I've always thought that keeping a well balanced planted biotope tank is probably harder than any reef tank and takes more knowledge of ecosystems and the living things within them, but Matt Clarke put it beautifully in his article about freshwater biotope aquariums on Practical Fishkeeping's Blog:
Therefore, it has always struck me as a little odd that marines are considered the pinnacle of the hobby, yet many marine fishkeepers probably couldn't tell you where in the world their fish came from, let alone their corals.
Many (not all, I am sure) marine fishkeepers know little about the biology, taxonomy or reproduction of their fish. Ask the same questions to a freshwater enthusiast and they'll often be able to tell you about it in great detail.
Maybe the reefkeepers could do with learning a trick or two from the freshwater enthusiasts?
I think well thought-out planted biotope tanks are becoming the new reef-tank. True, the general public still doesn't know the difference. The last party I had, the guests kept asking me if my planted tank was saltwater. It's just reassuring to know that you can make a freshwater tank that rivals the beauty of a potentially much more expensive and flashy saltwater tank. Go freshies!