Blackwater questions

PorshaF

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I've been seeing blackwater tanks and they really interest me. I want to set-up my 30 as blackwater. It's currently my species tank for 20 serpae tetra, they have swords, driftwood, sand, some rock structures. I don't know much except that you can stain the water with tannins, so hoping someone who has blackwater can comment and give me feedback! I read that almond leaves will stain the water so I'm ordering those. Will I need to have a stock pile of leaves to maintain the coloring? Should I worry about my live plants getting enough light? Or are there species of plants that would do better in blackwater then the amazon swords? Any tips or advice is appreciated!
 

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I have a blackwater tank by accident rather than design, but I do rather like the effect. Mine happened because of the addition of unsoaked woods. It hasn't got too dark because there is carbon in my filter which gradually removes it, so best to avoid carbon if you want it really dark. Almond leaves stain the water but need replacing once they start to decompose, so for that reason you would need a stockpile. I can't advise on plants as I'm waiting to see how mine cope! So far they all look OK. It might be worth googling for tannin resistant plants.
 

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I agree with post #2. The water staining effect will dissipate over time, primarily with water changes, and also as the tannins from the organic items (wood, leaves) lessen. This "blackwater" will reduce light entering the tank significantly, depending upon the extent you do this.
 

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Alder cones give quite a lot of staining. You can also use rooibos tea (it is organic).
 
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PorshaF

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So to save my swords a replant I could do a mild stain, have any of you tried oak leaves? There's places I can just gather those. Ill look for aldercones as well. Maybe I'll have to play around with the amount of leaf litter to find a tone that still allows enough light for my plants. I didn't think about the carbon part! Thank you for the ideas!
 

Naughts

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English oak leaves don't seem to change the colour of the water, they may work better if you use a very large amount? Leaf litter has other benefits such as fry food and biofilm.
 

Byron

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I use oak leaves in tanks for primarily "natural" reasons but I also use them for fry. My 10g was home to my pygmy cory fry and also used to grow out Farlowella vitatta fry. Fry use dried leaves as a good source of infusoria; all fry of any species will develop faster with dried leaves present. As far as the staining effect, the water in this tank was certainly darkish, amber toned, which was most evident when siphoned into a light-coloured pail during the weekly water change.

Make sure the collection site is safe--no chance chemicals like pesticides, fertilizers, etc are used, not near a road, or industry. Collect only completely dead leaves that have fallen naturally from the tree in autumn.
 

Sunnyspots

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That reminds me; one thing I've noticed is that the staining of the water can make it hard to read tests - notably the Salifert ammonia test - but probably anything else where 0.0 is white/clear.
 
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PorshaF

PorshaF

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Oh I didn't even think of the testing being difficult. I don't wish for any serpae fry, I think I'd be stuck with them since they're so readily available here, so the leaves are purely for the existing adults. Maybe I'll change out the wood for mopani and see if I can create the color I'm looking for without adding the leaf litter (other than almond leaves.) I was considering the forest preserve nearby for the oak but unsure how I could find out if it's a safe area to pick them up (am I allowed to take the leaves? Or would i nark on myself haha)

Well I ordered almond leaves and I'll stop by a lfs this weekend and try to find mopani. Thank you everyone! If you think of anything else I should know or be wary of please let me know!!
 

steelmask

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This is mine. I didn't use any other materials, except for two pieces of driftwood. It is said that olive leaves are effective. Some soils of Munster and JBL are also said to be effective.

3.jpg
 

Kolykaf

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There is a host of different botanicals that you can use- from catappa leaves to alder cones to different seed pods. If you’re in the US I recommend tannin aquatics. They’re my go-to place for my black water tank. As far as plants are concerned it depends on the amount of stain. I’ve seen some very dark tanks that could only support floaters. My tank isn’t very heavily stained so I’ve had luck with many low light plants like anubias, bucephalandra, rotala indica, dwarf sag, java fern and limnophilla sessiliflora.
 
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PorshaF

PorshaF

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There is a host of different botanicals that you can use- from catappa leaves to alder cones to different seed pods. If you’re in the US I recommend tannin aquatics. They’re my go-to place for my black water tank. As far as plants are concerned it depends on the amount of stain. I’ve seen some very dark tanks that could only support floaters. My tank isn’t very heavily stained so I’ve had luck with many low light plants like anubias, bucephalandra, rotala indica, dwarf sag, java fern and limnophilla sessiliflora.
Is it co2? I only add root tabs once a month for the swords and liquid ferts once a week for the floaters. I'm too afraid to try any carpet plants. I can't keep my rotala indica alive even without Blackwater. Maybe I'll swap plants out of another tank. The black water will help in preventing algae on my swords and anubias right? I noticed one of my barteri getting funky in another tank earlier
 

Kolykaf

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Is it co2? I only add root tabs once a month for the swords and liquid ferts once a week for the floaters. I'm too afraid to try any carpet plants. I can't keep my rotala indica alive even without Blackwater. Maybe I'll swap plants out of another tank. The black water will help in preventing algae on my swords and anubias right? I noticed one of my barteri getting funky in another tank earlier
No CO2 but it is dirted so there is the benefit of extra CO2 from the decomposition of organics in the soil (at least the first year or so). And yes, less light means fewer problems with algae. Pygmy chain sword has done very well for me- took a while but it did carpet.
 

Avel1896

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Hey there,
To avoid tannins from the organic items (wood, leaves) lessen, it is enough to make your own decoction/infusions using oak leaves, catappa leaves, alder cones, then waterchange with it. In addition, in addition, boiling tap water is the best way to sterilize it.
 

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