20 Gallon Amazon Aquarium Biotope

This is a 20 gallon “long” aquarium setup as an Amazon Biotope. We will be going over how we setup this tank as well as what equipment we used.

For starters you’re going to need an aquarium, you can use a 20 gallon like we chose to in this setup or go bigger, it is up to you. We like the 20 gallon long tanks because they are inexpensive but are still a pretty good size. The 20 gallon long is 30″ x 12″ x 12″, so you have plenty of Aquascaping options.

We chose to use a glass lid on this tank, much like most of our setups. It helps with evaporation, temperature stability, and it keeps the fish from jumping out. On many reef tanks you’ll see no lids, this is so the light doesn’t get blocked by anything since corals need a lot of light. It is also because they use such big lights on reef tanks they often heat the water up a lot, so leaving the lid off keeps the temperature from rising to much. In our case we want to use a lid though unless you don’t mind topping off the water a lot and your fish are not jumpers.

So you’ve got a tank, stand, and lid. What now you ask? Well go ahead and fill it water and treat it with something if it’s got chlorine or chloramines in it. (hint – if it’s city water, it needs to be treated). We use Seachem Prime but most any of the water treatments will work.

One you’ve got the tank filled you can add your substrate, rocks, decorations, filters, heater and light. I’d let the tank run for a few days then add the plants to the mix. After they’ve been in the tank a few weeks it should be cycled and ready for fish. At this point you can go select the fish you’d like and add them to the tank as well.

The equipment list we used for this tank is as follows

  • 20g glass tank and lid
  • 65w Coralife Light Fixture with a 10k bulb (it came with this, 6,500k would be better for plants)
  • 100w heater (We suggest Eheim Jager)
  • Filters – We used two Biowheel Filters on this setup. Marineland Biowheel 100 and Biowheel 150
  • Substrate – Eco Complete Black -Planted Aquarium Substrate mixed with a bit of small gravel
  • Decorations – Slate rocks for caves, round rocks, and Driftwood
  • Plants – An Amazon Sword is the center and main attraction, this tank also has some Java Moss and Water Wisteria but those are not from the Amazon (they come from Asia) so if you want a true Amazon biotope you should leave these out. Other Amazon plants that would be biotope specific are Dwarf Hairgrass or Pygmy chain swords.
  • Aquarium Thermometer – 78-80 degrees is a good temperature for most Amazon species

The fish you could put into a small Amazon Biotope are nearly endless. From Dwarf cichlids to Corydoras catfish to one of the numerous smaller Plecostomus species.

In this tank we had a few Corydoras catfish as well as some Guppies and Snails. Cardinal Tetras and Neon Tetras make great fish for smaller Amazon Biotope tanks.

Inside the tank. You can see a few snails and guppies if you look close.

Close up of the 65w Coralife light which keeps the plants happy.

Here is a full shot of the setup. The rocks on the filter lids are to keep them from making noise, sometimes they would make a rattle type sound.

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