Heal your life with a biotope! Points to note when creating and 13 recommended plants and living organisms

Featured image shooting: FISH PARADISE! Editorial department

What is a biotope?

What is a biotope?

source:Photo AC

Many people have heard of the term "biotope" but don't know what it actually means. Roughly speaking, a biotope is a reproduction of nature in a certain environment.


The origin of the word biotope is Greek. "bios" (organism, life)and "toops"The word biotope has been coined to mean a space where living things live.


Biotopes are practiced in various places such as schools and building rooftops, but they can also be recreated in your own garden or balcony. This time, I will introduce how to make such a biotope.

Do you know what a biotope manager is?

Biotopes come in a variety of forms, including those aimed at protecting the natural environment, such as in public works projects, and those intended to provide healing, such as home gardening.


If you are interested in protecting the natural environment, we recommend that you obtain the qualification of ``Biotope Manager.'' Biotope Manager is a qualification provided by the Japan Ecosystem Association, a public interest incorporated association that certifies whether a person has knowledge and leadership ability regarding environmental conservation from a broad perspective.


Anyone can take the Biotope Management Certification Level 2 exam, so if you want to deepen your knowledge of the environment and living things, or if you want to learn more about biotopes, please check it out.


For more information about biotope managers, please see the linked article below.

What is a biotope manager?

What is a biotope manager? 3 items to check for the exam

September 19, 2023

Tools needed to create a biotope

There are not many tools required for a biotope. Choose the one that matches the size and design you have in mind. Here we will explain the tools needed to create a biotope.


First, let's prepare the case that will become the biotope pond. water lily bowlor plastic boatetc. are often used. Artificial ponds that can be embedded in the garden are also sold, but for first-time users, a relatively small pond is a reasonable price and easy to start with.

Raising fish on a plastic boat

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bottom sand

There are various types of substrate sand, but if you want to create a biotope that is closer to nature, use Arakida soil or Akadama soil, which will allow aquatic plants to grow well and create a biotope that is closer to the natural environment. Akadama soil is a little expensive, but hard Akadama soil is recommended because it doesn't crumble easily.


On the other hand, if a clean appearance is important to you, one option is to use gravel.

Living things/aquatic plants

Basically, you will be creating a biotope outdoors, so choosing organisms and plants that can adapt to the changes in Japan's four seasons will reduce the chance of failure. The recommended organisms and plants will be explained in detail in the second half.


If you use tap water as it is, the chlorine will damage living organisms, so it is a good idea to prepare for descaling. Also, first prepare the driftwood, stones, etc. that will be used for the layout.


How to make a biotope

Creating a biotope is also very simple. In this section, we will explain how to make it.

① First, let's set up the container.

If there is a hole in the hole, such as a planter, please cover it by pasting a board. The water will drain out and it will dry up.


Also, if you install the container outdoors in a location where it can get rainy, water may overflow from the container when it rains, so overflow countermeasures (measures to prevent water from overflowing) will be necessary. A simple solution is to hang a sponge or cloth over the edge of the container.


② Add bottom sand and lay out stones and driftwood

When adding soil, consider the aquatic plants that will be added to the biotope. If the amount of soil is too large, the nutrients contained in the soil will be excessive, causing moss to grow and water to become cloudy. Porous substrate materials such as Akadama soil are recommended as they have the effect of keeping water quality clear.


When adding substrate, I also lay out things other than aquatic plants, such as stones and driftwood, and decide on a rough composition.

③ Add water and plant aquatic plants

When adding water, be sure to do so gently so as not to blow up sand from the bottom. Plant the aquatic plants with water in the pot about half full, and then add the remaining half of the pot with water.

④ Insert the living body and complete!

Finally, introduce the living body. When adding living organisms, make sure to mix the water in the bag to match the water temperature with the water in the biotope, and also make sure to match the water quality. After introducing the living body, it is completed.


Plants and organisms you want to put in your biotope

We will introduce plants and living organisms recommended for the biotope. Find your favorite plants and fish and create your ideal biotope.

7 plants you want to put in your biotope


It is a very hardy aquatic plant that grows at an amazing speed once it adapts to its environment. The water can become full of anacaris in no time, so be sure to trim them appropriately.


It is an underwater plant with very delicate and beautiful thin leaves. Although it is more delicate than Anacharis, it will grow rapidly if the environment is good.

Water hyacinth (seaweed)

It is a typical floating plant and prefers a sunny environment. In the winter, they cannot survive the winter outdoors and will wither, so you will need to bring them indoors with plenty of sunlight or buy them again each season.

Amazon Frog Pit

It grows by producing child plants as small floating plants. It prefers a warm environment and will grow outdoors from spring to autumn without any problems, but in the winter, like water hyacinth, it is better to bring it indoors. It does not require as much light as water hyacinth.

water lily

It is also a very popular plant to include in biotopes because of its beautiful flowers. There are many types, so it is best to choose a variety according to the size of your biotope.


