September 29, 2015


Trying something new, yet familiar...

It’s a real leap of faith for us fish geeks to try something new, isn’t it?

I mean, we’ve done things pretty successfully, with some gradual iterations along the way- for the better part of 100 or so years…

Sure, there have been changes in basic technology- like frozen foods, freeze-dried foods, under gravel filters, internal water pumps, wet-dry filters…canister filters. We’ve gone through different types of stuff like aquarium substrates for planted tanks…and the application of liquid fertilizers and CO2- stuff that used to seem so exotic and unfamiliar is now just the way it’s done, right?

It’s not always easy getting fish people to adapt new methods, equipment, or ideas…It’s almost like we have to see the relevance to what we do before we consider it…There has to be some element of familiarity, it seems.

The odd, but well-treaded analogy of the California Roll resonates well here. Huh? "What are you talking about, Fellman?" Stay with me, here…


Remember not too many years ago, the whole concept of sushi was- well- alien to many Americans of non-Japanese ancestry.  Back in the late 1970’s, or so the story goes, owners of Japanese restaurants were just nots sure how to get Americans into sushi..Eventually, someone made a roll, consisting of ingredients that were almost entirely recognizable to  the American palette: Rice, cucumber, and crab. The little bit of nori that wrapped the whole thing up was a stretch- but the majority of the roll was produced with entirely familiar ingredients. It caught on- big time- and became the “gateway drug” for the sushi addiction here in the U.S. Now, it’s pretty much the most “basic” of the sushi rolls- but I’ll bet that in 1977, most Americans would freak about it if they were offered it at a restaurant!


And that’s how it is with our fish stuff, right?

We accepted the idea of the “Nature Aquarium” in America, with it’s rigid adherence to aquascaping layout “rules” and such, it was sort of a sea change…but it also was an evolution or change from what we had in the past…It incorporated familiar components (plants, rocks, wood, but assembled them in a different way.


The modern reef aquarium, which for all arguments sake emerged around 1986. Adapting the technological advance of the trickle filter from sewage treatment technology, the ability to keep delicate marine animals and corals for extended periods of time finally emerged...We'd been keeping saltwater fishes for years with canister filters, under gravel filters, etc., but finally had an off-the-shelf solution to accomplish things in a different way...


It was like that with the first freeze-dried foods…live stuff that was preserved in a different manner than previously done…and it made our lives better and easier, in terms of our fish keeping…And so it goes with electronic controllers, LED lights, etc., etc.- Familiar ideas expressed in new ways…

That’s what pushes the hobby forward. In our case, the idea of using “botanicals” in our aquariums is not groundbreaking…it’s just a bit different than what we’ve been doing in the past…a tiny, tiny incremental change in our practices. And pushing you to embrace things like cod-fiber and leaves as a big component of your substrate is just an evolution of what we've been doing for decades..

 Every new fish that’s bred, every new idea that’s executed and perfected. They all make things so familiar to us that much better…

Ponder that...until next time.


And stay wet!


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics






September 25, 2015


Just how impulsive are you?


Are you an “impulsive aquarist?”

I ask that not to get some secret marketing data I can use to exploit your psychological weaknesses for my own nefarious purposes (hmm..but that does sound like an interesting idea..). Rather, I’m curious because I think that most hobbyists are not. Usually. Okay, maybe sometimes…

As aquarists, we’re taught that nothing good ever happens quickly in a tank, and I’d tend to agree with that. However, as consumers, I think hobbyists sometimes make things happen quickly with last-minute purchasing decisions!


I deal with lots of aquarists every day with my companies, and I am occasionally surprised at the additional purchases that people make to “fill out” their orders- you know, to hit free shipping, get an extra piece to share with a friend, or just to “scratch that itch” to try a new species…It happens just often enough to make me think that us fish geeks are not necessarily impulsive, but we are strategic. In other words, the purchase may not be something you would start your order with, but it justifies purchasing at the end in order to hit that free shipping number, etc.


