Over time....

If you keep a botanical-influenced aquarium for any length of time, you start noticing a certain vibe. A feeling. Right? It's weird, how some people just sort of "lock in" on these blackwater-type aquariums and really feel an affinity for them. And it's something I've noticed repeatedly, all around the world. There is some allure that blackwater offers.

And part of that allure is the way these systems seem to evolve.

And one of the things that we've noticed a lot about blackwater, botanical style aquariums is that they seem to improve over time. I mean, they start our looking nice, albeit a bit "sterile", but as the water darkens, the botanicals soften, and a patina of biofilm appears, the whole scape looks more natural. More alive. More "rich", if you will.

"Over time" takes on a different context for us impatient fish geeks, huh? We seem to love to see our systems look more established, and quickly! However, these botanical-influenced aquariums seem to lead us- tell us how they will evolve. Yet, we still can be a bit impatient. Waiting for some result, when what we really need to do is simply enjoy our aquarium at every stage of it's evolution. I wonder why we always want to see our tanks "done." 

Are they ever truly "done?" Or just continuously evolving. Yet we sometimes struggle with this "evolution."

I was wondering if it had to do with some inherent impatience that we have as hobbyists- or perhaps as humans in general-a desire to see the finished product as soon as possible; something like that. And there is nothing at all wrong with that, I suppose. I just kind of wonder what the big rush is? I guess, when we view an aquarium in the same context as a home improvement project, meal preparation, or algebra test, I can see how a "finish line" would take on a greater significance! 

On the other hand, if you look at an aquarium as you would a garden- an organic, living, evolving, growing entity- then the need to see the thing "finished" becomes much less important. Suddenly, much like a "road trip", the destination becomes less important than the journey. It's about the experiences gleaned along the way. Enjoyment of the developments, the process. IS there even a "finish line" to an aquarium?

Think about the almost transient or ephemeral nature of a botanical-influenced aquarium, with leaves softening and decomposing, seed pods settling in, etc. It's constantly evolving, extremely dynamic. And if you're like me- continuously replacing decomposing leaves with new ones, it's a continuous thing.

Sure, the reality is that any aquarium is not a static entity, and will continue to encompass life, death, and everything in between for as long as it's in existence. Yet, what is it that really happens in a truly "mature" natural aquarium? Consider aquatic plants: There might be some competition between plants that results in one or more species dominating all of the rest, or does diversity continue to win, with lots of plants and other life forms eeking out an existence in your artificial stream, just as they have managed to do for eons in nature?

Even with leaves and seed pods- some will simply last longer than others. All will contribute to the richness and diversity in their own way. Some replace others over time as the more "dominant" component of your natural hardscape, wether fostered intentionally by you replacing stuff, or by natural decomposition changing one botanical into a different form, which newly added ones take over. All form a part of the whole, rich, ever-evolving picture.

Over time.

And that whole picture can be quite beautiful.

A Monday morning philosophical detour...

Stay enthusiastic. Stay creative.

And Stay Wet.

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics


Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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