Trying something new, yet familiar...

It’s a real leap of faith for us fish geeks to try something new, isn’t it?

I mean, we’ve done things pretty successfully, with some gradual iterations along the way- for the better part of 100 or so years…

Sure, there have been changes in basic technology- like frozen foods, freeze-dried foods, under gravel filters, internal water pumps, wet-dry filters…canister filters. We’ve gone through different types of stuff like aquarium substrates for planted tanks…and the application of liquid fertilizers and CO2- stuff that used to seem so exotic and unfamiliar is now just the way it’s done, right?

It’s not always easy getting fish people to adapt new methods, equipment, or ideas…It’s almost like we have to see the relevance to what we do before we consider it…There has to be some element of familiarity, it seems.

The odd, but well-treaded analogy of the California Roll resonates well here. Huh? "What are you talking about, Fellman?" Stay with me, here…


Remember not too many years ago, the whole concept of sushi was- well- alien to many Americans of non-Japanese ancestry.  Back in the late 1970’s, or so the story goes, owners of Japanese restaurants were just nots sure how to get Americans into sushi..Eventually, someone made a roll, consisting of ingredients that were almost entirely recognizable to  the American palette: Rice, cucumber, and crab. The little bit of nori that wrapped the whole thing up was a stretch- but the majority of the roll was produced with entirely familiar ingredients. It caught on- big time- and became the “gateway drug” for the sushi addiction here in the U.S. Now, it’s pretty much the most “basic” of the sushi rolls- but I’ll bet that in 1977, most Americans would freak about it if they were offered it at a restaurant!


And that’s how it is with our fish stuff, right?

We accepted the idea of the “Nature Aquarium” in America, with it’s rigid adherence to aquascaping layout “rules” and such, it was sort of a sea change…but it also was an evolution or change from what we had in the past…It incorporated familiar components (plants, rocks, wood, but assembled them in a different way.


The modern reef aquarium, which for all arguments sake emerged around 1986. Adapting the technological advance of the trickle filter from sewage treatment technology, the ability to keep delicate marine animals and corals for extended periods of time finally emerged...We'd been keeping saltwater fishes for years with canister filters, under gravel filters, etc., but finally had an off-the-shelf solution to accomplish things in a different way...


It was like that with the first freeze-dried foods…live stuff that was preserved in a different manner than previously done…and it made our lives better and easier, in terms of our fish keeping…And so it goes with electronic controllers, LED lights, etc., etc.- Familiar ideas expressed in new ways…

That’s what pushes the hobby forward. In our case, the idea of using “botanicals” in our aquariums is not groundbreaking…it’s just a bit different than what we’ve been doing in the past…a tiny, tiny incremental change in our practices. And pushing you to embrace things like cod-fiber and leaves as a big component of your substrate is just an evolution of what we've been doing for decades..

 Every new fish that’s bred, every new idea that’s executed and perfected. They all make things so familiar to us that much better…

Ponder that...until next time.


And stay wet!


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics






Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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