What's the best blackwater additive out there?
Just wondering if any of you have a blackwater setup and what you use as a conditioner?
I've been looking at Marc Weiss Instant Amazon and it sounds pretty good to me, but I've seen others such as tetra blackwater extract, and I think kent makes one too.
I'm planning on upgrading to a bigger planted blackwater tank in september. Would it be best to get the conditioner and start acclimating my fish to it now? ie. small amounts at every water change time until I get it up to where it's supposed to be?
I have for 12+ years kept large tanks of SA characins (some quite rare fish), many of which are blackwater fish. I have never used these products because they are expensive (you need to use them continually) and the water out of my tap is slightly acidic and very soft so its practacially there already. However, if you have harder, alkaline tap water, the best way to soften and acidify it is filtration through peat. The peat has to be replaced as the tannins in it are exhausted, but this is probably preferable to adding extracts. Another method is to use RO water mixed with a bit of tap water (you need some mineral content, RO water is pure). I don't think these extracts will do any harm, provided they are used continuously to maintain a stable water parameter.
This sounds like a better option than a bunch of additives to me. I'm shooting for as natural as possible with as little chemical/additive stuff as I can. Where would I find peat suitable for aquarium use and how would I implement it? The filter I'm looking at getting has an extra area for customizable filtration media...would I just place it in that?
You can buy it through aquarium stores, but it may be expensive over time. As the peat leeches tannins and softens/acidifies the water, it wears out (much like carbon does over limited time) and needs to be replaced. The quanitity would depend upon how much acidifying is needed, if your water is high in akalinity and hardness it would take a fair bit. I'm hoping those who have used this method might chime in with some advice on this aspect.
I believe you can also buy it at florists, and perhaps plant nurseries. And another member mentioned in another thread about collecting it from a bog, if you happen to live near one, being careful that nothing else is in the peat (chemicals, bugs, parasites).
I don't personally think there is a problem with the blackwater extracts, if they are all natural ingredients (as some I have seen claim to be), but it is quite expensive if you have a larger tank.
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