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Keeping Amazon Fish in a “Natural” Aquarium
Aquarium Fish

Keeping Amazon Fish in a “Natural” Aquarium 

It’s hardly surprising that most of the fish you’ll find your local pet store I species is origin can be traced to the Amazon river in South America since the Amazon River has more variety is a fish that all the other rivers of the world combined. Its kind of fun thus to have the river itself in mind when you start going about your tank set up. The river itself is very diverse and a single tank could not hope to capture all of the different environments provided for in the Amazon River to this article will deal with setting up an and was on river environment meeting the area of the others on the fish such as angelfish and discus (two of the most popular breeds an aquarium fish) can be found in the Amazon.

Tank Size

The angelfish and the discus are both dramatic fish to display a tank due to their appearance on the fact that they grow to a moderately large size ‘so that the purposes of this article you need to have a tank of a least 400 L preferably larger.


There are many predators in the Amazon especially during the rainy season when Amazonian breaks its banks and the river expands over the surrounding delta.’ Fish spread across the delta to breed at this time they are relying on plants, rocks, tree roots etc to protect them from wading birds and larger fish seek to take advantage of the shallow water to hunt them.

Whilst many pet shops will recommend that you never add gravel or dirt to your fish tank from the garden as it may contain toxins that will poison your fish in this case would then make an exception as the game try and make the tank appear as natural as possible. I do agree with a pet shop in that you should not try and source dirt from the garden but neither in my recommending some plastic fake substrate from the pet shop.

What you need to do is find a local creek or stream and walk up and down it and to find an area with clean small pebbles almost but not quite as fine sand. You will need a few buckets of this material to the base of your tank. The small pebbles solders fish tank base at the pet shop are not as good as plant roots don’t spread easily through them. We are going to make the tank as natural as possible so will be using real plants not plastic one.

Whilst you’re collecting your gravel keep an eye out for driftwood and rocks of the use the decoration. Everything will need to be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed before it goes into your tank. Driftwood should be scours with a scouring pad. If you can’t find driftwood your pet shop will certainly have some.

Soil the for Plants

Your plants will need good quality soil in order to thrive – definitely don’t try using soil from your backyard. It is almost certainly going to contain chemical residues and will not have the right pH. Australia is notorious for its high acid soils the opposite of what you want in your Amazonfish tank. Go your local greenhouse and source some 5.5 to 6 ‘orchid potting mix we should be perfect.

Heating and Filtration

Speak to your pet shop owner about the types of filters they have available – look for a powered filter as opposed to a bubble driven filter as the powered filter will also help circulate the water around the tank. You’ll need a heater to your tank generally speaking for these kinds of fish 27 degrees centigrade is what you need to be aiming for.’ Absolute consistency with this temperature is not essential certainly the Amazonian river itself doesn’t stay constantly this temperature so don’t be too concerned if you get a fluctuation in the course of the day. It is important to not put your tank in an area where it gets direct sunlight as you could see wild swings in temperature which is just not going to work.

I like to have two heaters in the tank turn down low in case one fails.’ When it fails you’ll notice the temperature in the tank drops that will not plummet. You’ll be overturned the power up on the still working heater and keep it warm until you can get a second one. Don’t risk the heartbreak of realising one morning that your heating has failed, you need to go to work and have time to get a new one and your fish will likely be dead before you can make their home in the evening.


Your lighting is going to not to speed to show off your tank but also since we are going to use real plants you will need lighting sufficiently powerful to the plants to grow. Again speak to your local pet shop owner about what they have available. Be sure to speak to them about the efficient lifespan of the lights. You will certainly need to change them before the lights completely file is the power diminishes over time something which you won’t notice as it happens so gradually. You’ll probably need to change your lights at least every six months.

Your lights should be on a timer providing your aquarium with light from 10 to 12 hours a day. If your tank start to suffer from algae growth you can knock this back to as low as eight hours a day which will still be sufficient for your tank plants to remain happy.


Water bubblers don’t actually oxygenated water through the dissolving of oxygen in the bubbled air into your tank water. Instead they work by disturbing the surface area so that instead of being flat and is covered in ripples. It is here at the surface where much of the oxygen in your tank water is absorbed all the bubbly does is increase the surface area. With a mechanical water filter you likely won’t need an air bubble as it will create sufficient surface disturbance.

