Things are changing fast.
The world of blackwater/botanical-style aquariums is exploding, with new techniques, applications, and ideas...
And along with the new ideas, comes new interests. New excitement. New breakthroughs. And new responsibilities that we, as "thought leaders" (hey, YOU called us that!) in this tinted world, need to accept.
We've been making changes...We're going be making tons of changes this year.
You might have noticed that, in addition to the evolving new look of our site, we've changed most of the names of our botanicals.
Now, why would we do this? Everything has been going amazing. We have a growing global following, all the "cool kids" are dabbling with our stuff- the brand is exploding...Why would we do something radical like that?
Well, it's simple. I mean, I think it's pretty simple.
When we first started Tannin, it was fun to sort of create a "flavor" for our site and come up with exotic names for the materials we sourced. We made up a lot of fun Portueguese names for the botanicals. Why Portueguese? Because that's the language spoken in Brazil, where there happens to be that cool region called "Amazonia" that we're kind of intrigued by, and...
Well, yeah- it made sense at the time. Helped define us. Distinguished this stuff. Helped popularize botanicals. Romanticized it a bit.
But here's the thing.
It was kind of...stupid.
What? You heard me.
Let me digress.
I came from the world of reef aquarims and coral propagation...You know, the expensive, hyped $100-per-square-centimeter coral frags that have, well- silly names and equally silly prices. I used to laugh at that stuff. The names...the over-romanticizing of them...
Yet, in an odd way, it sort of made sense to do this with botanicals to create more interest in them initially- to make 'em more relatable; to give context and identity...
And it did. For a while.
In fact, I think- I think- we were actually the first to even utilize the term "botanicals" to describe this stuff...I don't think that, prior to 2015, you even heard about botanicals described as..."botanicals!"
So I think it's kind of cool that it perhaps helped get things more popular...
Yet, at times, I kind of wish that I "kept it real" from the start, because not only are the actual names and scientific ones intriguing, they're more helpful when you're the real hardcore type, trying to figure out what belongs in a specific aquarium...That sort of thing! However, it did serve to create a "vibe" and a buzz around Tannin and what we do initially...Fostering new excitement in a hobby sector that was obscure at best, and virtually non-existent at worst.
Fast forward to late 2018, and we have a full-blown hobby movement with botanicals! People all over the world are into this! We're at a new "maturity" level in the practice of utilizing botanicals and creating more natural, "functionally aesthetic" aquariums...And with this "maturity" comes more responsibility for us as a "thought leader" in this area. A responsibility to educate, inspire, and inform. A responsibility to be more accurate and authoritative.
Yeah, time to ditch the cutesy names.
It was getting a bit too much, even for me. Although it might be a bit easier to pronounce and remember the cute names, it is better in the long run to embrace the more accurate nomenclature. This botanical movement is bigger than any one company. More important than any one brand or person.
We offer botanicals. Nature "makes" them. And we are a brand which stands for something. And the brand supersedes the individual "product names." And the botanical-style/blackwater aquarium movement supersedes any one brand...
And a few other vendors doing this botanical thing now, too- which is great. Where it is a bit funny, however, is that a few of 'em are using the very names that we coined to describe similar materials that they are offering-even though they're essentially "meaningless"...And in at least one instance, someone "translated back" our silly botanical names into English to name his offerings...A 360 degree cycle of absurdity. We're not going to continue to perpetuate this silliness.
It was inevitable, I suppose.
And I realized that if I didn't step up and show some real leadership and confidence now, this could turn into the world's goofiest "coral frag swap" all over again, with out of control names, absurd claims, "limited edition" botanicals and such. And this wouldn't be helpful... I mean, here we are at Tannin, with over 700 blogs all about the most arcane aspects of the botanical/blackwater aquarium hobby- pushing and poking around the hobby in lots of crazy ways- hopefully educating and inspiring...
And then, there we were, calling a Dregea volubillsis pod a "Concha Pod."
Cute. Entertaining. But not helpful.
As I've said a million times, no one invented this stuff.
