The Tint - Podcast

 Want more of that Tannin flavor in your daily cup of knowledge? Listen to The Tint Podcast on your favorite podcast platform to keep up with everything current in the world of blackwater, aquariums, fish geekery, nature stuff, and any and all things Tannin related.

Simply want some quick inspiration? Browse through the content below while you listen to our next best episode of The Tint Podcast.

As purveyors of aquatic botanicals, we've also made it part of our mission to be "purveyors of inspiration"- to share the what is possible with the convergence of natural materials and creative skills. In this spirit, this page showcases beautiful, inspiring aquascaping work from Tannin fans, as well as some of our own work. Feel free to email us at with photos or videos of your work, so we may share it with the world!



Our latest official Tannin Aquatics video, "Leaf and Life", shot by Johnny Ciotti, highlights the alluring color, texture, and emotion conveyed by the botanical-style, blackwater aquarium. The ethereal light, rich textures, and earthy atmosphere of these aquariums is what drives us, compelling us to push back the old limitations, and question many of the beliefs we've held in the past about what constitutes a "natural" aquarium display. 

Making the "mental shift", and acceptance of natural processes of evolution, decomposition, and continuous change in our aquariums is what drives us. Leaves. Wood. Water. Life. 

All working together...forever in transition.





This video, by "The Aquascaper", George Farmer, captures the rich, earthy tones of blackwater and the intricate textures of botanicals and leaves in an alluring composition of strong wood and plants. The aquarium is an "Aquascaper 600", by Evolution Aqua. The stars of the show, a group of Puntius pentazona, display their understated color as they move casually through their botanical paradise, creating an engaging picture; a celebration of the art of aquascaping, and the simple beauty of aquatic life.





This beautiful, South American-themed aquascape by Jeff Senske of Aquarium Design Group, features a striking variety of Tannin aquatic botanicals in a compelling, tranquil hardscape design.

Jeff chose a beautiful selection of wood and stones for the initial hardscape, and topped it off with a variety of Tannin aquatic botanicals, including Guava and Catappa leaves, "Lampada Pods", and "Jungle Pods."

The result is a truly gorgeous aquascape that delights the senses with compelling detail and natural color, texture, and atmosphere.


The combination of aquascaping skill, beautiful composition, and careful selection of aquatic botanicals make this one-of-a-kind aquarium an aspirational celebration of aquatic life.



Our latest home aquarium had to have some favorite elements: Deeply tinted water, a complex matrix of tangled wood, and a subtle mix of botanicals. And of course, it had to harmonize with our home's decor!

 Utilizing the interesting aesthetic of mangrove wood, and the color and "flavor" it imparts to the water, we're achieving a mix of aesthetic and function that is perfect for our lifestyle!

With patience and the passage of time, the tank has evolved from a stark, contrived-looking wood stack into an organic, earthy microcosm, with nooks and crannies that draw in the viewer.

After a full day of helping others create their botanical dream tanks, it's nice to come home to this simple, easy-to-maintain aquarium which invigorates us and fills us with inspiration!

It's a little reminder to us that you can have utility and aesthetic all in one system!



The compelling environment where water meets land is an almost irresistible subject for replicating in captivity. David Biggs is a huge enthusiast and proponent of ripariums- systems designed to recreate this unique niche. 

Here, Devin has put his enthusiasm and talents together to create two unique blackwater ripariums, featuring selections of hardy plants. Varieties like Cypherus, Mexican Milkweed, Palms, and Umbrella Sedge are now regularly available.

These delightful systems evoke an entirely different feeling than aquariums or vivariums, and offer a new creative and aesthetic challenge for the intrepid hobbyist!

The 56-gallon and 30-gallon systems featured here show the diversity and richness that can easily be cultivated in a relatively modest space.

By applying our creativity and skills, we can all help push the state of the art in this fascinating area of the aquatic hobby!



Longtime blackwater aquarium fan Gert Blank has a unique ability to combine an artistic aquascaping vision with a realistic representation of authentic South American habitats. By utilizing appropriate and beautiful combinations of fishes and botanicals, Gert has created some of the most impressive botanical-style/blackwater aquarium we've ever seen!

There is something to be said for the experienced hand of the aquarist, interpreting nature in ways that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional, which Gert's aquariums definitely are.

A careful meddling of natural materials and an understanding of the wild habitats which he seeks to emulate clearly provide Gert with the ammunition he needs to create amazing displays!

Visually arresting and inspiring, we look forward to seeing more of Gert's spectacular work!



As aquarists, we often forget that the very best source of inspiration for our aquariums is nature herself. Our friend, author/aquarist/traveler Mike Tuccinardi, shared some amazing pics he took on a recent trip to the Rio Negro. In addition to being beautiful, they can provide a unique insight into how botanicals interact with the environment in the wild.

The beautiful brown water, decomposing leaves, tangled branches, and intricately textured botanicals create a fascinating, vibrant web of life, utilized by both fishes and plants.

