It's kind of hard when you can't really tell, isn't it?
I mean, there is something wrong- you know that. Something doesn't look right, smell right, sound right...feel right. You can't put a finger on it. All signs point to a brewing problem. There were- perhaps, unrelated things-that, when looked at individually, appeared to be unrelated; uncorrelated.
But you took one glance at the system and you knew- knew that something was wrong. And the weird thing is, it could have been a long time coming, not some sudden, catastrophic event. Perhaps that little incident on Tuesday. You know, the one where you forgot to do that thing you usually do?
Or maybe, just maybe, it was that you failed to notice that trending decline in an important parameter. Maybe you've gotten, I dunno- complacent, perhaps? Casual? Or just too busy to notice? Maybe you just focused on the wrong things...Stuff that you needed to focus on fell by the wayside in order to monitor more obvious, easier-to-manage stuff. We've touched on this before. Maybe you even knew there was the potential for problems but decided not to deal with it at the time. Human nature, perhaps?
Regardless...now something is now wrong, and you can't just talk to your fishes to find out what it is. You have to sift through the available evidence, analyze what you've seen, and figure out how any of this stuff-either individually or collectively- could have created a problem.
You need to ask questions...of yourself. Did you change something recently that you always do? You know, something that was working perfectly? Or did you simply decide that you didn't need to do it this time, because_____________?
Or perhaps, there was something you were or weren't doing from the get-go, but you flat out got away with it....and now it's catching up. Something is failing. Perhaps it's been eating at you inside for a long time; perhaps it's something you knew you needed to address, but, for whatever reason, you kept burying it, pushing it towards the back of the mental "aquarium to do" list.
It's okay. It's all okay. It's okay because you know now, and admit that something is wrong. You can't really run from it or deny it. You have two simple choices:
1) Fix it.
2) Let it go.
I'll wager that, if you're like most hobbyists, you'll opt for #1. However, if you opt for #2, that's okay too, in a way...Because at least you addressed the problem and decided not to do anything about it. At least you admitted, acknowledged there was a problem, and for whatever reason, chose not to act on it right now.
If you chose number 1, your mission, although perhaps aggravating, is pretty straightforward: Find out what's wrong and make it better.. By deciding to fix the problem, you're being courageous, facing the concerns, fears, issues without ducking from them. That's a huge positive in my book.
It hurts to admit that we've done something wrong sometimes. It's hard when you were warned about the consequences by others, or knew about them yourself, and chose to ignore them. It sucks. But guess what? When you attack a problem head on to fix it, once and for all- it's not a problem anymore. You just need to set your fears, worries, and yeah- ego- aside for a bit, and, as the old Nike slogan goes, "Just DO it."
It works great in life- and by extension, it works amazingly in aquarium practice.
In my mind, many of the toughest obstacles we face in aquarium keeping are the ones in our own heads. With those obstacles removed, we're unstoppable.
Stay bold. Stay honest with yourself.
And stay wet.