The Fish Room- A place of wonder...a place of magic.

A few years back, I was fortunate enough to have a fish geek experience that really made me sit back and think about this crazy hobby of ours in a whole new light. I attended a meeting of a local club in Duluth, MN (Yeah, in February! It was a bit colder than L.A. in February...LOL) to give a talk, and got to stay at the home of a dedicated hobbyist- My friend and prototypical all-around fish geek Matthew Pederson (of Amazonas and Coral Magazines...his blogs and articles are awesome BTW)- and his very serious fish room!  I swear I spent as much time down there as I did with him. It was the first time in a lot of years that I was exposed for more than a few hours to a dedicated home fish room. I even got to scrape algae for him; epic! Felt great. The memories of that brief weekend hanging out in a serious fish room really got my wheels spinning. Something in my "programming"- in our collective "programming"- makes it feel "aspirational." Oh, what was that I wrote, a "fish room?" You got it. A room filled with dozens of aquariums of varying sizes (freshwater and saltwater!), dedicated to the study, care, breeding- and sheer joy of fish keeping.

Now, a fish room is not at all an alien concept to many of us, although we don't hear about 'em as much as we did in the past. And some of us have never had a fish "ROOM", per se- just a lot of tanks scattered around various locations throughout our residence! However, the idea of a dedicated fish room, with all of its exciting little nooks and crannies and potential- is the stuff of dreams for many of us, right?

Fish rooms used to be a lot more common in the hobby. Serious hobbyists thought nothing of filling their basements, garages, and extra bedrooms with lots and lots of aquariums. It seems that in the last few years, the fish room has gone the way of the CD- a once pervasive product that seemed to just sort of fade away. Unlike the CD, technology did not force the idea of a fishroom into retirement. Rather, technology has benefitted the hobby immensely, making it easier than ever before for a hobbyist to create his or her own little nerve center to practice the state of the art in aquarium keeping with several aquariums.

Yet, for some reason, the multiple aquarium fish room was starting to become a thing of the past. Maybe it was economics; time, or the demands of other areas of life that made the commitment to a room full of aquariums seem impractical. For a long time in recent decades, dedicated fish rooms were just the domain of the hardest of hardcore fish geeks...However, with all of the new focus on conservation and fish breeding, it seems like a resurgence is in the works on a large scale!

And for the first time, marine fish breeding is starting to move beyond just Clownfish, and it seems like we’re starting to see some serious breeders move to trying to reproduce all sorts of fishes. And even when not breeding fishes, dedicated marine hobbyists are devoting entire rooms to their obsession, and are pushing the state of the art forward every day. An interesting overall hobby change.

And of course, crazy freshwater fish breeders are popping up everywhere- and along with them, multiple tank fish rooms! Check with any club's Breeder's Award Program if you don't think that's something that's happening all the time!

And, yeah, some of us took it to far and opened up an entire warehouse full of fish stuff... All part of that weird thing of just being a round a ton of fish tanks most of my life. I think that, on some level, all of those of us in the business- whether we care to admit it or not, sort of use the "business" as a cover to play with fish tanks full-time! 

For the hardcore hobbyist, it's no different. The challenge is to fit it into our lifestyle. Sure, given factors like economic uncertainty, time pressures, and other commitments, today’s home hobbyist is more pressed than ever to find time for his or her hobby, even for one aquarium, let alone a dozen or more. Yet, there is something about this hobby that makes it so hard to stop at just one aquarium, isn’t it? And we keep going...

What we only half-jokingly refer to as “Multiple Tank Syndrome”- the "addiction" to the hobby that gives us the urge to set up more aquariums-is alive, well, and very real! We have so many ideas, and a desire to try them all...and it seems the only way to do it is to set up more and more aquariums..!

Some people collect souvenir shot glasses, coins, or cats. 

We collect aquariums. And fish. And plants. And all of the "junk" that goes with 'em.


It seems that with every dedicated hobbyist, there is the desire to expand or horizons, to try new things, learn about one more fish, plant, coral, ecological niche, etc. And that requires "just one more" aquarium... or perhaps a few more! It requires the need to expand, explore, and experiment.

To this I say- Go for it! Don’t fight the urge to get that next aquarium. Not only are you giving yourself something that you will enjoy immensely, you might just be able to try something altogether new, break new ground, or better yet-inspire others to persue their aquatic dreams. Maybe you don’t have the space or finances for a true "fish room", but satiating your desire with another aquarium somewhere in the house is a good start!

As a child growing up in a fish-geek household, seeing my dad’s many tanks virtually cemented my destiny that someday I’d be deeply involved in the aquarium field. I always had more than one bowl, plastic container, or aquarium in my bedroom...and all over the house, eventually.

I was inspired, man! Couldn't fight it off...Who knows what kid might be inspired to entire the science field as a result of a visit to your fish room? Or just your fish tank? Or tanks? I mean, virtually every household has more than one car, so why not more than one aquarium? It's a good thing...Well, at the very least, it’s good for the aquarium industry! (Sorry, couldn't resist that one...LOL)

l’ll say it again: "Fish room." A place of magic. A place of wonder. A place of awe. A laboratory. A retreat. A launch pad for dreams. I dedicate this post to all of you out there who practice the art of aquarium keeping each and every day, regardless of if you have one fish bowl or 200 tanks in your basement. You are the very essence of the hobby- the living, breathing soul of our passion. I say it again: If the muse strikes, don’t fight it. Why stop at one?

Who has a "fish room" going? Who's contemplating setting up one? Or at least, who admits to having "Multiple Tank Syndrome?"

My advice to you if you?

Set up another aquarium! 

Oh, and I know this website where you can get really cool botanicals if you're feeling the urge to try blackwater... (heh, heh, heh...)

Until next time,

Stay Wet


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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