The leaves and submerged botanical materials provide shelter, spawning sites, food sources, and enrich the water with tannins, organics and beneficial humic substances.

For those of us who live to replicate these incredible habitats, these photos provide a treasure trove of information and inspiration.

By studying them carefully, you can glean amazing insights into how fish communities have adapted to life in these surprisingly rich waters, blurring the lines between nature and aquariums.



Every once in a while, a tank comes along that not only inspires other hobbyists, it makes those who were previously skeptical about a new approach want to take the plunge themselves!

Andrea Freel's unique 240 liter (60 gallon) aquarium is just such a tank! This design couples a unique, "open concept" wood-and-moss-structure with the impact and texture of botanicals and leaves. 

The 90x45x60cm aquarium is filled three quarters of the way, which made a safe "buffer" for her school of Marble Hatchetfish (the first residents), and is now home to an alluring collection of Ember Tetras and dwarf cichlids in a beautifully harmonious show of restraint!

Andrea's aquarium would have been beautiful and impressive with just the elegant hardscape and moss, but the added touch of botanicals provides a very "organic" feel to this high-concept 'scape.

And, being a "clear water" botanical-themed aquarium, an entirely new aesthetic is achieved with the "pop" of color provided by the thoughtfully-selected and artfully arranged botanicals.

Andrea's beautiful 'scape has excited a number of our other customers, who have felt compelled to try their own hand at a botanical-influenced aquarium. 

Since inspiration is part of our mission here at Tannin, we could hardly ask for more than that!



Our obsession is with the leaf litter zones of Amazonia, so it would only be natural that we'd replicate this unique habitat in our characin-heavy office aquarium.

Featuring a diverse assortment of leaves, ranging from Catappa to Magnolia, with everything in between, our tank is as much a "test bed" for our botanical ideas as it is a pleasant diversion.

In addition to all of those dried leaves, we worked in a few live ones, in the form of the aquatic plant Polygonum sp. "Kawagoeanum" that we obtained from our friend Luis Navarro. Letting this plant "run wild" not only proves to us that you can grow plants in the low pH blackwater environment, but that they can contribute to the unique aesthetics as well!

By constantly observing this tank, regularly replacing decomposing leaves and exchanging them for new ones, we've been able to learn more about the long-term husbandry and stability of botanical systems, while enjoying a vibrant, inspiring, and ever-changing aesthetic treat in our own office!



Webster's defines a "vivarium" as "An enclosure, container, or structure adapted or prepared for keeping animals under seminatural conditions for observation or study or as pets; an aquarium or terrarium."

The crew at Aquarium Design Group creates fantastic vivariums, marrying imagination, great design, and the magic of nature. This beautiful vivarium features an array of Tannin aquatic botanicals, including "Frita Pods", "Concha Pods", "Cobra Leaf Pieces", "Mariposa Pods", Guava Leaves, and "Encontro Pods" in a fabulous, natural-looking setting.

By merging great design with the specific needs of the Dart Frogs, ADG has created a masterpiece of natural beauty, that seemingly effortlessly captures the vibe of the tropical rainforest.



Here is a terrific, natural-looking palludarium setup modeled after the dark, mysterious waters of a Southeast Asian stream. A carefully selected mix of aquatic botanicals, including Catappa Leaves, Savu Pods, Jungle Pods, and Lampada Pods, imparts tannins to the water to evoke a natural, relaxing setting.

The numerous "nooks and crannies" provided by the botanicals offer many hiding and grazing locations for the systems aquatic inhabitants.

The result of a mix creativity and knowledge of the environment to be replicated has resulted in a fantastic, relaxing biotope system that is as nice to look at above the water as it is below.



With so many frog and herp enthusiasts utilizing our aquatic botanicals to create interesting habitats, it's fun to see a whole different aesthetic. Here, Poison Dart Frog enthusiast Shaun Johnson shares his beautiful vivarium.

In Shaun's own words:

"This 29 gallon aquarium has been converted into a terrestrial vivarium that houses a group of three Phyllobates vittatus poison dart frogs (though, not poisonous in captivity) which are endemic to the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.  Though it is not a true biotope of the Osa, the majority of the plants used in this display are native to Costa Rica. While this tank has been up and running for approximately four years now, it is continually evolving into something new and I am always trying to find that balance of aesthetics and a natural appearance – though, it is a little chaotic-looking at the moment I must admit!"

"I have been using several of the aquatic botanicals that Tannin Aquatics offers to aquarists as a means of adding both aesthetic and functional characteristics to my vivaria.  I chose to include the Loquat leaves and Flor Rio pods into this particular display; the loquat leaves for their relative thickness, color and unique appearance, and the Flor Rio pods for their small size, unique texture and ability to hold water for a short amount of time.  Both products create wonderful refuge for the frogs and small arthropods (such as Collembola and Isopods, which the frogs also prey upon) when layered with other leaf litter and wood debris, as well as a nutrient source for the latter as they begin to decay in the humid conditions."

