So, one of the questions we receive often here at Tannin is, "What are the advantages of a blackwater-type aquarium, and why would I want to try one?"
It's a broad, but very logical question, which I can attempt answer in broad, hopefully logical terms!
In no particular order, here are some of the many reasons why you might want to embrace "The Tint" in your next aquarium:
1) It's different.- Yeah, anyone can set up a planted tank with clear water, colorful fishes, and natural gravel. It takes an adventurous aquarist to try something truly different- brown water, crumbling leaves, the occasional spot of encrusting algae...just like in nature! A totally different aesthetic experience than we're used to. I remember, during my tenure as co-owner of Unique Corals, the funny comments I'd get from reefers who came into my office and checked out the "high concept" 20 gallon blackwater tank I had: "Umm, I think you need to change the water in there...kinda dirty, huh?" Priceless.
2) Many fishes come from "blackwater" habitats, and this a more natural environment for them.- Although many fishes, such as Tetras, cichlids, and Discus (a few that come to mind) are bred in captive conditions, I personally have yet to see one of these which doesn't seem to look better, be healthier, and act more naturally in a blackwater environment. Yes, you need to acclimate them slowly, and yes, you need to apply common sense, but the benefits for your animals will become very evident over time.
3) A blackwater environment embraces different elements than a traditional planted aquarium does.- Yeah, you're not able to keep every type of aquatic plant in a blackwater tank. You'd want to research which plants specifically hail from these environments and can adapt and thrive under these conditions. Blackwater tanks lend themselves to amazing hardscape, consisting of wood, botanicals, and stones. A completely unique aesthetic experience for many hobbyists.
At Tannin Aquatics, we've done our best to aggregate many different natural materials for you to work with to create unique biotope displays. We're constantly researching, refining, and tweaking our offering to help you enjoy different aesthetic experiences!
4) You'll be able to more realistically replicate a wider variety of biotopes than before.- Yeah, since there are many environments, like the "Morichals" of South America, and the temporary creeks of Central Africa, that have been replicated and represented on a very limited basis in the hobby, you'll be able to more faithfully represent them in an aquarium by utilizing aggregations of different natural materials!
5) You'll be in on the ground floor of a "New Botanical" movement.- Sure, people have played with wood and leaves before, but I don't think with the mindset that we've seen lately. In other words, hobbyists who incorporate botanicals and such into their aquarium nowadays are looking at things more "holistically', embracing the natural processes, such as the breakdown of materials, accumulation of biofilms, and even the occasional spot of algae, as part of the environment to be studied and enjoyed, rather than to be loathed, feared and removed. We're learning more about the interactions between our fishes and these unique environments, and the opportunities to share this new knowledge are endless!
Okay, that's the most cursory, quick list of some of the reasons why "blackwater" is something we feel you should be playing with in an aquarium. The endless opportunities for experimentation, creativity, expression, and education are just a few of the wonderful benefits that you'll enjoy as you open your eyes- and minds- to a new and very different approach to aquarium keeping.
Stay creative. Stay open-minded.