So, did you ever try a fish that you resisted for years and years for some reason, and then fall in love with it?
Yeah. That was me. That IS me.
Those of you that follow the blog closely know that for a while I was considering my first Loracariid, a Peckolotia compta, the L134 "Leopard Frog", as a candidate. This was after a lot of research, a long series of discussions with my Pleco-loving friends, and much searching for a suitable specimen. I finally secured an F1 juvenile, and couldn't be happier!
In fact, I was wondering why it took me so long to get to the party.
I think when I started my latest tank, I was still coming down from a mild case of the "reefer's high"- that think that those of us who spend/spent/think about spending a lot of time in the saltwater community get. That feeling of "NOTHING is cooler than a reef tank and corals.." A misguided sense of superiority; that somehow, reef keeping is the pinnacle of aquaristic endeavors (it most certainly is not).
I would look at Pleco lovers and cichlid lovers for the longest time and, despite my longstanding love of freshwater fish, couldn't understand what was so compelling about stuff that didn't come from the ocean, and didn't have some exotic and ridiculously exclusive connotation to it. Mind you, I had a very, very mild "case" of this "reefer's high" thing, because I always straddled both worlds.
Yet, I somehow was thinking about how cool it would be to have some of these fishes in my collection! The whole fun and "culture" surrounding those who obsess about them is irresistible to me!
Nonetheless, I hung with a lot of reef people over the years that were of the opinion that all freshwater fishes were grey and brown. They totally didn't get it. Now, much of their absurdly misguided superficial "disdain" washed right over my shoulders, as I laughed off their groupthink stupidity. However, a tiny, annoying part somehow got through the logic, and I was harboring a sort of opinion that there were few, if any, freshwater fishes deserving of the apparent accolades they receive from so many.
Boy, was I wrong!
When I began stocking my tank, I turned to my fave fishes, characins (take that, refereeing world!), and began collecting a bunch of species I'd admired for some time. Of course, at some point, I wanted a "star" fish in my tank (I think that is a definite saltwater mindset, because other than say, Chromis, there aren't a lot of "generic schooling fishes" that are kept in SW tanks. We usually are looking for that "personality fish" or "Show Specimen" to round out the collection.
Well, it turns out, the freshwater world is filled with tons of fishes that fit the bill. And of course, Plecos and their allies are like the perfect (or should I say, "purrfect") fish for this? And it's not just catfish, of course. It's cichlids. And Knifefish. And Mormyrids. And Loaches, and so on..
So I guess the moral of this story is that it's never to late to "lower your guard" and discover what the rest of the fish world already knows- there are some really cool fishes out there if you just give them a chance. Free you mind from the preconceptions or fears that you might have...and enjoy.
Simple takeaway here?
Stay open minded. Stay adventurous.