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The opening act...

Tannin Aquatics

CCA Members
I've written and spoken about this idea before, as no doubt many of you have: Pre-colonizing your aquarium with beneficial life forms BEFORE you ever think of adding fishes to it, and establishing a "functional" hardscape environment at the same time. A way to sort of get the system "broken in", with a functioning little food web and nutrient export crew in place. A chance for the life forms that would otherwise likely fall prey to the fishes to get a "foothold" and multiply.

Now, this is not a totally alien concept to me; I've done it several times with reef aquariums with great results. Earlier this decade, I maintained a seagrass biotope aquarium, complete with Pipefishes, Dragonets, and other rather touchy fishes, and I was committed to getting the system "populated" with amphipods, copepods, and other small crustaceans, to help serve as supplemental food sources for these rather difficult-to-feed fishes. It was a very, very successful tank for a number of years!

The same idea works great in a blackwater, botanical-influenced aquarium. It's very much along the lines of some of the ideas we've talked about lately. You set up your aquarium, complete with some botanicals, leaves, and wood, and add cultures of animals like Gammarus, Daphnia, etc., and let them go to work on the decomposing leaves, etc. The hard party is....waiting. Yeah, waiting to add ANY fishes for around a month or so, to really give the animals present a chance to settle in and reproduce. Trust me, it's not as easy as you might think. You've spent all of this money on a cool idea for an aquarium; you're ready to go...and then you're looking at a dark tank with the occasional Daphnia sighting.

Wow. Crazy. Okay, I hear the groaning already... (click to read more)