Wild Orinoco biotope event

Prologue

We are Little Tree Design Biotopes team, and we are passionate about the biotope world. For some time now we have been active in this movement dedicating a good part of our work to make this stream of the aquarium hobby more known in Spain. More correctly, to get back to the roots of what is for us the aquarium hobby. Given the circumstances of our times, the Covid-19 forces us to reinvent ourselves and continue with our work, and that is when we started this fantastic adventure, called Morichales.

Paracheirodon axelrodi, Morichal de Morganito, Venezuela. ©BAP, photo Ivan Mikolji
The underwater world in Morichal de Morganito, Venezuela.

Morichales adventure

Before finding any wild trees typical of the primary forest, we had to travel quite a lot, climbing higher and higher up the hills, leaving behind us the most populated towns near the coast. On our way to the heart of the Malaysian peninsula, we came across small villages and scanty houses peeping out from the edges of the winding road which, like a long snake, creeps through the forest. The reason for so much “green” is obviously the abundance of water flowing, slow or fast, in the numerous streams fed by the tropical rains. And where there is water, there are fishes…

Paracheirodon axelrodi, Morichal de Morganito, Venezuela. ©BAP, photo Ivan Mikolji
The crystal clear waters of the Morichal de Morganito.

Thanks to our fantastic friendship with Walter Vazquez, a great professional in the biotope section of the aquarium hobby, we got to know another person, who has always been for us one of the sources of inspiration and information on issues of the Orinoco basin – the explorer and photographer Ivan Mikolji. Without hesitating for a second, Ivan agreed to give the presentation on one of the most interesting biotopes in South America. During the meetings organised prior to the main event, we decided to involve two very special and indispensable colleagues:

One of them is Walter Vazquez, known as the winner of the biotope aquarium contest, engaged as well as a jury member in the biotope contests.

Second one is Victor Ortiz – aquarium photographer, biologist, and specialist in management and use of the natural environment in Oaxaca Mexico, as well as winner of several biotope contest and a jury member in biotope competitions.

As for the main event, it was divided into 2 sections:

  • Day 1st: webinars by our 3 speakers
  • Day 2nd: biotope quarium set-up

1st DAY:

Victor Ortiz

The first speaker gave us the basic but undoubtedly useful information, essential for everyone who wants to enjoy his aquarium and wellbeing of its inhabitants.

Victor’s seminar consisted in PowerPoint presentation explaining in images and graphics what is a biotope, making clear the basis of this event. He also underlined the importance of creating biotope aquariums. The knowledge we get through research, decoration and keeping this type of aquariums is very valuable nowadays since the original biotopes in Nature are declining because of the human activities.

Victor, as many other professionals, conveyed that biotope aquarium is surely one of the most educational and awareness-raising movements, as it teaches us to think as a biologist, researching the specific geographical location of the certain water body, the environment, its inhabitants, the right plants, and the type of material to recreate the original habitat. All the necessary information to know how these habitats work and how preserve them.

Morichal de Morganito, Venezuela. ©BAP, photo Little Tree Design Biotope
The Little Tree Design Biotopes team is listening to the speakers.

Ivan Mikolji:

Ivan was the central person as the hole event was evolving around his experience in the Orinoco basin. He spoke for more than an hour about the Morichales, his experience as a photographer and explorer of this impressive place and the life forms found here. In this webinar we met a person attentive to every our doubt, answering every our question.

With passion he talked us about his adventures, with each word he immersed us in a wild and wonderful world, with each photo we fell more and more in love with his work and especially of this magical and peculiar environment, the Morichales of the Orinoco (see BIN by Ivan Mikolji).

Paracheirodon axelrodi, Morichal de Morganito, Venezuela. ©BAP, photo Ivan Mikolji
Where there is water, there are fishes.

Walter Vazquez:

Walter is an example to follow because of his experience and quality of his work in the biotope world.

Walter conducted a wonderful webinar on how to project and decorate a biotope aquarium as close as possible to Nature. How should we start our biotope research, how to transfer that little piece of nature to a suitable tank, how to take care of the details and to show its uniqueness.

He showed us all the basics of the biotope aquarium preparation for a competition, feasibility, beauty, equipment, lighting and photography, the importance of the maturation of these aquariums and other tips. It was awesome to share this hour of pure passion for something we all love, our aquariums. His passion left the audience totally hooked, it generated the energy to start our new biotope show-tank. The Little Tree Design Biotopes team will be eternally grateful to each of the three speakers of this event.

2nd DAY:

The second day started with the preparation of all the material that we learned form our advisors. We had to decorate the biotope aquarium of 1800 litres from the location called Morichal Morganito.

Morichal de Morganito, Venezuela. ©BAP, photo Little Tree Design Biotope
Working on the Morichales biotope tank.

Also here we were accompanied by our speakers, who added their experience and soul to this event. On this second day we elaborated the knowledge gathered on the previous day and put it into practice. This section consisted of the biotope aquarium decoration while three our speakers, in particular Ivan Mikolji, were advising us. The result was the full immersion in the magical Morichal Morganito (see BAM by Little Tree Design Biotope).

Morichal de Morganito, Venezuela. ©BAP, photo Little Tree Design Biotope
In this set-up were used Tonina, Cyperus and Eleocharis.

We did a colossal work assembling the biotope almost to scale of the reflected area. We put together the equipment of the aquarium, filtration, decòr material and of course the fantastic lighting from our supplier Skylight. The use of Hyper Spot, simulating the natural light, made this type of biotope a success, as Morichal waters are completely transparent.

Paracheirodon axelrodi, Morichal de Morganito, Venezuela. ©BAP, photo Little Tree Design Biotope
Amazing result – the underwater window into Morichales world.

What is a Morichal?

In order to understand this biotope well it is necessary to explain its characteristics:

Morichales get their name from the Moriche Palm, Mauritia flexuosa, which is a palm which only grows and thrives where its roots can be underwater. Morichales is just the name given in Spanish to a large group of Moriche Palms.

As Morichales usually get their water from underground water springs, they maintain the crystal clear water all year round. They are places teeming with life where we find one of the highest concentrations of animal and plant species.

Morichal de Morganito, Venezuela. ©BAP, photo Ivan Mikolji
The Moriche Palm, Mauritia flexuosa.

It is very difficult to find small or medium size rocks; rather, its rocks are the size of a football field. It is an environment comparable to the oasis in the desert where you only see sand and suddenly you come across of a wooden area full of water and life but in this case you will see plains of tall grass and suddenly find this tropical forests full of palm, trees and marsh plants.

The place where they are located is so flat that if you had an eagle’s eye view you could cross from Colombia to Venezuela. These springs, the Morichales, are the arteries that carry their waters to the main channel, the colossal Orinoco River and serve as habitat for small fish such as tetras and Apistogramma, where large predators feed and where their small fry grow to maturity.

This is one of the places where we can find huge underwater diversity and because of its unique characteristics we can study and photograph.

About organizers

Little Tree Design Biotopes is a company specialised in aquatic and terrestrial landscaping, exotic plants, fish, and amphibians, natural products for aquariums and terrariums.

The biotope event was the idea of Alejandro Rios Martin and Nicolas Rodriguez Luchoro, both passioned biotopers committed to education and sharing of their knowledge with hobbyists, offering monthly workshops and courses, emphasizing awareness and good practice of care for our plants and animals.