A biotope aquascape can be a very rewarding aquarium. A biotope attempts to replicate the particular combination of plant and fish species found at a specific geographic location in the world and the water conditions that can be found there.
The largest advantage of a biotope aquarium is that the focus of the research before setting it up is on the conditions of the water present at the location the biotope is trying to mimic. What this means for the hobbyist is that they do not need to do as extensive research into all the different species of plants and fish that they are trying to keep. Broadly speaking, the largest single advantage of a biotope aquascape is that everything kept within it should have similar needs, which makes maintenance and balancing water chemistry much easier.
The word biotope can be broken down into three parts and is originally derived from the German "Biotop". This itself came from the Greek word bios, which means life or organism. Topos means place, which means the literal translation of biotope as, "an area where life lives". This particular kind of aquascaping is an attempt to combine all aspects of the natural habitat of the fish which live in that part of the world. An attempt to mimic a natural environment means controlling such factors as water temperature, natural species of plants and fish, the kind and hardness of the water, lighting conditions and any other species of native fish.
There are two reasons why you might find it useful to consider a biotope aquarium aquascape. The first reason is that the species contained within the aquarium should have roughly similar needs, which makes balancing the different aspects of aquarium life much easier for you. Secondly, the biotope can give you and outside observers an ideal of what the natural environment of the organizations within the aquarium would look like. Some of the larger biotopes in the world have been used as an attempt to better understand and preserve parts of threatened environments.
A biotope can be very aesthetically pleasing and there are a variety of different natural environments that you could attempt to replicate with one. What you would choose to replicate in your aquarium biotope will be dictated by your level of experience and preference in plants and fish. Expect some environments, such as marine or reef, to require considering more work than alternatives.