Shallow creek (caños) in Rio Bita drainage, Colombia

_th place in Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2020

Volume: 60 L
Dimensions: 38CM x 38CM x 43CM
List of fishes: Apistogramma Hongsloi, Paracheirodon innesi, Ancistrus sp.
List of plants: Limnobium laeviatum, Philodendron scandens ‘brazil’
Description of decorations: Natural river sand, driftwood (Mangrove and vine roots), Catappa leaves, alder cones
Description of equipment: Eheim air200 pump, sponge filter, 16W LED lamp, 3W desk lamp
Water parameters: Temperature: 25ºC, pH 5.5, GH 2, KH 1, Blackwater
Additional info: This setup reproduces a typical caños in Rio Bita drainage during a dry season, when many creeks are shallow. Most of creeks (caños) have river sand bottoms and are covered with a dense layer of surface plants (both aquatic and terrestrial). This biotope setup seeks to imitate these conditions as closely as possible relying on mangrove and vine roots, Catappa leaves and Amazon Frogbit floating plants.

40% water changes weekly. Peat extract and alder cones are added to achieve blackwater condition. EasyLife Fertilizer is added weekly to support both surface and terrestrial plants.


Description of the area surrounding the biotope: Rio Bita is located on Llanos Orientales (Eastern Plains) of Colombia. It originates in the Altillanura and runs approximately 600 kilometres before flowing into the Orinoco river. There are multiple ecosystems in the basin of Rio Bita, including tropical rainforest (terra firme), seasonal savannas, flooded savannas, Morichals and flood plain forests (inundable).

Moriche palms (Mauritia flexuosa) and ferns (Adiantum terminatum), as well as Astrocaryum acaule and Myrcia sp. are dominant forms of vegetation around creeks.
Description of the underwater landscape of the biotope: Although Rio Bita is a clearwater river, small creeks (caños) in the river drainage are mostly blackwater habitats with large volume of leaf litter and bogwood. Many caños are shallow during the dry season, but expanding into a floodplain forest during the wet season. Caños are covered with floating plants of Limnobium genus and roots of terrestrial plants. Shallow caños are dark as little light breaks though the foliage and surface aquatic plants.
Description of the parameters of the habitat: The water chemistry is acidic (pH 4,5-5,5) with temperature ranges between 22ºC and 27ºC.
List of fishes and invertebrates occurring in the nature biotope: Rio Bita is home to over 150 species of Characins, 55 species of catfish and 30 species of Cichlids, which are the dominant fish genus. Over 130 species inhabit caños in Rio Bita drainage. Hemigrammus elegans, Hemigrammus newboldi and Hemigrammus analis are the most widespread species in caños. Cichlids are widely represented by Apistogramma hongsloi and Apistogramma minima.
List of plants found in the nature biotope: Caños are covered with floating plants of Limnobium genus and roots of terrestrial plants.
Threats to the ecology:
Sources of information:

Comments of the members of the jury of Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2020