Failure ...IS an option.

For some reason, in our culture, the term "failure" is equivocated with "bad" without exception. 

Now, I'll give you the fact that "failure" has a negative connotation in many instances: structural failure", "catastrophic failure", "bank failure" all carry some pretty negative imagery.

However, "failure", which is defined as, " lack of success" or "the omission of expected or required action" is not in and of itself, horrible, IMHO. For example, "failure" serves as a catalyst for improvement and change. What if the airplane that you rode on yesterday was based off of the "first draft" design, or if the Pacemaker in your friend's mom's heart was derived from a design that, because it worked right the first time, was not revised or perfected? 

Inventor of the electric light bulb, Thomas Edison, is credited with the quote, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Indeed, I've heard it argued that "failure" is the default condition, which makes some sort of sense when viewed in Edison's context. "Success" is the "on" to failure's "off", or so it goes.

In business, "failure" these days is viewed almost as a badge of honor in some circles, particularly in the start-up or entrepreneurial world, where failure is pretty much expected, and used to propel one towards greater success. Rare is the successful business which hasn't experienced some form of failure in its existence.

Which brings us to "failure" in the aquarium context.

If you experience a "failure" at your attempt to raise your first batch of Discus fry, for example- it sucks. It hurts. However, think of it this way: The fact that you even had the opportunity to raise some Discus fry means that you succeeded at spawning them...Yu simply need to perfect and refine your techniques on rearing the fry on the next go around. 

If you fail to get your planted aquarium to thrive, it is simply a lesson to absorb. An indication that you need to improve, refine, or change whatever methods you were utilizing to achieve success.

Failure, although disappointing, expensive, and oft times, tragic, should be viewed as a valuable gift for the aquarist. To take a line from Edison, when you fail at an aquatic venture, it's an education, an example of what not to do. You have information that is invaluable. At the least, after having failed at some aquatic endeavor, you no know that the way you attempted to do it was not the correct one, and that adjustments need to be made.

As a wise man once said, "Nothing is ever wasted. A failure can always serve as an example of what not to do!"

To me, a greater stigma than having failed at something is to have simply aborted and not tried at all.

It would have been super easy for the first aquarist who bred the Neon Tetra to have just quit, or for the hobbyist who first bred marine Clownfish to abort after having the parents eat the clutch of eggs...or whatever. The fact is, failure at these things gave the aquarists a valuable opportunity to "do it over" with the knowledge of what didn't work, to attempt to get it right the next time.

Failure is not pleasant. But it's okay. It happens when you DO stuff. 

Look, I'm not telling you to fill your aquarium with apple juice instead of water and then place fish in it. That's going to fail because it's simply not possible for it to work. However, I AM telling you to play that hunch and conduct that water change with cooler water the day before you attempt to breed that characin, because you noticed spawning behavior the last time the heater failed to keep up with the temperature on that cold nigh. You're trying something that, although unorthodox, show some sign of possible positive play that hunch!

I could go on and on and beat the proverbial dead horse here, but I think you get the message that just because something didn't work out this time for your fish, it doesn't mean that it can't next time with a few tweaks.

So keep trying. Use "failure" as the fuel to propel you to ultimate success, not as a burden to carry around and discourage future attempts at great things.

Something to think about.

Stay calm. Stay determined. Stay focused.

And stay wet.

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics


Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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