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I'm thinking about setting up a 29g as a blackwater tank with a pair of angels, cories, and tetras... my question is what (if any) background should I use? My mbuna and planted tanks just have black paper backgrounds, but in my 20l planted it was so dark when the driftwood was still leaching tannins that it was hard to see in. It'll be a couple of weeks before it's set up so I have some time to think about it.

Also- will it be a problem if I let the driftwood leach into the tank rather than soaking it forever before I put it in? I may get a large piece and I have a feeling that I won't want to soak and dump several gallons of water every day. Plus I use RODI water in my tanks, mixed with treated tap for planted tanks to add minerals- should I just use tap so that the ph isn't too low with the tannins?

Any advice appreciated!
 

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A low ph is something that you want, to replicate black water conditions. South American blackwater areas have a low ph. The water is also tinted brown from tanins. So the driftwood leaching tanins into the water is something you want in terms of staining the water and keeping the ph low. Dead oak leaves, or indian almond leaves will also serve to soften your water and release tanins. This will also give your tank a more authentic blackwater look. Black water is dark, lighting should be subdued so expect that to be part of the true blackwater aesthetic. Black background works best, or no background at all. Another option is brown, but that's really about all that would work. Good luck!
 
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