Last week, I took a little time to really check out my latest tank. The botanicals are really starting to have an impact- the water is darkening nicely, pH is holding steady at 6.8. It's looking great.
One day, I really noticed my Rummynose Tetras- they were as red in the nose as any I've ever seen, and the silver grey color on their flanks was popping with some flecks of blue. And my Pencilfishes (whatever species they are), suddenly developed red anal and ventral fins, with streaks of red in the tails and body...Could they be N. beckfordi? We'll see!
I had occasion to visit the tank of a good friend; a real master of the "ADA style" planted aquarium. His tanks are beautiful. One, in particular, had a stunning array of Tetras (in case you didn't know, they're like my faves). His fish were healthy; beautiful.
However, HIS Rummynoses were not quite as intense in the flanks, and the red- well, it was way more washed out in comparison to mine. In fact, in my unbiased (LOL) opinion, I'd say that ALL his fishes, healthy and beautiful though they were, just didn't have the same chromatic vibrance as mine.
Anecdotally, I'd chalk it up to environment. Of course, one could take into account food, overall husbandry, etc.). Could this whole "blackwater thing" really be making the difference?
Well, we he came by my house to check out my tanks, my friend was blown away by the color intensity of...my Rummynose Tetras...and virtually every other fish in the tank. Being an experienced, knowledgable hobbyist, the brownish water didn't phase him a bit, and he left with some botanicals and a pledge to set up a tank "New Botanical" style to see for himself.
Now, the point of this brief post is not to say how running a blackwater tank is the best way to keep tetras, or that my tank is better than my friends. No. The point is that, there is some merit to running a system under conditions that at least partially replicate some aspects of the natural environment of the subject fishes.
I realize that dark brown water and a pile of "twigs and nuts" is not everyone's "cup of tea" (pun intended), but the reason you see me keep singing the praises of this approach, along with plenty of others, is that it does create just another option to create a beautiful aquarium with healthy, active fishes.
If you're looking for something a bit different, give a "blackwater" system a try..You might just like it!
Stay open minded as the water darkens...become "enlightened!"
And stay wet.