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4 Easy Aquarium Setups


Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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When planning your next aquarium, consider staying "true to nature" by building and stocking a miniature ecosystem of common structure, inhabitants, and plants that exist together in the wild. By staying true to the subtle and complex relationships found in regional ecosystems, or biotopes, you'll enjoy the chance to witness the natural behaviors of fish and invertebrates which are at ease in their surroundings. You'll also find it easier to maintain a healthy system by maintaining the ideal water parameters for your biotope of choice, because all the life in your aquarium share a common temperature zone, pH range, and available diet.

Give your next aquarium venture a head start with a theme from nature. Here are four popular examples using fish, plants, and structures that are readily available to hobbyists:

Cool Water Aquarium
Care Level: Easy

Replicating a river or lake in a northern Asian climate, this setup is recommended for the new hobbyist. The inhabitants in this setup are hardy, undemanding, and prefer water temperatures in the range of 64-75°F.

Suitable Fish: Recommended Plants: Structure:
Zebra Danio
Long Fin White Cloud
Golden White Cloud
Anacharis
Hornwort
ChainSword - Narrow Leaf
Driftwood
Natural Gravel
Slate-like Stones

Southeast Asian Tropical
Care Level: Easy/Intermediate

Plant this setup heavily, because its guests love the thick dense cover of a backwater, slow-moving flowage. Use strong lighting to create a "shallow water under direct sun" effect, and keep the pH levels slightly lower - the tannins in the driftwood will help naturally.

Suitable Fish: Recommended Plants: Structure:
Rasboras
Dwarf Gourami
Kuhlii Loach
Chinese Algae Eater
Ludwigia - Broad
Cryptocoryne
Rotala Indica
Driftwood
Eco-Complete Plant Substrate

South American River
Care Level: Intermediate

One of the most popular motifs, this biotope features some of the most striking fish coloration and behavior. To replicate the dark, tea-stained waters of the Amazon, we recommend Blackwater Extract and Peat Media, along with the structure listed below. Rams and Dwarf Cichlids are fussy about water quality, so test and refresh often to ensure their good health.

Suitable Fish: Recommended Plants: Structure:
Bleeding Heart Tetra
Glowlight or Neon Tetras
German Blue Ram
Dwarf Cichlids
Cory Cats
Plecos
Anubias Nana
Brazilian Sword
Java Fern
Java Moss
Eco-Complete Plant Substrate
Smooth Stones

Nano-Reef
Care Level: Intermediate/Advanced

The challenges of a marine setup in such a confined space make Nano-Reefs more suitable to the seasoned hobbyist, but the rewards are fascinating. This is one aquarium which really draws you in to view every nook and cranny of live rock, where tiny invertebrates crawl and sleek gobies hide. We're pleased to offer Nano Live Rock which is sized just right for exotic miniature reefs, created within 12-gallon systems like the Nano Cube.

Suitable Aquatic Life: Structure: Recommended Products:
Corals:
Colony Polyps
Soft Corals
Mushroom Corals

Livestock:
Hawaiian Feather Duster
Blood Red Fire Shrimp
Pistol Shrimp
Bumble Bee Snails

Drs. Foster & Smith's Select Nano Live Rock
Reef Crystals
Refractometer
Phytoplankton

For more aquarium setup ideas, we suggest picking up a helpful guide from our extensive aquatic library series:

Discus AquaGuide
Freshwater Books
Corals of the World - 3 Volume Set
Marine & Reef Books
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