12-23-2009, 08:33 PM
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Some types of wood are worse than other types for tannin leeching. One trick I use is to only buy wood that is in a tank in the store, and the water is clear; I know it has leeched out the bulk of tannins. I reset my tanks last year with all new wood, and only once did I ever have tannin-stained water, and that was in a 33g with a fairly small piece of wood that I had bought dry. As Angel said, the tannin will not hurt any fish, and for many of the acidic water forest fish it is totally natural. The "blackwater" rivers of South America are the colour of strong tea and solely due to the dissolved organics from wood and plants.
Agree on not using the clearing chemicals. Most of these work by binding the minute particulate matter in the water so it can more easily be caught in the filter media (especially the floss and pads). Unfortunately, the "binding" also occurs in the fish's gills and while this may only stress them and not kill them outright, unnecessary stress should always be avoided. Stress is definitely known to cause other issues with diesease, parasites, the fish's immune system, etc. Frequently when these clarifiers are added, the fish swim to the opposite end of the tank; that in itself is a sign they don't like it, and increased respiration and reddened gills are also common.