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A biotope is an area in nature that defines a particular habitat and is usually bound by species types, or by geographical features.

A biotope may be only a particular portion of an ecosystem; Lake Malawi for instance, contains many hundreds of cichlid species although significant portions are only found in the shallow rocky areas. These rocky areas could be considered a 'biotope' even though they are part of a larger system.

In fishkeeping 'biotope' is used to describe an aquarium designed to represent a portion of nature e.g. a 'Lake Malawi rocky biotope', an 'Indonesian swamp biotope', or an 'Amazon acid pool biotope'.

In a true biotope aquarium, the plants and fish are all chosen on the basis of the area they originate in, and the d├ęcor or aquascape, is designed to represent that area, or biotope.

Used a little more loosely, but still in a functional manner, a biotope aquarium may use fish and plants which are not found together in nature to produce a 'riverbank biotope', or a 'fast-flowing stream biotope'.

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