Sangha River, Loukela, Cuvette, Congo

The 4th place in the final stage of the Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2015

turkey Turkey. Timur Tekbaş

Volume: 180 L
List of fishes: Ctenopoma acutirostre, Phenacogrammus interruptus, Hemichromis lifalili
List of plants: Lilaeopsis novaezelandiae, Vallisneria contortionist, Vallisneria gigantea, Aponogeton natans, Pista stratiotes, Eleocharis parvula, Bolbitis mini
Biotope description: Branches of the Congo river which pass through the rain forest, contain common area with many rivers. During the year the trees of the rain forest shed their leaves and at the same time they blossom out. Because of this we call the rain forests “permanent green forests” too. So in the riverbed there is a permanent life. You can see the green and dried branches at the same time. What do the plants and fishes do in the place which is full of life? They live in a wide variety.

As a biotope, this aquarium is quite correct, and represents what biotope aquaria should look like. Using more Vallisneria in better condition would make this tank better placed, and showing “more attractive” part of river would rank this tank the 1st as far as aesthetic judgement goes.

Petra Bašić (Croatia)

The picture of the aquarium looks exactly like an underwater picture of that biotope: Brownish water, roots comming from the top, some dirt on the bottom. It might not look super-beautiful but it looks really natural! Well done!

Heiko Blessin (Germany)

I like the earie look of this aquarium and the impression that the fish are just passing through, swimming in and out the light and shade and evading predators. The choice of wood type gives an old world feel which seems right for an African river. I think the planting health and species could be improved upon, and also the maturity of the fish so that they show more colour.

Jeremy Gay (Great Britain)

In my opinion this tank had the most problems. The first, and probably the most important, was the temperature, which was clearly too high for Hemichromis – they were gasping all the time. According to Seriosuly Fish, this species requires really high amounts of oxygen in water, and the optimal temperature would be something like 24-25°C degrees. However, the temperature in the tank was closer to 28°C (“measured” by my hand, only), and Timur didn’t turn off the heater during the whole period of the exhibition. Didn’t he notice that the fish are gasping all the time? The second problem would be putting Hemichromis lifalili in such a small tank. According to Seriously Fish again (I don’t have any personal experience with this species), it becomes really aggressive during breeding, so other fishes present in the tank could be in danger then. Of course, Hemichromis individuals introduced to the tank were still quite small, probably still juveniles, so they were not dangerous yet – but, we are also supposed to judge the tanks in longer time perspective, and in this case it could lead to serious problems. The third problem was the plants, which were not moisturized during the setting-up phase, so they simply dried out, and didn’t look good in the aquarium.

Piotr Kierzkowski (Poland)

Good balance, but the wood appearance could be more natural. At this way it is good to aquascaping contest.

André Longarço (Brazil)

On the fourth place I put the African biotope. Frankly speaking, if we consider the layout as a whole, all corresponds to the nature biotope. But in this aquarium the water was too cloudy, that’s why it was not so beautiful as the others. What is bad? The main disadvantage is a state of plants, their planting and scarcity. Maybe I’m wrong, but in the left corner the weak Echinodorus is planted.

Alexey Malyshev (Russia)

I liked this biotope a lot. The color and turbidity of the water makes you travel into the biotope and feel like you are actually in the jungle! Again, I would have dimmed the lights a bit. In streams with this water color, the plants are scarce and usually very long as they struggle to reach the surface for more light. I would have liked to see this aquarium way up higher in the ranking because its similarity with the wild are amazing. This is a great aquarium setup that should be used as inspiration by all of us biotope aquarists worldwide.

Ivan Mikolji (Venezuela)

Very realistic well thought out example of a natural ecosystem. Lots to look at with attention drawn to every corner of the space.

Paul Talbot (Australia)