December 17, 2018

0 comments


"You Can't Keep Plants in Blackwater", Right? Maybe? Um...

One of the most common questions and points of discussion we receive and engage in here at Tannin is, "Can you keep aquatic plants in blackwater?"

And of course, the answer is 100%, unequivocally "YES!"

I'll be the first to admit that I am not an expert on aquatic plants by any means, and any discussion on plants which I present is by nature rather superficial and limited. However, I did do a lot of research, read a number of scientific papers, and had some good discussions with those "in the know" about which aquatic plants are commonly associated with these habitats over the years.

The interesting common denominator about this topic- like so many others when it comes to blackwater, is that there is simply a lack of good information and an abundance of speculation, assumption, and downright misinformation floating about out there in cyberland...

 

I think the misconception that plants can't grow in blackwater partially originates from the common "inflection point" of "Blackwater aquariums are unstable/hard to manage/dark and foreboding", and merges with the well-trodden and partially factual "narrative" that says that, since many parts of say, the Rio Negro essentially have no plants, that plants can't live in any blackwater habitats.

I was able to glean some information that might be of use to you in this regard, and with all of the interest, it seems like an appropriate time to be discussing this stuff!

First, let's just clarify the "plants in Amazonia" thingy real fast.

There are two primary areas of interest in our particular botanical-centric habitat focus, besides just the better-known blackwater rivers, such as the Rio Negro, where plants are found.

The Varzea are seasonally-flooded forest areas, which are inundated by pH-neutral "whitewater" (ie; not significantly stained by tannins), and can reach significant depths, whereas the Igapo are generally shallow, blackwater environments with relatively low nutrient content and acidic soils. Varzea forests are extremely rich, which leads to a very rich aquatic ecosystem when inundated, and tend to have greater density of aquatic plants. Várzea forest soils have high nutrient contents because they receive high loads of sediment (from the Andean and pre-Andean regions) from the whitewater rivers nearby.

Igapó forests, by contrast, do not receive this seasonal influx of sediments , which is why they have relatively inorganic nutrient- poor soils. Igapo waters are acidic, with a pH ranging between 4 and 5, and are rich in organic materials- particularly humic and fulvic acids. It is also thought by scientists that the seasonal inundation of the Igapo soils creates anoxic conditions, limiting plant growth in general.

So, you CAN keep aquatic plants in blackwater aquaria intended to replicate, to some extent, either of these botanically-influenced habitats. Obviously, the Varzea-type flooded forests are more conducive to aquatic plant growth.

And here is the part which probably feeds into the "you can't grow plants in blackwater" myth: 

The other important factor affecting plant growth in these aquatic habitats is light; or specifically, light penetration. This affects diversity of both the terrestrial grasses and aquatic plants present in the waters. In the blackwater Igapo areas, light only penetrates down to depths of  1-2 meters, and many submerged grasses and terrestrial forest plants simply die back from lack of light. And the forest canopy adds to the shading in some areas, further reducing the amounts of light available to plants. Varzea tend to be more "open", and a greater abundance of light, and therefore, light penetration, occurs.

Of course, you can grow Amazonian plants in blackwater aquariums, such as the broad-leaved dwarf Amazon sword plant (Echinodorus quadricostatus), which prefers the dim conditions of blackwater rivers. And 

Now, there is one area which comes to mind immediately when we talk of blackwater habitats with aquatic plants: Southeast Asia- particularly, Borneo.

And when we think of Borneo, what comes to mind more than the darling of the plant world, Bucephalandra? And of course, my personal fave family of plants, Cryptocoryne. If ever there were "poster children" for blackwater-native/tolerant aquatic plants, either of these two genera would be the ones.

Interesting to me is the use by many hobbyists of low pH substrates and leaf litter in their culture ( a lot of the blackwater Crypt. "players" use Catappa, etc. in a ground up form, almost like a "mulch" of sorts...A cool use for our "Mixed Leaf Media" and "MLM2", I'd say! ). Interestingly enough, many of the so-called "blackwater Crypts" also tend to "melt" if they are in soils that are too nutrient rich...A lot to take in here, but a lot which plays right into our fascination with botanical-style blackwater aquairums!

 

And what about Africa? It's more than just Anubias...

I think that a considerable amount of time needs to be spent by members of our community simply reaching out to our friends who are into aquatic plants...the knowledge and commonalities are remarkable. We simply need to discuss and understand the realities of keeping plants in blackwater versus the more "traditional" " clearwater" aquarium.

In general, there are a few issues we should consider when it comes to aquatic plants in blackwater aquariums..the primary one being that theme we've touched on before:

It's a known fact that light doesn't penetrate as effectively in the tinted water of blackwater environments. That's ONE of the reasons you don't see a lot of algae in many blackwater systems. And floating plants, of course, tend to do well-because you don't really have the "light penetration factor" influencing them as much as say, rooted plants. Light penetration is a limiting factor, other things being "more-or-less" equal, right? 

Well, yeah...you can compensate with brighter light...the beauty of LEDs, right? And of course, just having light in our tanks isn't enough.

The other big issue to tackle when keeping aquatic plants in blackwater aquariums is to some extent, the well-trodden opinion that blackwater may be described as more "nutrient poor", and having much lower ionic concentrations of calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium than clearwater environments.

So how do you overcome this?

You fertilize your tank- just like you do in a "clearwater" system. You'll probably have to adjust your doses to compensate for the near lack of the above-referenced major ions, but it's pretty much that simple, in my experience. You'll use more fertilizers. And if you're growing plants that rely on rich substrates, like Cryptocoryne, I've found that you really don't have to do all that much differently than you do in a "clearwater" tank.

One thing you won't hear me talking about is the use of CO2. Not because I don't recommend it or believe in it- it's simply because I don't personally have a lot of experience with using it...That being said, I have many friends who use CO2 in blackwater tanks with a tremendous degree of success...

 

I think the job I'll continue to take on here at Tannin will be to encourage aquatic plant enthusiasts, and those who want to keep aquatic plants in blackwater aquariums- to go for it and do great work. 

The simple reality is that you absolutely can keep a lot of aquatic plants in blackwater tanks, with tremendous success. It's simply a matter of compensating for the environmental parameters which need to be augmented (ie; lighting, fertilization...), and doing what you already know how to do. If you're into environmental/biotopic authenticity, you'd want to look at what plants are found where, of course- but the bottom line is that the variety of plants that you can keep in generic blackwater aquariums is significant!