Shaun's beautiful vivarium is inspiring not only for it's attention to detail, but for his careful selection of materials to create an optimum aesthetic experience and environment for his animals.



When it comes to merging the art of aquascaping with the art and science of the blackwater, botanical-style aquarium, few can match the talents of Cory Hopkins. 

Emerging as a powerful creative force in the competitive aquascaping world, Cory has managed to keep a fresh, unique style, incorporating many 'scaping elements, while not falling into any sort of "rut" with his work.

By embracing the natural vibe of botanicals in his aquaecapes, Cory has brought the "New Botanical" approach to an entirely different crowd of hobbyists, fostering inspiration AND innovation simultaneously!

And the results of his approach are increasingly obvious to all of those who experience his work!

Cory's knowledge of natural materials, innate ability to translate his vision to reality, and a strong sense of aesthetic keep him on the cutting edge of aquarium design.



The confluence of planning, aquaristic skill, quality livestock, diligent husbandry, and the magic of botanicals are on display in author/explorer/aquarist Mike Tuccinardi's remarkable aquarium. 

Designed to represent the Lago Grande do Curai on the lower Tapajos river, this spectacular and alluring aquarium features majestic Discus, Checkerboard Cichlids, and Biotecus species cichlids, all collected near Santarem in Brazil. 

Mike's firsthand knowledge and experience in the region has helped him assemble a fascinating and compatible group of fishes and create a setting that provides for their specific behaviors and needs. Various leaves, including Catappa and Guava, along with some other aquatic botanicals, help create a stunningly realistic representation of the underwater habitat in this area.

The result is a compelling microcosm, rich with textural complexity, botanical diversity, and that "it" factor, which truly helps blur the lines between nature and aquarium.



As with many of our most inspired "Tinters", Tai Strietman has not only talent, but the added benefit of having visited many of the habitats which he replicates in his aquariums. This gives him a unique perspective in both design and execution.

This aquarium, an Optiwhite glass tank, measuring 150x45x60c (60x18x24 inches) is approximately 112 U.S gallons in capacity, and features an array of Southeast Asian fishes in a habitat which is as compelling as it is beautiful.

With a group of fishes, including several different species of Rasbora, Gourami, and the unusual Wrestling Halfbeak  (Dermogenys pusilla), this tank pulses with life, and is packed with intriguing little areas of interest, ideally suited for the diverse population.

An extensive cover of aquatic and riparium plants above, below, and at the waterline, creates not only dramatic effects, but provides the fish population the security and comfort in needs to display most natural behavior.

Tai's aquarium is a stunning example of going the extra mile to create a habitat that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.



Long before we launched our "Estuary" line of brackish water botanical materials, there was a love affair with the unique, biologically diverse mangrove ecosystems. This tank was designed to replicate a non-geographic-specific mangrove system, with its complex tangle of prop roots and leaf litter.

At a specific gravity of 1.010, and with decomposing mangrove leaf litter, live mangrove propagules, a rich assemblage of mud and biosediment, this aquarium is both a functional and aesthetic delight!

Home to a number of brackish water favorites, like Bumblebee Gobies, Blue-Eyed Rainbowdishes, and Mollies, this tank is not modeled after a specific location; rather, it's a celebration of the diversity and fascination of the mangrove ecosystem.

It's proven to be a tinted-water delight, with just a hint of salt! The real mangrove roots and living prop roots from the Red Mangrove propagules create a complex network for the resident fishes to forage among. We utilized Oyster shells to simulate the Mangrove Oysters commonly found attached to prop roots in wild mangrove habitats.

This aquarium has exceeded our expectations in every way, providing a fantastic contrast to the soft, acidic blackwater systems which we've been so accustomed to.



 The concept of "evolving" is something we speak about a lot here at Tannin, and the beautiful aquarium of JT Martin is a sterling example of the concept. JT has slowly and steadily added botanicals, specifically Magnolia leaves, into his aquarium as he built up a very deep leaf litter bed. 

In addition to the leaves, JT incorporates a nice variety of botanicals, including Fishtail Palm stems, various pods, and Pygmy Date Palm fronds, to amazing aesthetic and functional effect.

This aquarium features an interesting, yet restrained grouping of aquatic plants, which obviously are thriving in the tinted, yet nutrient rich water and natural substrate. Having developed his own methodologies and management concepts, and thoughtfully sharing them with our community along the way, JT has created a tank that is healthy, functional, beautiful- and altogether inspiring!



 As the water takes on its characteristic golden brown tint, you're drawn into a relaxing, alluring world that inspires, enlightens, and engages.

Here is a 30cm cube aquarium, aquascaped by Johnny Ciotti, featuring the delicate Phoenix Rasbora (Boraras merah) and the enigmatic "Flame Red Badis" (Dario hysginon ).

The clean, minimalist 'scape utilizes Tannin Aquatic Botanicals and wood in such a way as to gracefully yield to the real "star" of the show...the beautiful blackwater itself.

This aesthetic is the very essence of what we are trying to achieve at Tannin...