August 29, 2015


Get ready er- create a riparium!

You know we love crazy cool ideas to create awesome tanks.

One of my long-time dreams was to see more aquarists trying out new ideas like Paludariums, ripariums, and vivariums. Well, we're going to be offering ga lot of cool new items in coming weeks to help you try out some new aquatic adventures, including a few surprises!

It's all part of our ongoing commitment to be your source for the stuff you need to express your aquatic creativity!

(Photo by Devin @Xantusi for his stuff coming to Tannin!)

We'll be launching a bunch of new products in the coming weeks- each one will help you replicate aspects of the natural aquatic environment. Each one will have that one element that we all love from this hobby- FUN!


If you're looking for something special to help accomplish some aquatic goal- tell us! We'll do our best to source it for you!

Stay creative! Stay engaged!

Stay Wet!


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

August 25, 2015


Aquarium "Yoga"- A key component of long-term hobby success


Vendors, authors, and hobbyist in general will tell you that you have the power within you to truly enjoy the hobby, and it doesn’t just take a ton of money. If you’re not 100% content with your tank, remind yourself that it’s not all about going out and buying the latest gadget, obtaining the most unusual coral, or tearing your reef apart. It’s about having confidence is your  fishkeeping skills, managing your aquariums with a sense of purpose, and sharing.

(Malawai tank by svmolden -CC BY2.5)

In chatting with some hobbyists who take a sort of psychological approach to aquarium keeping, we sort of uncovered some “truisms” that could make you a better aquarist, simply by taking on some new attitudes. I thought I’d share them with you today.

Don’t pin the success of your tanks on the “approval” of your fellow hobbyists. Enjoy what you enjoy- because YOU enjoy it. In our society, we apparently place great stock in believing that a large part of our happiness comes from the outside- something that happens to us. In the aquarium world, you see a lot of people putting out these “build threads” about their aquariums on forums worldwide, typically done in the spirit of sharing and growing in the hobby- terrific! However, if you read carefully, I submit that a fair number of these “build threads” are almost solicitations for “approval” from the aquarium-keeping community. You can almost tell by the way the hobbyist posting goes out of his/her way to impress or even appease fellow hobbyists by showing off the tremendously expensive gear he/she is accumulating, the trendiest fishes to be kept in the tank, or the over-the-top modifications being made to the room the aquarium is housed in. It’s one thing to be “aspirational.” It’s quite another to be seeking the tacit acceptance for those we interact with. Life is too short to live for others- and that applies to aquarium keeping as well!

Take a few minutes every day to simply chill out in front of your tank. I mean, we spend enormous amounts of time, money, and energy working on our aquariums, taking pictures of them, breeding fishes, tweaking systems, etc., which are indeed part of the fun of the hobby. However, they are “part” of the fun! How about just spending some quality time every day just chilling out in front of your tanks, actually enjoying it- not thinking of the next gadget you’re gonna add, or the dose of additive you need to throw in later. You might just love the hobby that much more! I can’t tell you how many aquarists I visit worldwide who spend so much time concentrating on actually doing stuff with their tanks that they seem to never spend time simply enjoying them.  It’s really apparent in saltwater (ergo, reefkeeping), and I see it in freshwater with alarming frequency. I know it seems ridiculous, but ask yourself when the last time was that you simply stared into your tank without the intent of modifying, cleaning, or tweaking something? You might surprise yourself!

Look for the good stuff in your tank. As reefers, we seem to be a very self-critiquing lot, don’t we? We’re always finding something in our tank that we think needs to be improved or changed.I submit that, rather than constantly evaluating the things that we need to “fix” in our tanks, we should spend some time appreciating and complimenting ourselves (internally, at least) about the cool things that are going on in our aquariums. Sure, your  Cryptocoryne “garden” may not be full and lush as you envision it will be yet, but why not give yourself a pat on the back and realize that you’ve gotten a great start on creating this beautiful thing? You may be critical of the less-than-perfect-appearing plumbing job you did on your central filter system for your fish room, but take pleasure in knowing that not only does it work, but it was your own scheme- and that, most important- it doesn’t leak! Little affirmations about the thing you put so much time and love into are never bad.

Treat your self once in a while- just because. Okay, there are definitely those of you out there who will say that I included this one because I’m an aquarium goods vendor. The reality is that I’m including this section because I’m a hobbyist! You work hard, and you probably work hard on your tank. So, if getting that new gadget or acquiring that new rare Tetra or Africa cichlid gives you some pleasure, why NOT indulge yourself from time to time? Part of the fun of being in the hobby is that you can call the shots, and if you feel like you need a “treat” from time to time, you should go for it. Pay close attention to your desire- and your budget- and toss yourself a little reward once in a while- just because. Part of what makes the hobby so fun is that it’s OURS- and we are perfectly capable of knowing when we need to give ourselves a little boost now and then, right?