I think the job I'll continue to take on here at Tannin will be to encourage aquatic plant enthusiasts, and those who want to keep aquatic plants in blackwater aquariums- to go for it and do great work. 

The simple reality is that you absolutely can keep a lot of aquatic plants in blackwater tanks, with tremendous success. It's simply a matter of compensating for the environmental parameters which need to be augmented (ie; lighting, fertilization...), and doing what you already know how to do. If you're into environmental/biotopic authenticity, you'd want to look at what plants are found where, of course- but the bottom line is that the variety of plants that you can keep in generic blackwater aquariums is significant!

Ares to explore here include the continued "enrichment" of the substrate and overall aquatic environment with botanical materials, use of varying light intensities, and- once again, CO2.

 So...the answer is that you CAN. The challenge is that you SHOULD. The exciting part is that you WILL help dispel the "you can't keep plants in blackwater" myth once and for all...

Stay focused. Stay excited. Stay curious. Stay bold. Stay diligent...

And Stay Wet.

 

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

December 16, 2018

0 comments


What about rock?

How come you don't see rocks in those pics of the igapo inundated forests?

Oh, this is a good one...

The "whitewater" rivers rush quickly down from the mountains of Peru and Bolivia, too rapidly for clay and silt to be stripped from them. The rocks from these mountainous areas offer minerals and nutrients such as nitrogen, attached to the silt and clay, and minerals like illite, montmorillomite (hey, we know that one from shrimp geeks!), and chlorite, to nourish the lower-lying areas. In these areas, numerous microbes and plants consume some of the nitrogen, and while eaten by other organisms, convey what's left to the even lower-lying forest habitats.

The Amazonian blackwater rivers are largely depleted in nutrients, having passed through the lowland forest soils as groundwater, from which weathering has already occurred. "Hydro-geomorphic processes" ( i.e.; a fancy way of referring to part of the stuff that makes rocks!) are far less intense than they are in the upland, mountainous regions, with their abundance of minerals, nutrients, slits, and sediments.

In other words, most low-lying Amazonian forest soils are really low in nutrients. The soils are nutrient-poor, acidic "podzols..." It's been suggested that most of the available nutrients are taken up by the root mats of the dense plant growth in these forested areas. And even the rainwater provides little in the way of nutrient for the plants which grow there.

Blackwaters in areas like Amazonia (one of our fave locales, of course!) drain from an area known to geologists as the "Precambrian Guiana Shield", which is comprised of sediments include quartz, sandstone, shales, and conglomerates, stemming from near the formation of the earth some 4.6 billion years ago. As a result of lots of geological activity over the eons, and that soil type, consisting of whitish sand we podzol is formed.

However, what little nutrient there is typically returns to the soils by means of leaf drop from the trees which grow there. And of course, when the water returns to the forest floors, what little nutrient remains is released into the waters, too. And it's quickly utilized by the resident microorganisms. Serious nutrient cycling, right?

I'm no expert-or even a novice- on geology or geochemistry, or anything in that subject area, for that matter....I kind of dozed through geology classes in college...much to my regret now. However, based on my research into this stuff, it goes without saying that these are hardly conditions under which rocks as we know them could form.

Sure, you might find the random rock in the igapo that was washed down from the Andes or some other high-country locale in these forests, but it did not evolve there. This also helps to explain why the blackwater habitats are generally low in inorganic nutrients and minerals, right? 

So...if you're really, really hardcore into replicating an igapo, you'd probably want to exclude rocks...

Yet, there are plenty of Amazonian and other habitats with tinted water and rocks.

And in the aquarium, we have many options to faithfully recreate, or simply gain inspiration from -these habitats. It's okay to use rock. Really. 

I mean, it provides a unique and satisfying aesthetic experience for our aquariums, while providing a nice contrast with wood and botanicals. 

Sure, the fact is, some rock will impact the chemistry of your water, and if you're really hardcore about it, you'll have to do some experimentation. I have played with the rocks we offer in my tanks, and I can say that they will typically impact pH and GH a bit; however, to what extent is subject to many variables, ranging from the type of water you start with to the substrate you use, etc. Making generalizations is tricky and "outside of my pay grade" as they say...SO...

Experiment.

The fact is, so many of you have asked us to offer new rock types that we simply couldn't not do it. We have a growing customer base fro ma variety of aquatic and aquascaping "disciplines", and helping to foster creativity is what we're all about..and giving you the options to make choices that worse for you!

However, it's important to understand that we should not specifically limit ourselves to any one rigid way of thinking...We simply have to understand that rocks- like botanicals or wood or anything else we add to our aquariums, impact the environmental characteristics of our closed systems.

If you're faithfully trying to recreate a highly acid, soft water habitat devoid of rocks -than you'd likely want to avoid using rocks of any kind to a great extent. Right? 

Duh.

And substrates? Well..

In fact, you'd seek out a podzol-type material to use as the base...And I am not aware of a commercial product that is podzol -ased which is available in the hobby as an aquarium substrate (entrepreneurs- here's one for you!)...

So...

Research with planted substrates is totally the way to go at this time, IMHO...

In the mean time,  I'll keep using the available aquarium substrates which don't impact pH and alkalinity as the literal "base" for most of my blackwater aquariums. The reality is that just having an awareness of what goes on in the natural aquatic habitats we love gives us a nice "leg up" on this stuff. You're obviously not going to use a strongly buffering substrate like aragonite or whatever to do the job in your low pH and alkalinity blackwater aquarium, right?

Right.

So, researching and experimenting is the best I can tell you right now. 

Oddly unsatisfying for the "I want an answer for everything-now" crowd- but that's where we're at in the hobby at the moment. 

Geologists and geochemists wanted! 

Until next time...

Rock if you want to. Avoid if you feel it's appropriate.

Stay bold. Stay curious. Stay experimental. Stay studious...

And Stay Wet.

 

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

December 15, 2018

0 comments


Behind the Botanical: The "Jungle Pod"

If I had to pick one of the top two or three fave botanicals we offer, the "Jungle Pod" would be right up there. Useful, attractive, and durable- it's got all the elements for botanical-style aquarium "superstardom!"

Let's take a closer look at it.

First off, the term "Jungle Pod" is a charming, yet utterly meaningless holdover from "Tannin 1.0", where we conjured up cute names for obscure seed pods and such to make them more interesting for our customers. Prior to 2015, when we debuted, I'm virtually certain that you won't find a reference for this botanical under that name...

