A West African biotope (kili fish)
Here I want to give you a classification for creating a West African biotope. This is mainly a special aquarium for the well-known kili fish. The sizes discussed here are … 60x30x40 cm
The base, bottom material, decoration.
An aquarium of 60x30x40 cm (lxwxh) with hood. Fluorescent lighting of 13 – 15 watts (waterproof!). A heater with thermostat. An internal filter. A thermometer.
The bottom material
Place the aquarium on a thin sheet of foam plastic. This is to prevent glass breakage. First apply a layer of humic soil mixed with peat. Put a thin layer of washed river sand without lime over the previous layer. Cover this layer with washed some coarse gravel. (do not use light colored stones, but dark gravel). Light-colored stones often contain lime, this does not benefit the water chemistry in this special aquarium.
There are many decorations possible in an aquarium, keep in mind that this special aquarium is not too big. You can make the back wall beautiful black using a plate of black painted wood. Even better is a black wall made of some kind of foam plastic that you can place in the aquarium against the back wall. These walls are available in the aquarium trade, they are unfortunately quite pricey. Also provide a nice piece of driftwood and half a coconut shell (boil well first!) With an in and out opening. Finally a few medium sized boulders (without lime!).
Attach the back wall, apply the bottom and install the appliances, but do not connect them yet. Apply the decoration material. Try to create an environment that is as natural as possible for our fish. Remember, with the driftwood, half coconut shell, and boulders, we are making shelters for the fish. Especially if you want to keep cichlids. This fish species often lays its eggs under stones or in a hole (coconut shell). These fish also have a fairly intense territorial drive. So if we keep multiple fish or fish species, hiding places are very important. Then you can already put a layer of water in the aquarium and we can start planting water plants. When planting aquatic plants, make sure that the layer of water is not too cold (20 ° C).
For this special aquarium I am now making a proposal about the choice of fish. It is best to observe a few rules of the game. Never buy too many fish. All fish in the aquarium trade are beautiful don’t be tempted! First, study which fish fit best in your tank. For a small aquarium you limit yourself to no more than 3 fish species. Take into account the part of the aquarium where the fish reside. For example, there are fish that live near the bottom, are more in the middle and species that are mainly located at the top of the aquarium. In a small aquarium, you take a species that lives at the bottom and one that lives at the top of the aquarium. When the 10 days are over we can start populating the aquarium. First, we take a water sample to an aquarium dealer that usually determines the quality of the water for you for free. The Ph (acidity) and DH (hardness of the water) are measured. For this special aquarium the Ph must be around 6.0 and the DH 2 – 4, then we speak of a little acid and soft water. If your water quality meets these requirements, you can purchase fish, which I describe for you below
Epiplatys belongs to the Killi fish (seasonal fishing). Killi fish are true survival artists, many species manage to inhabit waters that dry out for a long time every year. Only their eggs can survive the dry spells, usually buried in bottom mud; the parents die, when the water is replenished by precipitation, the eggs hatch. The male is more beautiful and a bit bigger, he has longer fins and is a bit deeper in color (metallic blue), the fins are somewhat yellowish, the throat is orange to red. The female has rounded fins and is more gray than blue. Both have dark transverse stripes (4-5) and an upward beak. It is a typical surface fish. The fish are about 6cm in size. They like soft water with a pH of 6.0-7.0 and a temperature of 23 ° C-27 ° C. They like a somewhat darkly decorated aquarium. Party: dwarf cichlids or small catfish. Feeding is not difficult, they eat dry food, small live food, and love fruit flies. (Live food also includes frozen food).
Substrate layer (eggs in plants, in this case usually floating plants).
In this aquarium there are always some youngsters growing up, provided there are enough floating plants present. We can give the youngsters very nice dry food.
The fish are tolerant but keep 1 male with 2 females in the aquarium we have set up here. Instead of Epiplatys dageti we can also take another Epiplatys strain.
The smaller but more beautifully colored Epiplatys annulatus is also a Killi fish of the family Cyprinodontinae as well as the fish described above. This difficult word means more or less egg-laying tooth carp. The male is more brightly colored with somewhat longer fins on the fins. Male and female both have the beautiful blue tail with red horizontal stripes, 4 dark wide vertical stripes run over the body. they do not become larger than about 4 cm (female slightly smaller). We also find these fish in West Africa. They like the same conditions as described above. Feeding is a bit more difficult, they do eat dry food but prefer fruit flies and other small live food.
The young are raised with brine shrimp, possibly supplemented with finely made dry food.
These fish are also tolerant. In our aquarium we can keep 2 males and 3 females. The best you can make a choice from these 2 fish species do not keep them together and do not exceed the described number because our aquarium is simply too small for that. With surface fish in general, we have to close our aquarium well because they like to jump, even from small openings they know how to find their way out! So use a top glass.
Dwarf cichlids come in many different types, one of which is a lot of fun to take care of in this special aquarium; Nanochromis transvestitus. This fish belongs to the Cichlids (perch). There is a lot to say about Cichlids, I will try to limit myself.
Cichlids are not schooling fish, it is best to keep only a pair, or a small harem (1 male and a few females). These fish have a strong urge to territorial and especially when they have young they can react aggressively to their own kind or other inmates. A pair of Dwarf Cichlids make good company with the Epiplatys.
A nice feature is that this fish species shows brood care and does not eat their offspring, but protects them. Cichlids generally lay their eggs under rocks or in burrows. These eggs are cared for and guarded. The Nanochromis t. is a rewarding fish that is easy to keep and unfortunately we hardly come across in the trade! The funny thing about this strain is that the woman is more beautiful colored than the man! We don’t often see this with fish. The female has a striped caudal fin and burgundy belly. The male does not have a striped tail or a red belly. The male has somewhat longer fins, but is much more sober in color compared to the female (yellow-brown with black transverse bands and black edges around the fins). These fish do not grow larger than about 7cm, the female is usually a bit smaller. They like a darkly decorated aquarium with driftwood and hollows (inverted coconut shells) for hiding and nesting. The water should be slightly acidic (Ph 5.0-6.5) and soft, the temperature 25 ° C-29 ° C. They eat both dry and live food, give them a lot of variety in the menu.
Cave brother with father-mother family (The female takes care of the young, the male defends the territory). We see this behavior a lot in monogamous cave breeders.
This fish is also found in Africa in so-called black water areas (peat) around Lake Maj-Ndombe in Congo. In our special aquarium we only keep 1 pair, they are monogamous fish, 1 male and 1 female form a bond, other congeners, male or female, will be by both! chased away. With proper care, these fish will provide offspring, this is a fantastic experience, to see how the brood care and care for the offspring is. This fish species mainly lives in the lower part of the aquarium, unlike the Epiplatys, this species has a lower mouth (takes food from the bottom). When you have purchased the fish, let them float in the plastic bag at the top of the aquarium, so they can get used to the temperature, cut the bag open and let some aquarium water flow into the bag every now and then, after about half an hour let the fish swim freely in your tank.