Blackwater Aquariums | The Definitive Guide

A Blackwater Aquariums is a thing you need if you are a dark lover. Not everyone can handle or tolerate this aquatic art. If you are one of them then you should go for this amazing piece.

This thing is seen by every aquarist but only a few of them go for it. The dark water with the combination with scarce planting and leaf litter is not everyone loves and wants but this piece of amazing art is just for those who nurture darkness.

Dark Aquarius often made for recreating habitats but when they are properly set then they are equal to perfect with my perspective view.

Here we are to discuss with you a definitive guide of black water aquariums. This article will take you inside the black water aquarium.

If you do not love the type of black water then I guarantee you, you will start to love it. So, without any means necessary let’s get started.

What is a Blackwater Biotope?

blackwater biotope

An aquarium with black water which means the water of the aquarium is dark enough that most plants can not thrive and fish that can not be seen by the naked eye will be sounding senseless to you right now.

But when you will see it with your own eyes you will endorse the feeling of business.

If you are thinking about the reasons for investing in this business then there are many reasons to invest in it.

The reason behind this is simple as most aquarists know that most aquarium fishes dwell with stained, soft, and acidic water, and if you love to recreate something then you will have a lot of fun recreating these types of things.

This can be beneficial for the fishes as well. Many fishes come from a darker place so.

It will be good for them if they get the environment that they came from, it will keep their stress level down and can become crucial when they are trying to breed some new species.

Features of Blackwater Biotope:

There are many different features of this black water biotope and if you do not want the same type of biotope then it is possible that you can create a new type of biotope that you like in an aquarium.

If you do not want to go with the nature copy to copy then you can build an aquarium that can combine two or three elements, it will still be called black water biotopes

We will be telling you of a few things that every black water aquarium has in common and it will definitely help you create your favorite type of black water aquarium.

The first common thing is the water that should always be dark. Now, if you wanna define dark so, it can range from slightly teacolored tint to very dark brown

Now, if you are wondering what causes the color then it will be caused by tannins that are in natural plants.

This indicates that the more vintage leaves and branches and other litter that falls into the river, lake, ponds, streams, hence the darker the water will get.

Actually, the same thing goes for aquariums, this is the reason a lot of people usually go towards driftwood that is best for this setup, and then there is leaf litter at the bottom of your aquarium that is helping you create dark water.

 Another common thing in the black water aquariums is that they usually have soft and acidic water.

Some people do not like plants in the aquarium so they skip that part when it comes to planting plantations in aquariums.

They are usually scarce and that is one of the reasons that they are left off completely.

However, if you are one of those people that love to plant plants in the aquarium then there are plenty of options for that too with the backwater aquarium. 

Setting up a Blackwater Aquarium:

Blackwater Aquarium

If you are going to create your own blackwater aquarium and you are new to this then you should keep an eye on a few things.

The three things that I am telling you to keep beforehand are water chemistry, fish and inverts, and plants and decoration.

Water Chemistry:

Water chemistry is the most important thing when it comes to black water aquariums.

It is really important to think about the chemistry because this thing will keep your fish alive in the tank and because real black water biotopes have soft and acidic water.

While tannins are making the water dark you will have to carry out your reverse osmosis to make your tap water soft so the fish could breathe in it.

If you want to keep the pH of the black water as good as the fish can remain cool and alive then you should keep the pH as low as 4.5. Although 7 or lower is a better option if you want our plants and fish to feel at home. 

If you want to achieve a black water look then you should go for leaves which are Indian almond or oak, driftwood, and the most important thing alder cones. 

Leaves like Indian almond and oak and alder cones can be used by soaking, boiling, and filter to make a strong black water extract.

You can do it the other way as well if you just leave them in the bottom of the tank they will eventually make it dark as they do in rivers and streams

Fish and Invertebrates:

Fish and Invertebrates

If you are going for the fish you should do research first before you make any purchases or the fish because not every fish could survive the black water tank.

You are creating a random habitat that will be beneficial for you when you will keep the fish that belongs to that habitat and only those fish can survive.

If you want to make such things official, you better start looking for the fishes as they will complete your aquarium existence, without the fish there is no aquarium so, search carefully and see limp to limp

If you are thinking of setting up a general dark water set then you will want to get fish that can adapt to the black water, acidic, and soft water. When you see one with these attributes quickly purchase them as they will become your startup.

Just make sure to keep it simple as you should have to take care of the suitability of the fish with each other as well and they should be less than your tank size which means that you should pick fish that fit your tank size.  