It's actually the fruit, or "follicle" (as botanists call it) of the jungle tree Sterculia foetida. Calling it a "pod" is a little stretch, actually- but not much! (Unless you're a botanist, in which case your colleagues would just hate on you...) Also known locally in Southeast Asia as the "Java Olive."  In the Indian region of its distribution (Tamil Nadu), it's referred to as "Jangli Badam" or "Pinari" in Hindi.

Okay, I'm sticking with our fictitious name...for now. However, I reserve the right to change it to a more appropriate name at any time! 🤓 Be forewarned, lol.

Interestingly, it's found in the crevices of rocks, by stream banks, etc., in full sun. And of course, this makes it a total candidate for inclusion in an Indian or Southeast Asian biotope-style aquarium! 

Now, the genus name, Sterculia, means "bad smelling", and the origin is from the Roman god, Sterquilinus, the "god of manure or feces"...Seriously, we don't make this stuff up! (and no, we'll never go so lowbrow as to call this botanical the "Shit Pod", but it did come up in some internal company discussions, I admit....😜

Got to hand it to the Romans! 

Now, in fairness to our botanical, Sterculia, it's the flower which supposedly smells like...well- you know where I'm going!

Such an indignation for a beautiful and useful botanical, wouldn't you say? Let's give it some more love!

Our beloved Sterculia foetida belongs to the family Malvaceae, which includes such diverse and well-known members as Okra, cotton, Cocao, and Durian. The genus Sterculia has over 250 members! Typically found in areas like India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, this species and others of its family have been transplanted to as far- ranging an area as Hawaii.

The fruits grow in star-like clusters on the tree, and the woody color is a beautiful contrast to the dark green leaves. Botanists would describe these unique fruits as follows: "An aggregate of follicle of 1-5, scarlet, boat shaped, 5-lobed, woody, glabrous; seeds black, numerous, ellipsoid, smooth, with a small yellow aril."

We just call 'em cool!

(My, that's a fine cluster of...follicles! Image by J.M. Gargan, used under CC BY-SA 4.0)

The oil of this fruit is comparable in composition to sunflower and soybean oils for use as...a biofuel! The seeds are thought to be edible after roasting, although I've not encountered any "recipes" for them! Supposedly, they taste like peanuts- I'll take the botanists' word for it. Interestingly, when they are bearing seeds, the exterior is a beautiful bright red color in many varieties!

I

The unique-looking botanical is a near perfect shelter for many fishes and inverts in the aquarium. Its durable shell lasts a very long time submerged.

It is interesting to note that research has been done on potential pharmaceutical benefits of the leaves, roots, and seeds of the tree, and there have been some potentially useful medicinal benefits. It is unlikely and downright irresponsible for us to make any type of assumption that these may "translate" over to aquatic use, vis a vis fish health.

Oh, and I did find another scientific paper which postulated that Sterculia foetida fruit shell extract offers an excellent potential as coloration, antibacterial, and ultraviolet protective agent for silk fabric.

Like, cool!

What we can confidently say is that these botanicals, like pretty much every seed pod or leaf we place in the aquarium, will leach some amount of tannins, lignin, and other organics into the water over time. You certainly wouldn't use "Jungle Pods" for the sole purpose of providing "tint" to your water, but you would be perfect using them for aesthetics and utility as a shelter.

At the end of the day, the "Jungle Pod" is truly one of the most useful, attractive, and versatile botanicals you can add to your aquarium. Not a day goes by that we don't find ourselves thinking of some new application for them in an aquarium, terrarium, or vivarium. As more and more hobbyists find their way into our little botanical world, I am pretty sure that we'll hear of more and more ideas on how to utilize them! 

Stay creative. Stay inspired. Stay curious. Stay excited...

And Stay Wet.

 

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

 

December 14, 2018

0 comments


Out of sight, but on our minds?

The other day, I was chatting with a friend about some upcoming aquarium projects that we're both doing, and we were discussing our fish selections, often lamenting the lack of availability or difficulty in obtaining various species. 

"I'd do a whole tank around that one...just can't find the damn fish anywhere..."

You've had those conversations, too.

As a lifelong hobbyist, I've spent a lot of time reading about, researching, observing, and collecting tropical fishes- just like most of you.

 

It's a big part of the hobby for many of us!

And, in all of those years of researching, I couldn't help but wonder about some of "those" fishes- you know, the ones that are found in scientific studies and papers- fishes that seem to be ridiculously abundant in their natural habitats- swarming in and out of view in all of those underwater Amazon videos-yet almost never even show up as a blip on the radar for the hobby!

What gives? Why do we rarely see them in the hobby?

Now, there are plenty of reasons why some seemingly abundant fishes never show up in the trade, the primary one being that the collectors are simply not aware of any commercial value for them, and are far better off, from an economic standpoint, when they bring in 5,000 Cardinal Tetras instead of the abundant, but commercially "uninteresting" Hemmigramus elegans, for example.

A basically grey, nearly monochromatic characin has little in the way of value to the exporters, who need to satisfy the demands of hobbyists worldwide. Now, if suddenly there was a huge demand for this fish from the hobby world, or if it was determined that they contained a protein in their tissues that is effective at treating cancer or something, we'd see 'em coming in by the ton!

Duh. Easy. Obvious.

So it's really about demand.

And that makes sense.

Now, when you think about it, a fish being relatively drab and unremarkable in appearance has at least one benefit- it takes external pressures off of the wild populations of many species!

Yet, of course, as a hobbyist, I find myself wanting some of these less "interesting", yet relatively "common in nature" fishes to work with! I know from the marine livestock industry that some of the more rare, less in-demand fishes will come in with more common species as "incidental by catch" on occasion, and the sharp-eyed hobbyist/collector can score a somewhat rare, albeit nondescript Tang, for example that just shows up in a shipment of 400 more commercially-viable Acanthurus leucosternonor whatever.

(Acanthurus chirugus Image by JT Williamns, used under CC BY 2.5)

And it's the same in the freshwater market, of course. Sometimes a few of these (hobby) oddities will trickle through in a group of more widely known, more commercially viable species. And occasionally, they find themselves in the hands of some really sharp retailers who understand the (hobby) scarcity of the fish and their value to a hobbyist. This happens a lot with dwarf cichlids, like Apistogramma, and with catfishes, like Corydoras.

And that's what's fun, to me. You never know what might make it through!

