Aquarium Adventure Logo
home pageTransparentcontact us
Aquarium Adventure carries the widest selection of aquariums, fish, corals & plants.
We Are The Pond Experts!
  We offer everything from do-it-yourself pond equipment and starter sets to full custom installation packages. Our experts can answer those really tough questions about installing and maintaining garden ponds...a service the hardware stores cannot provide. Come visit our store and take a tour!Learn More  
We Are The Pond Experts
Visit One Of Our 5 Locations

ArrowBolingbrook, Illinois
ArrowColumbus, Ohio
ArrowHoffman Estates, Illinois

Visit One Of Our 4 Locations
One of the Area's 10 Peaceful Places

Fish Keeping Tip Sheets

Central America River Environment

About the Environment
The Central America River Environment consists of the major rivers which flow from rocky lakes in the region. The lakes are high in limestone, thus making the river waters hard and alkaline. As the rivers flow toward the coast, they mix with the acidic waters of heavily vegetated side streams. Eventually, they become brackish due to the back flow of coastal streams, bays and estuaries. A medium grade, tan gravel mixed with sand is recommended to simulate the natural substrate. Round, water smoothed pebbles, driftwood, and plants should also be used to recreate this niche.

Water Conditions
Indigenous Fish Species
Rare or Unusual Fish Species
Indigenous Plant Species

76-80° F

pH Levels

Water Hardness
Hard, 200-250 ppm

Sailfin Mollies
Plumtail Platy Cabomba Caroliniana
Cabomba Piahyensis
Hydrocotyle Verticillata
Micranthemum Umbrosum
Bacopa Monniera
Bacopa Caroliniana
Ludwigia Palustris
Heteranthera Dubia

back to top

Recreating the Environment
A 20 gallon tank is recommended to recreate this particular niche. A smaller size could be used, but with fewer fish. Fill the tank with two (2) inches of water. If an under gravel filter is being used, put the filter plate in the bottom of the tank at this time. Rinse the substrate (gravel/sand) and add it to the aquarium. Note: If using an under gravel filter add 1.5 to 2 pounds of gravel per gallon. If an under gravel filter is not being used, then add 1 to 1.5 pounds of gravel per gallon.

Once the substrate has been added, fill the tank half full of water. Next, add plants, driftwood, and pebbles to recreate your Central American River Environment. Refer to our diagram, in this handout, on how to landscape this niche. Don’t forget to protect the roots of your plants as you anchor them to the substrate. A safe method is to gently ball the roots into your hand and make a loose fist. Using this fist, burrow a pit in the substrate and gently unfold your hand allowing the roots to spread out. Gently cover the roots with enough substrate to hold them down.

Finish filling the tank with water. Place the heater in the tank, but do not turn it on at this time. Allow the heater glass to acclimate to the water temperature in the aquarium for one (1) hour before plugging it in. You can camouflage the heater behind the rocks.

New Tank Water Conditions - Understanding the Nitrogen Cycle

back to top

Filtration System
Equip the aquarium with a filter system. If using an under gravel filter, hook up the air pump or power head (water pump) to the uplift tubes. If using an internal filter, place it in the tank towards the back and hide the filter using rocks. If an outside filter is being used, place it on the outside back of the tank, or under the aquarium. Hide the siphon tube, which draws water from the tank to the filter, with rocks. Put the thermometer in place, add water conditioner to the aquarium, and turn on the filtration system. After testing the pH and water hardness, necessary adjustments can be made by using proper aquarium chemicals to recreate Central American Rocky Lake Water conditions.

Now place the aquarium top in position and make any adjustments (cut outs in back) to accommodate the heater, filter and cords. Turn on the heater and the light. A 10-12 hour light cycle is recommended. Make any final adjustments to the heater in order to stabilize a temperature between 76-80 degrees.

All newly set-up aquariums must go through a filter conditioning process in order to sustain fish life. (Please see our “New Tank Water Conditions” tip sheet for additional information.) It will take the water approximately 4-6 weeks to condition during which time only a small number of fish can be added to the tank. Once the aquarium has been set up and running for a minimum of 24 hours, six (6) 1.5 inch fish per 10 gallons of water can be safely introduced. For this particular niche type, Sailfin Mollies and Platies would be good choices to start. Over the next several weeks when water quality tests of ammonia and nitrite reach zero, more fish species can be added.

back to top

Feeding the Fish
Feeding the fish will vary depending upon the age of the aquarium. During the first 4-8 weeks, the fish should be fed a small, dime sized pinch of food once every other day. As the aquarium ages and conditions, 2-4 months of age, fish can be fed once a day. When the tank is over 4 months old, the fish can be fed several times a day. Remember to use small quantities of food at each feeding.

back to top

Water Changes
Partial water changes are the single most important procedure you perform on your aquarium. Remove 20% of the water every two (2) weeks and replace it with fresh water which has been treated with a water conditioning chemical.

back to top

Clean unsightly algae using an algae pad or a magnetic algae remover when necessary. Keep in mind that some algae left in the tank can be beneficial. It provides a food source for some fish, and also creates oxygen for the aquarium environment.

back to top


View All Fish Keeping Tip Sheets


Corner   Corner
Aquarium Adventure Logo is a registered trademark of Petland, Inc. ©1979 - All Rights Reserved
Aquarium Adventure