Let me give you an example if you know the fish name discus fish and neon tetras. They both belong to the dark water habitat but it does not mean that they will be compatible with each other under one roof.

If you do this experiment you will find that tetras are becoming the dinner for discus and this will make you understand why am I giving you this example. 

Plants and Decorations:

Plants and decoration of the tank is the main reason the habitat will become a habitat, without these two things you can not call this a habitat or can not make a blackwater aquarium

If you are decorating the tank with plants you should keep in mind that only put those plants that are similar to the habitat that you want to idealize in the tank.

You should copy the plants so they wish with the same habitats should get comfortable in the tank. 

If you are not finding the same habitat plants then you should find the plants that need a little low light to survive, I think this will be easy to find than the habitat plants.

As you know the tank will be dark and it is not a possibility that all the light reaches the plant that’s why we should prefer plants that need low light to survive or can survive in low light as well. 

I should tell you myself as well that which plants are lowlights, if you look for Anubias, Java Fern, and Amazon swords then these three are compatible with the black water and will definitely work for any fish. 

If you are looking for floating plans then you should go for Amazon frogbit, as they can float in the water and can make a great environment in the black water as well with their long roots. 

The most important item for black water is driftwood as you should think of this item before you start building a tank and think which type of driftwood will be best for the tank. 

As we have mentioned before as well that you can place alder cones and leaves at the bottom of the tank, this will also give you a great look and a black water environment.

More About Setting up Black Water Aquarium:

More About Setting up Black Water Aquarium


If you are starting to build a substrate at the bottom of the tank then you will probably need sand or fine gravel but if you take my opinion and will be much better.

If you are deciding which shade do you prefer then go for white or brownish shade. Sand can make your water stiff and can make it look like a real sea water bed to the fishes. This can make fishes comfortable and easy to stable in their new home. 

Fine gravel can not stay at the bottom of the tank every time. At some point, it will start to float in the tank that can make the tank dirty and all the time you will have to clean it or wash the whole tank.



If you are looking for some hardscape then the best option for you is to use dried branches of leaves.

You can use the dried branches of trees as well as twigs and much more than that you should boil them and soak them into the water before you go to put them in the tank.

Boiling and soaking the hardscape first, can make them a little adaptive to water. They can easily absorb water and can stay under the water as long as you put them. These dried branches and leaves can make fishes feel like their sea environment.

They will get much more comfortable if they sense that the tank is filled with sea stuff and it is looking like they are still in the bed of the sea


The water must be black so you can say it must be dark. The dark water can be created by leaves and driftwood.

You can boil them first for a better experience as they should be soaked in water first. If you want to have fishes you will need fishes with the same habitat as they are in the sea or in the river.

They should not be elsewhere because if they are then it will be really hard for them to survive.

There are only a small number of fishes that can live in the tank of black water and in some of them, they are not good with each other.

You should be very careful when you are looking for fishes to match up with one another because there are some fishes that are rivals to each other or they have the hunter and hunted situation with them.

So, by the time you will put them in the tank with each other and go when you will come back only one species will be surviving in the tank. 

That goes for many black water fishes or because of some environmental problem, some fishes will get stressed and can die because of the stress too.

The environment in the tank can not match every other fish so you should research first before buying the fish that you want to put in the tank. 

Researching can be really helpful, it can make you identify various fishes and their attributes. They will help you in identifying their environment and some other information as well such as their favorite food.

What temperature of the water they feel comfortable to,  where they love to lay their eggs, what type of driftwood is best for their bed.

How much the water should be dark for them to feel comfortable in the tank, what they love to eat, in their environment.

There should be plants or not and with which fish they will fell to live comfortably or which fish will be secure with them while living in the same tank. 

What we Have Learned Today?

What we Have Learned Today

We have learned about the black water biotope and its features. In the features cabinet, we learned about water chemistry, how the fish and water are matched, and what type and color of the water will be best for the fishes.

After that, we learned about the fishes, which fish is good with black water and can survive the darkness of the water.

Then, we talked about plants, which plants are the best for the tanks and we learned why we use driftwood and leaves to decorate the tanks.

There are many other sobs heading that we discussed along the way as well. So now we are at the conclusion of this article so let’s get to that and so you can learn what we have stored in the last heading for you.


As we have come to our conclusion and we would like to tell you that you should keep a black aquarium if you love them.

So if you are looking for a guide this will be best for you and will guide you till you are done with all the things all you have to do is to focus on all the things that we have started and go with everything that we have told you.

Leave a Comment