Share your tanks with other aquarists. Huh? Why keep it to yourself? Invite some of your fish keeping buddies over to just hang out in front of your tank one afternoon. Do you need some help figuring out how to install that new gadget? Ask a fish keeping buddy over! The hobby, and your tank- are wonderful social “props”, and the common interest that you share with fellow hobbyists when you check out someone’s tank is very satisfying. Many strong friendships (and at least a few fish clubs) have formed over a few aquarists getting together at someone’s house to check out the new Pleco, or help install the new lighting pendant. Don’t have any fish keeping friends? Not a problem! Create some by posting on forums, and flat out ask for help, or invite local aquarists over to check your tank out. Give away some plant cuttings, kill eggs, or cichlid fry. You’d be shocked how many reefers will drive for miles and miles just to check out that 300 gallon Mbuna tank that you’ve been working on, once they’re invited!

Play to your strengths. Huh? Think about the stuff that you do well as an aquarium keeper, and what sorts of fishkeeping activities bring you the most enjoyment. Cleaning your tank? Aquascaping? Programming your controller? Just what is it that puts you in your “happy place” while working on your tank? Indulge in those things more often…Or better yet, offer your skill set and services to fellow aquarists, either by interacting on forums, or by visiting hobbyists who need your help. Take it even farther by giving a lecture at the local club about the topic or topic(s) you know best..Not only will you help others enjoy the hobby- you’ll enjoy the hobby even more yourself as you share and interact with fellow fish geeks…A great sense of satisfaction arises when you help others with something that they love, too.

Okay, I’m off of my whole “yoga-esque” thing now…

Probably was just a passing phase today…But it did feel good to get this out…I’ll be back next time with (I'm sure)  a more practical, nuts-and-bolts topic that will probably tick you off in some way…that’s what you’ve come to expect, right?

Deep breath..

Until next time, 

Share, enjoy, be grateful for what we have in the hobby, and practice great fishkeeping…

And stay wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

August 23, 2015


The six easiest ones...

Seems like everyone who works with our aquatic botanicals has a favorite, which is really cool! I think what makes each one a "favorite" is truly subjective, as everyone has different tastes and needs.

However, a lot of customers tend to favor those that require the least amount of prep time. In fact, we get a lot of questions about which botanical sinks the fastest, etc...So, I thought, "Why not do a brief rundown of the aquatic botanicals that are quickest to prepare for use! 

So here we go...based on my experience and feedback with customers...perhaps your experience will vary?

The number one easiest HAS to be the "Heart Pod." It's as easy as "put in water..." Sinks like a rock. Easy.

A close second is pretty much any form of Catappa Leaf. These will sink easily with just a little steeping in boxing water, or an overnight soak in room temp water, really.


We've just started offering our "Terra Sorrindo" pods, but my beta testers are as stoked as I am about them!

Why? Well, they look cool, of course. But they're really stoked because, as it turns out, minimal prep time is required to get them ready to use...always a popular feature! Like 10 minutes of boiling, or a two day soak in room temperature water!


The next fave has to be the ever-popular "Savu Pod", which, believe it or not, sinks typically with a mere 10 minutes of boiling in most cases.


Then you have the "Tapete Pod", which also generally goes down after about 10 minutes of boiling. It's a heavy pod that is easy to work with!

Finally, rounding out our Top Six is the "Frita Pod", which will sink after about 15 minutes or so of boiling, becoming an awesome component of your leaf litter zone.

So there you have our little roundup of the "Easiest Aquatic Botanicals to prepare for aquarium use!"

Find your favorite...

And stay wet!


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

August 23, 2015


Crossing over- and back...

As you may know, I'm a great fan of unusual aquarium concepts, and I'm always up to see a new tank or two (or 15). 

I was doing some stuff for my SW venture, Unique Corals, and I became a bit...sidetracked. Someone showed me this interesting pic on Instagram of a bare bottom FW planted tank! Okay, at first, as a reefer, I'm like, "Okay, well, so what? Everyone seems to run their reefs bare bottom these days."


(Not a crazy concept for a reef aquarium ..Leonardo's beautiful bare bottom minimalist reef)


(Something different from GolfCoastDiscus!)

Then it hit me.

