Shaded shallows of Khao Sok National Park. Thailand

The 5th place in the final stage of the Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2015

 Serbia. David Milosevic

Volume: 180 L
List of fishes: Barbus pentazona, Barbus titteya, Rasbora espei
List of plants: Egeria densa, Myriophylum tubercatum, Vesicularia dubyana, Limnophila sessiflora, Nymphea sp., Taxiphyllum barbieri
Biotope description: Khao Sok National Park is located in Surat Thani Province, and includes Cheow Lan Lake contained by the Ratchaprapha Dam. It is the largest area of virgin forest in southern Thailand and is a remnant of rain forest older and more diverse than in the Amazon. The park is traversed by a limestone mountains. Bamboo holds soil, preventing its erosion on riverbanks. The fauna consists of tadpoles, cyprinids like barbs and danios, pufferfish, loach-like suckerfish, and bottom feeders. In some areas forest trees overhang the river. Along the banks there are plants that grow both emersed and submersed. In water many plants species can be found: mosses, Nymphea sp., Egeria, Limnophila etc. Average temperature of water is 28 C and is stable the whole year.

Nice bottom details, but bad choice of plants and planting arrangement. There is both grouped and chaotic arrangment of plants in this setup. Red plant (not quite right species for this biotope but I know that there can be problems in live contest) in the background gives too much of aquascaping look to the setup. It would be better it was mixed like other plant species are. Moss could be better arranged on the bottom.

Petra Bašić (Croatia)

The aquarium looks a bit like an aquarium in a shop, where you keep plants for selling. Too many plants and not an interesting design. I would like to have a dominating part of decoration and some minor dominating parts. You don’t know, where to look first if you look in this aquarium.

Heiko Blessin (Germany)

I like the fresh, lush look of the planting and with the fallen leaves they combine to make a heavily decorated aquarium. I struggle with the use of Puntius titteya however as I have collected these in the wild in Sri Lanka, where they are endemic. Populations here must surely be introduced. I would also like to see the plants looking more grown in and less like they are freshly added bunches.

Jeremy Gay (Great Britain)

In my opinion, this was the best tank of the show. I’m not saying that it was a perfect representation of the biotope – it wasn’t, which was not the fault of David. He just didn’t receive plants which he ordered (but, on the other hand, one can not expect that the sponsors will fulfill someone’s very specific and quite unusual requirements, so it’s best to plan the composition basing on most typical species and forms, easily available in the trade). Nevertheless, this tank was the most biotope-like tank in the exhibition. Especially the leaves of Terminalia catappa – David cut them to a shape identical to leaves really present in the biotope he tried to recreate, and this was really great – no other participant, nor any other designer of biotope tanks which I met during my life, was doing something like this. The number of species of plants and fishes could be smaller, but anyway, in my opinion it was the best tank of the show.

Piotr Kierzkowski (Poland)

Great aquarium, but the plants arrangement could be more natural. The plants are too linear. I like the idea of leaves in the bottom, but in my opinion the leaves can be smaller.

André Longarço (Brazil)

Eurasia is on the fifth place. According to the description of the biotope on its card it was not clear what kind of biotope the author has created. First, in the description a lake was mentioned, then there is description of a river system there. For some reason in the description Beaufortia is indicated. It is a small fish that lives (several species) only in the south-eastern China and the northern Vietnam. I think that to name two species of Cyprinidae “barbs” is a significant mistake. At least they should be named Puntius. Barbs are found only in Africa and in Europe, but not in Thailand. The names of represented fishes need to be written correctly (in Latin) for this contest. Now about the fishes. Of the fishes presented in the biotope aquarium only rasbora is from the southern Thailand (correct name is Trigonostigma). Cherry barb is endemic to the waters of Sri Lanka and Systomus pentazona lives on the Indonesian islands and the Malay Peninsula. If these species live in southern Thailand as the invaders, then is not recommended to put them into the biotope aquarium.

Alexey Malyshev (Russia)

No need for my comment… Heiko Blessin took the words out of my mind!

Ivan Mikolji (Venezuela)

This tank is very striking, realistic and simple! Wonderful flow with lines of colours. Lots to catch the eye! The use of the twigs and leaf litter are very effective! Remarkable work!

Paul Talbot (Australia)