Here's a video featuring a biotope we've set up featuring only species we collected by hand from a local estuary, some endemic to the area (click the video to view in HD). We've also seen juvenile reef species such as the achilles tang and racoon butterflyfish, protected by turbidity and mangrove roots.
The biotope features a mud bottom with planted with a few mangroves of various species. The system receives weekly water changes with raw natural seawater, and is fed with the results of plankton tows. While not very large (35 liters, ~7 gallons), it sure is fascinating. The tunicate colonies are especially neat, and have many small tunicates, sponges, and tubeworms encrusting over a single large tunicate!
Estuary environments are very important both as a 'nursery' for juvenile fish, but also as a natural 'filter' for runoff received from dry land. The importance of these ecosystems cannot be overstated!
- 3x juvenile Tetractenos spp. (likely hamiltoni) pufferfish
- 1x anglerfish of unknown species
- various crabs, sponges, tunicates, tubeworms, and snails
- various macro algae and mangrove species
The system is lit with natural sunlight assisted by an LED fixture (the fixture is not currently available stateside to our knowledge).
Having mangrove estuaries and coral reefs in one's backyard makes stocking and maintaining a biotope easier, but that shouldn't discourage anyone who doesn't live near a tropical coast!