A promise. A purpose. A...Pin?

When I first started Tannin Aquatics, the idea was to share my love of very unique aquarium interpretations of natural aquatic environments with my fellow hobbyists. Like many ventures, it involved a certain amount of ambition, uncertainty, and risk. Initially, there was a little "resistance" from some corners of the hobby to my philosophies and ideas, which was not unexpected. The "establishment" pushed back for a while. However, it didn't take all that long before we found our "tribe", and our ideas and philosophies merged. 

We founded Tannin with some important goals: To inspire, educate, enlighten, encourage, dispel old preconceptions, and to push the hobby into some different directions. To call attention to Nature and the precious aquatic habitats of the world. To highlight some very unique and dynamic habitats that the hobby may have overlooked, before it's too late. 

We promised to bring you a view of the hobby from a "slightly different perspective"- and you've jumped on it, for which we're truly grateful. Without your support, we'd literally be a bunch of fish geeks playing with twigs and leaves and seed pods (hey, wait a minute- we still ARE!😆). 

Occasionally, over the years, we've asked you to support some worthy causes and organizations and their work. One of the most worthy is the Freshwater Life Project, led by noted aquarist/explorer/author, Chris Englezou. FWLP conducts valuable research projects around the world to study and help preserve aquatic ecosystems and the animals which reside in them. 


Indeed, their mission statement makes their aims very clear: 

"The Freshwater Life Project was created by a small team of independent researchers in the hope of making real changes to support, protect, and preserve aquatic habitats around the world. The concept aims to implement tangible measures to conserve wetlands, lakes, rivers, and other aquatic habitats so that we may protect the future of all types of biodiversity which rely on them and ensure freshwater ecosystems thrive well into the future; our vision is one where human and environmental development occurs sustainably and simultaneously."

FWLP is involved with several important and exciting projects. One active project that your donation may support is exploring the possibility of re-introducing the possibly extinct Blenny, Salaria fluviatillis to its wild habitat in Cyprus.

Per Chris: We will work with authorities and in line with EU regulations and water framework directives to establish at least one natural flowing river in the Lemesos district of Cyprus, which as part of a comprehensive restoration program in cooperation with local people and businesses, can be the site of a re-introduction project for the only indigenous exclusively freshwater dwelling fish species of Cyprus, Salaria fluviatilis – a species presumed extinct after 109 years absent.

The Objectives

  • Complete genetic analyses of diagnostic material from Cypriot Salaria to identify its correct taxonomy and therefore its closest living relative.
  • Complete an island-wide survey which includes the Northern territory to determine for certain the absence or presence of the species.
  • Locate appropriate habitat suitable (or potentially suitable subject to restoration) for Salaria and identify aquatic biodiversity with priority for re-discovering Salaria in Cypriot waters using traditional as well as modern techniques such as eDNA sampling.
  • Assess the ongoing impact factors including those such as local construction, pollution and waste disposal (including effluent drainage) and dams against the likelihood of successful re-introduction of Salaria.
  • Educate local residents and businesses to the project and teach them how to implement appropriate changes that support their local environment; actively seek their support to ensure its success and highlight the benefits it will bring them.

According to the FWLP, "Salaria sp. “Cyprus” is the only known indigenous fish species to have exclusively inhabited the islands freshwater ecosystems, re-discovery or re-introduction of the species to its native waters would help Cyprus to once again have native fish swimming in its rivers. We expect that it would also provide a renewed interest and incentive to support nature conservation in Cyprus, which has a well known history of mistakes with freshwater conservation (DDT campaigning, non-native species introductions and poor enforcement of environmental legislation)."

Bold ambitions require dedicated people, diligent attention to detail, and the most practical of requirements- funding. The FWLP, like many other worthy organizations, relies on the generous donations from people worldwide. As aquarium hobbyists, we couldn't think of a more worthy cause and ambitious goal to support. In my recent discussions with Chris, he explained to me the group's next project:

"Our team will conduct an important biodiversity survey along a never-before researched river in the rainforest of Brunei. Brunei is the least explored territory of Borneo island, and home to some of the island's last intact primary rainforest; it may well be the only safe haven for dozens of threatened species which exist nowhere else on Earth, and are suffering from the effects of a rapidly developing world..."

