As you must be aware right now, we're big fans of mimicking the look and characteristics of the seasonally- inundated forests known as Igapo, common to the Amazon Basin. Under the influence of the Rio Negro, the water depth in these areas can differ as much as 12 feet/4meters between the high and low water periods in the annual cycle!
The dynamic of input and utilization of materials from the surrounding forest is fascinating and profound for those of us who wish to mimic these habitats in our aquariums...And it actually plays right into our very human behavioral patterns, too! What do I mean? Read on...
During the rainy season, overflowing streams flood the rainforest floor, accumulating materials which the fish communities utilize for food and shelter. And materials which fall from the surrounding trees and banks are major contributors to the productivity of this ecosystem. As the waters recede somewhat, temporary streams flow through these areas.
Interestingly, scientists have found that these streams have very little internal production of food sources for their resident fishes. Rather the food sources come from materials such as plants, fruits, leaves, and pieces of wood which come from the surrounding environment. Oh, and insects. Lots of insects from the surrounding trees and bank, which fall into the water. These are known as "allochthonous inputs" in ecology- materials imported into an ecosystem from outside of it. This is rather interesting point. Essentially, it means that these areas, rich habitats that they are, are almost completely influenced by outside materials....
As more materials fall from the trees and surrounding dry areas, the greater the abundance of fishes and other aquatic animas which utilize them is found. And materials will continue to fall into the water and accumulate throughout the period of inundation, maintaining the richness of the habitat as others decompose or are acted on by the organisms residing in the water.
Not unlike an aquarium, right?
It makes me think that our process of adding and replacing new materials to our botanical-style blackwater aquariums is a very good representation of what occurs in these habitats. Further, I think that we can "leverage" human nature in producing an even more realistic representation.
Well, think about it..During certain times of the year (like Summer, for example!), we generally tend to be distracted or otherwise engaged with family, vacations, and other activities which draw attention away from our aquariums a bit. During this time, those of us who regularly add and remove materials from their botanical-style aquariums might be less likely to do so, and the materials just sort of "sit" there. And then when Fall returns, and our attentions once again are more focused on our aquariums, activity surrounding our tanks pics up.
This is very similar to what occurs in nature during the seasonal shifts, when less material falls into the water, and the allochthonous inputs become less concentrated and frequent. The ecosystem, although always dynamic in it's own way, is in a more-or-less "stable mode", at least for a short period of time.
So, one might say that our sort of "benign neglect" or more nicely, "benign inattention" during the lazy days of summer is a rather accurate representation of nature!
A simple thought for a Tuesday.
Stay engaged. Stay excited. Stay relaxed. Stay curious.
And Stay Wet.