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FAMA Classic: Caving In

Create your own biotope tank with Mexican blind cave tetras.

By Vince Brach, Ph.D. |

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Since most cave organisms are rightly protected by law, and since few of us have the time or resources to explore caves, the thought of actually putting together a cave biotope — complete with cave fish — might seem possible only for a commercial or municipal aquarium. However, one cave fish, the blind cave tetra (Astyanax fasciatus mexicanus), holds out the intriguing possibility that a cave aquarium might just be within the reach of a budget-pinched hobbyist.

This fully cave-adapted race of the Mexican tetra (the sighted form is the only tetra native to the United States) can be easily and legally obtained through commercial fish suppliers. It breeds readily in captivity, and it is so hardy that it has filled the role of a beginner aquarium fish for many years.

I decided to try to make a special project tank showcasing this fascinating fish in cavelike surroundings. The results were more than pleasing, and I will outline what I did in this article.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the August 2010 issue of Aquarium Fish International today.

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