Interzoo 2008 – Biotope 9

Authentic Biotope Aquarium

Katherine River – Northern Territories, Australia


Tetra presents Heiko Bleher’s authentic
Biotope from the Katherine River in the Northern Territories, Australia, sponsored by Tetra.
Habitat: The Katherine, near its source is a 5-10, maximum 20 m wide river and flowing quite fast over reddish gravel and beige sand, some rocks and much driftwood in it. The nearby city of Katherine is a tourist area because of the gorge in this region and also for the “hot springs”, which are really not very hot, around 32°C. Also the habitat I am showing here is actually the Birdie creek, an Katherine-affluent and it is the only place the beautiful blackmast, Craterocephalus stramineus, is found in the Northern Territories. No other place, but here in large quantities. Also Melanotaenia splendida splendida, Neosilurus catfishes and gudgeons and the rare pennyfish Denarius bandata. Actually those bottom dwelling gobiids (Mogurnda and Hypseleotris sp.) are abundant here and a new one was just described in February 2008 by Helen Larson as Hypseleotris barrawayi, also an endemic species. In this pristine biotope one can hardly find aquatic vegetation, except for Eleocharis along the edges, in some parts Valisneria, Egeria and possibly Nymphaea species. 
Fishes: Craterocephalus stramineus (5), Mogurnda sp. (8), Denariusa bandata (7), Melanotaenia splendida splendida (3), M. tatei (3) and Ambassis species (5) (undescribed).
Plants: Nymphaea pubescens, Egeria densa, Eleocharis acicularis, Valisneria natans, and Nymphaea species live here.
Heiko’s comments: The Katherine river, although well known area for tourists, is little researched, and no wonder a new species of gudgeon was just described, endemic to this small river like the blackmast (Craterocephalus stramineus).
Also the rainbowfish I found here, the M. s. splendida, had an extraordinary colour, quite more reddish than any one seen before.
I did several expeditions to this part of Australia, but in 2007 I was able to bring back for the first time some jewels from the Katherine river, which are here on display in their own habitat for the first time.

The chemical water parameters were pH 7.2, the conductivity around 39µS/cm and temperatures from were from 28.5°C (more near the source warmer).

The following companies have contributed with materials and live stock:

Tetra: Filter and filter material, foods and water chemistry.
Kölle-Zoo – Stuttgart: Décor elements: reddish aquaria gravel 2-4mm and dark stones, beige sand and driftwood.
Fishes: The species have been collected by Heiko Bleher in the mentioned biotopes, imported and quarantined by Aquapress, Italy.
Tropica: Plants have been supplied by Tropica, Denmark
Idea and authentic biotope decoration: Heiko Bleher, Italy



9. Aquarium – 200 litre –

Heiko Bleher’s aquarium display of Katherine River – Northern Territories below water



The new gudgeon Heiko discovered in Aru, was happy in its original biotope…


…also Melanotaenia splendida splendida…




…the unique black-mast Craterocephalus stramineus as well (male below)…


…and the Ambassis species was showing their brightest colours…


…and the entire community was communicating as in nature

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