Ever thought about this:
Isn't it sort of amazing that we can create- literally- an entire world; an ecosystem, if you will- in a glass or acrylic box in our home?
I mean sure, part from the “create a piece of nature in your home!” hyyperbole that the industry pushes- think about the REAL wonder here: We ARE creating - or more appropriately- “capturing” a piece of the natural world in an aquarium. A world with dynamic ecological characteristics, changes, impacts, challenges, and processes.
We as hobbyists do it in both form AND function.
As part of our "practice."
A few of you in our community had a little discussion about this topic, and asked if I could lay down a few tracks on the idea in "The Tint." Never one to disappoint, I couldn't say no, so here are a few of my thoughts!
Aquarists who create botanical-style, blackwater aquariums and biotope systems truly embrace this on a conscious level, and consider many aspects of the natural world in the design, construction, and management of these little microcosms. We're actually creating little slices of an aquatic world which function- and look- much like the real thing.
I think about this a lot when I play with my own tanks, look at the work the talented "Tint Nation" is doing, or just contemplate what we do here at Tannin and in the aquarium hobby in general.
Unlike people who keep hamsters, mice, birds, etc, aquarium hobbyists actually recreate the physical, chemical, and structural environment of the animals which we keep...an incredible concept, educational tool, and challenge!
As owner of Tannin Aquatics, it's been kind of interesting to contemplate how we figure in this equation- what our role is; who we support- and how.
I mean, we offer stuff which not only brings a unique aesthetic to the aquarium- it has the capacity to help you manipulate the aquarium environment as well. It's pretty exciting, because we cater to a crowd that has an incredibly diverse set of interests- and we see amazing stuff from all corners of the hobby!
The biotope aquarium crowd tends to want replicate the appearance of a given habitat or location, with emphasis on the authenticity or suitability of a specific botanical in that locale. "Appropriateness" and realism are critical.
The pure aquascaper is looking for that edge in creating a memorable visual experience. It's about beauty and art. Living art.
In general, botanicals, leaves, wood all work together to create a very specific aesthetic. It's easy to create inspiring work simply by thinking about nature, looking at the materials available, rolling up your sleeves- and diving in! Not tied to any specific region or habitat, a more artistic interpretation of nature is the goal.
The blackwater/botanical-style aquarium enthusiast typically has interest in not only the look of the microcosm being created, but the function as well. What we call "functional aesthetics"- the blending of these two characteristics, is an amazing spot. I put myself squarely in this realm.
We attempt to replicate an environmental niche- or a feature/features of a niche, without necessarily being bound to rigid guidelines for geographic authenticity. It's about creating something that replicates a "theme" in nature.
And, although I make some mental "classifications" of the crowd we cater to (I mean, I'm a marketing guy...), there are many more areas of interest/specialization than just the ones touched on here.
It's clear that the hobby is unbounded- with amazing ideas and creativity and research being done in multiple avenues- fish breeders, paludarium enthusiasts, frog/herp lovers, shrimp keepers, all are part of our community.
We're entering a phase in the aquarium hobby where hobbyists are not content to just set up a pretty looking aquatic habitat. They want to set up and maintain systems that are capable of providing for the environmental, physical, and nutritional needs of the animals they keep.
Nature provides all of this...
We collectively are fascinated by the functions and dynamics of the natural environments from which our animals come. This is good not only for the hobby- but for the natural habitats which so desperately need our protection.
By learning more about how these habitats work, we also understand how they fit into the "big picture" of nature as a whole...and how external factors, ranging from weather to pollution caused by man- impact the function and sustainability of the habitats and the annals which live in them.
As the old saying goes, "We cherish what we understand."
If setting up an aquatic display leads to a greater interest, appreciation, and understanding for the precious natural resources of our planet, and the desire to protect them-it's hard to imagine anything more exciting than that!
That's the real magic. The real "win." And it simply starts with a glass box and taking a second to appreciate the wonder of it all.
Stay fascinated. Stay excited. Stay inspired...
And Stay Wet.