It's no secret that I've been obsessing for sometime about the small, relatively nondescript characin, Elachocharax pulcher. Part of one of my fave families, Crenuchidae, these are little, darter-like fishes that are common and abundant in the litter banks of Amazonia in South America, yet virtually unknown to the hobby.

They obviously would work really well in the leaf-litter beds that we're somewhat fond of replicating in our own aquariums, and would no doubt be popular within our tiny community of enthusiasts! They're cool enough that even hobbyists who have never heard of or seen them could be enticed to keep some if they were actually available!

Of course, I have no illusion that us 1% of the 5% of tropical fish enthusiasts who make up the segment of biotope-oriented characin lovers who keep leaf litter aquariums would even show up as an economically viable segment worth catering to by collectors!

However, what if a few of these cool fish got through...and what IF some capable hobbyists were able to breed them in viable numbers? Not only would success with obscure species like this release us from our reliance on chance collection/importation of them, it could possibly even permanently satisfy a demand- regardless of how tiny- for this cool little fish in the hobby!

And, most important, it could conceivably prevent any sort of need to continue to remove them from the wild. It's that "what if?" that keeps a lot of us dreaming!

A very selfish and kind of a fantasy-like, almost blissfully ignorant point of view, I suppose, but fun to think about, right? Yet, entire specialties in the hobby, such as killifish keeping- are built upon this idea of obtaining and breeding relatively obscure species )and variants from different geographic localities) of fishes.

(Yes we obsess...Chromaphyosemion sp.- Image by Mike PA Calnun)

And of course, it's not limited to killifishes.

I can imagine if I polled a random group of you, there would be many fishes (from different families of course) just like my little friend, Elachocharax, which would be treasured by a tiny group, and diligently maintained, spawned, and preserved for future generations to enjoy. 

So, yeah- we keep an eye out on wholesale stock lists and intently scrutinize vendors' and dealers' tanks, hoping, waiting, and watching. They may not be with us in the hobby right now- for any number of reasons, but these "out-of-sight" aspirational fishes are what keep a lot of us going...

They're always on our minds.

What's your dream fish, and when will it show up?

Do you look for "substitutes"- or hold out for the "real deal?" How badly do you want it?

Keep looking.

Stay curious. Stay alert. Stay diligent. Stay persistent. Hell- Stay relentless.

And Stay Wet.

 

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

 

December 13, 2018

0 comments


...Like a fish.

Let's face it; pretty much no matter how we 'scape a tank, our fishes will ultimately adapt to it. They'll find the places they are comfortable hiding in. The places they like to forage, sleep and spawn. 

It's what fishes do. It's what they've done for eons.

And as aquarists, what we've done for a century or so is try to create optimum conditions for the fishes we keep. This includes both the physical and chemical environment. We've talked a lot about the chemical environment, vis a vs our botanical-style blackwater systems. Today, let's just think for a few moments about the physical environment we create for our fishes, and why.

When we're planning an aquascape, we spend an enormous amount of time selecting the right materials: Rocks, wood, botanicals, etc., to get the right "feel" to our 'scape. This is a most enjoyable and interesting phase of an aquarium build, for sure- but take yourself out of the "I'm-gonna-enter-THIS-ONE-in-the-aquascaping-contest-and-place high" mindset for just a second, and put yourself into the mindset of...a fish.

Yup. Think like a fish for a second. 

I mean, sure, I'll bet that fishes like living in those insanely cool 'scapes you see in all of the contests; however, those are mainly designed and constructed for the pleasure of humans, right? They're designed for our tastes. Specifically, for human judges, who evaluate a design-based on a set of specific criteria. "Iwagumi" looks really cool, but I'd hazard a guess that you won't find many of these "submerged Stonhenge" features in the natural streams and rivers of the world.

I'm just gonna go out on a limb and make that speculation...

So what about considering just how the fishes interact with the aquascape you create? 

My suggestion?

Again: Think like a fish a bit more.

Really. It might be kind of fun-and educational- to think about where your fishes are found in the natural streams, lakes, and rivers they come from...and "work backwards." I mean, fisherman have been doing this for eons...why not fish hobbyists?

Let's look at some of the features in natural bodies of water where fishes are commonly found...this might give you some insight into how to incorporate them into an aquascape. We can kick off this occasional "series" with a very cursory look at rivers and streams, where a good chunk of the fishes we keep in aquariums seem to come from. 

Here are just a few of the many features of streams and rivers that fishes LOVE to congregate in...Think about how you might consciously incorporate some of them into your next aquascape!

First off, a few "sweeping generalities." Fishes tend to live in areas where the food and protection is, as we've talked about previously. Places that provide protection from stronger current and above-and below-water predators. Places where they can create territories, interact, spawn and defend themselves.

Bends in streams and rivers are particularly interesting places, because the swifter water movement will typically carry food, and the fishes seem to know this. And if theres a tree branch, trunk, or a big rock (or rocks) to break up the flow, there will be a larger congregation of fishes present. So, the conclusion here is that, at least in theory, if you design your scape to have a higher "open water" flow rate, and include some features like rocks and large branches, you'll likely see the fishes hanging in those areas...

In situations where you're replicating a faster-flowing stream environment, think about creating some little "rock pockets", perhaps on one side of the aquarium, to create areas of calmer water movement. Your fishes will typically orient themselves facing "upstream" to catch any food articles that happen on by. So, from a design perspective, if you want to create a cool rock feature that your fishes will likely gather in, orienting the flow towards it would be a good way to accomplish this in the aquarium. 

 

Among the richest habitats for fishes in streams and rivers are so-called "drop-offs", in which the bottom contour takes a significant plunge and increase in depth. These are often caused by current over time, or even the accumulation of rocks and fallen trees, which "dam up" the stream a bit. (extra- you see this in Rift Lakes in Africa, too...right? Yeah.) 

Fishes are often found in drop offs in significant numbers, because these spots afford depth (which thwarts the hunting efforts those pesky birds), typically slower water movement, numerous "nooks and crannies" in which to forage, hide, or spawn, and a more restive "dining area" for fishes without strong currents. From an aquascaping perspective, this gives you a lot of cool opportunities.

If you're saddled with one of those seemingly ridiculously deep tanks, a drop-off could be a perfect subject to replicate. And there are even commercially-made "drop-off" tanks now!

Overhanging trees are common in jungle areas, as we've discussed many times. Fishes will tend to congregate under trees for the dimmer lighting, "thermal protection", and food (insects and fruits/seeds) that fall off the trees into the water. And of course, if you're talking about a "leaf litter" or botanically-influenced aquascape, a rather dimly-lit, shallow tank could work out well.