Objectives for this project are:

  • Assess potential for application of a long-term biodiversity monitoring program and determine which survey techniques are appropriate to the study area.
  • Gather valuable data on the distribution and living conditions of species in the target area, particularly new species and endangered and endemic mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fishes from Brunei.
  • Install monitoring equipment using non-intrusive methods to collect evidence of terrestrial species present within the target area.
  • Record observations of any anthropogenic impacts and report any contraventions of the national park regulations to the relevant authorities

The findings from this survey will be published in respected scientific journals and be used to support the case for ongoing conservation for the habitat and all of the species relying on it.


And of course, as hobbyists concerned with critically threatened environments like Borneo, we have a keen interest in studying and preserving them. Supporting such worthwhile organizations as FWLP and their ongoing work is essential to the survival of this precious natural habitat. What can we as hobbyists do to support this work? What could Tannin offer to our customers to help make a cool contribution?

Me and our Creative Director, Johnny Ciotti, spent a lot of time considering various ways to help raise funds for this worthy charity. We wanted to come up with something that's fun, interesting, and can make everyone who participates feel good. Something that, through your purchases, could make a direct donation to FWLP. After much discussion, brainstorming, and head-scratching, Johnny came up with the idea of something collectible. Something that hobbyists would enjoy wearing, collecting, and displaying....

And of course, as these things go, sometimes the best answers are "hiding in plain sight!"  It turned out that one of our friends and fellow aquarists, the talented Alex Franqui, designs and manufacturers the perfect item- collectible enamel pins! Now, I admit, at first, I wasn't all that familiar with the popularity and "culture" of pin collecting. After a little research and further discussion with Alex and Johnny, I learned that this was an incredibly popular endeavor...And fun, too!

Alex is a designer by trade, and an extremely talented aquarist and aquascaper by advocation! He knew exactly what we were looking for! In his own words:

That's when the enamel fish pin idea came! What better than to collect, wear, and share your favorite aquarium fish species? There's so much versatility with an enamel pin, whether you use it as an accessory or simply collect them to display...These are for fish hobbyists and aquascapers, after all...and I know how detail-oriented we are, so the end result had to be a high-quality hard enamel pin that is anatomically correct in approximate size, color, and shape, leaving no question of what species you have!


My goal was to partner with the right organizations to create a product with the love of the fish hobby and aquascaping in mind.  Something that can spark conversation, introduce new people, and simply bring the aquarium community together! I hope that these pins can do just that!"

We're pretty sure that they can.

We decided to release a set of pins that feature some of our favorite blackwater fishes: The Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi), Rummynose Tetra (Hemigrammus rhodostomus), and my personal fave, the Tucano Tetra, Tucanoichthys tacano! 

The fishes are represented in vivid full-color with rich detail and quality construction. You'll enjoy this collectible set for many years to come! It's your chance to grab a full set of wearable art in this limited run- all while helping support a most worthwhile cause!


With every purchase of a limited series pin, we will be donating a portion of proceeds and bringing awareness to the Freshwater Life Project (U.K. Charity No. 1172393). Now, I must admit that I was quite surprised with the incredible response to this limited release of pins thus far. Your enthusiasm has been amazing, and they're being snapped up pretty quickly! The fact that they are a limited release might have something to do with it, too! Oh, and the fact that they're kind of cool, in our less-than-humble opinion!

Be sure to grab your set fast, because it's a limited release! Once this set is gone, it's gone! 😎


I know that I speak for all of us hear at Tannin, and the dedicated people of Freshwater Life Project, when I say "THANK YOU!" for your generous support. We look forward to many more such collaborations. We're excited to see the amazing and valuable work that will arise, in part because of your donations! It's so greatly appreciated- and important for us as hobbyists to support and call attention to such worthwhile projects.

Stay connected. Stay Supportive. Stay concerned. STAY INVOLVED...

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman
Tannin Aquatics 

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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