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!

August 12, 2015


How to recognize hobbyists who will bring you down...

An article in an online publication I read some time ago stirred up a small storm of controversy on the forums and social media. The author suggested that hobbyists should take with a grain of salt advice from those who apparently don’t have a tank, or even a body of work to fall back on, particularly those who have “guru-like” status on forums, etc. While fundamentally, his assertion is pretty sound- people who claim that their way is “the only way” need to have something more than words to back up their claim- I think that the thing that rubbed a number of readers of the piece wrong was the assertion that many people who offer advice and ideas don't seem to show pics of their successful tank in their articles. 

I think I kind of know what he was hinting at, perhaps in a bit more direct and less nuanced way. It looks like, in the firestorm of criticism surrounding the article, that readers might have slightly misinterpreted what he was getting at. I think his point was not that everyone who is proffering advice has to show an awesome tank, or spawning results to back it up. I think, or I’d like to think, that what he was getting at was that people with dogmatic “my way or the highway” attitudes that are condescending towards everyone doing thing a different way, need to offer some evidence supporting their claims. 

I have to admit that I disagree with any absolute statement that suggests you must have an epic  tank in order to offer an opinion or advice. I do agree, however, that anyone asserting that they are right and everyone else has it wrong should offer some tangible evidence to support their theory. A picture of a healthy successful aquarium is a start, but not necessarily the only evidence we should require.


I remember a piece I wrote, perhaps in a more gentle tone, called “The Danger of Regurgitation”, right here on “The Tint”, in which I basically offered a similar sort of warning, but was a little more specific, perhaps less sophisticated: Be wary of really arrogant people.  One only look back into recent reef keeping history (mid “First decade 2000s) to see a graphic example of what the author was probably alluding to- the Sanded vs. Barebottom “Wars”, where tremendous arrogance took over common sense, and a sort of gang mentality broke out via the internet between those who supported the idea of a sandbed, and those who were against it. Really ugly stuff, those “sandbed wars”- and we hopefully learned a thing or two from them.

The bottom line is that you need to take all advice-from anyone- with a grain of salt. No one knows everything about aquarium keeping. Woah! I said it. I’ll say it again: No one knows everything about aquarium keeping, regardless of pedigree, or even regardless of how nice their tank looks. 

Something to contemplate.  

During the course of your aquarium keeping “career”, you will meet lots of different people who are also into fish. Many will offer advice- some welcome, some unsolicited and not so welcome! I’ve noticed this since we've been in business, as well! People tend to come and “consult” with you, even if you’re not asking for it. It’s a good and bad aspect of aquarium keeping- fellow hobbyists are always willing to help. The problem is, some people are not all that helpful, and can even prove detrimental to your enjoyment of the hobby!



Not that this piece was meant as an addendum to the somewhat controversial piece touched on above, but it may offer some thoughts that perhaps express some parallel sentiments, albeit in a less dogmatic way. The bottom line: You have to be downright careful about who you let into your home or aquarium “envelope” to “check out” your tank and render advice. This is not rocket science, but in this internet-fueled, “everyone-knows-everything-because-of-Google” age, it’s pretty important to grasp.

I’ve actually classified the types of hobbyists who dispense advise and perhaps make you feel bad, who you’ll run into now and again. They are, of course, generalizations, but they seem to be somewhat accurate, based on my experience.

  1. The “Diverter”- “Diverters” are cool people who come into your home and check out your tank, and totally distract you from the direction you’re headed. These amazing people have a tendency to offer “corrections”- attempting to show you a “better way” to go- or something that you “need to do”- usually something that THEY strongly believe in…These people are well-intentioned, no doubt- but they really tend to steer you off course in a strange, vicarious fashion. “Diverters” tend to send you into direction that you never really intended- and not always for the better.  They may be amazing aquarists, but don’t let them and their clever ideas make you think for a moment that anything that you are doing is any less amazing. Be wary of these charmers!


2)  The “Deviant”- Fortunately, this is not a hobbyist that you will encounter often- but they are out there. “Deviants” seem to have all of the cool ideas and talk a big game- and they’re lucky enough to get away with some less-than-smart decisions in their fishkeeping, so they are always willing to send you down directions that are risky, and very contrarian. Although I’m a big fan of doing things your own way..I’m less interested in doing things that someone else was lucky to get away with.  If you find yourself continuously making bad moves every time a “Deviant” pays you a visit, best you steer clear of them!

