Where no one has gone before?

Okay, I admit, the title sounds a bit "Star Trek" like today...

LIke, multiple times in the course of a year, you'll hear me calling to you- our community (someone called it "Tint Nation" once, and I had to laugh) to really push it. I mean, to try stuff that's extremely unconventional; perhaps boundary-pushing...

Aesthetically uncomfortable...even unconvincing for some. But different. Functional. and yeah, I suppose, weird.

Stuff that pushes into "That's some strange shit!" territory. Stuff that, in previous years, would result in a lot of hobbyists telling you stuff like, "It can't work!" "You'll crash your tank!", "It can't be maintained long term!", etc., etc., etc. Stuff that, as a "disciple" of the natural, botanical-style aquarium, will leave (hopefully) asking these naysayers, "Why are you saying that? Because no one has done it before? Or, does the idea just not make sense to YOU?"

Yup. Pushing back on "conventionality" is often a good thing.

There is so much interesting stuff out there to study and replicate in our aquariums. Not just to "diorama it up" to win a biotope aquarium contest; no- but to replicate the form and function of these unique habitats. I say this over and over and over again, because it's a completely different mindset. I think we need to spend much more time really trying to get our hands around why these natural habitats are the way they are.  To understand why they formed, how they "operate", and what set of unique characteristics they possess which makes them home to our beloved fishes.

I feel like I have a "duty" to expose the aquarium world to these unusual aspects of Nature, because they just might lead to some "unlocks" about aspects of the aquatic world that will create beneficial outcomes for our captive fishes, too. Not just because they're weird.  

Not just because replicating them runs contrary to what we've been told is appropriate subject matter for an aquarium. In fact, not all of these things are "weird."Not all of them are impossible or "dangerous" to replicate in the aquarium. Some are simply ideas that have not been "played out" in the confines of an aquarium, for whatever reason.

These ideas-these habitats- are often simply overlooked.

Attempting to replicate the functional aspects of these habitats is simply a "due diligence thing to me. It will force us to push our skills out a bit; learn something. These ideas are fascinating...

These ideas are cool.

Cool, because they force us to look at Nature in a different way. Cool- because they make us consider not only the "appearance", but the (wait for it...) function of these features. Some may be really hard to replicate in the confines of the aquarium. Others may ultimately turn out simply be not all that exciting; perhaps more trouble than they're worth, although I doubt it. I've taken away something-good-or-bad- from every one of these crazy ideas I've embarked upon.

And I've done a few crazy ideas, trust me.

I think most-if not ALL- of these ideas will yield interesting insights into Nature, while pushing us along in the evolution of aquarium keeping. Even when they fail. It's time to breath life into such ideas. To encourage the hobby to push the boundaries back a bit further. Actually, a lot further.

It's time to go where no one has gone before.

And sure, because it's cool. 😎 


Literally, our Tannin "mantra" in 2020, as articulated to my team is, "Do cool shit."

And that's kind of what we're gonna do.I hope you join us there, too. At the place where what we know and what we think about meet. At that "delta" at the intersection of science and art.

As the world turns a more interested eye towards the idea of tanks with water in them that's not "crystal clear, blue-white", we at Tannin have an obligation to share some new ideas, to keep pushing the boundary forward. We can't just be content to "popularize" the idea of botanicals, blackwater and brackish aquariums.

So, yeah- we'll push out further.

I plan on playing with more representations of unusual "niche" habitats, like vernal pools, flooded rice paddies, blackwater mangrove thickets, muddy streams, etc. We'll see more tangles of roots, tree stumps, sediment-encrusted branches, and all sorts of stuff that we see in various natural habitats. More unusual brackish water stuff is coming...maybe even some marine aquarium work, as we take our "natural" case to the other side of the fence! Many of you have asked me to do that, so I'm willing to put my old reefing skills to the test again. 

My "salty" adventure will almost certainly center around mangroves.

We know the elements of our botanical-style world

Detritus. Bits and pieces of decomposing botanical materials. Mixes of sand, sediments, and leaves, aquatic plants, bark, etc. Oh, and we will likely see more work with rock, too. I'm more and more fascinated about rocky, sediment-and-leaf-strewn habitats- how they form, what influences their water chemistry, and what fishes reside there.

And yeah, we'll play a lot more with substrates. I promise- PROMISE that we'll be releasing the substrates soon. There have been a few issues to solve on that front; we're almost there!

I can't stress enough how important I feel that the aquarium version of "active substrates" (borrowing from our herp friends!) may be to aquairums. It's an area of the hobby which I think there will be far more interesting lessons to learn, and things to accomplish than you might think!

 Yeah, I'd like us to collectively push ourselves a bit more.

Do it for yourself. But do it visibly, to inspire, and bring light to the world. Do your best. Do what makes your heart sing. 

And occasionally, do "weird."

And do it well.

Regardless of what anyone says. Your vision just might inspire another hobbyist to do something that has never even been contemplated before. Those are the moments we live for. The moments that make facing challenges, fears, criticisms...all worth it in the end.

That's the real benefit of going where no one has gone before...

Take the journey.

Stay bold. Stay creative. Stay true. Stay engaged...

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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