South East Asian backwater

Java fern (Microsorium pteropus)

Aquarium Setup: Slow or no current. Densely planted with some floating plants. Use peat filtration
Substrate: Silver sand, driftwood (planted with Java fern Microsorium pteropus or Java moss Vesicularia dubyana), old leaves and coconut shells
Water Conditions: Soft and slightly acidic to very soft and very acidic
Temperature: 24-28 C
Typical fish: Labyrinth fishes, Barbs, Rasboras, Loaches, Danios

A good deal of South East Asia (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia etc) consists of rainforest, criss-crossed by many small creeks and streams. These are usually slow moving backwaters, stained reddish brown with decaying vegetation, and densely planted with plants like Hygrophila, bamboo (Blyxa), and tiger lotus (Nymphaea). Naturally low light level plants like Java moss and Java fern do well in such set-ups.

Being such dark, oxygen-starved environments, the labyrinth fish that live there have developed 'feeler' ventral fins, and a special breathing apparatus (labyrinth organ) as an adaption to the environment.

Genuine blackwater tanks are not always easy to maintain, without huge quantities of peat; some of the darkness required is better replicated by the use of floating plants.

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