Your plants also layered oxygen to the water is just like plants are grown land water plants taking carbon dioxide and give out oxygen


you may luck out in the older find some suitable plants in your local creek. Very often you will find aquarium plants growing in the local creek as a result of people discarding unwanted fish complete with the contents of their fish tanks into them. This is somewhat risky however as the plants may contain diseases that will cause problems in your tank.

It may well be better to instead source all of your plants from the local pet shop.

Water Quality

Most often the water quality straight from the is going to be okay for use in your Amazonian fish tank. Of course you will need to treat it to remove chlorine but apart from this in Australia certainly on the coasts your water will not be too acidic or contain too many salts for use in your tank.

Its always better of course to use rainwater and in many parts of Australia board recently too hard to use anyway.

The leader pH tester as the ideal pH should be between 5 1/2 and six. Your local aquarium supplier or pet shop will have a pH tester and the elders supply materials to reduce or increase pH as needed.

Setting up the aquarium

In a river the heavier material will sink to the bottom however we want the reverse to happen in our tank. Place 3 cm or so of soil at the bottom of your tank and then add a slightly thicker low gravel on top of the soil. Next add the driftwood on the rocks the gradient as you choose keeping in mind you to set up multiple hiding spaces and multiple home areas for your fish. If your driftwood does not sink you can boil it which usually works or just weight it down.

Next add 10 cm or so of water.’ Do this is slowly and gently as possible so as to not disturbed the gravel. Once you have a 10 cm of water in add your plants keeping in mind visual appeal, hiding spaces to the fish and how big the plants are going to grow. You don’t wish to put them to close together and then have to move them at a later stage as this is going to really play havoc with your tank set up.

Once all the plants are in fill the tank and then install your tank filter and heater. Placing your heater you the intake for the filter will result in a more even tank capture so it possible to achieve its best to do this. Your daughter should be creating a slight disturbance of the water surface – waves however are not good! Your aquarium lid should not be a perfect seal is your tank can only get oxygen in a fair can make its way to the surface of the tank water.

When it’s all set up, turn on and walk away. Your fish tank needs to run for at least a week like this before you put fish in it. A week will be long enough to any chlorine in your tap water to evaporate and give you a chance to ensure the pH of the tank is staying level as well is for bacteria levels required to dealing with unwanted nutrients to build up.

Some fish you might consider

A pair of angelfish, or two pairs.

‘ Don’t get odd numbers as one will tend to be isolated by the other two and they may hurt it.’ Ensure they are sexed before you buy them.

A pair of discus

. I’d really only recommend putting discus and angelfish in tanks of at least 450L as they will all grow into a fairly large fish and will need a space of their own or they will become testy with each other.

A school of Cardinal Tetras.

These are colour and variety to your tank. Be sure to keep your large fish well fed and give your tetras plenty of hiding holes although will soon get demoted from decorative tank fish to feed of fish.

A pair of

Bristlenose catfish

these algae eating fish and amazingly tough and can live in almost any tank. They will keep your driftwood from becoming green and will clean the sides of your tank. If you’re catfish are unable to keep up with algae growth in your tank you are doing something wrong.

Don’t get excited and add all these fish at once. And one pair of the time and if things are still going along smoothly after a week then add another. Of course ‘ at the school tetras all at once. Don’t overfill your tank as is the quickest way to achieve in fact the opposite result of disease and problems with maintaining a healthy fish tank will soon result in many of your fish dying.


In tanks with no soil and plastic plants I rarely keep in stock at levels high enough to require a water change of more than 25 to 30% a week but in this case with potting mix and plants in your Amazonian fish tank I recommend doing to 25% water changes a week.’ Keep an eye on the plants to ensure none a sick is dead plant matter will quickly increase the nitrite and nitrate levels in your tank. Of course if your fish eating the plants you’re going to have less oxygen in the water resource high nutrient levels from your fish’s poop so don’t get breeds they can eat the plants such as African cichlids.

Always keep an eye on pH levels before and after water changes at an early warning system in that will alert you to large temperature changes ‘ I use a magnetic fish tank thermometer that practically shouts out the temperature to me by check the tank as opposed to a floating thermometer which need to retrieve and check.

Well that about covers everything. A natural and was on fish tank is both challenging and exciting that the many thing the fish living in living tank provides far more enjoyment than seeing them in a sterile tank so if you’re one of these people by all means give it a crack.

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