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Wild Aquarium

by Ivan Mikolji / 2018

What is a Wild Aquarium?

Wild Aquarium is a movement within the fish-keeping hobby which involves visiting an aquatic habitat such as a lake, river or stream and setting up a temporal aquarium in situ with the aim of mimicking the habitats seen on the spot. For the creation of a Wild Aquarium, only materials and animals collected from the specific habitat are used and are usually returned to their original setting once complete.

The Importance of Wild Aquariums

A Wild Aquarium has huge potential as an educational tool and its value lies in that it is built from what is found in the exact habitat within which it hopes to highlight some conservation requirements. Building a Wild Aquarium allows local people to know what species live in their local rivers and the creation of these aquariums also helps to inform people around the world what is in a particular river and how all of the organisms coexist.

Wild Aquariums are also the first equivalent to the fishing “catch and release” concept, but applied to the aquarium hobby. This way a historical conservancy proposal is presented where the fishkeeping or aquarium hobby is not necessarily restricted to keeping fish at all. Wild Aquariums break the stigma that has been the essential corner stone of the fishkeeping hobby history.

The History of Wild Aquariums

The first Wild Aquarium was created in Amazonas state, Venezuela by the Venezuelan photographer and audio/visual artist Ivan Mikolji in 2011. The creation of this aquarium was filmed and then uploaded to YouTube under the name of “Wild Aquarium 1” and has over six million views (June/2019). This video features wild specimens of Apistogramma hongsloi and Nannostomus anduzei.

Ivan Mikolji has now posted 6 Wild Aquarium videos on his YouTube channel (June/2019). You can watch them all at https://www.mikolji.com/film/wild-aquariums/. ​​Subsequently, more Wild Aquariums were then recreated by inspired fish-keepers such as Giorgi Khizanishvili, (Georgia) based on the Mejuda River in Gori City, Central Georgia in 2016 and other hobbyists around the world have since followed suit, including Enrico Guida in Italy, Paweł Vogelsinger in Poland and Elena Mazurek in Russia.

Ivan Mikolji wild aquarium 1.
Ivan Mikolji wild aquarium 1.
Ivan Mikolji wild aquarium 1.
Ivan Mikolji wild aquarium 2.

How to review a Wild Aquarium

The key distinguishing difference between a Biotope Aquarium and a Wild Aquarium can be illustrated with the following example, a Cinaruco River “Biotope Aquarium” may be  created anywhere on Earth. However, in contrast, a Cinaruco river “Wild Aquarium” may only be created at the Cinaruco River.

An example of this is that many people keep “Rams” (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) all over the world, but not as many know that they come from the Orinoco River basin. An even greater percentage of people do not know what their environment really looks like, leading to a lot of fish-keepers coming to the conclusion that they absolutely need a heavily planted tank to thrive. The reality is far from that, although some Rams (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) do in fact live in heavily vegetated areas some others live in sandy areas with decaying tree leaves and no live plants at all.

Creating more than one Wild Aquarium from a specific body of water does not subtract any value from the second one, as water systems are
complex and in one body of water there are usually several different biotopes housing different organisms. In one river a rocky area may be
found on one bank and the other bank may comprise a sandy substrate. Different organisms thrive in different conditions and areas with high
water flow often house entirely different species than low flow areas despite being all part of the same waterway.

This article has been published at:
• Ciklidbladet Magazine – Number 2, 2019
• Revista Challwani – Number 5, 2018

Wild Aquarium Photo Gallery

Ivan Mikolji wild aquarium 2.
Ivan Mikolji wild aquarium 3.
Ivan Mikolji wild aquarium 3.
Ivan Mikolji wild aquarium 4.
Ivan Mikolji wild aquarium 4.
Fernando Chan wild aquarium 5.
Ivan Mikolji wild aquarium 6.
Ivan Mikolji wild aquarium 6.
Ivan Mikolji wild aquarium 6.
Ivan Mikolji wild aquarium 6.
Giorgi Khizanishvili, Mejuda River, Georgia
Giorgi Khizanishvili, Mejuda River, Georgia
Giorgi Khizanishvili, Mejuda River, Georgia
Giorgi Khizanishvili, Mejuda River, Georgia
Giorgi Khizanishvili