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Nature IS the best designer...

Tannin Aquatics

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I was talking to a customer the other day, who was plannning an exciting new aquarium. She was a bit torn about the direction she wanted to take. She was really focused on an aquarium that was a lot like "_______________'s tank from the IAPLC contest", with it's careful, disciplined arrangement of wood and plants, yet she had this nagging urge to do something that she felt would be more "in touch with what nature is like" (her words). She was leaning towards creating some sort of natural-themed tank, and was thinking of incorporating some botanicals into the mix. She was thinking of a biotope tank, specifically trying to draw cues from Australia or New Guinea for a cool collection of Rainbow fishes. Yet, she was concerned about the need to accumulate all of the "correct" materials so that "people" would think she was "being completely accurate."


Red flag.

Was she creating for herself- or for the masses? Or for contest judges? 

After a bit of conversation, I drew out from her that she just wanted to do something that would be "more or less" biotopic in nature, but a display that she could enjoy. A more relaxed, generalized interpretation of the habitats from which her fishes came from.

Ahh, that's a more solid direction.


As you know, we're big fans of biotope aquariums, and biotope-themed aquariums. Is there a difference between the two, by the way? Well, in our opinion, yes. A "biotope" aquarium attempts to replicate a very specific location, paying very close attention to even the smallest details, such as the type of plants, rocks, substrate, etc,- making sure that they are the same materials found in the biotope being replicated. This is the realm of the contest aquarium, where entries are judged on these most pertinent criteria. I have the utmost in admiration and respect for aquarists who venture down this highly disciplined path of aquarium design. I love seeing the amazing contest entries! (click to read more)

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