Recipes for success?

Have you ever noticed that everything we do in fish-keeping, from setting up our aquariums, to adding fishes, feeding them, breeding them, maintaining our tanks- is like a sort of "recipe?"

Yeah, think about it: Although there are generally accepted ways of doing things in the hobby, based upon time-honored husbandry principles, well-known biological realities, and practical applications, every hobbyist "edits" things to fit his/her own needs, priorities, resources, and style. 

What triggered this for me was when, the other day, I carefully tossed three "Nano-sized" Catappa leaves not one of my 5-gallon RO water storage containers before I filled it. This practice allows some of the tannins, humic acids, and other substances in the leaves to "steep" for several days before I utilize the water in my aquariums. "Pre-tinting" I call it.

A simple, little adjustment, based on my preferences and the needs of my animals; the quantity and timing tweaked and honed over years of practice, to the point where it's "automatic" to me. A "recipe", if you will. One of hundreds of little things I, you, and every hobbyist who has ever lived practice every day to make our hobby more enjoyable, successful, and easier.

We all have our own "recipes" for fish keeping practices, much as every family has its favorite recipe for spaghetti sauce or meat loaf, or..whatever.

Yeah, the art of aquarium keeping- and it is an art- is based on common guiding principles, customized to fit the individual's needs, much like the art of cooking is.

Think about fishes that you breed on a regular basis. You pretty much know exactly what it takes to start the process, condition the breeders, handle the spawn, and rear the resulting fry. You know what type of environmental manipulations you need to do, how much water to change, what to feed, etc. It's become almost systematic for you, huh?

And guess what? Much like a chef, you do it just a little bit differently than anyone else in the world. Oh sure, you may use the same basic procedures as every other fish breeder working with a particular species, but you have your won unique "hacks", developed from your personal experiences, problems, successes, and necessities. Subtle nuances that make something work for you.

That is the "art" part of aquarium keeping.

The best part about this is that we can share what works for us with other hobbyists, so that they can apply our techniques to theirs, and perhaps, a little "mashup" of ideas from  you and other sources will be exactly what they need to push them over the edge towards success with a given issue.

The hobby of aquarium keeping, as I pointed out many times, is governed by some immutable "laws", such as the Nitrogen Cycle. However, the "laws" are mere;y the framework under which we operate. The real magic takes place when the individual hobbyist works within the "framework" to create processes which lead to successful outcomes that can be replicated time and again- by him/her, or others.

"Recipes", if you will. Recipes for success.

You have some. I have some. Every hobbyist who has ever lives has some. And, in this incredibly connected age that we live in, it's never been easier to share, collaborate, iterate, and practice them, for the benefit of all.

Never forget to share that hard-earned knowledge with other hobbyists.

Now, you're cooking!

Stay creative. Stay imaginative. Stay focused. Stay open to the process.

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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