T  h  e    N  a  t  u  r  a  l    A  q  u  a  r  i  u  m

The freshwater natural aquarium can be one of the most beautiful, and easiest aquarium displays available.  It does require routine maintenance as all tanks do, but most only require minimal filtration.  This does not mean that the natural aquarium is the cheapest.  In fact, some can be quite expensive.  Items such as thick substrate beds, advanced heating systems, lighting systems, CO2 injection, monitoring equipment, and other various devices, not to mention the livestock.  However there are cheaper alternatives, and there are in fact very simple designs that have great success.

Neon Tetras in a 125 gallon plant tank

There are many types of natural aquarium formats.  Most of these focus on natural biological filters, and efficient mechanical filtration.  Lower water flow is not uncommon.  The idea is to simulate the natural habitat of the specimens in the aquarium.  Many of these natural formats incorporate live plants, and other fauna found in these natural habitats.   A broad range of species are kept in this type of aquarium from Angelfish and Tetras to Cichlids and Piranha.  Compatibility of fish is important to keep the tank healthy, and stress-free.

Rocky 125 gallon African Cichlid aquarium

Many sizes of aquariums are used for natural tanks.  The bigger the aquarium, the less likely it is to disturb the fish and fauna from toxic shock, or chemical imbalance.  This is especially important in this type of aquarium application because oftentimes plants and/or invertebrates are kept.  Weekly to bi-weekly water changes also aids in general aquarium health.  Proper water conditioning is usually also necessary.  Smaller tanks can provide challenges and even frustrations for the aquarist.  Planning ahead is usually helpful in the long term success of the aquarium.

75 gallon Amazon tank

Lighting in the natural aquarium is often a key element to success.  Fluorescent, compact, and metal halide lighting are the most common used.  Up to 10 watts of lighting per gallon of aquarium water can be used to light the tank.  Proper aging of the aquarium and cycling of the biological filter is necessary before intensive lighting should be considered.  The spectrum of lighting is also important for the health of the fish and other specimens to be kept.  Consult other areas of this website for more info on lights.

160 gallon Discus tank with Amazon Swords

Filtration components frequently used on a natural tank are devices such as canister, sponge, undergravel, power, trickle, ultraviolet, internal, and CO2 filters.  Minimal filtration is usually necessary because most of the filtration takes place within the tank.  Filtration should focus on mechanically and chemically removing pollutants.  Usually minimal water circulation is required as the plants are used to produce the oxygen.  Frequently replacing filtration media will also greatly help to reduce tank stress.


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