 I think many aquarists really wanted that extra item in the first place. A lot of times, they’ll mention, in passing, at the end of an order or other conversation, “So, are those Concha Pods really that hard to sink?” I get a sneaking feeling that they intended buy the coral anyways, and maybe just needed some assurance that it’s a cool pod, or within their skill set to utilize, or something like that. The impulse buy by is almost always something unrelated to their primary order (for example, 5 orders of Catappa  and Guava leaves, and then a package food added at the last second)! 


So very like us fish geeks, isn’t it?


And then, of course, there are those of us who are the polar opposite of this:



I recall driving my LFS employees crazy when I was younger, because I’d spend literally hours in the store, scrutinizing every aspect of a fish before I’d pull the trigger…or not (that must be why I drove ‘em crazy!). I would look at every fin ray, every gill movement…I’d look at every twitch and scratch and correlate it with known disease symptoms versus regular behaviors for the said species…I would sometimes bring my reference material (like Axelreod’s books for FW, and maybe the early Albert Thiel stuff after the dawn of the “reef” age, notes from Bob Fenner’s books in my hand later on), and would just geek out. Of course, I would second guess everything the LFS guy said because “the books” said otherwise, even though the employees worked with these animals every day of their lives…My first brush with aquarium-keeping “dogma”, I suppose. My how things change!

I knew at an early age that I’d never be an “impulse aquarist." I think it might have come about because, when you’re a kid, you have a 10 gallon tank and $5.67 that you’ve painstakingly saved for months to spend. You need to be absolutely sure of your purchases. I was very thorough! Even as an adult, with a 225 gallon tank, and much more to spend, I still found myself doing the same thing (okay, maybe with my iPhone in tow, instead of some well-worn reference book). You should see me when I go to the wholesalers here in L.A for Unique Corals….it could take me half a day to pick like 5 fish. At least when we obtain stock from our usual sources overseas, we’ve built up personal relationships to the point where these guys know our tastes, so that’s actually easier than going to the wholesaler’s facility!

Equipment choices are even more subject to analysis and absurd scrutiny, because hey- how often do you purchase a new filter or a lighting system? ( OK, wait- don’t answer that). But seriously, when you’re sending the big bucks on a critical piece of life-support equipment, you want to get it right! One of the things I love most about my friend Jake Adams and the Reef Builders website is that they will analyze the heck out of almost anything, from an algae magnet to a new aquarium controller. Useful stuff for many of us- essential for anal-retentive fish geeks like myself.


Of course, impulsiveness can permeate every aspect of being an aquarist, including setup and configuration of your tank. I may not be overly impulsive in terms of additions and purchases, but I CAN be spur of the moment on tank decisions. What exactly do I mean by “tank decisions?” For example, I’ll be scraping algae or some other mundane maintenance chore in my tank, and suddenly, I’ll notice a rock or driftwood branch that seems “not right” somehow…”Hmm, what if I move this guy over here…?” Of course, this almost always leads to a spontaneous “refreshing” of the aquascape, often taking hours to complete. Somehow, I find this relaxing. Weird. So it’s entirely possible to be analytical and calculating on some aspects of aquarium keeping, and spontaneous on others.

I believe that this applies to many of us.

 And of course, there are aquarists who are entirely impulsive, which is why you see entire 200 gallon tanks full of every plant and fish imaginable, with rock wool pots sticking out from every conceivable angle, and all sorts of gadgets and stuff. Of course, I cannot, in all honesty, say anything negative about them, because some of these types keep us in business, lol!


Not that it’s worth analyzing…but those of you who follow my rants all the time know that I love to postulate on- well, everything aquarium-culture related, and this is just another aspect to ponder. 

So…it begs the question: Are you an impulsive aquarist?

Think about TAHT for a while!

And stay wet!




Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics






September 24, 2015


On making dry stuff wet....

The other day, I was working on the tank in my office, cleaning out the Eheim surface skimmer 

I did what I always do- sort of carefully pulled out the unit for cleaning, and did my thing...and I looked on the floor, and of course...quite inexplicably...there was water...over a wide area.


Like, how does this happen? How does even the most simple aquarium activity result in a disproportionate amount of water spilled somewhere? Even when you try your best to be uber careful..?