Lots of leaves, small pieces of wood, and seed pods would complete a cool look. For a cool overall scene, you could introduce some riparian plants to simulate the bank as well. A rich habitat with a LOT of opportunities for the creative 'scaper!

Why not create an analogous stream/river feature that is known as an "undercut?" Pretty much the perfect hiding spot for fishes in a stream or river, and undercuts occur where the currents have cut a little cave-like hole in the rock or substrate material near the shore.

Not only does this feature provide protection from birds and other above-water predators, it gives fishes "express access" to deeper water for feeding and escaping in-water predators!

Trees growing nearby add to the attractiveness of an undercut for a fish (for reasons we just talked about), so subdued lighting would be cool here. You can build up a significant undercut with lots of substrate, rocks, and some wood. Sure, you'd have some reduced water capacity, but the effect could be really cool.

In the end, design and build the aquascape that makes you happy.

However, if you're trying to create something a bit different and perhaps a bit more true to nature, you might want to take a little "field trip" to a nearby stream, river, creek, lake, etc., where fishes and other aquatic animals reside, and observe things from the perspective of how they interact with the features of the environment. 

You should "get outside" and do this once in a while! You'll definitely leave with some inspiration, ideas, and just maybe, a slightly different perspective on aquascaping than you've previously had! 

And in the end, gaining a fresh perspective and new inspiration for your hobby is never a bad thing! So, "thinking like a fish" isn't such a bad idea, is it?

Stay inspired. Stay creative. Stay curious. Stay bold. Stay unique...

And Stay Wet.

 

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

December 12, 2018

0 comments


Fast water. Solid botanicals. Interesting concepts.

When we think of interesting ideas for aquascapes, we often have a particular fish or group of fishes in mind. It's the "traditional" way aquarists have developed aquarium schemes for a century or more.

Sometimes, we are interested in fishes from niches that require a little more research and foresight into their needs; we need to contemplate what materials to use that would more authentically "accessorize" their world!

Lately, I've been sort of interested in the ecology of streams with more water movement than the typical inundated forest floors that we tend to model our aquariums after. They are very interesting from a variety of standpoints- in particular, the "structure" that they encompass.

Current in wild streams effects the underwater "topography," with stream structures, like submerged logs, sandbars, rocks, etc. These structures, larger and heavier than say, leaves- still move around a lot as the result of the current, regularly changing the "aquascape"...Much in the way we might move a few things around now and again during maintenance! 

RIffles (defined as shallow sections of a stream with rapid current and a surface broken by gravel, rubble or boulders), with a moderately-fast-flowing current and mostly sandy bottom with tree roots, driftwood pieces, and small rocks and pebbles, are fascinating habitats. Ohh...And they're home to Darter Characins! I'm thinking cool niche biotope aquarium here! 

 

And interestingly, you'll find an unexpected abundance of some other species familiar to us as hobbyists in these "riffles."  Species like Pyrrhulina brevis, Hyphessobrycon melazonatus, the Hemiancistrus sp."L128" and Hemigrammus of various forms. And even some Nanostomus, and the killie Rivulus compressus!
I find these populations compelling, because we tend to associate a lot of these little fishes with sluggish water and more static environments, not areas exposed to greater current and movement.

 

And the overall idea of keeping an aquarium replicating such a habitat with a fair amount of current is not at all outside of the "concept" of a botanical-style approach. It's all about the concentration, diversity, and size of the materials used. 

Which of our botanicals would you use in an aquarium configured to replicate such a habitat? I'd be inclined to use (in addition to stones of various types), "heftier" botanicals, like Cariniana Pods, "Jungle Pods", Kielmeyera Pods, Mokha Pods, Perhaps a "Monkey Pot" or two, and some "Sky Fruit" Pods. Oh, and Indian Catappa Bark pieces can really tint the water nicely, in addition to providing the streamed floor aesthetic!

 

With regards to wood, I think in the type of habitat the fish comes from, you'd want something that simulates either a tangle of roots pushed downstream by the current (like Spider Wood or Senggani Root), or maybe something smooth and "log like" in configuration.

 

Chemically, it's rather interesting to note that streams with more significant current are known to have levels of dissolved phosphorus and nitrogen present in quantities sufficient to support moderate to high biomass of fishes-even under  what we might define as 'pristine" conditions. They will, of course, have higher levels of dissolved oxygen than streams or bodies of water with less current. These are sort of "biological "givens" when considering this type of habitat.

 

And where there are fishes- there are food sources...

In a study I found of the feeding habits of fishes from fast-moving streams in Brazil, it was noted that the diets of most of the resident species were (aquatic) insectivorous (35.7%), followed by detritivores (21.4%), benthivores (14.2%), omnivores (14.2%), herbivores (7.1%), and piscivores (7.1%). This is interesting, because almost all of the nutrition derived by the resident fishes is from the streams themselves, as opposed to from allochthonous sources (Foods from the surrounding habitats, like fruits, flying insects and ants, etc.- Remember those?)

This is intriguing, and not what I would expect. I'd tend to think that, with greater current, you'd see less "in situ" generation of food. Yet, these streams seem to be full of surprises, don't they?

So much to consider...More than we could even hope to cover in a teaser blog like this...My initial research yielded so many angles to explore! Hopefully, maybe- discussion of this habitat will inspire a few of you to do some further research and perhaps develop your own aquarium based on one of these "fast water" habitats?

Stay inspired. Stay curious. Stay diligent. Stay excited...

And Stay Wet.

 

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

 

 

December 11, 2018

0 comments


Nature's designs revisited...and lessons learned.

When it comes to botanical-style aquariums, the most valuable "asset" you can have is most definitely patience. The patience to understand that developing one of these systems is a process, and realizing that, like any aquarium, there are sort of "stages" or "iterations" that, if you take time to enjoy along the way, create a very satisfying and even engrossing aspect!

It's so important to look at things a bit differently than you would if you were a bit more pragmatic about the process...Just hell-bent on "getting it done" as quickly as possible...

 

One of my favorite stages of setting up an aquarium is when the "stage is set" for the tank to mature. You know: The essential "anchor" hardscape is done. The wood and botanicals that will be the largest pieces are set. The tank is emerging from that that "sterile-looking", stark appearance (You know, that look which leaves no doubt about this being "artificial"). 

It would be tempting, at this point- to just rush through and get more stuff I there; get the fishes in; plants, etc...

