Upper Volga River in the Kostroma region, near the Gribnoy Island, Russia

93rd place in Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2018

russia Russia. Svetlana Kirillova

Volume: 700 L
Dimensions: 200х60х70 cm
List of fishes: Squalius cephalus, Acipenser ruthenus, Carassius gibelio, Perca fluviatilis
List of plants: N/A
Description of decorations: Light river sand, calcareous stones with fossils of the Jurassic period, large mangrove snags, tree branches.
Description of equipment: Filter Eheim Classic 2260, air pump Schego WS3, LED-lamp AquaLighter 2, 11W.
Water parameters: The temperature is 22-23°С, pH is 6.5, КН is 4, GH is 7.


Description of the area surrounding the biotope: The Volga River is one of the greatest rivers in Russia and the longest and most abundant in Europe. The length of the river is 3530 km. The Volga is the central waterway of the country and flows through its European part through the East European (Russian) Plain. It is the largest river in the world, flowing into an internal reservoir. The area of ​​the delta formed by the Volga, is 19,000 square km. The river takes its origin from a small source of groundwater, located near the village Volgoverkhovye and located at an altitude of 229 meters above sea level. A small stream, receiving about 150,000 tributaries, among which there are about 200 small and large rivers, is gaining power and strength and turns into a mighty river, which flows into the Caspian Sea. The fall of the river throughout its length does not exceed 250 meters, and the basin area is 1,360,000 square km. The basin of the Volga River extends from the Urals on the east side to the Central Russian and Valdai hills in the west. The main feeding part of the Volga catchment area, from the source to the cities of Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan, is located in the forest zone, the middle part of the basin to the cities of Samara and Saratov is located in the forest steppe zone, the lower part is located in the steppe zone to Volgograd, and to the south it is located in the semi-desert zone. The Volga can be divided into three parts: the upper Volga from the source to the mouth of the Oka, the middle Volga from the confluence of the Oka to the mouth of the Kama and the lower Volga from the mouth of the Kama to the confluence to the Caspian Sea. The main supply of the Volga is thawed spring water. Summer rains and groundwater, which feed the river during the winter period, play a slightly smaller role. In connection with these features in the annual level of the river there are three periods: long and high spring floods, stable summer low water and winter low water. There are numerous islands on the river, many of which have inland lakes connected with the main channel during flood. In places, the banks of the Volga are composed of rocks of marine origin, formed in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of the Mesozoic era. Therefore, in the water and on the shores, the remains of marine invertebrates are often found, and sometimes even the bones of Mesozoic lizards.

Description of the underwater landscape of the biotope: Since the Upper Volga flows predominantly through large forests, at the bottom, especially in places with a less rapid current, driftwood accumulate. The bottom of the Volga in different places can be sandy or muddy, often there are silt and sandy areas.

Description of the parameters of the habitat: The water is quite clear, however, depending on the season, with a brownish hue. The maximum temperature of the river at the peak of summer reaches 20–25°C, in winter the river is covered with ice throughout its entire length: the upper and middle parts freeze until the end of November, the lower Volga freezes in early December. The considerable length of the river creates heterogeneity of environmental conditions. Thus, in the Upper Volga reservoir, water has a neutral and slightly alkaline reaction and is characterized by low values ​​of water hardness and low salt content (pH is 7.4, КН is 0-2, GH is 1-4). However, most of the tributaries are characterized by higher hardness and an increased salt content compared to the Volga. These factors have a significant impact on the chemical composition of the Volga water.

List of fishes and invertebrates occurring in the nature biotope: Squalius cephalus, Acipenser ruthenus, Carassius gibelio, Perca fluviatilis, Cyprinus carpio, Sander lucioperca, Esox lucius, Silurus glanis, Abramis brama, Leuciscus idus, Lota lota.

List of plants found in the nature biotope: Typha angustifolia, Nelumbo nucifera, Butomus umbellatus, Nymphaea alba, Trapa natans, Potamogeton natans, Elodea canadensis, Najas marina, Aegagropila linnaei.

Threats to the ecology: Nowadays, about 45% of industrial and about 50% of agricultural production of Russia is concentrated in the Volga basin. The volume of polluted wastewater discharged into the basins of the region is 38% of the total in Russia. Ecologists are warning: the waters of the Volga are seriously polluted. The monitoring data confirm that the water quality in the Volga and its tributaries and reservoirs does not meet the Russian quality standard in a number of parameters. According to experts, the situation is complicated by the fact that after the construction of dams, the river has lost the ability to self-purification. Volga reservoirs are virtually stagnant, and 90% of the pollutants entering into them are not carried by the current and settle at the bottom. The pollution of the Volga water directly affects the state of its inhabitants. Data from various studies showed the presence of mutations and congenital deformities in some fish populations. Also it was noted that blue-green algae appeared in the river. They actively absorb oxygen during decomposition and release into the environment many types of toxic substances, most of which have not been studied yet. A large proportion of pollution of the Volga basin falls on sunken and abandoned watercraft (oil tankers, cargo, passenger ships). The remains of fuel and other toxic substances washed out by the waters of the Volga represent a great danger to the ecological situation of the river. The solution to the problem of deteriorating ecology can be the development and implementation of government programs aimed at modernizing and replacing the outgoing treatment plants, as well as implementing a project to clean up the Volga basin from 2.4 thousand sunken boats.

Sources of information:

Comments of the members of the jury of Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2018