Not long ago, I was amusingly distracted watching my office aquarium, observing a little piece of leaf floating about in the current. I don't really know why, but it somehow made me ponder how different I have approached virtually everything in my botanical aquarium than I do in any other one I keep.
One of the things you get used to in a botanical-themed aquarium is, of course, decomposing leaves, softening botanicals, and the occasional strand of biofilm. And with these things, occasionally, a piece will break off and float around in the current...I remember in years past, in my reef tanks, or "clearwater" FW tanks, I'd be incredibly aggravated by little bits of "stuff" floating in the water column, and would pretty much drop whatever I was doing and reach for the net to remove the offensive material, whatever it was.
However, when I started playing with the blackwater, botanical-themed tanks, I realized that seeing the occasional bit of debris (typically leaves or "shells" of botanicals) didn't aggravate me in the least. In fact, I found that I kind of like it. I've watched enough of Ivan Mikolji's videos and seen enough of Mike Tuccinardi's pics of natural blackwater habitats to accept that the dynamic in nature is that, well- occasionally, there is "stuff" floating in the water.
And you just have to accept this in an aquarium that utilizes these natural materials.
Now, it doesn't mean that it's cool to have uneaten food, or huge pieces of leaves, dead fishes and such floating about in your tank. However, it does mean that little bits of stuff sort of "goes with the territory" of what we do, and that this is nature. This is what happens in the wild, and there is no particular reason why it isn't acceptable to see it in our aquariums from time to time.
Again, it's one of those "mental; shifts" we have to make, understanding and appreciating the fact that the "aesthetic" of a blackwater/botanical aquarium is far different from the "nature aquarium" that has been presented to us in the aquatic press for so long.
It's not an excuse for sloppy husbandry, or neglecting the removal of offensive materials. However, it IS a sort of acceptance of the fact that "stuff happens" in nature- and in aquariums- and that many of these things are simply not worth getting upset about. I mean, if you have an aquarium with brown water, and substrate dominated by decomposing leaves and softening botanicals, it shouldn't come as any surprise that an occasional piece might break off and float around before settling somewhere else in the aquarium.
I find it strongly relaxing; oddly amusing, actually. Perhaps..maybe, these transient, ephemeral moments are the exact embodiment of the idea of "wabi-sabi" that Takashi Amano wrote about so often?
Just another nuance; another little transient thing- another mental shift we have to make when keeping one of these amazing aquariums.
Going with the flow...literally. Not stressing..just accepting. And appreciating. Think about THAT the next time you see a little pice of leaf in the current...
Stay relaxed. Stay engaged. Stay appreciative. Stay obsessed..
And Stay Wet