Do you.

Yeah, I HAD to do it.

Couldn't keep my mouth shut. 

I made the fateful mistake of telling everyone that I'm trying to do "something new" for my next tank. And being the "open-source idea" type of guy (at least when it comes to ideas for tanks!), I have heard some amazing suggestions which have my head spinning and the gears turning...

Yup, I'm deep into the execution on my first new aquarium in 2 years. Actually, I have two new ones coming up...but the "redo" of our highly visible office tank is the one on my mind at the moment. I don't know why, but I almost feel like this tank is YOURS- the "Tint Nation"- because every pod, every crazy botanical- which we have offered since Tannin began has, at one time or another, ended up in this tank. We've documented a lot of things in there...shit, it's practically "public domain", lol.

It's a great feeling, I'm now in that most exciting phase of the planning process (in my warped opinion, anyways): the "Which idea do I try?" phase! On the surface, this seems like a really great place to be- and it is-but it's actually a very crucial (and sometimes soul-searching) process for me, that can make the difference between a memorable, unique display and "just another tank." In 40-something years in the hobby (wow, painful to say that!), I've tried a lot of stuff. And, let's face it- I've set the bar pretty high for myself! "Big mouth" that I am, I've spent that last decade years jet-setting around the country talking up unique system design and aquascaping of marine aquariums at clubs, conferences, and in various aquatic media. Following my start up of Tannin, in this amazing freshwater niche, I've preached "be YOU" to our community to the point where it's like ingrained in me.

Of course, it's practically expected of me that I do something a bit different. Man, it's time to "put up or shut up!"  Who needs this pressure! This self-appointed "purveyor of inspiration" and ideas for the hobby should take some of his own advice. Maybe I'll just have FUN! I'll just do what pleases me. Yeah!

Yet, that's where it gets "interesting" to me. As I told you yesterday, some parts of my tanks I just jump right into: The basic setup, environmental parameters, and usually, a "skeletal" wood layout. 

Check. Done.

That's MY version of a "blank canvass."

And then the fun starts. Right?

Rather than trying to create a system specifically designed to knock everyone's socks off with some brilliantly radical concepts, I'm thinking I might actually go with a semi-conventional concept done REALLY well. You know- just great quality animals displayed in an attractive manner. My favorite fishes. really an emphasis on the fishes! On the other hand, I've publicly kicked around a few slightly different ideas for my aquarium, and you- "Tint Nation"- have come up with some really cool ideas as well.

Ideas that have me in that familiar position once again, wondering if I should go left instead of right- up instead of know...wondering. Re-thinking. Evaluating. 

No...not that endless analysis loop!



I mentioned the other day that part of my extraordinary patience in aquarium keeping is because I can't seem to make up my mind which way I want to go after I get the tank sort of going...And things have a great chance to "settle" while the internal debates rage in my head. I call it "patience by indecision!" 

A number of you have suggested Southeast Asian and African themes, neither of which I've played with in a long time. Both could be cool. Both could push me into some interesting areas...

However, my love of South American biotopes and fishes is well-documented here. I have a healthy obsession for the igarapes, morichals, and streams of Amazonia, to the point where most of our products are named in Portuguese, the language of Brazil.

When I contemplate "turning east" to Africa, I get pretty damn excited at the possibilities. Of course, The blackwater habitats and fishes of Southeast Asia beckon. However, with the setup I'm doing for "Estuary", I'm "riffing" on those locales.

And so part of my mindset tells me, "Well, dude, you're sort of already there...just stick to your South American thing...You love it. It's you..."

And then my mind flashes to Kribs. The first cichlid I bred..when I was like 13! In a 2.5 gallon tank! Never forgot that...

And of course, the African characins...

...and the idea of killies in a community-type setting dances through my mind.


And those Ctenopoma. Always the Ctenopoma...

And yet, the lure of the Amazon is almost too great to resist. Like, it's just the freshwater region I identify with the most. Everything about it.

It just "works" for me, I guess..

Like, I could spend a lifetime as a hobbyist playing with all sorts of South American stuff and never feel like I've missed anything. SO much variety. So many possibilities. I mean, even if I break off and do something different than just my beloved leaf litter biotopes for a change, there are endless possibilities to play with South American themes... And after a lifetime in the hobby, I don't have to prove anything...just need to please myself.

Or so I say. We ARE in the inspiration business, right? 

Inspiration or otherwise- it's important to be me.

I know where my heart is in the FW world..yup. Definitely going to be a South American theme..For sure. 

Man, but those Ctenopoma....and Neolebias....and those killifish...

The struggle will continue.

And the fun? It never stops. Such is the life of a real fish geek. Indecisive or otherwise.

Don't ever lose sight of the fun.

Do "you."

Stay true. Stay engaged. Stay excited.

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 




Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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