Bare bottom FW  planted?!? This is a really uncommon thing in Freshwater...however, it's a sign of a "cross-back" of technique between the two "media", and I thought it was cool. Of course, further investigation involved running this pic by my good friend and (IMHO) one of the world's top aquascapers, Johnny Ciotti- and he thought it was "dope"- and told me it's starting to become quite popular in Japan.

I just found that so cool.

And it's funny- I've had a lot of conversations with customers/FW fans lately about other concepts that we consider mundane in reef keeping (like refugia in Discus, African cichlid, and predator tanks) becoming more and more popular in the FW world. It's really neat...we are in a true new wave of "cross pollination" in the aquarium world. Love it. 

Don't dis reefers, because they have some tricks that WE can learn from, too! 


A great time to be a freshwater hobbyist. A great time to be reefer. An awesome time to be an AQUARIST!

Enjoy your weekend...

And stay wet.

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics


August 21, 2015


Thoughts on creating a "leaf litter zone" in your aquarium

I admit, we're probably the loudest proponents of playing around with leaves and such in your aquariums. When we studied this diverse tropical stream ecosystem, we were blown away by the complexity of the biotope. It was also surprising to find that this zone is home to hundreds of species of fishes, who inhabit it for all or part of their lives. As a dedicated biotope aquarist, I thought it only fitting to develop aquariums featuring this seemingly neglected portion of the tropical aquatic environment.

Part of the reason that no one has really played with it much is that there really hasn't been a definitive source of natural material with which to replicate this unique niche. With the creation of Tannin, I aimed to change that. Leaf litter can be incorporated into a wide variety of aquatic setups, or even utilized as the primary focus for a dedicated biotope aquarium. No matter how you choose to incorporate a leaf litter zone into your aquarium, you'll be provided with a fascinating, ever evolving microhabitat that your fishes will love!


If you're creating a "leaf litter" section for your aquarium, consider that, in nature, there are a wide variety of materials that comprise this complex matrix. 

In the aquarium, consider both practicality AND aesthetics when replicating this biotope. Much like in nature, you also want a diverse mixture of botanicals, some which may decompose rather quickly (such as Catappa leaves and Guava Leaves), and others which have "duration" and last much, much longer (like "Frita Pods", "Mariposa Pods", "Terra Sorrindo" Pods, "Encontro Pods", etc.). 







You should also include some pods that last indefinitely, such as the "Tapete Pod", Coco Curls, and perhaps some "Lampada Pods" for good measure, to serve as permanent "anchor pieces" for your litter zone.

This is such a cool biotope to recreate- and that's why we have the widest selection of aquatic botanicals in one place- to help you replicate and appreciate it's natural beauty and fascination!

August 20, 2015


"Give me shelter!" A look at the best pods for fishes to live in...

One of the cool things about Tannin is that our customers have started giving us great feedback on our products; suggestions, compliments, new ideas, and questions. It's all greatly appreciated!

One of the questions we get a lot is "Which pods do you recommend as shelter for_____________?"

I thought it would be a good idea to give a quick rundown of our pods that tend to be good "homes" or hiding places for certain fishes and ornamental shrimps.

For Apistos, Catfish, small Kinifefishes, and even Ctenopoma, wild Bettas and such, the top pod has to be the "Jungle Pod", with it's sizable opening and multiple placement applications.

In a close second would be the "Savu Pod", which has a much smaller opening (some specimens are larger- if you request when you order, we can try to select ones with larger openings if you need them), yet still accommodates a surprisingly large array of small cichlids, Cory cats, Otocinculus, some Tetras, and small loaches.


Another great pod for shelter would be the "Snapping Lampada Pod", essentially an unbroken "Lamapada Pod", which, with it's comical "PacMan"-like appearance, has a small opening that is perfect for juvenile Apistos, Corys, ornamental shrimp, and even some shy Tetras. 

Another one that works well for shelter is the "Concha Pod", which, although its softer and more pliable that the other pods in this category, has a great "scoop" shape that is perfect for a hiding place for smaller Cichlids, catfishes, and shrimp. Some specimens tend to "close up on themselves after preparation, creating a smaller opening that I know at least one catfish of mine loves!

Finally, the "Tapete Pod" is in there, too- surprisingly, I might add, because upon first examination, you'd think this flattish, slightly curved pod would be more suited for leaf litter supplementation. But, alas, it's great to "construct" little "tent like" shelters or "networks" of hiding places on the bottom of your tank, won't decompose to any great extent, and is large enough to be a great hiding place for a wide variety of fishes and shrimps!

