The Native Scottish Stream Biotope - a father daughter project
Springtime always brings along lots of things to do outside. Our local pond is always busy during spring with lots of ducklings and signets bobbing about. Trees are blooming and plants are popping up all over the place. It really is my favourite time of the year.
This year I really wanted to take advantage of the spring season and enjoy some time with the kids down at the pond. We decided to try and recreate an area of the pond - in a home aquarium.
Our local pond is populated is home to a woodpecker, kingfisher, crane, swans, ducks, squirrels and all the other woodlice creature. Under the surface of the water, you will find lots of equally as interesting things. This is what we done.
So Myself plus my two daughters, Anna (aged 3) & Ava (aged 8) set of on our mission to bring the pond into our home. After walking around the large pond and following the stream down to the smaller pond, we eventually picked the perfect spot. It was easy to get into the water and had lots of fish swimming around.
The exact coordinates of our chosen spot were 55°55.844'N -03°30.247'W which is known locally as the small lanthorn pond or lower Dedridge pond. This is where the stream flows into the pond area and was only about 30cm deep with a slow flow of water.
Initially, I wanted to look closely at the substrate in order to recreate this at home. Looking closely I noticed that the bottom of the stream/pond was covered in smooth rounded black pebbles. Amongst the pebbles was a heavy leaf litter which has fallen from the trees directly above the water. This included Oak and Birch leaves. I also noted some fallen branches and algae growing on some of the pebbles and branches.
Collecting several different sizes of stones plus a piece of wood and leaf litter from the surrounding area would hopefully off any fish collected a similar environment in the aquarium.
After collecting some invertebrates and stones, wood and leaves, we set to work catching fish. This was the part my two daughters were really looking forward to and who could blame them. I was actually telling them to get into the water instead of the usual warnings to stay away from the water.
|Myosotis scorpioides - Water forget-me-not
are in abundance in this area
|Ferns and liverwarts are also growing
all around the water
|Soil, Stones, Wood and moss all collected from the
substrate of the stream.
With the aquarium in place, I added the black soil then began setting out the black stones we collected followed by the branch. I then added the moss and covered in oak leaves that found around the pond.
The easiest way to fill the aquarium with water was to cover the entire layout using a plastic bag. By doing this the mucky substrate was not disturbed a great deal. Once the water is in the bag can easily be removed.
With a setup like this, The water temperature I was aiming for was round about 18° so no heater was added. The room temperature rarely goes passed 20° which shouldn't present any issues.
For filtration I went with my small Hydor internal filter which would sit in the corner of the tank. This would blend into the background.
With all the live stock currently being held in buckets and tubs in my garden ( in the shade) I wanted this tank to be ready asap. I added three products which would trap ammonia, establish a healthy biological filter and provide all the trace elements to make these wild caught fish feel as close to nature as possible.
|Eggs from the Ramshorn
As soon as the the water reached the right temperature, we began adding the fish. Starting with the smaller females one by one they swam down to the leaf litter and began exploring their new home. Next we added the snails. My Daughter really enjoyed this part (she has a thing for collecting snails from our garden). Finally we added our little monster. Watching the big male dart about exploring his new surroundings and displaying this nasty spikes on his back was great. Having only ever really kept tropical or marine fish, it was fascinating to watch this mean looking fish settle in.
Our Sticklebacks are not used to prepared fish food so I was a little concerned about what to feed them. initially we fed them frozen bloodworm with success. We also offered frozen gammarus which was a big hit. however many of the gammarus were too big to be eaten by the rest of the fish. They enjoy most frozen foods, both meaty and vegetable foods are enjoyed. Recently I have introduced an insect meal based dry food granule which to begin with was rejected but now will bee eaten by all the fish.
|Just check out mr Blue eyes!
|The love nest is complete! Those white strings are the
glue produced by the Sticklebacks kidneys and is
mostly made up of protein
|We had such a good day together. No iPads or phones.
Just good fun.
|Our entire day was watched over carefully by the resident
swam family and their babies.
|Both girls were fascinated by each thing we caught
|Ava was an expert by the end of the day
|the view upstream
|Anna loved getting her wellies wet