Tall Tales?

Like s one of you, I'm into pretty much whatever kind of tank I can grab...like, if it holds water, I"m all over it! That likely comes from my upbringing as a fish geek; being a resourceful kid, I was pretty much obsessed with the idea of containers that hold water- regardless of their size and shape.

And it's not just me, of course. 

Every fish geek thinks this way!

Where others see a plastic storage container, we hobbyists see a 10 gallon aquarium!  I mean, its inexpensive, scratch-proof, and, well.... who cares that you can only see into it from the top? I mean, it holds water and...fishes! 

Of course, being older sand slightly more discriminating in my taste, and definitely more opinionated, I still have some ideas on this stuff..

Like the "configuration" of the aquarium that we use. Like, the shape...

When it comes to picking an aquarium, it seems that I fall into the majority of aquarists out there in the world who favor tanks that are typically shallow and wide. Not only are these the most practical tanks to work in- they are arguably the best "footprint" in which to execute incredible aquascapes and many of the cool ideas we play with in our botanical-style aquarium world.

Right? I mean, aren't they? Maybe? 

Most of us will go to almost any length to avoid purchasing a tall, narrow aquarium. It's like the "unwritten opinion" of a pretty high percentage of hobbyists to simply avoid any tank that falls into that category! Tall,  narrow tank are pretty challenging to work with for many hobbyists, aren't they? 

Yet, every once in a while, you end up with one of those tanks, right?

Maybe it's the one that your uncle or your neighbor had, sitting I the garage for years and years collecting dust and cobwebs, and they called you up and said, "Hey, aren't you into fishes? We have this incredible aquarium you might want!" (usually the first sign that it's a bad configuration...)

Or maybe it's the one that you "win" at the club raffle...that dusty, yet serviceable  aquarium with those weird dimensions... And they'll tell you, "A great tank for Seahorses or Corckscrew Vals!" 

Um, okay...justify it any way you can, right? 

Yeah...And the reality is that it IS an aquarium.

And you can't get enough aquairums, right?

If it holds water, it can somehow be used, right?

Even a really tall tank can be incorporated in a variety of ways. I mean, you don't have to fill it all the way, right? You simply fill it half way, and that weird "footprint" suddenly isn't so weird and awkward. You'll be able to "break the waterline" if you want, with the branches our plants you incorporate in your 'scape, right?

And a tall tank, filled halfway, perhaps lessens the possibility of some fish known to be "jumpers" of "carpet surfing..." (Notice that I said "some", right? Ever seen a Rivulus jump? Yeah. Enough said.). I mean, we rationalize it, right?

And since when do we have to fill tanks to the rim? Right?

I mean, there are probably dozens of uses for tall tanks, right?

Sure. I think so. 

Like, yeah- you can finally start that brackish water mangrove tank, and grow those suckers right out of the top, right? I did this with the stupid, tall cube tank in my office (I hate cubes, FYI), and I think it turned out  pretty cool!

Or, you can forgo the water almost completely and you can start a vivarium!

Who wouldn't want a totally cool habitat, filled with tropical plants, earthy soil, botanicals, and some Dart Frogs! Our friend Paul Dema of Vivariums in The Mist has a vast gallery of vivariums to inspire you! Playing with the terrestrial habitat as well as the aquatic one is super exciting!

Or, you can do a cool "ledge" tank, perhaps representing one of the African Rift Lakes, where the rocks which are aggregated on the lake bottom provide a fascinating "reef-like" structure for cichlids and Lampeyes, etc. to aggregate.

I mean, you could also do this for a reef tank, too...doing a "drop off" for fishes like Gramma, Assessor, etc. I've been intending to do such a tank for many years...I suppose it's coming at some point, lol.

And of course, the paludarium concept is as compelling as anything for us...The ability to create a terrestrial and aquatic habitat which replicates a flooded forest floor is very tempting, and certainly takes your mind off of the tall dimension of the tank! 

Oh, sure you could go really exotic, like a waterfall, perhaps?

Sure, there are lots of ideas...lots of possibilities.

The thing I LIKE about tall tanks is that they actually push you to be innovative and creative. The obvious maintenance and husbandry challenges (access, light penetration, circulation, and filtration, to name a few) that these tanks present are but a few of the obstacles that need to be overcome when you go for it with one of these tanks. 

In fact, for some of the crazy ideas that we do occasionally try, I can see us actually seeking out these kinds of unusual tanks. I mean, manufacturers make 'em for a reason, right?

Of course, they don't always have to be used as aquariums to house fishes, right? They could actually be used to do more purposeful stuff.

Yeah- some of these might be more "functional" than aesthetic:

Maybe you can simply use the tank as a big botanical refugium? A giant "reactor" filled with leaves and botanicals, to service one of more aquairums?

Hmm...I like that one.

So, yeah...you got "stuck" with a tall, narrow tank. Don't look at it as a "problem..."

Don't let it collect dust and spider webs in the garage, either.

Do something with it!

See it as an opportunity to try something entirely different; to approach it as a challenge.

What would you do with a tall, narrow aquarium (Besides use it as  a bookend or something)?

Stay innovative. Stay creative. Stay challenged. Stay excited. Stay thoughtful...

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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