Rio Nanay, Fallen Tree

The 30th place in the qualifying stage of the Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2014

portugal Portugal. Nuno Matos

Volume: 180 L
List of fishes: Pterophyllum scalare sp. Rio Nanay, Apistogramma allpahuayo, Nannostomus marginatus
Biotope description: The main intention of this layout was to give scale to the Scalare, while trying to create space for them and areas that could delimit territories, had to be something imposing and at the same time free space around for the fish to swim freely. I tried to create here a plausible situation that could recreate their natural habitat (Rio Nanay, drainage Peru), the idea was to imagine these wood pieces as a bit of tree that cracked and as fallen to the bottom of a riverbed, this creates a darker and more sinister scenario that works for me because of the size and gracefulness of this strain of Pterphyllum scalare sp. Rio Nanay. In the search of information I’ve found that it is very unlikely to find rocks and submersed water plants, only a clear sand river bed with large driftwood, some fallen tree leafs and dark waters. So I chose to use Horn Wood along with ADA Colorado sand. As for plants I chose to use Limnobium laevigatum as it’s an endemic plant found in almost all of this river system. Also there is a school of Nannostomus marginatus, as well as a fabulous trio of Apistogramma allpahuayo, found in some tributaries of this river in the Iquitos / Loreto area.

It is great to see an explanation of the thinking behind this biotope, and thoughts as to what specific area it is meant to be based on – Iquitos. Thought has gone into creating a credible narrative to support what we are seeing. Beyond this, the overall impression is very appealing. Nature is not always graceful, but sometimes it is! By selecting really nicely sculpted pieces of wood, and placing them so that it looks like they have split apart in the middle (and also that their orientation and pattern of wear reflect the flow of water over them) the creator has walked the thin line between aesthetics and patterns of nature, showing where they intersect perfectly. Everything about this biotope treads the line: the slight blackwater stain, scattered leaves, plain sand, and sprinkling of floating plants are all appropriate for the biotope as are the fish shown. It is simple and elegant, with a very nice contract between the angelfish, tetras, and Apistogramma. It is also a bit small for the number of angelfish though, and slightly too “tidy”. It seems a blend of Biotope and Nature Aquarium styles.

Michael Salter (Canada)