I just don't get it.

That's all.

Stay Wet...yeah, WET!

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

September 23, 2015


A truly "egg-ceptional food arrives at Tannin Aquatics!

Okay, we are getting pretty spoiled around here- finding some real gems to bring to you- and we figured that we'd just keep going!

Today, we're excited to offer a great new food that will greatly enhance the way you feed- and offer your fishes superior nutrition in an easy-to-use format- "Doc's Eco Super Eggs" from Doctor Eco-Systems!


I first stumbled on this food at one of the many conferences I attend, and was immediately hooked, to use a pun. I had heard fellow marine aquarists raving about this product, but never really investigated it. When I launched Tannin, I realized that it could be a perfect food for freshwater fishes. (This product was originally marketed for marine fishes, but is eagerly accepted by every freshwater fish we've tested it on!)

The owner of Doctor Eco Systems, Dr. Hersh, and his team, Matt and Kristen, were super excited, diligent, and answered all of my many questions about their products...and I knew then that I'd have to bring this food to you! 

Obviously, as a reef keeper who's seen and heard his share of hype and false promises about products, I was a bit skeptical about anything that seemed to good to be true...and was very pleasantly surprised to find out that the product more than lives up to the good reputation it's developed in the marine aquarium sector! And of course, although it's great that marine fish tear the stuff up, it's very important to make sure that freshwater fishes accept this food eagerly- which they do! It's been tested on freshwater fishes for over a year, with amazing results.

Doc's Eco Super Eggs consists of a 1 to 2 mm diameter freshwater fish egg with a very high  concentration of protein, fat, and Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids which makes it a great option for conditioning newly arrived aquarium fish or conditioning fishes to spawn. The product has undergone very extensive testing from Midwest Laboratories, Inc. for detailed nutritional analysis and purity. These guys are very serious about providing an amazingly high-quality food source.

Doc's Eco Super Eggs comes in a nutritive brine, and does not need to be refrigerated until it is opened. Upon dispensing it into water, it disperses into lots of individual, bite-sized eggs that drive the fish freakin' crazy! Like, I wouldn't want to be in the water with my Cardinal Tetras during feeding of this stuff!

It's recommended to drop it into a container of tank water first, to get it to separate a bit. Of course, you can just dispense it into the tank if you prefer, but we're pretty confident that you'll want to "pre-disperse" it first, to see that everyone gets their fair share!

If you're trying to acclimate newly-arrived fishes, or preparing them for spawning- particularly fishes like cichlids, Tetras, Killies, etc.- you'll find that this highly nutritious food is going to be an essential part of your conditioning program. The longer-term users of this food that I've spoken to who breed fishes have told me that they feel they're getting larger and more healthy spawns from their fishes- particularly the cichlid crowd- since utilizing this food as part of their pre-and post-spawn conditioning. Of course, as more freshwater hobbyists use this food, we'll undoubtedly hear more cool success stories!

All in all, this is one of the most exciting food products we've seen in a long time, and it's the perfect compliment for our lineup of dried foods, such as the Paradigm line, ZHF, and Plecocaine!

We're pretty certain that you'll love this food almost as much as your fishes will!

Let's hear your feedback!

Stay Wet...and full!


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

September 21, 2015


Keep those cards and emails and Facebook posts- coming, folks!

The only thing more fun than keeping aquarium is when you get stuff for your aquariums! Specifically, unboxing the cool stuff you get for your aquariums!

At Tannin- we totally get that, and that's why we tried to make our packaging as fun as possible to open up, and the process as exciting as the hobby itself! (Well, almost as exciting, actually...)

And we love it when customers show us the whole process, and what we call the "layout"- those cool pics when people put out the whole order for everyone to enjoy...In this instance- artfully down, we might add!


And it's fun to see people doing the whole "aquatic botanical preparation" thing, too!

And of course, seeing them in use is the coolest part!

And we LOVE supporting clubs, too!

