Professional Cat Herder
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Tank of the Month!
- Dec 18, 2011
- Reaction score
- Where the deer and the antelope play
I came up with the idea for this aquarium because I enjoy drinking really good tea. My favorite teas are from the Yunnan region of southwest China, and the Darjeeling area of northwestern India. These two regions have similar habitats, and even share quite a few fish genera. They are both mountainous regions, thinly populated by hardy people and planted with tea gardens, watered by small, clear, fast-flowing hill streams draining into large, lowland rivers.
So, I'm going to try to re-create those habitats, not as a strict biotope, but more to try to capture the mood of these areas. And just for fun, I'm making it a paludarium with a few tea plants (Camellia sinensis) growing out the top.
The trouble is that most of the fish from these areas are either unavailable, extremely expensive, or get too large to work a 30 gallon tank which is basically functioning as a 20 long. So, I'm going with some closely-related species from just over the mountains in northern Myanmar, and one species that isn't from nearby but looks similar and fills a similar ecological niche.
Playing the part of various danio-type critters, I'll have a dozen glowlight danios (Celestichthys choprae). These little guys also resemble their bigger cousins, the blue hill trout, which I dearly want to keep but which are much too big and active for a tank this small.
Standing in for ticto barbs, green barbs, and several others, we'll have a half dozen odessa barbs (Pethia padamya).
Filling the role of adorable, oval-shaped algae sucker, I plan to have a few Borneo suckers (Beaufortia kweichowensis), reticulated hillstream loaches (Sewellia lineolata) or butterfly loach (Beaufortia kweichowensis), whichever the dealers have available when the time comes. I prefer B kweichowensis because they're smaller and less aggressive, but any of them would work.
And in a cameo role, playing itself, is the polka-dot stone loach (Nemacheilus corica) which lives in both Yunnan and Darjeeling, and thus actually belongs to this biotope! Yay.
For hardscape, I've done rock walls, a waterfall, and land areas with blue insulation foam, textured and painted to (hopefully) look like rock. Sand substrate and a river scape of rocks and dry juniper branches. Two powerheads, one connected to a buried PVC manifold for directional flow, and another which I added as an afterthought then the first proved not to provide enough flow. No filter other than the plant and substrate. The terrestrial plants, especially, should keep the water clean.
With plants, I'm not trying to stay close to biotope. I am in the process of adding various terrestrial and aquatic mosses, anubias, bacopa, and crypts. From southwest China comes the peacock fern, and of course the tea plants, which I plan to keep trimmed short, bonsai style. I have serious doubts about growing tea plants in a paludarium, so plan B is some jade pothos, which looks similar but will grow anywhere.
I've been taking some pictures as I build this, so the first part of this journal will be sort of a build-along, showing you how I did everything, including some false-starts and dead-ends. So if nothing else it should provide some entertainment. But that will wait for tomorrow.