It's fun how thought processes evolve in the hobby.
In our world of blackwater/botanical-style aquariums, we're now at a phase where enough people have gotten through the "Will this kill my fish?" part of the equation, and we've now moved on to "How can I facilitate maximum benefits to my fishes with a blackwater, botanical-style aquarium?"
Many of us are even moving beyond just the pretty look of the botanical-style aquarium, and moving into a deeper stage of understanding how our aquariums function as miniature ecosystems.
Now, one thing that's unique about the botanical-style approach is that we tend to accept the idea of decomposing materials accumulating in our systems. We understand that they act, to a certain extent, as "fuel" for the micro and macrofauna which reside in the aquarium, and that they perform this function as long as they are present I the system.
I have long been one the belief that if you decide to let the botanicals remain in your aquarium to break down and decompose completely, that you shouldn't change course by suddenly removing the material all at once.
The point is, our aquariums, much like the wild habitats we strive to replicate, are constantly evolving, accumulating new materials, and creating new physical habitats for fishes to forage among. New food sources and chemical/energy inputs are important to the biological diversity and continuity of the flooded forests and streams of the tropics, and they play a similar role in our aquariums.
We add leaves and botanicals periodically, not just for an aesthetic "refresh", but for a "re-charge" of the biome within our tanks. This is a fascinating spect of the botanical style aquarium. It facilitates the cycle of growth, nutrient accumulation, and decomposition. It becomes not only part of our practice, but it's part of the "system" we are trying to facilitate.
I'm fascinated by the "mental adjustments" that we need to make to accept the aesthetic and the processes of natural decay, fungal growth, the appearance of biofilms, and how these affect what's occurring in the aquarium. It's all a complex synergy of life and aesthetic.
And we have to accept nature's input here.
Nature dictates the speed by which this decomposition process occurs. We set the stage for it- but Nature is in full control. As an aquarist with a botanical-style aquarium, it's our "job" to observe and know when- or if- to intervene by adding or removing botanicals as they break down.
Nuance. Art. Challenge. Fascination.
Beyond the pretty looks. That's where the real magic lies.
Stay observant. Stay curious. Stay appreciative. Stay open-minded. Stay introspective. Stay patient...
And Stay Wet.