Converting To Blackwater?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Aquarium Builds' started by Dylfish2000, Apr 13, 2017.

  1. Dylfish2000Valued MemberMember

    So in my tank i currently have

    6 serpae tetras
    1 Bolivian ram
    1 white cloud minnow (will probably re home)

    I would like to convert this to a blackwater tank as I love the natural look and mist of the fish come from that setting (not sure abut the white cloud, think they're from China). What is the safest way of doing this without drastically changing the pH? I'm afraid if i add driftwood and let the tannins leach the pH is going to plummet and affect my fish, what is the safest way to do this?

  2. -Mak-Fishlore VIPMember

    You can boil the driftwood and whatever other tannin leaching materials you're going to use in dechlorinated water, and refrigerate the "tea" water. Then whenever you want you can add it to the aquarium, gradually building up until you have blackwater. But no matter what, the material you add will still lower the ph. I don't think it'll be too drastic if you boil them first though. is a great place to get these types of organic materials

    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
  3. Thunder_o_bFishlore VIPMember

    I use this.

  4. Dylfish2000Valued MemberMember

    Thanks you guys! So to be clear I would just add either the tea water or the blackwater extract after every water change?
  5. primobryanValued MemberMember

    Blackwater? Is that a term for a more natural looking tank? Driftwood and discolored water?
  6. Dylfish2000Valued MemberMember

    Yes a tank that has its water colored by tannins (gives natural look)
  7. primobryanValued MemberMember

    If you really want to obtain this water color look without altering your ph too much use fluval peat granules its lowers the ph just barely and gives that tannin color in the water
  8. -Mak-Fishlore VIPMember

    Yes, or whenever you want really.

    Yup! Personally I love the look, perfect for biotopes or just more natural looking tanks. When done right it mimics the natural habitat of a lot of fish in the hobby perfectly.
  9. Thunder_o_bFishlore VIPMember

    A since passed mated pair of angels (Fred and Ginger) in a black water tank.

  10. Dylfish2000Valued MemberMember

  11. Thunder_o_bFishlore VIPMember

    Thank you :) They were a wonderfull pair.
  12. chromedome52Fishlore VIPMember

    Blackwater is water that has zero KH, and near zero GH. Plants do not grow in it, as it is virtually sterile. What it does have is organic material, mostly from humic acid (rather than the tannic you so often hear about). Although tinted, it is normally quite transparent. The best example of Blackwater is the famous Rio Negro (meaning black river). The tint does come from tannins, but the acidity comes from the humic acid produced by decaying vegetation. During the dry seasons, the pH can drop as low as 3.5, but only rises to about 5 even during the rainy season.

    Peat extracts are a good way to maintain a relatively small blackwater aquarium, as you have more control. However, when working with large or multiple blackwater tanks, it is better to set up a sump type filtration system and filter with some type of peat. Getting this right can take many months of experimentation. I found that dried sphagnum moss, the stuff sometimes used in terrestrial planting, gets a low, but steady pH. One only has to control the amount being used to get the desired results. I have found that this works well with RO water, and contrary to what you would do in a normal tank, I use pure RO filtered with the peat moss.

    It is important to note that such tanks are primarily used for breeding fish, not for displays. For the normal display tank, if you wish the dark tint of the tannins, a good piece of wood is an excellent way. You still need to do water changes, but tinting the water with wood tannins does not actually lower the pH significantly. Just doing weekly water changes will keep both the pH and the tint under control.

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