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It's fun to fool judges but if they judge biotopes, they need to do their homework:)
They also need to know the rules with exotics.
Thanks Tom! I couldn't agree more. ;)

As far as biotope dilineation, I see three categories of Natural aquaria. I'd also like to define the term "natural recreation" for the purposes it's used here. I also agree that, if possible, the hardscape elements should be collected from the area to be recreated as would be the case for local/native biotopes.

Natural recreation- the creation of an aquascape with the intention of re-creating a natural habitat with organisms which do, or would likely, exist in a defined geographical area. The design of said aquascape is intended to simulate a natural environment, not the creation of a traditional "Aquatic Garden", even if using the limited species of a true biotope aquarium. I also tend to be a purist and feel that invasive foreign species should not be included in this, even though they may be found in the same areas as natives.

1. The true Biotope: A biotope tank, by definition, is a recreation of a specific natural environment. I've always understood this to mean that if the organisms can be found together in an area with the dimensions of the aquarium you're using then it's a viable biotope. Yes, this is a very specific definition, but actual biotope recreation is a very specific thing. An example of this could be an Orinoco River tributary pool biotope. Most true biotopes will be monocultures with a limited amount of animal species diversity.

2. The Habitat tank: If one wants to get a little looser with habitat/niche requirements and use organisms from multiple areas of a given body of water then one is creating a habitat tank. This could be as minute as using organisms from two different zones of the above pool or as broad as using organisms from the entire tributary.

3. The Region tank: In my mind, this is the broadest scale of an aquarium meant for natural recreation. Steve's Southern Texas tank is a great example of this. He used organisms from a broad range of habitats found within a relatively limited geographical area. While something like this is not close to a true biotope it is a good representation of a region.

4. The Theme tank: This last one is included for completeness' sake. Though not a true "biotope" tank, many people still consider the traditional "Amazon" tank to be a biotope. A tank like this, with the possibility of amazing species diversity doesn't even come close to natural recreation even though some care may be made to limit organisms to that of a broad geographic area.

There you have it, Phil's take on biotopes
 

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Well I am thinking about Rodman resevior, is it a lake or a river? Is the backwater and rich mulmy soil the same as the rapid flowing hardbottom regions? Depth of the water? Some plants do greatv near the surface, others are found much deeper.
I don't feel that backwaters with rich soil would be the same biotope as the rapids areas even if they're part of the same body of water. They're distinctly different areas, having never been there to see them, most likely harboring different types of organisms. I wouldn't expect to see largemouth bass in an area of faster current, though one might find the same species of minnow in both fast and slower waters.

As far as the Rio ***** goes, I think that particular biotope is the result of media. I've seen too many references, both in print, and on the internet, to Blackwater Biotopes, with all sorts of nice plants in there.

I agree with everyone, some sort of description is very helpful with biotopes. Case in point, my Sri Lanka tank of AGA 2001. I needed an iron rich substrate and for hardware reasons couldn't use clay out of my backyard so I substituted Flourite. Also, there was no way of getting an algae eater from Sri Lanka so I had to substitute the most unobtrusive ones I could, shrimp and ottos. Everything else was accurate down to the recorded collecting regions. It defintately needed some explanation as to why those choices had been made. I think that the people looking at the tank would have understood it better than they did.

Was the tank a biotope? Nope, ottos alone would nix that. It is a good example of Steve's point about substitution though....and was a pretty killer natural tank in it's prime. :)
 
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