Time for a fresh look at the biotope aquarium?

When was the last time you looked at your aquarium and thought “This looks like a section of real river/lake/stream?”

I mean, the goal of aquarium keeping is to make your fishes and plants react and grow as if they are in their natural waters, right? The proverbial “slice of the bottom” that many aquatic authors, such as Paul Loiselle and Ned Coletti, have proferred over the years- about replicating in their aquariums a section of a natural biotope is pretty darned cool.


We are seemingly fanatical about recreating optimum environmental parameters for our aquarium inhabitants, and spend enormous amounts of time, money, and energy attempting to replicate ideal lighting conditions, water chemistry, and flow for our inhabitants. However, it seems to me like the aquascaping in our tanks often seems more about creating an aesthetic that we like than it is at truly replicating a given environmental or geographic niche, such as a leaf litter zone, cave, or stream.

We see more of these types than ever before, but I still would like to see more of 'em!

I encourage every reefer to set up at least one aquarium like this at some point (Ahh, always a call to feed your “Multiple Tank Syndrome”, huh?)! It’s a great educational tool, and it’s downright fun to challenge yourself. You’ll be surprised how far you can take the biotope concept, especially if you strive to be completely true to the niche you’re modeling and aspire to only keep animals found in that niche!

Most important, it’s fun…

This is, after all, a hobby, and hobbies are a vehicle by which we express ourselves. That being said, let’s see how you express yourselves! Who has created a biotope type marine aquarium? Let’s see some pics, hear about what you did to get there. Even if you don’t have one- tell everyone what you’re thinking of doing!

I have this fantasy about creating one of those rock islands in Palau in my aquarium, but I’ve always been a bit goofy…

Until next time…

Stay Wet- or to borrow a line from the great biotope nerd, Ned Coletti, “Replicate…Appreciate!”

Scott Fellman

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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