One of the things we've noticed since we started Tannin has been a surprising number of hobbyists around the world making that "mental shift" we speak of so often around here- accepting a different aesthetic and developing some practices which encourage the accumulation of tannins and the fostering of a more natural looking- and functioning- aquarium. I am so proud of the many hobbyists who have let some of the dogma surrounding what "everyone" thinks an aquarium should look like, and embraced our personal journeys of aquatic self-discovery.
I think my concept of a natural-inspired aquarium is different than the conventional hobby adopted concept of the hardcore "biotope aquarium", and it's important that you understand this. I think it's amazing to mimic some very specific environmental and regional aquatic features. It's a big change, and often near impossible to find materials from the exact environments we're attempting to replicate. Nonetheless, there are many amazing examples of fantastic biotope aquariums created by hobbyists around the world- and I salute them! Stunning achievements!
I have always enjoyed the idea of attempting to replicate a type of niche or create an aquarium "based upon or "inspired by" a specific region- like "Amazonia"- a ridiculously large and varied canvas, I know...but when taken in a broader, more "interpretive" sense, it creates a framework for a very enjoyable aquarium experience for us, and a great home for our fishes!
I think that we as hobbyists tend to get too caught up in some of the minutiae, which can detour us from the overall enjoyment of what we're doing. Now, if you're entering a biotope competition and represent your aquarium as an authentic "Rio Tarumahzino biotope", prepare for a "right beat down" from the judges if every item in the aquarium does not come from that area. It's just the way things are in the hobby/competition area, and far be it from me to criticize this. It's not what I myself am into, but it's important to a lot of people nonetheless.
However, if you're a hobbyist looking to create a cool aquarium that is reminiscent of, or representative of- a blackwater stream "in The Amazonian region", well, no worries. You can use whatever materials you'll adequately convey your interpretation of the area your modeling. It's no one's place to tell you how to create your aquarium. It's nobody's place to make you feel bad because the twig you are using in your home "Rio Xingu"-themed catfish tank didn't come from the Rio Xingu. That kind of ridiculous, rigid thinking has no place in our enjoyable hobby, IMHO.
Again, if you're entering into a contest and trying to pass off your system as an authentic biotope from specific area, you need to play by "their" rules and accept the inevitable criticisms. Just how it is. However, for your own enjoyment...it's completely up to you.
I suppose it seems odd that I'm even mentioning this.
However, I know a lot of people consider Tannin a company that "markets materials for biotope aquariums." And in the sense that we offer materials to help create representations of natural systems, we do. However, it's important to remember that the botanicals we offer come from all over the world, and may not necessarily hail from the region you're trying to replicate. So, if you want botanicals materials that represent the materials found in specific tropical streams, rivers, and lakes- we're your company! I've always felt that Tannin is a company that caters to hobbyists who wish to create aquatic displays that resemble various natural habitats. Simple as that. ( You see it in our product descriptions- "These pods resemble the ones found in..." Blah, blah, blah.) Oh, yeah, and we really are into offering materials that help you recreate blackwater environments! (generically, of course, so as not to upset the sensibilities of any purists out there!)
It's enough to make your head spin sometimes, isn't it? I've always been about taking a personal approach to what I do, and I think many hobbyists do. From time to time, that means talking about our values. The real point of this little discussion is to let you know that, with the ever-increasing attention on Tannin from a global audience- we won't abandon our core principles, ideas; our modus operandi. We're going to stay ""on point to continue to provide you with materials, supplies, and inspiration to help you create YOUR vision, playing by YOUR rules. No one else's.
It really is "all about you!"
That's it for today...Busy Monday..We're shipping a lot of orders, and getting really for some exciting new items to be added to our selection very soon! Stay tuned!
So...Stay original. Stay authentic to yourself. Stay open-minded. Stay enthusiastic.
And stay wet!