On the idea of "solving" problems in our aquaria..."Big" vs. "small" moves?

Have you ever noticed that when we are trying to solve a problem in our aquariums, the "solution"- the easy, initial one- is often to "add something" to the aquarium. Be it a chemical, piece of gear, or other accessory, it's always about the addition of stuff, right?

And if it's not about adding more stuff to the aquarium, it's often about doing more stuff: Bigger water changes, more extensive maintenance procedures, significant stocking changes...BIG moves to affect rapid, significant changes. The aquarium equivalent of brute force.

Big moves.

And these big, bold moves almost always cost more, in terms of time, money, and energy, and often have another collateral price attached to them, in terms of animal stress, human aggravation, financial strain, and energy expended.

Wouldn't finesse make more sense when affecting changes?

You know, subtle adjustments. Gradual changes? Unless you're dealing with an acute emergency, what's the rush?

Nature seldom does things quickly that don't have dramatic, often detrimental effects, so why should we?

Or for that matter, when creating your aquariums, why not incorporate smaller, measured, yet easily adjusted practices, equipment, and philosophies to set you on a proper course? In other words, plan your systems with the potential problems already in mind, so that you've sort of "pre-solved" them.


For example, if you just KNOW you're ultimately going to want 16-20 large Congo Tetras in that aquarium, and you have the space, financial resources, and energy, wouldn't it simply make sense to start with the 75, 90, or even 120 gallon tank now, rather than go to the time, trouble and expense of building a 50 gallon system, knowing your predilection for expansion? Sure, it might cost more from the start, or even delay the start of the project, but "editing" your system after it's up and running, and then migrating to that inevitable larger tank is almost always way more expensive than just doing it the right way the first time!

It's the same with equipment selection.

We see this in the reef aquarium world all the time: In our enthusiasm to "get in the game", a smaller tank with perhaps "second tier" components is hastily assembled. Following the usual cycling and adjustment period, the neophyte reefer laments the decisions he/she made, and begins to assemble better (and typically pricier) gear, a bigger tank, and so on. The realities are usually such that, if the start of the project was delayed just a short time, it could have been executed the first time in a more efficient, sustainable, and satisfying manner.

Better for the hobbyist. WAY better for the livestock.

Maintenance and husbandry also come into play. It's not just about doing bigger water changes and more extensive cleanings and such. It's about planning from the start- from day one- to create easily accomplished and sustainable husbandry practices that can be incorporated into your life with a minimum of stress. By adopting, for example, small, more frequent water changes and maintenance tasks versus once a month, 40%-50% water changes and extensive maintenance sessions, the savings in time, money, and energy is huge...And the "quality of life" these more frequent, smaller, and more easily accomplished practices bring is significant.

Simple, thoughts on the elegance of simple, but impactful moves.

Something to think about on a quiet Sunday.

Stay thoughtful. Stay engaged. Stay open-minded.

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics


Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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