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What is a Blackwater/Biotope Aquarium?

Updated: Dec 26, 2023

Lets start right at the beginning. So you've been browsing the internet and you've noticed pictures of aquariums looking "Tea Stained" or "Dirty" and full of leaves and you think to yourself, why are people putting their fish in these conditions? They SHOULD be in crystal clear water full of plants right?

Natural River Bed

Well this is where you realise in fact that more often than not many of the fishes we keep in our aquariums actually come from very murky and dim lit waters full of leaves and other such botanicals littered on the river bed, not many rivers our fish come from are clear, bright and full of plants.

To us this might not seem like a nice place to live but on the contrary it's perfect living conditions for these animals, the limited light and murky waters limit line of sight to passing predators and these leaf covered beds become the perfect hiding spot for fish to lay their eggs or fry to hide. These natural items provide many other benefits such as natural food sources for fry and shrimp. Additionally there are studies to show many botanicals leech beneficial materials which are known to contain "Natural" healing properties to cure fish illness such as fin rot or white spot.

Botanicals - Leaves, Seed pods, Cones etc

Essentially by utilising products such as botanicals and diverse substrates you are creating a biodiverse ecosystem, which can be home to all forms of life whether living or feeding within the substrate or the biofilms generated from the decaying items themselves acting as a natural food source. Adding leaves, sticks and plants like ferns above the surface of the tank helps create natural cover above the water, simulating an environment found in nature causing less threat to predators which we might find in the wild such as birds, this helping fish feel less threatened and bringing out those natural behaviours and enhanced colouration.

Putting it simple, a "Blackwater" or "Biotope/Natural" Aquarium takes inspiration from a fish's natural habitat and aims to replicate elements found within these areas into a home fish tank.

Come and visit our store to see the display created by James of Natural Waters UK our main stockist of Botanicals, and writer of this blog.

You can also find out more about James and our other Aquascaping friends in our knowledge base.


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