Most of all, we love hearing that you're enjoying the stuff we offer- and we love seeing the creative things you're doing with it! Feel free to share on our Facebook page...we love it! (And we're occasionally known to send people who share pics of their Tannin stuff free surprises from time to time..hint, hint!).

Stay happy- Stay Wet!

Scott Fellman

September 21, 2015


New reasons to embrace thinking small...

Not all that long ago, as I was playing with a new "nano" aquarium system for a friend, it occurred to me that I have become a hardcore fan of nano aquariums...when done correctly!

 Ok, in the past, I was totally on the anti-nano bandwagon, vigorously maintaining that they were little more than death-row holding cells for their inhabitants, encouraging irresponsibility and overstocking- the usual stuff.

How narrow minded of me.

I’ve since reversed my position on the topic…well, sort of! Let’s just say that, if you don’t know how to maintain an aquarium, you’ll fail regardless of its size. Period. A nano will simply bring you to that point that much more quickly! 

One cool thing I’ve have learned from nano tanks of late is this:

Nano tanks are a valuable tool for experienced hobbyists to practice new concepts on a smaller, more affordable scale.

This is especially true in the reef aquarium genre, but is entirely applicable to freshwater systems, of course. 

This is not my first run with nano tanks, of course. As a lifelong hobbyist, especially as a kid, I was contained by space, time and budget to maintain a series of smaller tanks in my bedroom, for stuff like killies, Tetras, Guppies, Apistos - even a breeding pair of Kribs inhabited one of my 2.5 gallon systems for years. 

These days, I like to play with new concepts: Different aquascaping configurations, unique system designs,  etc. You know I love the idea of using leaves and alternative substrate materials in my tanks, right? Nanos offer a flexible, relatively simple means of  trying new things like that without the heavy work involved with a larger system. I love the idea that I can visualize something, sketch it out on Friday afternoon, and have it well underway on Saturday, completed that evening.

And, like everything in this hobby- nanos WILL become addictive. 


When I started playing with nano systems, I decided from the outset that each nano would have to stand up on its own as an example of good aesthetics. No dangling powerheads or heaters, mix-and-match tank components, etc. for me. If these little things are going to be in my living room, they are going to have to look nice. And, unfortunately, for me- “nice” occasionally translates into “pricey.” Why is that? 

I also decided that Tannin Aquatics would cater to fans of nano tanks, because, in addition to the reasons outlined above, nano tank offer flexibility, economical advantages, and a required level of commitment that may be more suitable for a lot of people's lifestyles.

You don’t HAVE to spend tons of money on a nano tank- and I discourage you from feeling obligated to do so- but it amazes me what you can end up with when you start out with quality, even on these tiny tanks. I mean, how you choose to outfit your nano is totally up to you- and you can push it as far as your desire, creativity, time, and budget allow!




If done responsibly, a nano system can be every bit as sexy and interesting as that 400 gallon behemoth you’re drooling over-and still allow you to meet the monthly mortgage. And you won’t have to worry about weather patterns forming in your living room from the moisture! But most important of all-nanos allow us as hobbyists to more easily push the state of the art. They are way more than “the goldfish bowl of the 21st century!”

So, use your nano tank for good: Test an idea that’s popped into your head. See if you like it. See if it is even workable. Practice working in the tank. Study flow, evaporation, concealing plumbing, etc. You’ll definitely learn things and hone skills that you will incorporate daily with your larger systems. Keeping a nano can and will demand more from you than you think, and it will make you a better,  more well-rounded hobbyist!

Without beating the proverbial dead horse, I encourage those of you who have not yet done so to hop on the “nano train”. See where it takes you- push yourself-advance the hobby, and share your brilliance!

There has never been a better time to “think small”.

Let’s see those cool nano tanks you’ve been working on! Don’t be shy! Inspire everyone!

Till next time…

Stay wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics


September 20, 2015


Things you can change right now...

Like most aquarists, I’m always thinking two moves ahead.