3)  The “Taunt”- This type of hobbyist never seems to let you live down your errors or mistakes: “Remember when you tried to keep all of those Rasbora in your Discus tank? How well did that go?” Don’t let these people pull you back to the mistakes you might have made. What are they doing that for? To help you better yourself, or to express their own insecurities? Everyone screws up in fishkeeping. If you’ve messed up, it simply means that you’ve learned how not to do something. Keep moving forward- you’re okay.


4) The “Hater”- we all know a few, unfortunately. They lurk on forums and discussion boards, ready to strike. They want to be respected and admired by the fishkeeping community for having a great tank, etc., but don’t seem to want to  do any of the work to get there. Rather, they simply want to put down the work being done by everyone else. These are decidedly negative folks, but they can sort of motivate you in a weird way. Just don’t be like them. Share ideas, successes, failures, and render help to others based upon your experience. Use these negative thinkers to be the “anti-Hater” in the aquarium world. We need more anti-Haters!

5) The “Instant Gratification Specialist”- Yup, the internet aquarium keeping community abounds with these people. They’re the ones who put up those crazy, mega-priced build threads” that leave everyone in awe, and some people even feeling bad that they are mere mortals. These people often have the stated goal of building a tank that gets named “Tank of the Century” or whatever, as if that offers some legitimacy and “cred” to their existence in the hobby.  I’m not hating on build threads that are started by genuinely excited reefers who want to learn and help others. This is a different breed of cat.  “IGS” types seem to have very little patience for anything but instant gratification. This will be evident in the speed in which the tank seems to come together, and the outlandish purchases that are posted regularly in their build threads. These people want to be liked. They are “fun” to be around in that respect, but are oddly sad in others. Many of them want be part of something bigger- they just don’t know what. The reality is that many of these people would be awesome friends, embraced by fellow hobbyists if they would just put their heads- and hearts- in the right place. 

6) The “Buzzkill”- Okay, everyone has seen this type of aquarist. These guys have a dark cloud following them, and seem to want to pull others into the cloud bank with them. A lot of them are extreme DIY-ers, who spend vast amounts of time and money trying to come up with fancy automated ways of doing the most basic of tasks.  When these things fail to do the job, they blame luck. Maybe they’re unlucky, but they are almost always possessed by a “why is this happening to ME” attitude.  Many of them feel that the basics of aquarium husbandry just don’t apply to them, because they know a better way to do it. “I don’t know what I’m having this algae issue. My automatic constant frozen food feeder and homemade fertilizer solution are working, but all of my parameters are off. The auto water conditioner/changer keeps sticking on me.  And the computer that controls my RO/DI membrane assessment keeps telling me the water quality is fine. I’m at wit’s end.”  It’s kind of hard to feel bad for these types, really. They seem to like to be in “Negative Land.” They must like the attention that the hobby community gives them. They may never change, because their arrogance won’t allow it. Pity, as they can offer a lot to the community with their skills.

Wow, what a negative way to start off the day! Well, it was on my mind, and you know I like to share whats on my mind (Hmm…I think there is a classification for people like me somewhere…)

Okay, well there you have my concise guide to the people you want to avoid in the fishkeeping community- online or elsewhere. Sure, these are generalizations, and there are others, no doubt. However, this will kind of give you a more detailed warning than perhaps preferred elsewhere…hopefully it can help you avoid wasting valuable life energy with people who really have nothing positive to offer, and help you enjoy your hobby even more.

As always, take any and all advise with a grain of salt. Have fun. Grow. Share.

And stay wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics


August 11, 2015


The ultimate "impulse buy?"

Serious fish geeks NEVER make impulse buys, right? 


Well, if you're like must of us, you certainly do...And releasing newly-acquired fishes into your established systems is just playing "Russian roulette" with your fish collection! So the safest way to protect all of your fishes is to set up a simple quarantine tank.

