bam Demanding level

Periyar River Basin, Kerala, Western Ghats

Sponsored by

India, Kerala, Aluva Municipality

The 75L aquarium is a shallow, river-style biotope. It depicts the medium to slow-flowing small tributary streams of the Periyar River Basin, Kerala. The habitat includes sand, rocks, terrestrial plants, fallen leaves and roots. For the substrate, a mix of river sand and gravel has been used along with botanicals like dried almond leaves for the blackwater.

The biotope is home to a group of 3 different fish species including, “dadio or brilliant hatchet” Neochela dadiburjori. A beautiful shoaling fish that is rarely seen in the hobby and so it inspired me to take the leap and create an environment close to its natural habitat.

Submitted by
Devagya Uikey
Approved by
Sven Kullander, Friedrich Bitter & Sujoy Banerjee
9.2580290, 77.4086914
Geographical region
Southern Asia
Drainage Basin
Arabian Sea
River catchment
Chokkampatti Mala
Water body type
Water body name
Periyar River
Water body part
Water body course
Middle course
Water body: tributary of
Tributary name
Muthirapuzha, Mullayar, Cheruthoni, Perinjankutti

Videos above and below water

Water Chemistry

Water information

Water type
Fresh water
Water color
Clear water
Water transparency
Concentration of sediments
Water temperature
28 °C
Water flow/curent

Chemical parameters

150 mg/l
100 mg/l
Dissolved Oxygen
62.06 %

Aquarium information

Aquarium description

Set-up date
March, 2023
Aquarium decoration

For a look-alike landscape, 50kg approx river stones with different shapes and sizes were collected from the Narmada River, Madhya Pradesh. In dense forest areas, tree roots alongside fast-flowing river banks are exposed so similar wood was required and purchased 2 big pieces of Indian driftwood which came from the forest region of Karnataka.

River sand is very important for the natural look, so instead of collecting from the river which of course never gets cleaned enough so purchased a fine natural river sand which gives that beige appearance. Natural riverbed requires small stones and pebbles that were mixed with sand once the algae took over. All the above materials were carefully treated with boiling hot water for several days.

To create the depth of the landscape, stones and driftwood were positioned to make a dawn and dusk point of view. In addition, an RGB strip was placed at the back of the aquarium for the blue hues that complement the tank.

2 corners of the aquarium are supported by big stones and wood to create some space behind for elevation and to place terrestrial plants. At one corner (left), a water pump section was created which regulates the flow of one side of the aquarium and the water falls from the top. Another corner holds terrestrial plants and secondary filter output, placed above the water which helps to create upstream flow and surface agitation, hence more dissolved oxygen.

Overall, the biotope is inspired by the freshwater streams of the Periyar River bank characterized by the presence of marsh plants, decaying organic matter, fallen branches, and exposed roots in the water.

Aquarium equipment


Filter 1: Sunsun HBL 803 with a capacity of 500 L/H. It is the primary filter that maintains the good circulation of water inside the tank. The media consists of fine and coarse sponges and 1 ltr of API (Aquarium Products India) bio media.

Filter 2: Sunsun XBL 600 with a capacity of 500 L/H. It serves as a secondary filter, placed above the water for most surface agitation. The media consists of fine and coarse sponges and 1 ltr of API (Aquarium Products India) bio media.

Water pump: 14-watt submersible pump with a capacity of 850L/H. Hidden behind on the left corner of the tank inside a dedicated chamber with mesh that doesn’t allow the gunk and keeps the pump running smooth. There are 3 divisions of the output through a hose (one on the left and two on the opposite corner) which helps circulate the water on each side of the tank and serves the demand of the fish that require fast flowing water.


Light 1: 22-watt Fluortronix full spectrum grow lights were used for the initial 3 months to grow algae with a photoperiod of 10 hrs daily. Please note that some of the photos submitted were taken in this lighting condition. The colour output was not suitable for a biotope so changed afterwards.

Light 2: 13-watt Neo Helios Flat Nano S3 which is the primary light now with a photoperiod of 8 hrs daily. This adds a more natural look to the tank and also helps plants to grow but a slower rate.

Fish care

The aquarium creates a natural environment for the Labuka dadiburjaouri, Schistura sp. crimson, and Bhavania australis. They all have been selected from the same or nearby region of the Periyar River. Wood and rocks have been positioned in a way to provide as many hiding places as possible from the bottom to the middle part of the tank. In addition, vegetation above the water for keeping the shade.

Neochela dadiburjori prefers open water and stays on top and has plenty of space to shoal in the group. Whereas, Crimson loach and Bhavania hillstream loach stays at the bottom and has enough dark hiding spots between the rocks and wood to create their own territory just like in nature.

As per the species, the water current has been adjusted after monitoring for days so they don’t get tired and lives together in harmony. For the initial month, keeping water parameters in check every week was necessary to create the best possible water conditions at a temperature of 28°C. Stress relax liquids are used as well at the time of water change.

For food, a wholesome diet is served including dried bloodworms, tubifex worms, high-quality flakes, pellets food, and algae wafers. 3 days a week the dry food is served with probiotics like API Nutro Plus for optimal immune system and healthy condition.

Plant care

Almost all aquatic plants are on the surface and they don’t require any special care although RO water is sprinkled, including terrestrial plants on a daily basis. The aquarium light is enough when active for 6-8 hrs for photosynthesis and grows algae across the tank which doesn’t hurt the appearance.

Water care

The weekly maintenance involves water change, excessive dirt siphoning, and brushing the algae on stones and glass. The filter and water pump are checked and cleaned every 4 months with the additional layering of beneficial bacteria in powder form post-cleaning.

Every week RO water is used to top up the tank and 50% of the water gets replaced bi-weekly. The water is also conditioned for chlorine, heavy metals and PH. Additional blackwater liquid is added at water change only when required.


75 cm
40 cm
30 cm
75 L

Substrate in aquarium

Stone form
Submerged terrestrial vegetation

Comment by the expert

Sven Kullander: I love this setup, well balanced and can be copied with similar materials film, photograpy have imperfections; ok for this exposition but not for publishing. The description says 50kg of rocks were used. I think that is too much for 5kg?

Friedrich Bitter: The aquarium is designed more like a stagnant stretch of water. With current as in the underwater videos, a slightly different design would result.

Sujoy Banerjee: Beautifull presented biotope bquarium, could do with fine river sand in which often the loaches hide and spawn as well. Higher water flow can be provided specially with hill stream loaches. Most of the fishes that are in the aquarium can do with more water flow and will adjust with it as they come from an environment where the flow is quite rapid over the bolder and rocks. Overall, a well-balanced biotope aquarium.