River Bank Pool, Alum Creek, Ohio

_st place in Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2022

Volume of aquarium: 71

Dimensions of aquarium: 90x30x30 cm

List of fishes: Micropterus punctulatus

List of plants: Lonicera sp.

Description of Decorations and Substrate: River rock, sediment, wood, plants, and leaves were collected from the region surrounding the reference biotope stream. The varying stone sizes are a mixture of sandstone and shale formations, with both small (60-120mm) and large (12-250mm) cobbles present. The streams erosion forces break down these aggregates into a silty sandy sediment creating the substrate found in this biotope aquarium. The plant Linocera sp. is employed to represent the large roots of Platanus occidentalis (American Sycamore) tree. Exposed tree roots intertwined amongst larger cobbles stabilize the stream bank and provide cover for aquatic species. The wood roots used here are living, connected to the shrub growth emergent from the aquarium. Platanus occidentalis leaves are found in varying stages of decay, further emphasizing the large trees which drop leaves directly into the stream. The background photo was taken underwater in the reference stream and enhances the depth and natural feeling of the biotope.

Description of Equipment: Flow and filtration are handled by an Oase Biomaster 350 canister filter. An Eheim Skim 350 provides surface agitation and additional circulation to the aquarium. No heater is used. The aquarium is an Ultum Nature Systems 90L high clarity aquarium. Lighting is provided from a Fluval Plant 3.0 LED suspended above.

Water Parameters: The local municipal water supply draws water from the reference biotope. Hardness and alkalinity are within the natural variability of the biotope, with a general hardness of 5-7 and a carbonate hardness of 2-4. The pH of the aquarium is circumneutral and approximately 7.2. Nutrients are low and no supplemental nutrients are provided. Water temperature ranges from 18 – 23 degrees Celsius, depending on the season.

Additional Info: Large water changes of 50-75% are performed weekly.

Aquarium video:

a. https://mab.to/3LahBe959

Description of the Area Surrounding the Biotope: Alum creek watershed drains 315 square kilometers, channeling water from near the United States continental divide into the, Scioto River, Ohio River and Mississippi drainage basin. The watershed is dominated by agriculture and forested land, with small pockets of heavy urban development. A 14 square kilometer dam and reservoir was constructed in 1974 to prevent down stream flooding and serve as a source for municipal drinking water. The biotope envisioned here was inspired by a section of stream located within the areas of urban development. While within the confines of urban land use, the creek moderately meanders through the city. Multi-use trails and large Platanus occidentalis stretch along the riverbank. Stream margins are mixed coverage of wooded and wetland vegetation. The gravel stream bed has lightly vegetated mix margins of sand/mud/silt. Deer, raccoon, beaver, and rodents (rabbit, squirrel, chipmunk) are common, along with a multitude of birds, small turtles, snakes, and amphibians.

Description of the Underwater Landscape of the Biotope: The stream bed is comprised of small and large cobbles. Most of the substrate is loosely compiled, with only a few larger cobbles or boulders being embedded in the sandy earth below. Rock color ranges from a brown-orange-tan to a blue-gray depending on the parent material (sandstone or shale). The riverbank is often covered with partially submerged plants (Justicia americana), with a silt loam soil. Exposed tree roots, fallen branches and other woody debris result in log jams and leaf packs in a few areas through the steam.

Description of the Habitat Parameters: Water clarity varies become turbid quickly following precipitation as silt and sediment are washed into the stream. Water temperature ranges from 4 – 25 degrees Celsius with the seasonality. Total hardness and alkalinity are around 5-7 and 2-3, respectfully with an average pH of 7.7. Agricultural impacts result in elevated phosphorous and nitrate levels.

List of Fishes and Invertebrates Occurring in the Nature Biotope: Micropterus salmoides, Micropterus punctulatus, Lepisosteidae sp., Pomoxis sp., Lepomis sp., Semotilus atromaculatus, Luxilus chrysocephalus, Campostoma anomalum, Cyprinella spiloptera, Pimephales notatus, Rhinichthys obtusus, Notropis stramineus, Notropis buccatus, Hypentelium nigricans, Catostomus commersonii, Moxostoma erythrurum, Lepomis humilis, Lepomis megalotis, Etheostoma nigrum, Etheostoma blennioides, Etheostoma caeruleum. Unionidae and Astacoidea are present as well.

List of Plants Found in the Nature Biotope: Platanus occidentalis, Salix sp., Justicia americana, Lonicera maackii (invasive, but ubiquitous), Asimina triloba, Acer saccharinum

Threats to the Ecology of the Biotope: The greatest impact to the ecology of this biotope are urbanization and agricultural impacts. The close proximity to a heavily urbanized area results in pollution from trash and debris, excess silt and sedimentation from development, salinity increases from seasonal road salting, and reduce hydraulic retention times due to stormwater and urban runoff events. The upland agricultural areas result in increased nitrogen and phosphorus loadings into the river.

Sources of Information:
1. Division of Surface Water, Columbus, OH, 2019, pp. 1–24, Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) for Alum Creek Lake Monitoring.
2. Friends of Alum Creek Tributaries, Columbus, OH, 2002, pp. 1–4, An Alum Creek Resource Sheet.
3. Fritz, Ken M., and Jack W. Feminella. “Substratum Stability Associated with the Riverine Macrophyte Justicia Americana.” Freshwater Biology, vol. 48, no. 9, 2003, pp. 1630–1639., https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2427.2003.01114.x.
4. Karlsen, Claudia S., et al. “Impact of Land Use and Runoff on Stream Quality.” Sustainability, vol. 11, no. 19, 2019, p. 5479., https://doi.org/10.3390/su11195479.
5. MAD Scientist Associates, Columbus, OH, 2020, pp. 1–166, Investigative Water Study Report, Interstate 270 and State Route 3 Industrial Site, Franklin County, Oh.
6. Neary, V. S., et al. “Effects of Vegetation on Turbulence, Sediment Transport, and Stream Morphology.” Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, vol. 138, no. 9, 2012, pp. 765–776., https://doi.org/10.1061/(asce)hy.1943-7900.0000168.
7. Rice, Daniel L., and Brian Zimmerman. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Fishes of Ohio. Ohio Biological Survey, 2019.
8. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District, Water Management Section, 2020, pp. 1–117, Annual Water Quality Report.
9. Water Life: Riffles and Pools, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, 2012.