What better way to filter it than the humble Hydra Bio Sponge filter. This little gem, if left somewhere in your display tank, will "colonize" beneficial bacteria that consume nitrite, ammonia, and nitrate...providing you with an on demand "impulse-buy-proof" filter that you simply throw into your 10 gallon quarantine tank (which you just filled with water from your last water change), along with a heater, and you're good to go...

Such a small investment to assure the health and safety of your entire collection. And, at just $6.25, this little filter might be itself the best impulse buy you ever made! 

Just get'll thank yourself later!

August 11, 2015


How dark do you want your water?

Funny question? Not really!

We've had a lot of hobbyists ask us what the top "tinting" botanicals would be to really give their water the "Rio Negro" treatment. 

The answer is that just about every botanical we offer will impart some tint to the water. However, the quickest, strongest ones would have to be the good ol' Catappa leaves, followed by Alder Cones, Catappa Bark, and then moving on into some of the pods like "Frita Pods", "Tapete Pods", "Helix Pods", Coco "Curls" and then, surprisingly- Cholla, which gives a pleasing yellowish-amber tint over time if you don't boil it first!

How much to use is going to be based on personal judgement and taste. Most of our habitat enrichment /substrate enhancement packages will be more than adequate for 10-30 gallon tanks. However, there are a lot of factors, such as your local water chemistry, water volume, and how you're using the materials, which can affect the degree of "tint" imparted to the water. 

The reefer in me has been doing some interesting experiments with hardware and botanicals (uh- ohh!) lately! As mentioned previously, soon we'll be discussing some new ways to give your tank "the tint" without necessarily having the materials in the tank itself. 

For full preparation notes on every botanical we offer, check our "Aquatic BotanicalPreparation" page!

Keep it dark...


And stay wet!


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

August 10, 2015


"Habitat Enrichment"- What's that mean?

Every aquatic botanical we offer provides some advantage for your aquarium. We call it "habitat enrichment."

In other words, every leaf, every pod...every piece of wood- provides not only aesthetic benefits, but imparts tannins and other substances to the water that influence the aquarium environment in some way, much as occurs in nature.




We know from personal experience- and the experience of many other tropical fish enthusiasts- that using these natural materials in their aquariums has led to more colorful fishes, enhanced breeding behavior, greater egg viability, and overall health and vigor...and of course, they help create a cool-looking display, too!

"Habitat enrichment." More than just words. In our opinion, it's a critical component (along with diet and other factors) of a successful aquarium.

Enrich your aquarium habitat with Tannin's carefully curated selection of premium aquatic botanicals.



August 09, 2015


Tough pods for tough fishes...we've got 'em.

A lot of you keep fishes that are, well- shall we say- more "highly strung"- and would probably do a little bit of damage to some soft substrate materials. 


(Geophagus brasiliensis by Cristoph fr.)

Which is why it's good to have some "harder" materials to use, such as the "Lampada Pod", with it's shell-like structure, the "Heart Pod", which is is built a lot like a pit of a fruit, and the "Helix Pod", with a tough exterior that only softens slightly after preparation. 


And of course, the ever-popular "Jungle Pod, "Savu Pod", and the "Tapete Pod" are all pretty darned tough, too, and can stand up to a lot of what some of the tough guys can dish out. So you can have your nasty cichlids- and a natural-looking bottom- and by extension- "The Tint", too!

Stay tough....and Stay Wet!


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

August 08, 2015


Roll out the red carpet for the "Tapete Pod!"

We receive a lot of requests from hobbyists who want to assemble a diverse, functional "leaf litter" section in an aquarium, and want to know what we feel are great candidates to include. In addition to the leaves that we offer, we are always recommending the awesome "Tapete Pod"


The "Tapete Pod" is a nifty pod, which, when combined with leaves and some of our other "flat" pods, creates a very cool "stream bottom" look. It's large, very attractive, relatively easy to get to sink:) and quite durable (i.e.; it lasts a good long time)!


Shrimp and catfishes seem to love foraging among groupings of "Tapete Pods", you can anchor aquatic mosses to 'em, and we've seen at lease a couple of occasions where Apistos have taken up residence under a "matrix" of these pods! 

Just another cool product to help you create a more natural-looking aquarium for your fave fishes! We kinda think you'll love it!

Stay Wet!


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics