I love the fact that many of you are trying so many new things with your aquariums. I love that things are changing quickly; that the ideas we have been talking about are evolving and finding excited new followers!

We're in an amazing time right now. For the first time in years, I personally feel that the idea of blackwater aquariums has moved out of it's obscure, "fringe-culture-like" parking spot in the fish world, and into the light of the mainstream. 

And it's all because of YOU! Sure, many of you were playing with blackwater tanks before, but if your experience was anything like mine, you were sort of viewed as a mildly eccentric hobbyist playing with a little "side thing"- a passing fancy that you'd eventually "get over.." 

Well, I think that is changing a lot now. We're seeing a community of what was once widely scattered hobbyists starting to come together and share ideas, technique, pictures, inspiration with other equally as obsessed hobbyists. This is an amazing thing to me, and to be able to witness it firsthand is incredible! It's been a renaissance of sorts for this once-neglected aspect of the hobby.

One of the things I'm enjoying most is the experimentation that many of you are doing with more natural substrates. I know we've covered this a lot in several editions of "The Tint", but it's very interesting to see your experimental work. I think that we are starting to understand as hobbyists how the substrate affects the water chemistry, thanks in large part to our planted aquarium friends- but we're sort of applying this further in our work with botanical-style, blackwater aquariums. I think this is an area where much research can still be done. With more understanding of habitats like the inundated forest areas of Brazil, we're getting a feel for how these habitats are influenced by the material on the forest floor.

Another think that I think is interesting is that we, as a community, are viewing our aquariums as "habitats" more than ever before. We  seem to have broken through the mindset of creating aquariums only based on an aesthetic WE like, and fitting the fishes into it, as opposed to creating aquariums with specialized habitats for specific fishes.

I mean, this has been done for a long time by hobbyists, and it's not truly a by-product of the "blackwater explosion", yet it seems like we're seeing more and more systems that are geared towards creating an environment for one or two species of fishes, as opposed the more "community-oriented", generically-aquascaped types of setups. I think it's a reflection on the desire to learn more about the natural habitats of fishes- perhaps with the added bit of confidence that we have access to some materials that are a good representation of what our fishes would encounter in the wild.

What I'd like to continue to see is an attitude of adventure in our community. I'd love to see hobbyists take a fresh look at how the aquatic habitats that we are interested in replicating really look. Understanding that it's not all crystal clear, pristine green plants on white sand. Seeing the agape forest pics really inspired me to push this point more. Our fishes come from habitats that are radically different in appearance than we seem to interpret them as in the aquarium world. I understand that not everyone likes the "botanical debris field" that we find so alluring, but for those who would but make the "mental shift" and understand that the truly natural aesthetics ARE amazing and intricate, and every bit as alluring as a meticulously precision-planted aquarium.

Now, a lot of you are wondering what we have in store with "estuary", and I'll give you a little insight into what to expect. 

Like the blackwater aquarium world, there has been a certain degree of "neglect", if you will, of a fascinating, educational, and aesthetically unique type of aquarium system. Sure, people have played with brackish tanks before. They've even incorporated some aspects of natural habitats, like mangroves and sand and such. However, it was not...evolved, IMHO. We did not see the emphasis on a habitat. Understanding, once again, that many brackish biotopes are not crystal clear white sand and wood or plant is an important part of the concept here. Mangrove estuaries are among the most productive and intricate aquatic habitats in nature. They are based on the interaction of land and water, the confluence of fresh and salt water, and the unique substrates and botanical influences that occur in these regions. They are often different in appearance than the popular perception among hobbyists have. You'll see.

Our goal in launching "estuary" is to facilitate more understanding of these fantastic habitats, and to enable us as aquarists to create more functional, complex, and aesthetically different brackish water aquariums than we've done in the past. We'll push a few ideas that maybe you haven't considered before. Or, perhaps you have, but weren't sure about how to proceed. We're going to be bold, experimental, and preach a mindset, like we do in the blackwater world, that encourages us to release the "mental chains" that have dictated why things are the way they are in brackish. Some ideas may not be easy to embrace. Some may not work for you. Some will be amazing. We're going to examine technique, aesthetic, and function as a package, and we'll begin offering a selection items that will help you embrace this "evolved" brackish concept.

Look for the icon.

Yeah, should be a fun ride! 

And the skills, ideas, and spirit of adventure that you've cultivated in your blackwater journey will serve you well if you venture into the brackish world, too!

Accept change. Embrace it.

Stay with us. Stay excited. Stay bold. Stay creative.

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 



Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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