This "neat little niche"

An exceptionally busy Monday, with lots of shipments going out, so today's edition of "The Tint" is, by necessity, a bit shorter...touching on something that was on my mind over the weekend. It's a good way to ease into a new week. We have an in-depth look at something kind of cool for tomorrow!

I recall a podcast I heard not too long ago, in which a well known aquascaper talked about blackwater aquariums being this "neat little niche" in the hobby, and I remember thinking to myself, "You got THAT right!" It IS definitely a niche, with a distinctive, enthusiastic sort of "culture" starting to emerge around it. One of the things we're enjoying seeing here at Tannin Aquatics is the work that our customers are doing on their aquariums with botanicals.

And perhaps the most pleasant surprise is that we're not experiencing a "thing" where every tank starts looking the same.

Yeah, we love this!

Because the blackwater, botanical-style aquarium "thing" lends itself to creativity and interpretation of nature how it really exists, we're not seeing a forced "style", with, for example, "rules" for placement of various botanicals in certain locations or orientations within the aquarium, etc.

Nature itself seems to be the largest source of inspiration for us, not just some "iconic" aquarium someone did. One of the advantages of a relatively new niche!

Each aquarium features an arrangement of botanicals in a way that pleases the individual hobbyist. And what's really fun to me is to watch not only the "evolution" of the aquarium (seeing it darken and the botanicals "soften" a bit)- it seeing the "evolution" of the hobbyist him/herself- the excitement and enthusiasm, the tentative embracing of a new "medium", followed by a sense of growing confidence and a desire to use the botanicals in a manner consistent with some vision he/she has. 

I love how the "mindset shift" we touch on constantly has taken a strong hold in our community. It used to be, upon the initial appearance of biofilms or decomposition of botanical items, we're be besieged by hobbyists freaking out, "What have I done? Everyone was right...this stuff doesn't work! I have a tank full of!". That kind of stuff. And now, it's like, "Sweet- biofilms are appearing and my leaves are softening! My tank is EVOLVING!!!"

Just like in nature, huh?

And the fact that we see aquarists coming from multiple "disciplines" within the aquatic hobby, ranging from hardcore 'scapers to frog lovers, to aquatic plant enthusiasts, to breeders- each bringing elements of their philosophies, needs, and aesthetic to the table, really serves to celebrate the diversity of possibilities using botanicals in blackwater and other aquatic setups. 

No dogmatic "requirements" are given. No "application" of specific materials or ideas in a certain way is expected. No admonishment that you're not doing it the way (whoever) would do it...

And there is the... "culture" that has developed...

And YOU-  a supportive community- have fostered a sort of "culture" which is supportive, instructive, nurturing- and even awe-inspired by the work of others.

The only "attitude" I think we've ever experienced is the occasional person who stops by for the first time and makes some kind of (well, "ignorant" ) comment about the use of botanicals "not being anything new" (Well..duh-we didn't say that we invented the concept!) or that these tanks are "unstable" (...and you know this because..?). Provocative stuff...And even then, no one jumps on them. (Although I admit I must bite my tonge, os to speak, at times.). Rather, a civilized discussion typically ensues.

Our community really never seems to "attack" other members, which has been, I think, instrumental in the development of this unique niche. Especially in an area of the hobby which has been so obscure, so filled with suppositions, assumptions, lack of solid information, and successful examples to refer to.  We don't discourage experimentation and even the concerns of those perhaps having issues with the process of establishing one of these crazy aquariums!

Rather, we offer support where requested, critiques when asked, and share our experiences- good and bad- freely. It's very nice to see. We're all sort of learning, tweaking, and perfecting this stuff together.

Keep doing that.

Stay driven. Stay creative. Stay open. Stay nurturing.

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 



Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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