Wow, hard to believe that 2016 is done...These years go quickly, don't they? As we complete the first full calendar year of operations at Tannin, we barely paused to reflect on how far we've come...partially because we're too busy focusing on the present- and more important, the future!
Yeah, I've never personally been a fan of so-called "New Year's resolutions; I mean, if you're going to change something, just do it, to coin a phrase. However, I do like having goals and lists of stuff to pursue and accomplish, and I suppose you could make an argument that just creating a list of "to-do's" IS a "resolution" of sorts...
Anyways, here are some of the things that we are interested in finding out more about in 2017- and the best part about this list is it's stuff for YOU- the "Tint Community" can help answer!
Here are just a few:
1) Finding our "how many_________" it takes to: a) lower the pH in a given amount of RO/DI water, b) how quickly it can happen in said water, and c) how long this capability lasts
Now, I have always asserted that using botanicals in your aquarium is not really a "formula", because everyone's water parameters vary, and natural materials probably have some variation in the exact amount of tannins and humic substances a "Coco Curl", for example, can impart into the water. However, it would be kind of interesting to figure out a sort of "average" baseline for various botanicals which could tell us a bit more definitively that, "In 4 liters of RO/DI water, it took ___ Coco Curls 24 hours to reduce the pH of the water by .02" or whatever. I recall someone doing an experiment like this with Alder Cones some years back, and it was most interesting. If nothing more, we'd have a more definitive idea as to how many "_____________" you might need to get a given effect in a typical aquarium. A big project, but one which would be both interesting and enlightening for a lot of hobbyists, we think!
2) A definitive study on how long various leaves last in a typical blackwater aquarium before breaking down.
Again, there will be tons of variables and "over-generalization" will probably haunt the results, but again, a study like this could give us a better idea as to how many of what leaf to use in constructing a leaf litter bed that is both aesthetically practical and functional over the long haul. I mean, I've done very casual "research" on this stuff over the years, and can tell you with a fair degree of certainty which leaves seem to last the longest, but a more careful, controlled study might yield some more definitive information.
3) Long-term detailed water analysis of a botanical-influenced blackwater aquarium.
Now, I'm not talking about every single parameter, but it would be cool if someone other than me had accumulated some long-term "operating data" on their blackwater aquarium. For example, measuring pH, hardness, TDS along over the long term, and correlating them with the appearance, health, and vitality of both the aquarium and livestock can yield plenty of interesting clues as to how these systems "trend." And if you monitor other parameters, such as nitrate, phosphate, and even redox, I'll bet there are some interesting correlations and trends that can be found. A "year in the life" study would be really cool!
4) "Application experiments" for botanicals.
Sounds fancy, but I'm just trying to put a label on the idea of figuring out what are some good alternatives to simply placing botanicals into the aquarium and still getting great blackwater and all of its benefits. In other words, would it work best to employ a fluidized reactor, media bag in a canister filter, or some other method of "actively engaging" botanicals as a form of "filter media", as opposed to simply utilizing them in the aquascape? This could be fun because we might get some really definitive answers about the best way to employ botanicals in bare breeding systems or rearing tanks, for example.
5) "Random Stuff"
There are SO many interesting projects that we can work with to learn more about long-term management of blackwater/botanical tanks. I mean, we've only recently scratched the surface (no pun intended) about creating and managing "deep litter beds" for the long term, and ways to incorporate botanicals into all sorts of systems...I even have this fantasy about using botanicals in a marine tank in a reactor to see if the humic substances they impart could prevent the dreaded "HLLE" affliction.
6) Really studying wild habitats of our fishes and working on more realistic representations of them, both aesthetically and environmentally.
Some exciting "field work" is already being done by aquarist/travelers, and this will continue to yield valuable information as we study the wild habitats more thoroughly. And of course, there is the whole aspect of simply doing more unique aquascapes, and interesting biopic representations of habitats around the world, some of which we've touched on in "The Tint"- "Igarapes", Asian Peat Bogs, African Mud Holes, "Igapos", and all sorts of other ideas yet to be played with. In my opinion, this is the most exciting area, because studying and attempting to replicate these unique aquatic environments in our aquariums is one of the joys of our hobby. Far more interesting- and beneficial- than replicating last year's "World Championship" aquascape.
So...there you have just a few of the 2017 "to do" items that we can all tackle together. No doubt, you have more of your own. Let's hear about 'em. And let's keep communicating, learning, and most important- sharing- so that the growing, global community of botanical/blackwater enthusiasts can serve as a model for the hobby of what can be accomplished when passionate, dedicated, creative aquarists "go for it."
Bring on 2017! We'll see you on the other side...Happy New Year from all of us at Tannin.
We're just getting started.
Stay bold. Stay engaged. Stay creative. Stay open-minded.
And Stay Wet.