Your Tuesday ***** slap....

The part where I get you kind of pissed off….

Yeah. No sugar-coating today. I’m gonna tell it like it is.

Today, I want to impart to you some hard-earned “aquatic wisdom” that is- well, let’s just say,  “Not always what we want to hear…” But it’s true…things you need to hear. Here goes…your Tuesday  “_____-slap.”

You can hate on me later...just read, please.

Let's just get to it:


If it’s dying- get it out of the tank…Yeah- that sounds bad, and it almost sounds like I’m endorsing a “euthanasia”of sorts.. I’m not. I admit, however, that it does sound harsh. I’m not endorsing “terminating” sick fishes…I AM endorsing the idea of getting them out of the display aquarium to a treatment tank…fast! Before they can infect others, if that’s possible. NEWS FLASH: A sick fish won’t “spontaneously cure itself” without some intervention on your part…”wishing” things will get better doesn’t work. I’ve tried. You need to be decisive and move aggressively to curtail the problem. It doesn’t rule out compassion. It just means you need to be decisive. I credit this decisiveness to my years spent in the coral farming game. When you grow corals in a propagation system, if you have a struggling frag that might have flatworms, red bugs, or some other pest, you simply cant risk letting it take down other frags. That’s your business, right there. And its the same in a display freshwater tank, IMHO. Ditch dying plants, etc. Remove sick or struggling fishes. You HAVE to. ’The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one…” (OMG did I just quote Mr. Spock from Star Trek? Yeah, I did.)

Aquascapers: Please keep some “negative space” in the rock and wood work your tank. Not just for aquascaping…I mean, yes, you should have some open space not covered by rocks and wood. Why? For several reasons. For one thing, it gives your plants a chance to spread out and grow. Second, it DOES have a good aesthetic thing going for it…We all like to allow our eyes a place to rest from the busy “fruit-stand” appearance of a typical packed aquarium. Let’s be honest, even with all of the emphasis on artistic, competition-oriented aquascapes, you still see plenty of tanks so packed with plants that the fish can hardly turn around. It’s like “tiring” to look at, IMHO. Besides, how do you work in a packed tank? Oh, and finally, having some extra space gives you room to…expand your collection! Yeah, that’s right..I said it! You can have some room for future impulse buys! A salute to consumerism (and of course, a tip of the hat to my fellow aquatic vendors!). Oh, and No more floating "Lord-of-the-rings"-style fantasy 'scapes. Ever. Please.


Ditch really bad ideas…quickly. Yup, kind of like the Facebook corporate mantra of “move fast and break things.” I think it’s time we let stuff go that doesn’t work. Life it too short. I am not saying to disregard patience (Lord knows, I’ve written a ton about that over the past year right in this forum) or experimental trial-and-error. All I’m saying is that you need to let go of ideas that simply aren’t working out, taxing time, energy, money, space, and “mind power.” On to the next thing. Better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all…but better to let something that was failing die a quick death than to have it function as a “black hole” of your hobby energy (and budget!). Harsh words coming from me, but they’re true. If it doesn’t work- Kill it. KILL IT! 

Seek advice and counsel from other hobbyists, but don’t take anyone’s word as THE ultimate. Because the reality is, there is plenty to learn in this hobby from a lot of people. There are people out there in “Aquarium-Keeping Land” doing stuff you never even heard of, and maybe they are having great results. Does that mean you should listen to everything they say and try to replicate their efforts, or embrace all of their philosophies without question? Of course not. No way. Take everything- from everyone in this hobby- with a grain of salt. Learn to evaluate aquarium-keeping strategies in the context of “Will this work for ME?” Far better than to just blindly follow ANYONE (even ME!). 

If you want something on your tank done right…do it…the right way? Yeah. Doesn’t matter if you’re the guy doing it, or if you hire someone else. Just make sure it’s done correctly. Forget ego or pride. Even the thought of saving “a few dollars (or pounds or Euro) by doing it yourself when you simply don’t have the time, skill, interest, or knowledge is, IMHO sort of problematic. Trial and error is educational, but only to a point. I’m not saying don’t push yourself or acquire new skills. I’m just saying not to make your “learning curve” part of your new “dream tank” build! The money you think you’ll save by doing it yourself when you’re ill-prepared is often absorbed quickly when you end up having someone re-do it for you the second time. FACT. 

I’ve seen so many people put time and effort into aquatic projects that were not only doomed to fail, but they simply couldn’t work by virtue of design, function, skill, or even budget. This sort of dovetails with my third point about killing bad ideas…Okay, it’s an addendum, really: If you’re not going to do something the right way, just don’t bother. Really. It sounds negative and kind of not-so-nice, I know- but you’ll be much happier in the long run, trust me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard aquarists tell me that “(Insert product here) doesn’t work. I’ve tried it. It sucks.” Upon further investigation, it turns out that the aquarist was using the product, but either not in the correct manner, or only part of it. If you’re using a regimen or system that needs to have multiple components or systems working together, use them! You can’t expect a complete result out of a partial effort.

I told you this might not be easy to take, but I think there are a few grains of wisdom there for you from my lifetime of fish keeping…

Today’s _____ slap of cold reality, courtesy of your aquarium-keeping enfant terrible!

I think it's time for coffee, or something that keeps me out of trouble.

Enjoy the rest of your day, have some fun…and above all-

Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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