I mean, it’s sometimes hard to just look at my aquarium and enjoy it without thinking about the next upgrade, the next fish I’m gonna add, or the next husbandry tweak I’m gonna employ. These things almost always involve change, or changing something: Maybe it’s part of the aquarium- keeping mindset; I think so, because I am certainly not alone in my obsession. The common denominator is about things that I want to change. I suppose it’s a good thing- always striving to improve. Or, perhaps it’s a form of OCD?

I couldn’t tell you. 

What I do know is that when it’s typically about change, the change is often a good thing.


And, of course, it’s Fall- a season of change and transition, so what better time to focus on changing stuff? Rather than discussing what grandiose upgrade plans you might have for your system, let’s focus on changes that you could- and probably should- change right now. These are changes that can not only improve your aquarium’s short term appearance and health; if done regularly, they can have real and lasting long-term impact! Here are a few things you can quickly and easily change on your aquarium right now. Of course, my list is by no means complete, and in no particular order¦

Your filter pads- Yeah, go ahead and change ˜em. If you’re not doing it weekly or more frequently already, you should. It’s important. The gross particulate matter than accumulates within polyester filter pads can break down quickly if unattended, and will have an impact on your system’s water quality. In fact, dirty filter pads are one of the culprits in declining water quality that are often sitting in front of our very nose, that we fail to take into account when algae problems and other water quality issues arise. Try weekly or every 3-4 days if you really see a lot of trapped matter in them, and you’ve eliminated a major contributor to declining water quality and potential nuisance algae.


Your dull algae scraper- No, seriously! Regardless of the type of aquarium you have- glass or acrylic- there is a point when the blades on those scrapers (plastic or stainless steel) need changing. They get worn down, pitted, and otherwise degraded, and cannot perform for the job the way they were originally intended. They can damage your aquarium if not replaced regularly. Especially the acrylic scrapers! I mean, you pretty much look at acrylic tanks the wrong way and they scratch anyways, so the last thing that you want to do is increase the potential for damage by not changing the pitted $1.29 plastic blade on your scraper. And, as you know, glass can scratch, too, so not changing a dull and/or damaged blade for glass opens up similar problems for glass aquariums. It’s such an easy and inexpensive change that you should treat it like an oil change. Just replace them every three weeks or more frequently if needed and be done with it! Or, use a different algae cleaning format.

Test kit reagents- If you are a water testing geek- and many of you are- you need to make sure that you’re getting accurate results. I mean, how else could you rationalize your decision to by that new monstrous canister filter if you can’t show that your water quality needs improvement? And if you’re utilizing test kits with liquid reagents, you’ll need to replace them from time to time, as they degrade, affecting their accuracy. I’ve seen a bunch of cases where aquarists were convinced that there might be a problem in their system, as test kit results were showing problematic readings. Upon cross-referencing every other factor they could think of, it turned out that the same test performed with new reagents yielded drastically different results. Instead of buying a some new expensive gadget, they bought more fish. Man, I LOVE this country! Change those reagents regularly!

Activated carbon and other chemical filtration media- I am a big fan of carbon and such to help continuously remove potentially problematic substances from the water. IMHO, chemical filtration are an important part of your nutrient control and export practices, and should be employed full-time in your system. If you’re utilizing these media full-time, it’s important to recognize that they don’t last forever, and that they will eventually stop removing organic substances and simply retain detritus and such, trapping it in their structure, which will function more as a biological filtration substrate at some point. Not all that bad, but when you have stuff accumulating in a matrix of carbon, resin, or other water-polishing chemical media, it’s just a matter of time before the once helpful chemical media becomes the metaphorical old broom that attracts “dust bunnies” instead of doing it’s job.

Water-  “OMG, Fellman, you’re bringing THAT up again?” Yup, I’m going to make you a habitual water changer yet. There is, in my opinion, no single practice, piece of equipment, or routine that you can utilize on your aquarium that will have more positive impact than a water change. As I discussed many times before, it’s not a bad habit to employ smaller, more frequent changes. You can do a small water change right now, and virtually assure yourself that you’re doing something beneficial and positive to keep your aquarium running in top form. Closed systems can only export so much dissolved organics without needing to physically remove some of the water on a regular basis. There’s no time like the present, so why not perform a 3% or 5% of your system capacity water change today? Your livestock will thank you, and I’ll get off of your back.


