No force in the natural habitats of our fishes contributes more to their emergence, growth, and reproduction as the weather. It influences almost every aspect of their environment, from water chemistry to temperature, to light intensity.
So, think about weather for just a second, and then contemplate it's potential role in our aquariums. In our aquariums, we model so many aspects of the natural habitats that we are intrigued with, yet one of the most "in our face", yet seldom-considered is the impact that seasonal changes-driven by weather- have on the biotopes we are interested in.
Yeah...you know, the "wet season" and the "dry season." Both create profoundly different circumstances which affect the habitat, the conditions, and the fishes themselves. What an interesting element to consider when creating or managing an aquarium, right?
In the Amazon, the wettest part of the wet season occurs between December and May. During the wet season, the Amazon rainforest receives as much as 6 to 12 feet of rain (1.98- 3.6m), which can cause rivers like the Amazon to rise as much as 40 feet (12m), flooding the surrounding forest areas! The fishes adapt by moving into these areas that were previously barren and dry, foraging among the now-submerged trees, grasses, and plants.
We know this, and we spend a great deal of time in our community attempting to replicate this dynamic season in our aquariums. It's one of the types of habitats I think we love duplicating the most around here, for sure.
What about the "dry season?" When the water level is lower, the nutrient levels might be a bit higher. What happens in nature that we might be able to duplicate in our aquariums, and what dynamics can we bring to our closed systems as a result?
For one thing, recent studies have shown that rainforest trees and plants actually "flush" (grow new leaves) shortly before the arrival of the dry season. It's postulated that there is something in their "genetic programming" that allows them to prepare for the onset of the relatively "light-rich" dry season, to get them ready for enhanced photosynthetic activity.
So, the takeaway here for aquarists who want to replicate the "dry season?" I'm thinking more leaves and botanicals in the water...brighter lighting. Yeah, even the dry season could be replicated in an interesting manner in our aquariums...Perhaps ( I can hear the alternating moans and cheers from different corners now!) less frequent water exchanges, higher light intensities (yes, ANOTHER reason to utilize LEDs in your tank!), and maybe even less frequent feedings...
These are just a few small "edits" we can make to the configuration and management of our natural, biotope-inspired aquariums. "Edits" which aim to recreate a very different part of the ecosystem than we typically will tackle as aquarists.
Simple modifications to our operating practices which can create potentially profound and significant breakthroughs as we learn more and more about our fishes and the environments from which they come.
And these "seasonal changes" are just a few of the many, many different ways to replicate natural process in our aquariums!
What's next? How can we utilize this interesting replication of Nature for our fishes' advantage in our setups? What secrets can be unlocked when we look to replicate weather on some level?
Stay studious. Stay fascinated. Stay intrigued. Stay creative. Stay inspired. Stay unique...
And Stay Wet.