It is an ideal water-extracting plant for creating a Japanese-style biotope. It produces beautiful flowers and will grow well if kept in semi-shade during the summer.

water horsetail

It is a water-extracting plant with a very unique slender appearance, and is said to be very compatible with biotopes. It grows to a height of 50 to 100 cm, so it can make its presence felt.

6 living organisms (fish, shrimp, shellfish) that you want to put in your biotope

As mentioned above, it is recommended that fish that can be raised in a biotope be ones that can withstand Japan's outdoor climate.


It is a fish that grows to about 3 to 4 cm and is compatible with small to large biotopes. It is highly resistant to summer heat and winter cold, making it durable and recommended for beginners.


It is a reliable fish that eats the food that falls there, and it is popular because it goes well with killifish. Breeding is easy, but you need to be a little careful as they are susceptible to diseases if the bottom gets dirty.

Minami Numa Shrimp

It is a small shrimp and can be grown in small containers. Since they eat moss, they are also recommended as biotope cleaners.

Yamatonuma shrimp

It grows larger than the southern shrimp, and has a very high ability to clean moss, making it a popular shrimp in aquariums. Unlike the southern shrimp, they cannot reproduce in freshwater environments. If there is not enough food, they may eat the shoots of plants, so be careful.


This is a reliable shellfish that filters green water into clear water. You need to be careful that if you run out of food, you will starve to death.

Ishimaki mussel

It is a member of the chibi family that is popular as a moss remover, and it is recommended because it does not breed in freshwater environments, so it does not overpopulate. Although they do not breed, the disadvantage is that they lay eggs all over the place.


Try raising medaka in a biotope!

Put medaka in the biotope

source:Photo AC

When you think of a biotope, many people think of a stream or a small pond, but when you think of the fish that swim there, the first thing that comes to mind is killifish.


Medaka is a freshwater fish from Japan that is resistant to changes in the outdoor environment and is very compatible with biotopes. In addition, improved medaka has become popular recently, and improved medaka are now on sale in a variety of colors and appearances that rival tropical fish.


Improved medaka may be a bit of a mismatch when it comes to reproducing the natural environment, but if you want to enjoy a colorful appearance in your biotope, you may want to try introducing improved medaka into your biotope.

Points to note (tips) when creating a biotope

We have summarized the points to keep in mind when creating a biotope. Let's keep in mind the points that can easily go wrong when using a biotope, which recreates nature in a small environment.

Consider the appropriate number of organisms and amount of aquatic plants

One of the common mistakes that biotope beginners make is Including too many organismsThere is this. When there are too many living organisms such as fish and shrimp, the water becomes contaminated quickly, and the living organisms may become sick or, in the worst case, die.


In the natural environment, invisible microorganisms called bacteria decompose fish droppings and leftover food, and plants use the decomposed food as nutrients. Energy is efficiently used in this way. However, in a biotope in a closed environment, this balance is likely to be disrupted, so care must be taken.


If you keep the number of organisms as small as possible at the beginning of the biotope startup, and when the environment becomes stable (if the initially introduced organisms can maintain a healthy state), add more organisms. and can be reduced.


It is also not good to plant too few plants. Make sure to plant well and create an environment with stable water quality. If you really want to increase the number of living organisms, it is a good idea to use a filter etc.

If the environment deteriorates, carry out appropriate maintenance.

If the number of living organisms is large or the plants become unwell due to poor sunlight and ventilation, the water quality will deteriorate accordingly.


If the environment becomes obvious, it is important to perform appropriate water changes and move the biotope to a sunny and well-ventilated area.


Let's manage living things in the biotope responsibly.

Destruction of the ecosystem by introduced species such as alligator gar and snapping turtle can be a problem, but even when growing species that are not naturally found in the biotope, it is necessary to ensure that they do not affect the natural ecosystem.


Improved medaka, goldfish, etc. Do not discharge water into rivers or lakes unnecessarily.. As a breeder, you should take responsibility and care for your pet until the end.


This applies not only to fish but also to aquatic plants. Don't just throw them into the river just because they have grown too large, and be sure to raise them responsibly.


In addition, even if the breeder did not intend to do so, animals may escape into the natural world for some reason. You can't get away with saying that was not your intention, so please be careful when handling the biotope and enjoy the biotope.

Let's try creating a biotope at home!

Challenge the biotope!

source:Photo AC

This time we introduced how to make a biotope. A biotope can be created not in a large case, but in a case the size of a bucket or planter.


Don't think too hard about it, just enjoy creating a biotope through trial and error. Having a biotope in your home is sure to be a wonderful healing experience.