Honorable Mention:

Your aquascape- Yes, in keeping with the time-honored tradition of changing pretty much everything in the aquarium from time to time, most of you are going to want to shuffle rocks around again at some point. It’s part of the aquarium-keeping mind set, I think. If you just can’t stand your rock and wood work, and you can see a practical as well as aesthetic advantage to doing so (like, the present rock and plant configuration interferes with your flow, maintenance, or plant growth), then go for it. If you don’t it’s just gonna stick in your gut and aggravated you every time you look at your tank. One tip- do it on a day when you’re not rushed, have time to contemplate, and are in a generally creative mind set. Otherwise, you’re almost guaranteed to have all of the rocks, plants and wood out and then have some weird psychological meltdown- you know, one of those “Omigod, what have I done?!?” moments.

Okay, I’ve gotten this party started; time to hand it off to you brilliant people. What are some changes you can do to your aquarium right now that will reap immediate benefits? Let’s hear ‘em.

As always, thanks for stopping by this morning. Love your family, care for your tanks, and above all…

Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

September 19, 2015


FIRST LOOK: Aqua Verdi Riparium Planter

When we first started obsessing about the concepts of palludariums and ripariums, we realized that we'd need to approach design of these systems just a bit differently than we do with aquariums. First and foremost is the need to locate and attach the plants in the feature in a secure, safe manner, which can harmoniously blend into the background of the display.

Well, along came Aqua Verdi and their ingenious Riparium planter!

This is a nicely constructed acrylic planter that easily sneaks into the background of your tank, and thanks to two strong suction cups, effortlessly holds your plants in place. 

They come two to a pack, and are easily assembled in minutes using an innovative "tab and slot joint" process that literally makes assembly a snap! 

The kit includes a mesh barrier, which helps retain the soil or other growing media, while keeping everything safe and secure. The instructions are precise, clear, and very helpful. The finished product is tight, clean, and useful!


The sturdy suction cups hold the planter securely in place wherever you choose to locate it- a huge deal when creating cool riparium setups. This will allow for lots of flexibility in your design and concepts.

The finished planter measures a compact 4" tall by 2" wide, so it can fit unobtrusively most anywhere!

Watch for these cool planters this week, along with other cool related products...and, coming soon- riparium PLANTS! (shh, it's a secret still...)

Stay Wet (and green!)

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

September 18, 2015


Quarantine...yet again!

Ok, I'm just gonna come right out and say it....

If you aren't quarantining all of your new fish purchases, and some kind of disinfectant protocol for your plants, you should also consider buying a lottery ticket, or financing that crazy online edible balloon bouquet business that your 18-year-old niece is concocting...You might want to bet on the 100-1 underdog in the Super Bowl this year, Dance across Grand Central Parkway in rush hour traffic, or attempt to climb K-2 in the late Fall.

Yeah, you'd be classified as a risk taker, for sure!

Why is that?

Well, let's put it this way- if you aren't utilizing some type of quarantine protocol, you're rolling the dice and betting that you'll avoid introducing  disease into your tank. It's kind of a risk...

Before we touch on the ridiculously simple quarantine procedures you could employ, let's de-bunk some of the common excuses I always hear for not quarantining newly-received fishes :

1) "My LFS/online vendor quarantines all his fish for two weeks before selling them!" Yeah, just before he releases them into his system with fishes from all over the world, with common filtration, equipment, nets, etc. C'mon, it's great that the vendor takes the extra time to do this, and believe me- it speaks volumes about their dedication and level of care- but you cannot rely on a third party to quarantine your animals. In a store or holding facility, there is just too much activity- incoming fish, "accidental" releases of non-quarantined animals into the sales tanks on a busy week, mixing of nets, siphon hoses, filter media, etc. for their not to be some risk of exposure. Sure, you're way better off than if the dealer didn't quarantine, and you should support businesses that employ the practice- but how do you KNOW that the fish were properly quarantined? You can't be too sure...Trust NO ONE...Everyone needs to take some responsibility for their tanks, despite the best efforts of others.

