Everything evolves.

Have you ever noticed that aquariums tend to accumulate more "stuff" the longer they're around? Wether it's an accumulation of botanical material, decomposing or otherwise, or simply an "accumulation" of color in the water. Stuff seems to accumulate, doesn't it?

Yet, it's truly amazing- the stuff you find. 

We generally don't add all sorts of different materials to our tanks on a continuous basis-most of us tend to find our "favorites" and replenish them as needed. However, we do see things sort of "accumulate" in those corners of the aquarium, don't we? For example, plants that send off runners where we don't expect them. Rocks which fall into crevices within the wood pieces in our hardscape. Botanicals which might have been partially buried in the substrate over time.

Now, this is sort of a real "non-issue" for most of us- I mean, you keep an aquarium set up long enough, "stuff" just sort of "appears", right?

Or, could you say that every tank actually "evolves" to some degree during its lifetime? 

I think that's more of the case here. 

Every tank changes, both physically and environmentally, as it ages.

Sure, tank will often become sort of "cloudy" right after they're set up, and most of this stuff will settle out over time.

This is not something new or previously unconsidered by the hobby, but it's something we don't give much thought to, I think. We just plug along, feeding our fishes, doing water exchanges, and growing plants. We tend to our aquaecapes, and watch things grow. Over time, even the most diligently-maintained aquarium tends to look significantly different than when it was first assembled. It's how natural systems go.

And our blackwater, botanical-style systems exemplify this to a huge extent. They change over time in very noticeable ways, as the leaves and pods break down and change shape and form. The water will darken. Often, there may be an almost "patina" or haziness to the water along with the tint- the result of dissolving botanical material and perhaps a "bloom" of microorganisms which consume them. 

This is extremely analogous to what you see in the natural habitats of the fishes that we love so much. 

And this is as much a perception issue as it is a husbandry one.  I mean, we're talking about materials from decomposing botanicals and wood, as opposed to uneaten food, fish waste, and such.

Now, one could make the argument that water quality is water quality- nitrate is nitrate, phosphate is phosphate- regardless of source. Can't really argue with that. Water with a "haze" or cloudiness has come to be recognized almost universally as a sign of lax husbandry in the hobby. (As it should be, by the way.)

Yet, this is kind of interesting to me:

Some of the times I've experienced water with a "haze" to it, particularly when using certain types of wood (ie; mangrove), further inspection revealed...nothing really detrimental! No foul smell. No algae blooms. No detectible nitrate or phosphate.

All of the "hobbyist-grade" indicators of good water quality. 

Now, it's funny, because clarity and "clean appearance" have always been pretty reliable visual cues of water quality. With the rise of the botanical-style blackwater/brackish aquarium, we will see color. Tint. "Haze." Decomposing botanical materials.

And that's considered "normal" fo this type of tank. In fact, it's a big part of the beauty and appeal of it.

We have made a definite mental shift. 

Now sure, the vast majority of blackwater, botanical-style aquarium have crystal clear water and may even look spotlessly clean. And that's cool, too. What's even cooler, IMHO, is that we aren't seeing hobbyists freak out over some of the stuff previously associated with "dirty." 

And it's not like we've told ourselves that it's acceptable to not change water, siphon detritus, overstock, or overfeed. Nope. We can still perform excellent regular husbandry routines on or BWBS aquariums. We're still diligent aquarists. And we still might have that "dirty" looking water!

However, it doesn't bother us anymore...

We have made a collective mental shift. We've evolved, right along with our aquariums.

Everything evolves.

And that is kind of cool!

Today's simple thought...

Stay open-minded. Stay curious. Stay intrigued. 

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 


Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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