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The rules I am going by (I made up) are that it can go in a biotope if it grows in the area, and exotics (especially invasives) are included. After all we are learning about the environment and learning about invasive plants is a very good thing. I have already had a judge comment that he never knew "Amazon" sword plants grew in the US (And these were not exotic: E. berteroi). My goal is to fool another judge with these "American" crypts.

Also I think to be fair to many beginners starting biotopes that realistic "substitutions" should also be allowed. If you can't get American Val for an American biotope, they should be allowed to use another Val as long as they mention the substitution. I think of this biotope thing as a more educational and fun thing versus some of the highly competitive and expensive aquascaping efforts out there.

So I wouldn't worry whether its local or introduced. If its been out there growing for a while then its part of the local biotope.

Regards,
Steve Pituch
 

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substrate

I would say it is optional. Not many people will want to use Texas clay mud in their tank. The water would be very realistically opaque, but we do need to see the plants! In Florida, if the area has nice gravel, then use it.

I think in order for people to appreciate other people's biotopes, I think a detailed description should always be available to the viewer of a picture of a biotope tank. Copying a substrate is really going the whole nine yards. In fact in my Brazos biotope I specifically listed the substrate as coming from Texas, but not typical of the biotope area. (It was Texblast plus garden soil, certainly not authentic).

If you make a substitution because you couldn't get a particular species of a plant, or you couldn't get the same rocks, or type of tree that the driftwood was from then just mention it in the description. No one in the US is going to use Lake Malawi rock but if you do the research and find something local that is a close match , and mention your references, then people are going to be interested in what you have done.

In know I am mixing the requirements for the local, get the plants yourself biotope type, and the more general type of biotope, but I guess the range is up to the individual. And we are in the infancy of this aspect of the hobby, so lets brainstorm ideas!

Ideally, I wanted to do just a Padre Island biotope, then I expanded it to a Corpus Christi biotope. When I started exploring the Nueces River it became a Nueces County biotope. Know I am planning to increase the radius to 100 miles (a short distance in Texas), and am also making expedition plans to extend the range to 200 miles, if I can get the plants I want at that location. As you learn about an area, you tend to expand the area as you gain expertise and look for new plants.

So I think, we just need to be flexible. I think most of us are interested in collecting the plants ourselves so it should be pretty easy to enjoy each other's work. A few may want the general "SE Asian", "Amazon", or "Rift Lake" biotope, but I think for most of us to appreciate something like that some thought has got to go into the aquarium. I don't think a bunch Texas rocks and water is going to make us believe its an African Lake biotope.

So lets just have fun. :)

I think you guys in Florida have the best location in the US. In Texas when we have water, its muddy and not enough. We would never think of going snorkleling.

Regards,
Steve Pituch
 

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"Substitution" and "Exception"

Phil,

It definitely was a biotope. :)

I sure we don't want to see rigid rules about what we are doing at this point in time, but I have been thinking about "rules" of this biotope thing for a few years now because I have been disappointed in some of the types of entries in the AGA contest. The AGA contest rules need to be spelled out. I bet in a few months we'll have some mighty good suggestions.

The "substitution" thing I think is good. Also your Sri Lanka tank shouldn't have lost any credibilty because of fish needed for maintenance, or other reasons if the reasons are listed.

The other idea is "exceptions". Hey, you need cleaner fish or shrimp to control algae. You only have one tank and your daughter wants her plastic Nemo in the tank, or you have a 5 year old angel fish in the tank and you have no where else to put this cherished fish. If they are listed under "exceptions", they will be ignored as being part of the biotope by anyone looking at the tank, including judges if its in a contest. In theory it should be easy to ignore something if this concept is accepted, and we can all concentrate on the real part of your efforts.

If the gravel is not authentic and I have no way to get the real stuff, so just make it an "exception".

This makes it easier on us. If somebody wants to tackle a biotope with "Amano" like zeal, well all the power to them. But if you just want to enjoy say just the plants, or have some type of obstacles, then you need some way to explain, so the rest of us can get maximum enjoyment out of your efforts, and know exactly what you are trying to replicate.

"You" of course meaning anyone.

Steve Pituch
I'm used to signing Steve P., but since Steve Pushak has been using that signature I'm spelling it all out.
 

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New Topic

Hi all,

I just spun the biotope rules discussion into the new topic split from the "Great Ditches" one started by "HeyPK". I hope I didn't confuse anyone.

I think it worked! :D

One thing I found is if you toggle "newest first", you get to see the latest msg at the beginning (top) of the screen.

Steve
 

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Break the rules

Tom Barr just mentioned in another forum what it is good sometimes to break the rules, especially when it has to do with working in an art form. Thats good advice for us people involved in biotopes right now. We should try to always be "pushing the envelope". At least I think thats what Chuck Yaeger said about test pilots.

Steve Pituch
 

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Aquatic Gardeners Association (AGA)

Kevin,

The AGA is the international organization of planted aquaria people. It is probably the most unifying entity we have for promoting advancements in the state of the art. They are at:
http://www.aquatic-gardeners.org/ .

The AGA contest was started a few years ago and is the best resource for seeing what other people have done in aquascaping. Every year you can view the best aquascapes from all over the world and see the current state of the art. They do have a biotope category, and there has been some very nice work submitted, but it seems many people have not understood what a biotope is. The biotope category also does not really have any of its own guidelines for entries, so this is understandable. However, from all the interest I've seen revealed on this forum, I think the number and quality of entries is going to improve. Feast your eyes on the entries at:
http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/ . :lol:

By the way don't worry about the non biotope fish in your tank. I know I will just not consider them part of the biotope.

Regards,
Steve Pituch
 
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