Nope, not me. Like most of you- I have vision.

And I have patience to let it unfold gradually, steadily.

I think you do, too. Isn't this a cool time in the life of your tank? It's about contemplation, reflection, patience.

It's setting the stage for the long term.

It's about looking at your hardscape, for example, and asking yourself if this aggregation is representative of the way a tangle of branches might slowly assemble itself, given a unidirectional flow of water...like an inundation caused by an overflowing stream? 

Maybe?

Thinking about the beauty that nature creates with her utter "randomness"; or more precisely- through the action of water, wind, current...and the passage of time.

The pic below by David Sobry gives me some interesting ideas...and context to this idea.

I've found that some of the most compelling aquascapes that I've ever seen or done- botanical-style, hardscape, planted, reef, etc.- seem to have a special "something" about them. Of course, a large part of it is the overall "look"; however, one of the things which, in my opinion, seperates good tanks from great ones is the little details...stuff that completes the underwater scene.

Not necessarily "structural" details, like anchor hardscape pieces, mind you. No, we're talking about little, subtle details which make a system more natural-looking and "shade in the corners" where needed.

I think that's where our obsession with little twigs, which motivated us to create the "Twenty Twigs" product ( a big hit!) comes from.

Details.

Those little things which make a big difference over time.

In our botanical-style world, it's little things, like bits and pieces of broken up botanical materials, like bark, the occasional larger seed pod or what not, which make your scene look much more complete and "organic."

If you take your cues from natural underwater habitats, like I do, you'll notice that they are filled with all sorts of materials- not just the more obvious leaves and branches. If you think contextually, particularly when we're talking about habitats like igapo inundated forests and igarapes ("canoeways" in the Amazonian forests), take into account that they literally are flooded forest floors.

As such, they have seemingly random aggregations of botanical materials scattered about everywhere, punctuated- or, rather defined- by larger features like fallen logs, branches, a few random rocks.

The look of sort of awkwardly-placed hardscape pieces in an aquarium might certainly not be seen as being "artistic", in the way fabulous work by my friends like Johnny Ciotti are- but, in my opinion, it's nonetheless compelling- once the details arrive to soften and fill in the scene.

Oh, I said the "D" word again.

Details.

I believe that an aquarium that attempts to replicate a sort of chaotic scene like the ones we're talking about starts with what looks like really artificial placement of wood, anchored by numerous details which soften, define, and fill in the scape. A sort of analog to the theater/motion picture concept  of "mise en scene", where pieces literally set the stage and help tell a story by providing context.

Yes, unlike a scape which depends upon growth of plants to fill it in and "evolve" it, the botanical-style blackwater/brackish aquarium is largely hardscape materials, which requires the adept placement of said materials to help fill in the scene. And of course, part of the "evolution" is the softening, redistribution, and break down of botanical materials over time...just like what happens in nature.

(One of Mike Tucc's underwater igarape pics to the rescue..again!)

I suppose this little rant could be viewed as a "defense" our "style", which on occasion has been criticized as "sloppy", "lazy", "undisciplined", etc...😆

Perhaps it is to some. However, I think it serves to re-examine what I feel is one of the foundational philosophies of the botanical-style aquarium aesthetic.

I must confess, it's an aesthetic which certainly doesn't appeal to everyone. In fact, many in the mainstream aquascaping world tended to levy all sorts of "constructive criticisms" and "Yeah, but..." comments about our practices and ideas for a while...Less these days, BTW!

And that is part of the attraction of this the of aquarium for me. Rather than conform thoroughly to some sort of "rules" based on design, layout, and technique, this type of aquarium tends to ask for very basic initial design, and lets Mother Nature handle a lot of the emerging details over time.

This is a slightly different approach to aquascaping than we usually think about. It requires some vision. It requires belief in one's ideas. It requires understanding...And it requires patience above all else.

And the passage of time.

Nature has been working with terrestrial materials in aquatic habitats for eons.

And nature works with just about everything you throw at her. She'll take that seemingly "unsexy" piece of wood or rock or bunch of dried leaves, and, given the passage of time, the action of gravity and water movement, and the work of bacteria, fungi, and algae- will mold, shape, evolve them into unique and compelling pieces, as amazing as anything we could ever hope to do...

If we give her the chance. 

If we allow ourselves to look at her work in context.

Always let nature add the details... She pretty much never messes them up!

Stay patient. Stay diligent. Stay excited. Stay creative. Stay open-minded...

And Stay Wet.

 

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

December 10, 2018

0 comments


That certain "je ne sais quoi", and other "terms of the trade" exemplified...

I have this expression that I use when describing the use of a lot of botanicals for aquascaping: "Generic tropical." 

I admit that it's actually a pretty lame descriptor, but if you think about it for just a bit, there is a certain logic to it. I mean, some materials- leaves, seed pods, etc. do have that sort of "generic" look to them which would make them represent almost any type of tropical plant once submerged in the aquarium.

Examples?

Well, one of my favorites is the Texas Live Oak leaf. These diminutive leaves could pretty much pass for a wide assortment of leaves from the trees of anything you'd find in the tropical jungle or rainforest pretty much anywhere in the world where water and foliage might meet.

 

Now, unlike some of the more "obviously Northern Hemisphere-looking" (LOL) Oak leaves, Beech, etc. these leaves can look decidedly "tropical." For that matter, other leaves, like Magnolia, have that same sort of je ne sais quoi about them which  can sort of make them pass for the fallen leaves of a typical jungle tree once submerged.

And then, there are seed pods...

For the most part, almost of the botanicals which we collectively refer to as "seed pods" (often, the "follicle" or fruit of a tree, to be technically accurate) in our collection are from various tropical locales; the ones that come from North America or other more temperate climes are either super "representative" of materials that you might find in the tropics, or are utilized for strictly more utilitarian purposes.

Case in point: The Alder Cone. 

I mean, no one is going to look at an Alder Cone and think to themselves, "Borneo, man!" Nope. On the other hand, some people really don't care, because they like the looks and aren't bothered by their decidedly non-tropical look. Others use them strictly for functional purposes- like fish breeders and shrimp hobbyists, who value these little "tint grenades" (Alder, Birch, and Casuarina) for what they are- compact "tannin delivery vehicles" and "biofilm propagation substrates!"

Functional.