Well, that's a not-so-brief rundown of the best pods to use as hiding places for fishes and shrimp! If you have suggestions, recommendations, observations- or even better- pics of your fishes inhabiting our pods, feel free to post 'em! We might just hook you up with a surprise or two on your next order!

Stay wet!


August 19, 2015


Two new "featherweight" pods that will enhance your "leaf litter" zone!

You've been telling us that you love creating "leaf litter" zones in your tanks, and that you'd like us to add some more selections to our collection- and we listened! 

Here's a first look at two new pods we'll be releasing shortly.. They're  depicted here right out of our test tank after a prolonged submergence.. Looking good!

Say hello to the "Terra Sorrindo" Pod on the left, and the cool "Mariposa Pod" on the right. They're around 2"-3" long and about 1.75"-2" in width, so they blend nicely with Catappa or other leaves.

Both are "super-lightweights," and will be perfect, long-lasting "supporting players" in a layer of leaf litter in your tank! They will require some prep (boiling or a prolonged room temperature soak) before you can get them to sink, but they are really useful, and will add a lot of variety, interest, and realism to your display

Watch for them to be released in the next day or so!


August 18, 2015


Perfect little cichlids? Say "hello" to the Apistos!

At Tannin, we've long been fans of the genus Apistogramma.

For me personally, these are some of the most perfect little cichlids you can keep. They're challenging, colorful, small in size, and available in a variety of color morphs and type locality variations...they're never boring, always challenging, and are a lot of fun to watch, maintain, and breed.  Seems like new varieties are coming in all the time. Add to the fact that their biotope is right in our wheelhouse, so to speak- Amazonia- and you've got a bunch of irresistible little aquatic subjects to work with! They range from ridiculously easy to keep, to uber-difficult...who doesn't love THAT?


(Apistogramma agassizii- pic by Sychriscar)


Some interesting Apisto facts:

*The genus name, Apistogramma- refers to the fact that they have a characteristic irregular lateral line

*There are around 100 documented species in the genus

*Although the greatest species diversity is found in the Amazon Basin, they're found as far south as Argentina

*The males are extremely sexually dimorphic in most species (i.e.; the boys look different than the girls)


(Apistogramma nijsseni- pic by Sascha Biedermann)

These fishes spend a lot of time in- and spawn amongst - leaf littler, caves, holes, and overhanging branches. Wouldn't you know it- we have all that stuff! Coincidence? I think not!


These fishes display their best colors- and demonstrate the best spawning sex ratios- in soft, warm, acidic water conditions. Fortunately, with a variety of aquatic botanicals available, we can help you select materials that would not only help provide these conditions for your fishes- but help enrich their habitat and provide aesthetic benefits as well! We even developed a sampler pack of aquatic botanicals just for them! 

(William Garden's Apistogramma bitaeniata putting a "Savu Pod" to good use!)

One of the greatest features of these much-loved fishes is that you can keep a decent amount of them in relatively small aquariums (like as little as 10 gallons), and if you aquascape carefully, you can keep a group of many species without too much territorial nonsense!  


(Apistogramma cacatuoides- pic by William Kreijkes)

With dedicated hobbyists breeding more and more varieties all the time, these little Cichlids will continue to gain popularity and win a space in the hearts- and tanks- of fish fanciers everywhere!

Be sure to check out our "Aquatic Botanicals" section for a full variety of stuff that will help you create the perfect Apisto biotope aquarium!

Stay Wet!


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics




August 15, 2015


Philosophical ramblings- and a bit on our core values...

You might not know this, but we don't do "pre-packaged" aquatic botanical orders. Each piece is carefully selected by hand, and packed specifically for you!

Nothing "mass-produced" about it.


It takes a bit more time, but we kinda think our customers are worth it. Slow. Deliberate. Intentional. Shop with confidence, knowing that we stand behind everything that we sell, and back it up the with service and support that you deserve.

This type of "craft-like" process reflects the core values, beliefs and philosophies that led to the founding of Tannin.

When we were developing the concept of our "aquatic boutique", we reflected on a lot of things in the aquatic world that hold an endless fascination for us...

What is it about the interplay between leaves, wood, water and fishes that we find so irresistible? There is something earthy, organic, and entirely “existential” to the visual and sensory experience of an aquarium aquascaped with these natural materials. A feeling, a mood…something that we can’t quite put a finger on.

