Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More

Guide to Blackwater Tanks Inspired by Nature — Biotope Aquascape


My name’s Alex, this is Tank Tested. And
you’re looking at a biotope. A biotope is a type of aquascape designed to mimic nature. This tank is at the Glen Echo Park aquarium in Washington DC This is one of about 12 tanks in the exhibit, and it mimics some of the small slow-moving freshwater streams that can be found in the area. I’m gonna let the aquascaper
himself take it from here but I’ll be jumping in from time to time
to give more information. And at the end of this video I’ll be going into some detail of how you can set up a biotope aquarium similar to this. Here’s Nick. My name is Nick Kinser and I am the aquarist here at the Glen Echo Park Aquarium. What I really wanted to do with the tank was
have a shallow stream look with lots of pebbles and sand and some rounded rocks,
and have it look like some driftwood had fallen in—some sticks and twigs. And then
in the Fall I decided to do a leaf litter tank. And I got some oak leaves and brought them in and put them in the tank and fell in love with it. This type of tank is generally called a blackwater aquarium. It’s called Blackwater because
of the tannins the wood and leaves release. If you’ve ever seen a
slow-moving stream or river or a bog with amber colored water—that water is
dyed by tannins. Tannins are also what give coffee, tea,
and wine it’s bitter taste. And that’s because tannins are a defense mechanism
for plants. The bitter taste discourages animals and people from eating them. Nope. Nope, nope! That’s that’s too much. No. Oh no. Let’s go back to the tank. Fish are often very territorial. They need
to establish a territory for themselves and kind of be separate from other fish.
And even though there weren’t a lot of fish in the tank when I set it up, it’s
always good to have cover and few hiding places. What you’ll find is even though
you’re offering more places for the fish to hide, they actually show more because
they’re comfortable and they come out and swim— otherwise they just get
kind of spooked and have nowhere to hide. These fish are pumpkin seed sunfish. They’re a native fish to my hometown of
Washington, D.C. because there are native fish you need permits to keep them they
also grow to be about a foot long and are quite aggressive so even though
they’re pretty they’re not a fish for your home aquarium
there’s also one other native inhabitant of the tank that’s kind of exciting when
I added the leaf litter the crayfish immediately started burrowing in it they
actually started eating the leaf litter it was probably lacking something in his
diet so I was happy to see it grabbing the leaves and actually chewing on them
leaf litter tanks are great for fish but they’re also wonderful for crustaceans
like crayfish and shrimp so let’s talk about how Nick set up this tank the tank
here I didn’t want to have too many tannins I didn’t want it too black water
so I ended up boiling the oak leaves to get out some of the tannins also make
sure there was nothing living in them the rock was actually just bad rocks
from the hardware store and then the driftwood is manzanita because it’s so
easily available and it does mimic you know will dead little branches and twigs
you’re gonna find falling in streams here on the Chesapeake Bay regional let’s talk about how you can set up your
own black water aquarium first you want to have leaves that are slow decaying
it’ll make your life easier and they contain the tannins that dye your water
Nicky used oak leaves for this scape if you have access to oak leaves that you
know haven’t been exposed to pesticides they’re a great option
you want to collect leaves that are crunchy to the touch and then boil them
boiling the leaves releases many of the tannins sterilizes them and helps the
leaves sink faster once boiled you can put the leaves in your tank they should
sink within a day or two now if you don’t have access to oak leaves or it’s
the wrong season I suggest going with almond leaves they decay very slowly and
are pretty to look at I’ve included a link below to the best
cheapest almond leaves I could find on Amazon as well as a few other products
that you can use in a black water tank if you’re going to use wood in your tank
I suggest using a commercially available wood either in manzanita or Malaysian
bog wood and that’s because they sink quickly and decompose relatively slowly
as for fish find ones that are most comfortable in acidic water because
tannins create tannic acid which can lower the pH of your aquarium a fair bit
so as with all fish do your research before building them a habitat hopefully
this was helpful and inspiring if it was please subscribe and like this video
I’ll see you next time you

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