And of course, there are materials which sort of fill multiple categories, earning our other engineered descriptor of "functional aesthetics." What we mean here are materials which look good and happen to provide something else, like a place for fishes to hide or spawn, or a supplemental food source- or even a significant substrate upon which biofilms can propagate, like the Latifolia Pod.

Botanicals like our most popular one, the the Carinana Pod, fall into this category, as they not only are a very authentic-looking and decidedly tropical botanical that you might find in the flooded forests of South America (or, they effectively represent something else that you might find there), they provide a function (a hiding spot or breeding cave) for fishes like Apistogramma.

Yeah, I can't tell you how many pics we've received from our community members over the past three years showing an Apistogramma cutely hunkered down in one of these pods!

And then there are materials which I just call "whimsically functional"- stuff which absolutely has no chance of being found in the habitats from which our fishes come and don't really provide anything that accurately represents a particular item you'd likely find in these habitats. For example, Cholla Wood. It's the skeleton of a cactus found in the deserts of the Southwestern United States- not exactly a "Mecca" for tropical fish habitats!

Now, Cholla has become a sort of "industry standard" for shrimp keepers and lovers of aquatic mosses.  Aquatic mosses are easy to affix to the many-faceted branches, and shrimp like grazing on the biofilms which Cholla recruits.

Now, there is really nothing inherently "wrong" about using materials which aren't found in the natural habitats of our fishes. If we are honest with ourselves, that category applies to the majority of materials which we regularly utilize in aquascaping, right?

And that's not a problem, IMHO.

I mean, sure, if you are a hardcore biotope aquarium enthusiast, and are entering a tank into one of those contests where extreme authenticity is valued, you need to take that into account. We provide- and will continue to do "deep dives" and give more origin and species information about our botanicals than you're likely to find almost anywhere else, as far as we know- so you can make informed decisions relative to your biotope aquarium.

That being said, I think we as hobbyists need to chill just a bit about the level of authenticity demanded by many of the biotope contests out there. We get really worked up; really pissy about this shit. It's kind of fun to watch from afar, actually.

Now, it does show the level of passion and commitment to the "art and science" that our hobby community has- which his great.

I have no issue with many of those standards for a biotope aquarium. They are all logical and well thought out. Where I take issue- like so many things in this hobby- is with attitudes. I mean, I've had people "call out" others because one of the leaves or whatever in a "Rio____ biotope aquarium" is "not endemic to the region", or whatever. Okay, I get your thinking, but really...

Can these armchair critics really discern the decomposing leaf of Hevea brasiliensis, Swietenia macrophylla, or Euterpe precatoria from Catappa, Guava, Jackfruit, Apple, Oak, etc? Especially after they've been submerged for a few weeks. I mean, seriously? Oh, and just because a botanical or leave or twig comes from ________, that doesn't necessarily mean that you'd find it in the water in those regions...

And, if someone cannot source these specific Amazonian leaves (news flash- you CAN'T at the moment because of restrictions on their export...thankfully), for example- does that invalidate the aquarium from consideration as a "biotope aquarium?"

It really shouldn't, IMHO. Am I missing the point here? I don't think so...

At the end of the day, I think that everyone can and should put aside their interpretive differences and come to an agreement that just about any aquarium intended to replicate on some level, a specific wild habitat, ecological niche, or area where a certain fish or fishes are found- is hugely important.

Why?

Because it calls attention to the habitats and environments themselves. It creates a starting point for discussion, research, debate...It raises awareness of the challenges that many habitats face with the encroachment of man's activities. It most certainly makes us appreciate the fragility of life- the genius of nature, and the incredible diversity and beauty of our home planet.

We all want to represent- as accurately and faithfully as possible- the biotopic niches that we're into. And that is incredibly cool! However, when we get caught up in semantics and petty arguments for the sake of...well, for the sake of "being right"- who does this help?

Who does it hurt?

Well, doesn't this kind of criticism hurt those who are in a unique position to use their aquarium hobby talents to maybe, MAYBE reach a few non-hobbyists with their beautiful tank...perhaps raising awareness of the plight of that Borneo peat swamp or African flood plain, for example? Does it discourage them from trying again in the future and sharing their work with the world?

Yeah. I think it does. And that sucks.

We need to lose the attitude on this topic.

I think many aquariums can be accurately labeled "biotope-inspired" or "biotope-style" aquarium and be a very reasonable representation of a specific aquatic habitat. I think a lot of the cool work our community does is at that level. There is nothing wrong with that at all.

We want to inspire and facilitate good work in this hobby area and others.

Our goal of becoming one of the world's leading providers of natural aquascaping materials and inspiration for aquarists of all types requires us to empower you with the information you need and the capability of curating your own selections of materials. It's why we've ditched most of the cute names of our botanicals. It's why we are giving you species and location information about them. It's why we no longer offer pre-configured "variety packs" of botanicals in favor of "a la carte" selections. 

Yeah, it's all about YOU!

Enjoy the hobby the way you want...but please check those attitudes. Question things that bother you. Take a stand- even if it's not popular or "cool" to do so.  This is supposed to be fun! In fact, it IS fun.

And pretty darned educational, too.

Let's keep it that way.

Stay engaged. Stay passionate. Stay educated. Stay collegial. Stay friendly. Stay helpful...

And Stay Wet.

 

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

 

 

December 09, 2018

0 comments


Behind the botanical: Meet The Mokha Pod

One of the many geeky things I occasionally do is to sit back and reflect upon the types of aquariums that we create and consider the whole idea that we add natural botanical materials to our aquariums. I mean, it's a perfectly normal sort of thing...it happens in nature all the time. Stuff falls from trees and surrounding shrubs into streams, or onto the forest floor, only to be submerged when the rains flood the forest seasonally.

We get that.

And we're kind of borderline "obsessed" with these habitats, right?

Yeah.

The funny part is that we just sort of add different botanicals to our tanks, often with little consideration to what these seed pods and such that we're tossing in actually are; where they come from, and what they "bring to the table." We never gave a ton of detail on them other than their good looks.

I think this should change.

So, I thought that it might be nice to take a "deep dive" from time to time at some of the cool botanicals we offer here at Tannin, and offer you a bit more information about them that you might be able to contemplate when selecting them for use in your next aquarium project! We call it "Behind the Botanical!" (probably more than you care to know about each one, but hey, this is what geeks do...)

Today, let's focus on one of our "core" botanicals...

A seed pod which we've worked with for years, and one which has become one of our most popular: The (newly re-named) "Mokha Pod." Yeah, those of you Tannin "regulars" will remember that we used to call this pod the "Lampada Pod", which is the Portuguese word for "light bulb"- because its general shape reminded us of a classic light bulb!

