Description of the underwater landscape of the biotope: The river passes through a lot of forest on its 480 km length with a lot of driftwood. Different kind of stones from smaller up to bigger sizes can be found there. Depending on the position where you are at the river, the gravel is sometimes more like sand, sometimes more like a mixture of gravel and smaller stones up to a few centimetres length. Of course, this depends often from the streaming and the river s curves.

Description of the parameters of the habitat: Rio Cinaruco has some clear water areas, water parameters are 24-28° C.

List of fishes: Pygocentrus Cariba

List of plants: In these clear water areas of the river, there are not too many different kind of plants: Ludwigia inclinata, Ludwigia Marseille, Ludwigia repens. And then, of course, partwise in the flooded areas after strong rain there are different kind of grass. But only due to the high water level.

Threats to the ecology: The Rio Cinaruco is not too much polluted, if you compare it to other rivers. My intention was to show the beauty of these Piranhas, because Piranhas do not have that good or positive image – but I think it is important to show the people that NO animal worldwide is bad or nasty. Every creature (all except humans…) is just doing what it does from the beginning on and is worth to be alive. The Piranhas are so important for the eco systems, in Germany we call this kind of animals a “healthcare police”, and normally they only eat the dead creatures or the very ill ones. So my plan was and always is to show the majestic Piranhas in a nature-like aquarium and to finally bring them to spawn. Worldwide there are only two serious documented breeding success stories of Pygocentrus cariba. I want to be the third breeder just to show that it can be done and to school interested future Piranha keepers, this is my mission. I want to help other aquarium friends to keep Piranhas for a very long time successful and healthy, every creature is worth to be kept in the best possible way. I am writing since the beginning about my Piranhas, something like a booklet. Just to be able to share my thoughts and experiences from the beginning on with these beautiful fishes in the future. I got them from. Venezuela as they were 4-5 cm in length. Now the biggest one is around 26-27 cm, the smaller ones 22-24 cm. At the beginning they nearly had all the same size. From the start on, I had 6 Caribas, and I am very very happy to say that nearly 2,5 years later I still have the same 6 Caribas. I am feeding them special food, mostly half trouts (dead), and I cut small cuts into these trouts and I fill them with a 100% natural food, produced by Panta Rhei company. This food is made of ingredients from South America – when you mix this fish food with water, you will get something like a fish food cream. I fill this cream into the small cuts. The Piranhas really love it, they eat the dead trout and get a lot of natural healthy vitamins.

Sources of information:

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

Since this is a biotope contest, it is not ok to apply with an aquarium that is planted with mixed plants from all over the world. Pygocentrus Cariba biotope should consist from branches, sand and tannin water.

Petra Bašić (Croatia)