We curated it. Studied it. Loved it. Sourced it. Shared it. But we didn't invent it. NO ONE DID.
Now I admit, I am rather fond of a lot of the names we came up with...some of these materials simply never had a "common name", so we invented ones that fit our vibe. When I embarked on this road to transitioning to more appropriate names, it took a lot of research and talking to my suppliers in the countries of origin to find out if there is a common or popular name for some of these materials..
And when applicable, we'll use them. Or, we'll go by the genus/species name and call them "_______ Pods."
It will be a bit confusing at first, I admit.
And I could have gradually phased into it. But in the end, if you want to continue to be the leader, you need to act like one. We cut a path into this area before there was one...Now it's time to push out a little farther. As you've likely already noticed, we've started to change our look- and now we're upping our game all around.
Time to grow up.
And we're doing this "cold turkey"- for better or worse. Just a few more to change...
Now, I admit- some of you may not like it at all. Some of you will cheer..and some of you couldn't give a ----.
Ahh, the risks you take when you want to lead.
What's in it for YOU?
Well, after the initial confusion and realization that "That is now THIS", you get to have a better knowledge of the botanicals you use in your tanks. You can research places of origin, the growing habits of the plants they come from, etc. And when you learn about these materials, you can help unlock more ideas about how best to utilize them in our aquariums.
Or, you can just enjoy them, look at the pic for ID when you purchase them, and learn along with us to use their more correct names.
Simple as that.
So, if there IS a common name- ie; "Monkey Pot", "Coco Curl", etc.- or a logical common descriptor- like "Jacaranda Pod", Alder Cone, etc.- we'll use that. Some old faves, like "Jungle Pod" might hang on for a bit. However, some really popular ones, like "Savu Pod", have simply mutated into "Cariniana Pod" (the genus name).
Maybe not quite as sexy...or even as memorable.
I mean "Clown Killie" is probably easier to remember and more "fun" than Epiplatys annulatus, but in the long run, the hobby- and the hobbyist, benefit more from the accurate description, IMHO. I mean, you could probably call a number of species "Clown Killie", creating far more confusion than education and progress.
However, we'll all be better off for it in the long run. And the picture will always help, just like it did when we first marketed Aegle marmelos as "Sino Xicara."
And what about our competitors who "appropriated" our absurd botanical names? I get a lot of questions about this from you guys. My answer? Maybe they'll keep 'em for a while...or simply do what some of them been doing all along, and just copy the new naming convention...I suppose it's inevitable; likely better for the hobby in the long run, too. As one of my friends told me, they can copy names, but they can't copy our brand; what it stands for; what we've done.
That's pretty satisfying!
Here's a list of some of the most noticeable changes we've made:
"Savu Pod"= Cariniana Pod
"Capsula Pod"= Dysoxylum Pod
"Casulo Pod"= Kurrajong Pod
"Lampada Pod"= Mokha Pod
"Sino Xicara"= Kuruchi Pod
"Encontro Pod"= Kielemeyera Pod
"Concha Pod"= Dregea Pod
"Estalo Pod"= Parviflora Pod
"Manta Pod"= Cuspa Pod
"Flor Rio Pod"= Latifolia Pod
"Teardrop Pod"= Pyrifolium Pod
"Tartaruga Pod"= Jacaranda Pod
"Ceu Fruta"= "Skyfruit" Pod
"Rio Fruta"= Nypa Palm Pod
"Ra Cama Pod"= Afzelia Pod
"Pequeno Pod"= Schima Pod
"Rio Passaro Pod"= Nypa Palm Flower
"Milho Pod"= Pandanus Pod
"Descasca Pod"= Swietenia Pod
Yeah, WAAAY less romantic. Way less sexy. Way more accurate. Way more useful.
Other than that, not much has changed, lol.
Song remains the same.
So, keep pushing the limits. Keep learning new things. Keep playing with botanicals and all of the fun ideas that go with them.
Stay curious. Stay excited. Stay creative. Stay bold. Stay innovative...
And Stay Wet.