After undertaking our concerted effort to ditch the fictitious names, we've re-christened it "Mokha Pod", which reflects the Hindi language term (used in the region of India where it comes from) for the tree on which the seed pod is found.

Botanists know this species as Shrebera swietenioides. It's a member of the family Oleaceae...olives! Now, this isn't the kind you'd eat...Let's just get that out of the way. The number of species in the Oleaceae is over 700 species (including Ash, Jasmine, and a few other well-known trees and shrubs), with members found in regions as far-ranging as Africa, India, Australia, and South America. Our supplier of Shrebera swietenioides is located in India, and it's a pretty common in that region. 

The Shrebera swieteniodes tree is a deciduous tree with a large, dense crown; it can grow up to 60 feet/20 meters tall!  The wood of this tree is very "close-grained", heavy, hard and quite durable. It's less prone to cracking or warping than many other woods in the region, and has become a favorite of weavers to use in the construction of many parts of their looms, particularly for the beam, and has earned the title, "Weaver's Beam Tree" in its native region! 

(The "Weaver's Beam Tree" in all its glory- Image by Raffi Kojian ( Image used under CC BY-SA 4.0)

"Mokha Pods" are actually the fruit capsule of the tree, and are woody, protective shells for the delicate fruit. It's thought by locals that the fruit has some medicinal benefits.

Of course, what we love is the fact that the fruit capsules are "woody"- as this means that they're durable, "structurally functional", and aesthetically interesting for our purposes!

And, like seed capsules of many tropical trees, they do contain compounds like  polyphenols, flavonoids and, of course- tannins. We can make that very anecdotal "jump" and perhaps infer that these compounds are released into the water when they are submerged, much like has been done with Catappa or other botanicals! 

Now, the Mokha Pods we receive from our supplier come in two "versions", if you will: The "sections", which are just that- halves of the fruit capsule, and "Split Mokha Pods", which are the more intact, slightly opened capsule (formerly called the amusing title of "Snapping Lampada Pod").

Of the two "varieties," the "split" version are a bit more scarce, and arguably more iinteresting for those who intend to use them for  shelter for small fishes or shrimp. They are useful for that purpose in much the same way an inverted clam shell would be in a reef aquarium, only more suited for the types of aquatic systems we work with, of course.

At this point, I am stepping back to clap myself up for writing what has arguably been the longest- and ONLY - dissertation on Shrebera swietenioides ever written in an aquarium-related blog. Yeah, so those of you who find some other vendor somewhere selling these pods (likely under what I can now confidently call a "stupid, made-up name!") for a dollar less or whatever- ask yourself...Is the savings really worth it? Don't you get more value from us? Where else can learn this much about a seed pod for aquarium use?

Wait, don't answer that! LOL.

We find that boiling these pods for at least 45 minutes to an hour is needed to break down the lignin in their tissue and get them saturated enough to sink. Place them in a pot of water and bring it to a steady boil. Continue to "cook" these pods for a minimum of one hour, prodding them periodically with a wooden spoon to push them under water for greater saturation.

Like most botanicals with woody tissues, they'll leach out a small amount of tannins initially, but not to the same extent as most leaves or bark, etc. These pods are a really great aesthetic component for your 'scape, offering that "generic tropical" look that will no doubt work in all sorts of aquascapes! Of course, for a Southeast Asian or Indian-Inspired biotope aquarium or vivarium, these would be truly great to use.

They last a very long time submerged- especially if you don't have fishes like Plecos rasping at them. In fact, I've found them completely intact (covered in biofilm, but none the worse for wear) after more than a year underwater!

We hope you've enjoyed this "deeper dive" into this popular botanical; if nothing else, we hope it's inspired you to look beyond just the pretty looks and to contemplate where your botanicals come from, how they grow, and what sort of possibilities await you when you use them in your aquatic display! 

Stay intrigued. Stay curious. Stay inspired. Stay creative. Stay unique...

And Stay Wet.

 

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

 

 

 

December 08, 2018

0 comments


Changing with the seasons..."Wet" vs. "Dry..."

In our aquariums, we model so many aspects of the natural habitats that we are intrigued with, yet one of the most "in our face", yet seldom-considered is the impact that seasonal changes have on the biotopes we are interested in.

Yeah...you know, the "wet season" and the "dry season." Both create profoundly different circumstances which affect the habitat, the colony, and the fishes themselves. What an interesting element to consider when creating or managing an aquarium, right?

In the Amazon, the wettest part of the wet season occurs between December and May. During the wet season, the Amazon rainforest receives as much as 6 to 12 feet of rain (1.98- 3.6m), which can cause rivers like the Amazon to rise as much as 40 feet (12m), flooding the surrounding forest areas! The fishes adapt by moving into these areas that were previously barren and dry, foraging among the now-submerged trees, grasses, and plants.

We know this, and we spend a great deal of time in our community attempting to replicate this dynamic season in our aquariums. It's one of the types of habitats I think we love duplicating the most around here, for sure. 

What about the "dry season?" When the water level is lower, the nutrient levels might be a bit higher. What happens in nature that we might be able to duplicate? 

For one thing, recent studies have shown that rainforest trees and plants actually "flush" (grow new leaves) shortly before the arrival of the dry season. It's postulated that there is something in their "genetic programming" that allows them to prepare for the onset of the relatively "light-rich" dry season, to get them ready for  enhanced photosynthetic activity.

So the takeaway here for aquarists who want to replicate the "dry season?" I'm thinking more leaves and botanicals in the water...brighter lighting. Yeah, even the dry season could be replicated in an interesting manner in our aquariums...Perhaps ( I can hear the alternating moans and cheers from different corners now!) less frequent water exchanges, higher light intensities (yes, ANOTHER reason to utilize LEDs in your tank!), and maybe even less frequent feedings...

These are just a few small "edits" we can make to the configuration and management of our natural, biotope-inspired aquariums. "Edits" which aim to recreate a very different part of the ecosystem than we typically will tackle as aquarists.

Simple "edits" which can create potentially profound and significant breakthroughs as we learn more and more about our fishes and the environments from which they come. 

And these "seasonal changes" are just a few of the many, many different ways to replicate natural process in our aquariums!

What's next?

Stay fascinated. Stay intrigued. Stay creative. Stay inspired...

And Stay Wet.

 

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

 

1 2 3 105 Next »