2) "I know the guy I get my plants from. He never has any pests in his tanks. No need to inspect or dip.” Really? Surely you're not believing yourself here...Have you spent hours inspecting every single plant from your buddy's tank with a mesoscope? Hydra, planarians, yuck. I mean, all good intentions aside, there's still a lot of potential for disaster here. You're not at the person's tank 24/7. You don't know when the last time something might have been accidentally introduced, you can't be sure if one of the plants in the tank had some resident pests that escaped detection, and are simply waiting for a fresh start in a new environment...You just don't know..

3) "It's too expensive to set up a quarantine tank." Or, "I don't have the room." Man, I'm gonna have to hit you upside the head with a 100-micron filter sock, aren't I? Don't MAKE me get nasty...Let's dispatch these two classic excuses with a swift blow: IT'S NOT COMPLICATED, EXPENSIVE, OR SPACE-EATING TO SET UP A SMALL, TEMPORARY QUARANTINE SYSTEM!!! It's just NOT! I'll wager that you spent more on the last batch of trendy Mbuna from you favorite importer than it does to set up such a system! (And no, I'm not lowering my aquatic botanical prices so that you can afford a quarantine tank...LOL. You're being a real smart Alec, aren't you? Good try...LOL)



Ok, seriously, all wisecracking and characteristic smart-ass tone aside, there is really no excuse for not practicing some form of quarantine. It's about personal aquatic responsibility...Just like you're hesitant to leave your beloved tanks in the care of someone else when you go out of town, why leave it to the store, online vendor, or your buddy to be the one responsible for quarantining your fish and plants before you purchase them? It's just not worth the potential problems..Once you've battled an outbreak of Ich or Velvet in your tank, or an episode or two of pests in your plants, you'll understand what I'm getting at. Why wait until disaster strikes before taking action? A proactive aquarist is a successful aquarist!

"So, Fellman- what do I need to do this?"

Glad you asked...Here we go.

Okay, you need an aquarium or other water-holding vessel of suitable size to hold the animals that you want to quarantine. For sake of argument, most small fishes can be quarantined in a small aquarium from 5 -20 gallons in size. If you've priced inexpensive "loss leader" tanks at the LFS, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that they don't cost all that much. In fact, I've seen 10 gallon tanks for under $15.00 at many pet shops and LFS's. 

Next, you'll need a filter of some sort...Not to worry. For a QT (quarantine tank), you don't need a custom, state of the art sump or over-the-top canister filter. Get a cheap, air-powered sponge filter. Get two or three, in fact. Place the sponges in the sump of your main display aquarium, and let them just "marinate" for a few weeks.In the sump, they are colonizing beneficial bacteria that will help brake down nitrogenous wastes. By having one or two sponge filters ready to go at all times, you're "impulse-buy impervious", meaning that you can easily rationalize the next purchase from Tannin or someone else, because you'll be ready to quarantine! 


When the time comes to pull the trigger on your next purchase, you take the empty aquarium, fill it with water from your display aquarium (easily obtained from your regular weekly water change...Wait a second. You are doing a weekly water change, right? C'mon, don't make me write another article on the topic...I will...), hook up the sponge filter, throw in an appropriately-sized aquarium heater, and voila, you've got a ready-to-go QT! And no, you don’t leave it running all the time, you don't need sand, or resident fish...A QT is a temporary feature. You set it up when you need it and break it down when you're done. Think about this: The "eyesore" will only last a few weeks (I recommend at least a two to three week quarantine period...30 days is better), and the fish are already getting a chance to acclimate to your display system's water parameters, etc. This will make adding them to the display at the end of the quarantine period a snap!

I would recommend a brief dip for your fishes before placing them in quarantine.

You can compensate for the accumulation of waste products in the QT by performing weekly water changes with water from your display..What a great excuse for a water change, right?

During the quarantine period, observe your fishes daily for signs of problems. Diseases and pests will manifest themselves during a 21-30 day quarantine period, and you'll be able to take more aggressive treatment methods in a QT than you ever could in your  display, right? And you'll have the added ability to get those fishes accustomed to your foods, maintenance practices, and environmental conditions before they ever make it into your display!


