Yeah, I killed it.

I think that I use this blog as a sort of "therapy session" sometimes.

You guys are like a "sounding board" for me!

And sometimes, I have "issues" that I just need to look at and share to get over them, lol.

You have to address your fears. Share your successes, failures, struggles, and challenges.

Okay, maybe you can relate to this one.

Maybe not, but...

So, you have this idea for an aquarium. You kind of see it in your've assembled the materials, got it sort of together.

You add water.

Then, you walk in the room one day, look at it and- you HATE it.

Like, you're done with it.  Like, no re-hab on the design. No "tweaking" of the wood or whatever...You're just over the thing. Ever felt that?

What do you do? 

Well, I had this idea for a nano tank last week. It seemed good in my head...I had it up for a nanosecond.

Even memorialized it with some Instagram Stories posts.

I thought that the tank would be a sort of "blank canvas" for an idea I had...I liked the idea, in principle.

But I didn't see a way forward with this one. I even took the extraordinary step of removing one element of the tank (the wood) altogether, in the hope of perhaps just doing my "leaf only scape V3.0"- but I wasn't feeling it.


A stillborn idea. A tank not capable of evolving to anything that interested me at this time.

So...I killed it.

Yeah, made away with it. Shut it down. Terminated it...

Whatever you want to call it.

That's really a kind of extraordinary step for me. I mean, I'm sort of the eternal optimist. I try to make almost everything work if I can...

Not this time, however.

I killed it.

Now, in the hours after the aborted aquarium move, I'm actually able to gain some clarity about why I did it.

What made me do it? 

I think it centered around two things that I simply can't handle in aquariums anymore.

Don't laugh:

1) I absolutely can't stand aquariums which don't have some sort of background- be it opaque window tint, photo paper, or paint. This tank had no background. You could see the window behind it, and the trees outside on the street, and...yeah. 

2) I disdain seeing filters or other equipment in my aquariums. Like, I hate it more than you can ever even imagine.  Like, I hate seeing filters and stuff. Its only in recent years that I've been able to tolerate seeing filter returns in my all-in-one tanks...and just barely. Now, this nano had a little hang-on-the-back outside power filter...Which I not only saw from the top, but from behind...because-you got it- I didn't have a goddam background on the tank, yes.

I mean, am I that much of a primadonna that I can't handle that? I mean, maybe, but I like to think of it as a situation where I have simply developed an aesthetic sense that just can't tolerate some stuff anymore. I have good ideas, and then I get to equipment...and it sort of "stifles" them a bit.

This is weird.

Okay, yeah, maybe I am prima donna.

What could I have done to salvage this tank?

Use a canister filter and glassware, you say?  

Oh, sure. That's easy, right? I mean, all you see in the tank are these elegant curves of "lily pipes" and intakes...You just take 'em out and bleach 'em every once in a while and they stay nice and clean, and.. Okay, yeah. Great. On paper, anyways.

IMHO, glassware isn't the "organic art" that everyone seems to place on some lofty pedestal in the hobby. It reminds me of high school chemistry lab (which I think I got a C minus in, so some residual trauma there, no doubt). You think it's beautiful...I think it's simply dreadful.

It's another piece of equipment, which you see on the outside of the tank, too, with its "umbilical" of return lines shooting up along the sides. Now sure, I know these were developed to make an obvious, visible necessity (filter returns) more elegant and beautiful...However, to me, they're just that- obvious, visible, distracting...and ugly.

I know, I'm being too stupid about this. 

Lest you think I'm simply not experienced enough with this concept, or just not able to see the "big picture"- I can prove to you that I have flirted with this stuff before...

Yep, I wasn't always like this.

When I did a stint at a very high-end aquarium design firm in Greenwich Connecticut a few years back, I was intimately involved in the creation of a significant artistic aquarium project in the lobby of an iconic New York City office building in the heart of Park Avenue- seen by tens of thousands of people daily. A reef aquarium in an insanely cool customized acrylic sculpture.

It was done in consultation with artist Paula Hayes, who envisioned the project as a sort of demonstration of the dependency between land and water- in a very artistic, perhaps slightly abstract, yet undeniably interesting manner.

And yeah, we had to incorporate life support systems and "umbilicals" for the filter returns and intakes...that was literally the whole point of the installation. We had to embrace that stuff. I had to get over myself and decades of reef aquarium snobbery in order to help do my part with a talented crew to bring this project to life.

And we did bring it to life.

And it was beautiful.

And it was impactful, too-seen by literally tens of thousands of people everyday. Connecting them to the aquatic world- which many had never even seen or experienced before...And guess what? Not a single person ever complained, or even asked about the "umbilicals" extending out of the tank.


They were enamored by the fishes and corals.

Like, it's only me.  

I imagine that no one I know is as weird about this stuff as I am.

And look, I'll be the first to admit that even my "beloved" all-in-one-tanks, although a bit of an improvement, still aren't "the last word" on visible equipment. There a sort of "band aid" for my psychosis, I guess.

As a reefer, you learn to hide a lot of equipment, and you use whatever means you can. And all-in-one tanks aren't really held in high regard in the reef world, ironically.

However, they work for me in many cases in this freshwater game..

They're a start...

At least a way to sort of circumvent my apparent "psychosis" on this thing. I mean, you still see the return. You see an overflow weir...Of course, you have colored background. I can't say I LOVE black backgrounds. However, you don't have tubes and shit running up the side of the tank...

Maybe just a power cord or two...but hey...

The all-in-ones are limiting, I agree. They're not a "cure-all", of course. A lot of people simply despise them for many reasons. They're not perfect for overcoming every aesthetic issue.

There are some things I don't like about them, sure. 

You're stuck with the dimensions that manufacturers make available. You're limited to the way they configure filter compartments, by the interior depth (reduced because of the filter compartment), etc.

However, they can produce tanks which don't have all of that visible crap in the tank. Maybe they're a gentle way for me to get over my "thing." I only can hope that one day, an aquarium manufacturer consults me next time they want to bring an all-in-one to market!

I think I have a few ideas...hint, hint...

Now, look- getting back to my recent aborted tank, I think it was a case of "I had good idea, but couldn't get over the things that drove me crazy". In fact, the problems were likely easily solved.

I could have simply applied some opaque backing to the tank- I wouldn't see the bulk of the damn filter.  I've done it before and it works just fine.

And glassware? Well, I HAVE used it before...It's something that I hate, but it DOES work great in many applications. Like, shallow tanks...

Hey, it's not that bad...yeah...

So, maybe there IS some sort of compromise. Some way for me to overcome this phobia of sorts...


I mean, the fact that 95% of the aquascaping world uses glassware and external filters- and overcomes this "aesthetic handicap" (okay, that's what I call it...) and embrace this stuff to create extraordinary aquariums should tell you something, right?


Yeah...maybe it's just me.

Well, I mean- it COULD be that they hate that stuff too, but haven't been as vocal about it as I am! Maybe they're afraid to rock the boat!  Yeah? Maybe?

Or, maybe they have figured out how to deal with this stuff?  Perhaps they're more practical than I am, and simply able to cope with challenges better than me.


Damn, I don't know. I think I need to lighten up a bit.

I killed this tank.

And I'm sort of glad that I did. It gave me a chance to discuss this. To deal with my "phobia" about some stuff...To get it off of my chest, and to once again focus on more important stuff...

Regardless of what kind of tank I keep things in.

Yeah, I killed it. 

Maybe this will be the last time...


I think I'm going to purchase some glassware today...

Hey, Thanks! 

You guys are great!

Stay helpful. Stay thoughtful. Stay engaged. Stay creative. Stay relaxed...

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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