I know that there is supposedly "no such thing as a stupid question", but I think that there might be questions which, well, shall we say, might indicate that the person inquiring has not thought through some of the fundamentals first.
Well, think of the questions you get when, for example, you're showing off some of your killifish fry or Apisto fry. You'll get some questions like, "Aren't killies kind of difficult? I heard you have to dry out the eggs, right? How do I get started? Do you have to do water changes for them? Where can I find killies?
Look, I like when you get another fish geek excited, and love questions...However, I find it incredibly hard to believe that, in this day and age, the person asking can't at least use this magical free tool called Google to get the most fundamental background on the topic before asking such a seemingly broad and basic question, like "Where can I find them?" (I can see Sergey Brin and Larry Page groaning away when they hear about stuff like that, lol).
It kind of ties in with the desire many hobbyists have for "instant answers" that we've talked about before right here...I mean, in this day and age, there are so many resources to explore before you even have to talk to a more learned hobbyist on a subject. I mean, I can see questions like, "I read that some killies need their eggs to be dried in peat moss. Is that recommended for this species?" Those are questions that shows at least some preliminary research has been done on the topic. They demonstrate that the hobbyist has a basic grasp, and hobby "common sense", which, for want of a better word, "entitles" them to advance in the hobby.
I wandered into one of those "big box" generic pet store chains the other day, and of course, made a beeline for the fish department. Contrary to what I was expecting, the department was clean, well-managed, and the staff actually knew what they were talking about...dispensing good basic advice to what were obviously some new fish hobby hopefuls. And what's even more, the staff members I watched in action went out of their way to suggest that the newbie take home a book (I cannot recall which one, off-hand) on basic aquarium care before purchasing anything!
I was blown away.
This is an extraordinary quantum shift in hobby indoctrination from the sector of the industry that hardcore aquarist love to criticize. Sure, maybe this was just this one store...or maybe, just maybe- it represents an understanding from the "C-suite" corporate executives of the chain that an educated consumer is more loyal, stays in the brand ecosystem longer, and became a more advanced hobbyist, with more and more purchases over the long term as his/her interests progress.
Regardless, it's good stuff to see. And good for us to emulate.
Always offer a new person help in the hobby...But temper it with a referral to find out some basic stuff as well, preferably before you sell or give away that batch of fry to them. It's not a groundbreaking change in procedure here, but it might just net us a very small percentage of lifelong hobbyists, because they learned to walk before they started attempting to run.
You and I both know how enjoyable, educational, and rewarding the hobby can be if you approach it correctly. We also know how expensive, difficult, and costly (in terms of animal lives) it can be if approached haphazardly. It's part of our role, as serious aquarists, to temper our advice on obscure topics with reminding beginners to accumulate some basic knowledge- and a healthy dose of common sense- before moving on to more advanced stuff. It helps preserve the lives of innocent animals, educates new hobbyists on the responsibilities associated with fish keeping, and opens up vast educational possibilities.
Your periodic "marching orders" from another lifelong hobbyist.
Stay patient. Stay helpful. Stay solid.
And Stay Wet