Once you engage in a quarantine protocol- ANY quarantine protocol- you'll enjoy a higher level of control, observation, and general "reefer-awareness" than ever before. In short- you'll become a better reefer. Seriously. You will. You'll be joining the many thousands of successful hobbyists, professional industry types, and public aquariums worldwide that employ such procedures to assure success. This little rant is by no means the last word- or even the first word- on the subject. There is a lot more information out there, and I encourage you to research this practice. And, in the tradition of my "open source" attitude on the stuff on this form, please, PLEASE pass on your suggestions, experiences, etc with quarantine, so that everyone here can benefit! The tank you might save could be your own!


So, please, PLEASE think twice- or even three times- before dismissing the idea of a quarantine protocol. It's easy, relatively inexpensive, and undeniably valuable.

Ok, I'm going to jump off my soapbox now. Time for me to find another thing to push you to do.

Until next time, 

Stay wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics



September 17, 2015


10 Characteristics common to successful aquarists- and their aquariums!

I was fortunate to visit the large aquarium of a friend of mine recently, which I hadn’t seen in some time. The aquarium was beautiful, with crystal clear water, lush growth of plants, and happy, active fishes. It caused me to reflect on the fact that, every time I visit a successful aquarium, I almost can go into a mental “checklist” of attributes that seem to be in place. 

I figured that it’s about time a memorialize them! 

 So here, not listed in any particular order, are 10 characteristics of successful aquarists and their aquariums. Sure, there are probably dozens more attributes, but here are some of the most obvious that I’ve noted over the years:

1) The aquarium is not overstocked- The hobbyist has used common sense in adding livestock to the aquarium. Plants and fishes are not forced to compete for space, current, light, dissolved oxygen, and other resources, because the hobbyist has restrained himself/herself from cramming every possible animal into the tank.


2) The aquarist engages in a regular program of maintenance- ranging from water changes to media replacement, to simple things like changing light bulbs or cleaning lenses. Maintenance issues are not taken care of “whenever”, or “when I feel like it”; rather, they are scheduled and a more-or-less regular interval of maintenance is adhered to.



3) The aquarium has a “theme"- In other words, it’s not just a random aggregation of animals- a little of this and a little of that. Rather, the aquarist has stocked his/her system along the lines that the bulk of the fishes and plants are from the Amazon, for example- or are bottom-dwelling fishes. Perhaps a collection of Loaches…whatever.  Mixes of every conceivable type of fish and plants are typically avoided.



4) Some form of chemical filtration is used- ranging from activated carbon to organic scavenger resins, and every type of media in between. These materials are regularly attended to and replaced as needed.


5) The aquarist is very engaged in his or her system- In other words, they enjoy more than just looking at the animals- they are involved in one way or another in many aspects of the system  design, maintenance, stocking, tweaking, and even just observing the aquarium on a regular basis.


6) The aquarist knows about each and every animal in the system- Sure, he or she may not know every scientific fact, but they have a working knowledge of what is in there, what it needs to thrive, and how to provide for its care. Nothing is left to chance.


7) The aquarist reads extensively- or participates in one or more online forum, club, or group, and regularly engages with and exchanges information with other hobbyists. The aquarist sees his/herself as part of a larger community.


8) Access to aquarium equipment is easy- Filters, pumps, electrical systems are all easily accessible for regular maintenance. This is intentional, designed from the start.



9) The aquarist is patient- Lessons learned by listening to others, or from success and failure, have been incorporated into the system design, stocking practices, maintenance procedures, and philosophy behind the aquarium. A very common trait of breeders, especially.


10) Quality equipment is used- The aquarist has invested in equipment that is designed and built for reliable, long-term service. Nothing is left to chance. Not always the most expensive stuff- but the best stuff is used.

 Again, this just scratches the surface, but I think it kind of touches on a few points that might be overlooked. I'd love to hear your thoughts on some that I might not have touched upon...Everyone can learn from everyone else!




Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics