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Amazon Biotope Aquariums
Pterophyllum scalare (Angel fish)
The Angel Fish, Pterophyllum scalare is one of the Amazons most famous residents

The tributaries and floodplains of the Amazon basin flood spectacularly, and the forest itself is several feet under water at certain times in the year. The water is full of broken wood, terrestial plants, and considerable leaf litter. As the water subsides, many fish are left in pockets of slowly evapourating water. A wide range of popular aquarium fish live under this annual cycle and it is easy to create a spectacular biotope aquarium. Because of this 'opening up' of the Amazon, many of its numerous species could end up in any of the below biotopes, though this is not always the best way to keep and/or breed them.  


Main river or tributary

The Rio Aguarico in Ecuador on the far western side of the Amazon Basin. It is a large tributary of the Rio Napo, iteslf a tributary of the Amazon
The Rio Aguarico in Ecuador on the far western side of the Amazon Basin. It is a large tributary of the Rio Napo, iteslf a tributary of the Amazon
Cardinal tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)
Cardinal tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)
Aquarium Setup: Lots of wood, roots and aquatic vegetation. Wood should represent tree roots, as found in the flooded forest. Amazon sword (Echinodorus) and Vallis (Vallisneria). Areas of fast flowing and still water.

Substrate: gravel
Water Conditions: slightly acidic to neutral
Temperature: 26-30 C
Typical fish:
Catfish (Corydoras, Ancistrus , Farlowella, Pimelodus)
Characins (Tetras, Piranhas, Hatchetfish, Pencil fish)
Cichlids (Discus, Eartheaters, Oscars, Angelfish, Laetacara)


Clearwater Stream A clearwater stream in Ecuador. Aquarium Setup: Densely planted in areas with faster moving open water (Echinodorus) and Vallis (Vallisneria)
Substrate: gravel or sand
Water Conditions: slightly acidic to neutral
Temperature: 24-29 C
Typical fish:
Catfish (Corydoras, Ancistrus, Farlowella, Pimelodus)
Characins (Tetras, Hyphessobrycon, pencil fish)
Cichlids (Apistogramma, Papiliochromis (ram), Mesonauta, Uaru)
Killifish (Rivulus, Pituna)


Blackwater Creek

A blackwater creek, Lago Agrio, Ecuador
A blackwater creek, Lago Agrio, Ecuador
Rivulus xiphidius PK15 (French Guiana)
Rivulus xiphidius PK15 (French Guiana)
Aquarium Setup: Water should be peat filtered or have considerable tanin from the submerged wood and leaves. This biotope has few plants, (maybe Amazon sword (Echinodorus), Vallis (Vallisneria) and duckweed)
Substrate: gravel, sand, or even peat with leaves and wood
Water Conditions: very soft and acidic to slightly acidic
Temperature: 24-29 C
Typical fish:
Catfish (Corydoras, Ancistrus, Farlowella, Pimelodus)
Characins (Tetras, Hyphessobrycon)
Cichlids (Apistogramma, Papiliochromis (ram), Mesonauta, Uaru)
Killifish (Rivulus, Pituna, Simpsonichthys)


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Fishkeeping Facts and Tips

Low light plants Java moss, Java fern, and several of the Anubias species all do fine in low-light conditions. That is not to say that they do not thrive with stronger lighting, but in an aquarium with a lot of floating plants, or one with timid fish that prefer a dimmer tank, these plants are very useful indeed. All are epiphytes; that is to say they need not be planted, and can be attached to stones, bogwood or just left free floating


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