In the previous part ( Biotope Aquatics Part 2: Mexico, Upper Candelaria River near the Sandbank ) we reported on the second place of the Biotope Aquarium World Championship, which was a recreation of a habitat in Mexico near the sandbank at the upper Candelaria River, where cichlid pairs with juvenile fish were swimming around.
At first glance, the aquarium looks very bleak. With a little more photographic knowledge or with the help of Photoshop, it could appear brighter and friendlier. But the tributaries of the Mekong near Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) really do look like that. I have never dived there, as the rivers further north in the Nha Trang area, which we visited as part of our JBL Expedition 2013 ( Workshop 2013 ), have crystal-clear water and are not always surrounded by rice fields.
But as with the aquarium from South America, which was awarded the first place in the world championship BADC ( Biotope Aquatics Part 1: South America, a Tributary of the Rio Negro near Barcelos ) , this aquarium is also incredibly close to nature: lots of leaves on the ground, half rotten wood as roots, giving the impression that they are jutting into the aquarium and a few nymphaea plants on one side. The wood he used comes from Melaleuca trees, which, according to Google, are not found in Vietnam. But since the designer of the aquarium comes from Vietnam, it is very likely that he has also used wood from that region and didn’t have Melaleuca wood from New Zealand flown in.
If you only add aquarium plants to one section of the aquarium, as Tran Hoang Nghia did with the lotus plants on the left of his aquarium, it is not useful to spread your plant nutrient substrate throughout your whole aquarium. With the help of fertiliser balls ( JBL De 7 Balletjes ) and a monthly fertilisation with mineral tablets ( JBL Ferropol Root ) the plant roots are fertilized where needed, without you adding too many nutrients to the water, which could lead to algae problems.
The aquarium has a very authentic fish stock. All the species used can be found in the region. When you have so few live plants in your aquarium, you have to be careful when feeding them. Too much food can easily lead to algae formation, as there are hardly any plants to consume excess nutrients like nitrate and phosphate. Yet you will still have to struggle with higher amounts of phosphate and nitrate, caused by large amounts of "rotting" wood. Thanks to the use of phosphate and nitrate-removing filter material ( JBL BioNitratEx and JBL PhosEx ultra ) you easily can take countermeasures.
This aquarium isn’t colourful and bright, but is still a very good reproduction of nature and after a time comes to capture your attention. It has rightly won the bronze medal of this world championship!