Planted Shallow Biotope Tank, Kipili, Tanganyika

Sponsored by

Tanzania, Rukwa, Kipili

My motivation in setting up biotopes; it was to make the imitation environment I created resembles the natural environment as much as possible. Thus, as much as possible, I tried to make the fish feel that they were not in captivity.

In this sense, I tried to establish a BAM where the fish can feel and behave like in their natural habitat in every aspect. I am a Tanganyika fan because I am interested in evolutionary process of the ecosystem. I also like the landscape of tanks with tree trunks and plants together.

Luckily, I watched a video of habitat with a dead tree root and reeds. First, I got information about BIN, and then I researched whether these fish and plants could be found in the market. After getting ideas from experts whether the BAM would be sustainable and the addition of species, I decided to establish BAM.

The most striking feature of the tank is that it has a beautiful landscape with living fish, live invasive plants, and a cyclical ecosystem has been built.

Submitted by
Fatih Özdemir
Approved by
Ad Konings & Michael Salter
-7.4444442, 30.5922222
Geographical region
Eastern Africa
Drainage Basin
River catchment
Water body type
Water body name
Lake Tanganyika
Water body part
Water body course
Water body: tributary of
Tributary name

Videos above and below water

Water Chemistry

Water information

Water type
Fresh water
Water color
Clear water
Water transparency
Concentration of sediments
Water temperature
25.5 °C
Water flow/curent

Chemical parameters

8,6 mg/l
28 mg/l
Dissolved Oxygen
0.7 %

Aquarium information

Aquarium description

Set-up date
January 2019, re-built in January 2020
Aquarium decoration

In BAM, which I established, the design of all the material related to the landscaping, in other words, creating a sandy area and placing the stones was made by taking into account the photographs and videos in the original BIN.

I collected stones of different sizes (90 kg) similar to those in BIN from a river near my city. However, unlike BIN, I had to use three different substrates for the bottom to maintain water parameters and support plant growth. I would like to mention these respectively as aragonite sand (40 kg, 8.4 pH), plant-soil (25 kg, 7.0 pH) and Lecat (20 kg, 8.7 pH treated natural clay) belonging to the well-known brands.

I was accidentally found some part of pear tree root on a weekend trip. I knew that it would not cause any harmful effects for water and fish health, so I placed the root of this old tree in the tank after it was prepared. After completing the design, I filled the areas where the reeds will not be found with aragonite sand and the areas where the reeds will be planted with plant soil and Lecat.

From the shore of nearby lake, I found reeds of the same type as those found in BIN. This is how I obtained live reed lice. I used a turquoise transparent background and a lighting system at the back of the tank to give the same visual effect as the BIN.

Aquarium equipment
  1. Ligthining: 4 x led fluorescent (24 watt, 6500 K, Dayligth), 6 x Led Ufo Bulbs (26 watt, 6500 K, Dayligth), Pink coloured T8 Fluorescent (30 W,850 Lm)
  2. Filtering: 2x External Filters each 1200 L/H, Fall Filter 1500 L/H
  3. Heating: 300 watt heater.
  4. Timer Plug for lightening system
  5. 6 x 12 v fans for giving wind effect to reeds upperparts which are above water.
Fish care

I have been using six different kinds of well-known brand quality fish foods since the tank setting up. I always get fish food in a closed and sealed box to make sure it is fresh and not fake. I feed them two times in a day.

Photoperiod regime of tank 6 hours daylight were setting up for winter and fall, and also 8 hours daylight in a day for summer and spring season. Therefore I use a timer plug to turn on and off lights at the same time every day. In my tank, fish are naturally breeds and fry are naturally released but not to overpopulate tank I catch fry late night when they are in sleep and transfer to the different fish tank.

I closely watch water parameters, and till now, water parameters did not shift from desired values. My managing strategies are control of the number of population, arranging the carrying capacity, keeping water chemistry and parameters in desired values, planned lightening, weekly maintenance and feeding with best quality food to keep them healthy, active and hope so happy.


  • Tropheus brichardi ulwile: 6 Adults (1M/5F)+Naturally Released Fry
  • Eretmodus cyanostictus: 4 Adults (2M/2F)+Naturally Released Fry
Plant care

This study was a tiring but instructive 6-month process for me to learn how to keep the reeds alive and succeed. I tried to keep the reeds (Phragmites australis) alive in an aquarium without fish. On my first attempt, while collecting the reeds, I cut the top of the reeds to be able to move them quickly, and I learned that this practice causes the reeds to grow rapidly and then die. To put it more clearly, after I put the reeds in the tank, I determined that within 10 days they grew very fast and then died quickly.

When I examined this situation, I learned that they needed nutritional support. In my second attempt, I collected the reeds without cutting them, and when I placed them in the tank, although all conditions were the same in the first attempt, they began to rot after 2 months and without any signs of growth.

Before the third attempt, I reviewed all the results of my previous two failed attempts. After consulting the experts, I decided to plant the plants in pots and use stones to build pots for keeping them alive. In this way, I kept the roots of the reeds under control.

I redesigned the lighting system to be much stronger than before. After collecting the reeds, I took the roots out of the water and immediately placed them in a black bag. After planting these reeds in the pots, I filled the tank with 13°C water (same temperature as lake water). I started to heat the water gradually (1-2°C degrees a day), and after seeing the emergence of new branches when the water reached 22°C, I started to have a wind effect on the water with the fan system. I added NO3-rich water to the tank I bought from my other tanks for a month, I observed reeds developing for a month, and when I checked the water parameters everything seemed to suit the fish, so I added fish to the aquarium.

Some of the reeds died a few months later after the fish were also stocked in the tank. I determined that these reed deaths were due to the roots being planted too close. I removed the dead reeds from the environment. After the reeds I planted in pots started to develop, I did not do anything other than routine water changes. In this process, I take care of the reeds that prevent the light from reaching the bottom of the tank by going up to the lighting system for a week by pruning the upper branches so that they only have a few leaves.

Wetland plant:

  • Phragmites australis
Water care

I started designing the BIN by taking advantage of the dead tree roots ability to absorb some unwanted material to maintain and maintain water quality parameters. For this purpose, I washed the dead tree roots before putting them in the tank and kept them in boiling water for 30 minutes, then placed them in the tank, while also using (neutral) plant soil with a pH of 7.0.

I used aragonite sand to raise the pH of the tap water (7.5 pH), put the crushed corals in the filters so that I could mimic the water parameters of BIN given in published works. I think that reeds maintain healthy water quality criteria for fish. I have confirmed this idea with the results of NH4 and NO2-0, and NO3 tests are below 2.5 ppm.

I do a regular 20% water change (by vacuum cleaning the stony parts) once a week. I add fresh water daily (about 15 litres per day) to compensate for the evaporation losses and the water absorbed by the reeds. During the water change, I remove the dead branches and reeds from the tank. I clean the algae from the glass by scraping once a week and clean the aquarium filters every 3 months.


150 cm
65 cm
55 cm
536 L

Substrate in aquarium

Stone form
Submerged terrestrial vegetation