If you have an aquarium, chances are you’ve had to deal with tannins in your water. The naturally occurring chemical compounds are present in the water due to decaying leaves and other organic materials. While tannins can cause many problems for aquarium owners, there is a way to remove them from your tank.
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Problem with the tannins
Studies have shown that tannins can reduce the life expectancy of aquarium fish, negatively impact fertilization and cause skin lesions. In larger tanks with more surface area to draw from, tannins can also build up over time. This is especially true in older models that use carbon block or floating types for filtration media as they are trapped where normal household sediment would be sticking around much longer because it’s not being filtered out.
This is why most experts say that aquarium water should be tested regularly to ensure that excessive tannins problems aren’t developing in the tank. Also, carbon block filtrates (or any media for filters) can lose their ability to remove certain compounds over time due to break down and damage from chemicals, bacteria or algae. For long term use of these type products it recommended they are replaced every 6 months. Internal flow resin osa (IFR) is a great option for easy clean water maintenance and chemical buffering.
Where does tannin come from?
Tannins are an organic acidic compound. Usually they come from decaying leaves or dead organisms in the water, but it’s also sometimes present because certain minerals bring these compounds about. Calcium, magnesium and potassium are these minerals that usually bring tannins about. For instance if you have hard water in your tank it could cause the coloration of substrate to turn into tiles or darker shades because these components create chlorides which bind with natural substances present in soils that react chemically when exposed to moisture .
Preventing tannins in the first place
Preventing tannins build up can be as simple as keeping water changes at 1-2 weeks. Also, the tanks are doing have to grow something viable in it so use a close watched plant that will outgrow fast. Branches should also be pruned back every few months for this reason too…and because they pollute less then older stems or anything with dead roots on them. For instance if “Cauler pa” or “Jellyfish Weed” starts to overrun a tank, those stems can be pruned back as these types of algae do not need support from other plants. In addition, don’t use any dyes in the water as they chemically react with tannins and change color…like black tea!
How does it affect my fish?
Tannin is usually only an issue if your fish aren’t doing very well. If a fish becomes leucistic the lack of color might be because it is sick or starving, or that could happen if water chemistry isn’t right for them. In this case you should monitor the pH and KH level as much as possible by testing your water once a week. Otherwise they can become affected either from direct exposure to tannin waste accumulating on live rock, from excessive light levels since algae grown in low light environments are more likely to concentrate tannins, or most often they can become ill because of poor water quality.
How to get rid of tannins in fish tank?
1. Boiling The Driftwood
The easiest and fastest way to get rid of tannins is by boiling the driftwood. These types of algae grow on dead wood and can’t stand high temperatures so you will be able to remove it in a matter of 2-3 days. Additionally, the boiled driftwood will also get rid of the tannins in your water. You can use a kitchen stove or an electric stove to boil the driftwood.
2. Dosing Calcium
Calcium helps remove tannins from your tank. The best way to do this is by adding calcium chloride into your tank. However, you should only add it when you are using carbon dioxide for filtration and at least 6 hours after your water change. It can also be added directly into the tank though you have to beware of other fish being exposed to it!
3. Seal Velcro Clips and Silicone Sponges on Glass Surrounds or Covering for Live Rock
These items will help with removing tannin waste from live rock created by any kind of algae such as ich, JG (Java Gel) and even the more gentle EI (Ecklonia).
Seal Velcro Clips are round hooks with a razor blade sticking out on one end. They can hook onto the inside of glass and will destroy any algae that grows there by cutting it off without leaving behind sharp edges or damage to your tank.
You can use them anywhere; they aren’t very visible, easily lost after the shift in temperature, and only need replacing once every 3 months. They aren’t expensive but you will have to dig through your live rock if it occurs the damage algae growth much more frequently than this so be aware of that.
4. Soaking the Wood 0n Filtered Water
Soaking your wood in a separate container full of water for 1-3 days is another way to get rid of tannins without having to boil it. The filtered water removes all chemicals that can be harmful or create algae growth, then you just have to let it dry out over night so its ready for use afterwards. Apart from this method there are other ways to remove