Our obsession with utilizing natural botanical materials in our aquascapes- leaves, wood, seed pods, branches, shells, rocks, etc. and the impact that these materials have on the water characteristics-and aesthetics- were the direct inspiration for the founding of Tannin.  I wanted to be able to offer fellow hobbyists a collection of things to help them create something a little different than the typical “highly green” planted aquariums that we see everywhere these days. 

Upon visiting our site, there will be no doubt that our inspiration comes from areas of the Amazon Basin, Southeast Asia, and the rain forests of Africa. You’ll come to find that we’re also big fans of the Rift Lake Cichlids, the catfishes, killies, and of course, the Tetras and Apistogramma that call South America home. 

Do you like earthy, rich tones and beautiful textures? Yeah, I do, too.

Who is our archetypical customer? Well, it's you, of course.

You’re the consummate hobbyist- the relentless explorer, the creative…Perhaps you're a reef hobbyist longing to try something a bit different? Maybe a long-time fish breeder or biotope fan.

We understand you. We are you.

We have everything that you’re looking for. Even if it’s not that much.

We wanted to curate a selection of products- and ideas- for those interested in an elegant, yet undeniably complex natural aesthetic, created by leaves, wood, rocks, and the fishes who inhabit these niches. Our collection will consist of some things that you may not find everywhere, and some other items that, although relatively common in the hobby, are not available in one convenient place. 

You’ll find stuff like specialized “small batch” foods, breeding supplies, and other products that you’d have to literally search the world to find. Perhaps stuff that you’ve wanted to try but simply didn’t have the desire to source yourself, or didn’t want to have to purchase in bulk. We’ll have brands that you’re familiar with, some that you’ve never heard of but have been keen on trying, and our own brand of selected products.

The goal was not to create a “one stop shop” for all things aquatic; to pull you away from the vendors you patronize for most of your mainstream aquarium products. The goal was to create a place that offers a thoughtfully curated collection of items that help you achieve certain affects with your aquariums, and to do it with a little fun; a little humor- and a LOT of customer service.

Without pretentiousness, hype, or the desire to imitate anyone else. It’s not about us trying to be “cool”, or follow some external company’s dogmatic approach to the hobby.  It’s about helping YOU to create microcosms that satisfy your curiosity and relentless aesthetic. About fun.




Many of the items we’ll offer are geared towards smaller aquariums. This was intentional. Smaller systems give their owners the ability to experiment and try lots of different concepts relatively easily and affordably. We also cater to the hobbyists who want to try their hand at breeding fishes on a small scale, or creating simple planted systems.  Our blog, “The Tint”, will offer a fresh point of view much different than what you’ve typically encountered in hobby media. maybe it will get you thinking? Maybe it will entertain a bit? Or perhaps, it'll just piss you off! Well, hopefully to does something!

Our focus is on quality, not quantity. Purpose, not price. We’re not for everyone. We are for you.

We took quite a while to get things right before we launched. And we’re not apologizing for that!  The goal was to make sure that we have the right mix of product, the correct functionality on our web site; the optimal consumer experience. Our customers mean everything to us, and our level of service will reflect that. There will be plenty that will evolve. We’ll make mistakes, bad decisions, and no doubt have several iterations of everything as we continue nuancing our vision. That’s just how it goes, I suppose. We’re human, just like you. And we’re happy about that!

Think of us as an aquatic “boutique”, with an eclectic product mix, and a desire to continuously source and offer items that meet the needs of hobbyists who are seeking something just a bit different. Come to us with ideas dancing in your mind, and dreams of creating something different than you have before. 

Leave us with the things that you need to help you get there.

And stay wet!


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

August 14, 2015

1 comment

America's Favorite Pod? Our customers share their uses for the "Jungle Pod!"

Even at this early point in our history, it's apparent that the "Jungle Pod" is becoming our most-loved aquatic botanical- and for good reason! It's cool-looking, easy to prepare, and has a variety of applications for aquarium use!



Here are 8 cool uses, as suggested by YOU- our customers- for this awesome pod:

1) As a natural spawning cave for Apistogramma and African riverine cichlids like Kribs

2) As a “planter” for plants like Anubias- you can move them where you want without disturbing the substrate!

3) As a “feeding station” for ornamental shrimp

4)To hide the outlet from your filter or powerhead (One customer called them nature’s answer to Lily Pipes!” Okay…)

5) As a containment system for peat or whatever substrate you use to spawn Annual or bottom spawning Killies

6)As a shelter for young Knifefishes

7)As a “superstructure” for creating a “moss ball!”

8) As a floating "probe holder" for a CO2 probe in a planted tank

What will YOU use the "Jungle Pod" for in your aquarium? Share your tips (and pics!) here!