Botanicals- Top to applications/new ideas/new thinking...

The botanical/blackwater "evolution" is in full swing. Hobbyists worldwide are trying new things, sharing amazing new tank setups, and exploring new avenues of applying botanicals in their systems. It's a very progressive, exciting, and "fluid" time, and we're really happy to be one of the proponents of this movement! Every day, we receive pics and videos from hobbyists worldwide, proudly sharing their amazing work!

Let's be clear about one thing: No one individual or company "controls" things, and there are no real "mysteries." We didn't "invent" this stuff. We've worked with it for years. Studied it. Sourced it. Nuanced it. Romanced it. Branded it. Elevated it. Shared our love for it, in over 500 daily blogs since we started. Supported clubs and hobbyists worldwide. Received some nice accolades. We've seen others get into the game- great for the hobby! And the botanicals? Sure, you can find some of these materials all over the world. You can purchase them from us- or others. (I mean, we'd rather you purchase them through us...). Although,we're certain that some of our upcoming "next gen" stuff is going to blow you away, and you simply won't find it anywhere else (heh, heh, heh).

And you? Your work inspires everyone. And there are no dogmatic rules to hold you back! No one here telling you that you "Can't do that!"

Super cool.

You can innovate, iterate, and postulate. And share. Oh, and you know what else? You're helping to make a difference in the world by helping us support Project Piaba!  We hope to eventually sponsor some research into the habitats and fishes that we cherish so much, and perhaps at some point, sponsor some expeditions and even scholarships or research projects. It's not just about selling leaves and stuff, trust me. It's about legacy, and making a difference.

Oh, and I totally want to sponsor a surf team. LOL

And whats really cool is that we've seen a growing, global body of work that's both educational AND inspiring!  We have a community that arose organically around Tannin that I couldn't be more proud of. I learn from you people every day, and it's incredible! No attitude. No bashing. No hate. It's super cool.

We've even seen trends...

(Mike Bognich...Blackwater Adventurer)

Now, it seems funny to use the word "trend"in the context of this New Botanical" movement (which up until recently might have been seen as more of a "fad" or "trend" itself than anything else you could call it), but I think there are actually a few trends that we are seeing, in terms of concepts and ideas that hobbyists are playing with. And although it may seem like some of the stuff we're talking about here as "citing edge ideas" is ridiculously simple, it really sort of IS. There is a tremendous effort to understand just what botanical items do when submerged; How they affect the aquatic environment, and what the long-term impact of botanicals in the aquarium is.

(Kelly Leary's tank has got it going' ON!)

One of the coolest things I've noticed lately is a really simple thing, but it actually is a real "evolution" in how we play with botanicals in our aquariums: We're seeing lots of hobbyists do some minimal preparation of their leaves and other botanicals, and simply place them in the aquarium to float and sink in their "own good time." This is exactly what happens in nature, right? Botanical materials which fall from trees often don't sink immediately. 

And the coolest thing about this "trend" (I'm still laughing at using the term) is that I always thought people wouldn't like stuff floating on the surface before it sinks, and that fully saturating botanicals was just the way to go.  This is a "mindset shift" even within our little movement! Now, many of you are creating an "ephemeral floating botanical microcosm" by just dropping cleaned materials in and letting them sink on their own. A very cool replication of nature, and I must admit, pretty neat to look at! And, add to this the fact that there might be some fishes, such as Hatchetfishes or Butterflyfishes, which dwell at the surface and could benefit from the natural protection such microcosms create- and you've got the making of some cool displays! 

(JT Martin's tank pushes new ground-literally.)

If you recall, we actually found some scientific research on such ephemeral floating leaf/botanical structures in The Amazon, which host a variety of life forms, much like the Saragassum of the Tropical Western Atlantic does in the oceans...Hmm... Can you see this being done deliberately in our tanks, and allowing the materials to ultimately sink on their own, while replacing them as they sink? Just like nature...and very cool. And think about the opportunity to cultivate live food sources "on board" a floating botanical mass..maybe? Interesting to ponder, anyways!

This is a really interesting sort of idea, because like so many of the best things we do in aquarium hobby practice, it mimics a process that occurs in nature. 

The other major thing we are seeing is a trends toward very diverse, deep, and complex botanical beds. We have a number of enthusiasts that have been working with such systems, and not only are they creating aesthetically beautiful tanks- they're unlocking some things about the functionality of botanicals in aquariums. Complex, rich substrates are being created, which not only seem to be supplying tannins, but they seem to be fostering biochemical processes- maybe denitrification(?)- as well as serving as supplemental food sources for our fishes and other aquatic animals.

More and more hobbyists are working with plants in heavily botanical-influenced aquariums, which is a great progression. I hope we see more and more of our very experienced planted tank enthusiast friends jump into this and share some of their invaluable experience with us. Oh, and my reefing-world friends are starting to come to the party, bringing with them an entirely different set of experiences that are surprisingly synergistic with what we're doing! 

And Estuary is going to a launch soon. It'll be a gradual, hopefully compelling, and definitely complimentary thing, which will be a perfect area for us to apply some of our new-found botanical knowledge to this sort of neglected segment. 

Lines are being blurred. Ideas are being concocted. Theories are bing tested. Boundries are being broken. A movement which is bigger than any one person, one brand or one mindset is taking hold, spurring us on to bold new adventures in the greatest hobby ever!

From the top to the's a whole new, exciting and engrossing game.

Glad to have you here!

Stay bold. Stay open-minded. Stay disciplined.

And Stay Wet.

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics.




Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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