This past weekend, I was fortunate to have been invited out to speak at the Heart of America Aquarium Club in Kansas City, MO, one of many fishy engagements I participate in each year.
On this trip, I was once again able to see some impressive fishes, and interesting fish room, and spend some time just chatting with dedicated fish breeders. One of the things that I left this meeting with was a renewed sense of just how enthusiastic, dedicated, and talented today's tropical fish hobbyists are. I take to at least half a dozen hobbyists who maintain a dozen of more aquariums, and breed many varieties of fishes. I spoke to one hobbyist who's personally bred over 100 varieties of tropical fish...which is a stunning achievement, although not that unusual in the circles of serious, hardcore fish geeks.
What is it about today's tropical fish hobbyist that compels us to keep and breed so many different species; some so obscure that only the hardest of hardcore would try them? How does one find the drive (or make the time) to maintain dozens of aquariums, feed hundreds and hundreds of fry, and check up on multiple pairs of spawning fishes- all in one's spare time?
Of course, because it's just plain fun is the easy, obvious answer- but there is more to it than that, I think. Much more. I think that everyone who keeps and breeds multiple tanks full of tropical fishes has that "special something"- that fascination, motivation, or character- which just makes all the difference. Its one thing to keep a nice community aquarium with a variety of fishes...it's a whole different ball game maintaining and breeding multiple varieties of fishes in dedicated setups.
These fine hobbyists are not put off by the duties involved in maintaining multiple aquariums, food cultures, and tending to the needs of their fishes during spawning. In fact, many of them modify, curtail, or forgo other personal activities when it comes time to deal with spawning fish. It's a choice, and a lifestyle for many dedicated tropical fish hobbyists.
They don't see this as a "sacrifice", either. Rather, it's a calling, a voluntary obligation...a joy. And how does one know if he or she has "that special something?"
You just know.
When you look at a tank full of fishes and wonder to yourself, "What will it take to get these to breed?" or "How many fry can I expect out of a spawning", or "I wonder if I can put them in this tank"- you have that "special something."
The point of today's blog is not to go into a detailed examination of why dedicated tropical fish breeders do what they do...it's simply to honor them. I'm in awe of this hobby, and the many, many amazing people who devote endless energy to pursuing the fascinating endeavour of keeping and breeding tropical fishes.
Hats off to you, and that "special something" that you have. Thanks for sharing your passion with all of us.
Stay dedicated, stay enthusiastic...
And stay wet.