bam Demanding level

Wacissa River, Jefferson County, Florida

Sponsored by

United States, Florida, Jefferson County

This 35L aquarium is based off of the Wacissa River tributary in Jefferson County, Florida, where my Elassoma gilberti were originally collected from. Specifically, I aimed to recreate a small, slow moving stream or puddle that will flow into the river.

The composition was chosen to create natural hiding spots for the Elassoma gilberti, to facilitate the growth of emergent plants, and because my sponsors had received a single very, very nice piece of spiderwood.

I am most pleased with how I have hidden the straight cuts on the spider wood with man-made materials to create the illusion of roots emerging from the bank.

Submitted by
Katherine "Ryan" Wright
Approved by
Fritz Rohde & Lawrence Kent
30.3949528, -83.9326553
Geographical region
Northern America
Drainage Basin
River catchment
Aucilla Wildlife Management Area
Water body type
Water body name
Wacissa River
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
24 °C
Water flow/curent

Chemical parameters

Dissolved Oxygen

Aquarium information

Aquarium description

Set-up date
July, 2023
Aquarium decoration

The natural decorations acquired were a large piece of spider wood, large river rocks, small river pebbles, tiny river pebbles, small assorted foliage and coconut coir.

The artificial decorations were Fluval stratum, silicone, expanding pond foam, and original gorilla glue. Silicone was placed in lines and dots along the side and bottom of the aquarium to secure the expanding pond foam to the glass and allowed to cure for 48 hours. The expanding foam was then sprayed throughout the bottom and back side of the tank, with the spider wood and several large rocks placed in their desired positions. More foam was sprayed on top of the large piece of wood to create a barrier to keep dirt in place, so I could place plants on top of the wood and create a more natural affect. I allowed the foam to cure, then spent two days carving the foam into shape to create banks, places to place the plants, and make the spiderwood appear to be a root emerging from the ground.

I then donned gloves and manually slathered gorilla glue over anything black, and sifted the coconut coir over the gorilla glue to hide the foam and create the appearance of muddy banks. I let this cure for 48 hours, then repeatedly filled and drained the tank to get rid of any foam dust or unattached coir. After a final drain, I spent several hours manually crushing the fluval stratum to create mud, mixed with small and tiny pebbles, and placed the stratum in the front of the tank and inside the “stream banks” created with foam.

I then carefully placed the plants, additional rocks, and allowed more pebbles to settle as they wanted. I threw the leaves into the tank, then came back after 48 hours to adjust the placement of the leaves.

Aquarium equipment
  • Filtration: A basic sponge filter with airline tubing and check valve, connected to an adjustable air pump.
  • Heating: As the tank is being kept in an aquarium facility, the ambient temperature is kept high enough to keep the water warm. No heating is necessary.
  • Lighting: Kessil 360A Tuna Sun.


  • Elassoma gilberti (Elassomatidae)
  • Heterandria formosa (Poeciliidae)

Aquatic plant:

  • Utricularia minor (Hydrocharitaceae)
  • Vallisneria americana (Lentibulariaceae)

Wetland plant:

  • Sagittaria latifolia (Alismataceae)
  • Bacopa caroliniana (Plantaginaceae)
Fish care

In addition to being provided an environment as close to nature as possible, the fish are receiving regular water changes (weekly to every-other week) and high-quality food.

They are fed live black worms and a colony in the tank is being encouraged. Additionally, they are fed a mix of baby brine shrimp and small mysis shrimp mixed with Boyd Enterprises’ Vita Chem, Seachem Focus, and Seachem Metroplex.

When the fish first arrived, as well, they were treated with three rounds of Praziquantel (via Hikari PraziPro) to eliminate intestinal parasites, as the Elassoma were wild caught.

Plant care

The plants are kept healthy with good-quality water, Fluval stratum substrate, and plant-focused lighting on a 10 hour schedule. Additionally, the Utricularia minor is a carnivorous plant that also enjoys eating the baby brine shrimp provided for the fish.

Water care

The water is changed 10 to 20% every week with RODI water, hardened with crushed cuttlebone.


45 cm
28 cm
28 cm
28 L

Substrate in aquarium

Stone form
Submerged terrestrial vegetation

Comment by the expert

Lawrence Kent: Great set of species but hard to see them well in the photos, great recreation of river bank with emerging wood; a tad too busy/crowded perhaps; appreciate a lot of work went into this, bravo!

Fritz Rohde: This is a farily accurate depiction of Elassoma habitat except rocks do no occur in the Flordia panhandle. Water appeared cloudy maybe due to just a sponge filter. Video was very short.