The consequences-and benefits-of our decisions...

Last week, a longtime customer asked me to help her decide which fishes to go with for his new tank.. 

Not an uncommon call in my industry!

This one...?

Or this one?

These kinds of calls are fun, but they used to scare the ---- out of me. 



Because making decisions about what to do in your tank can have consequences, right? Helping make decisions about someone else's tank- well, that's a whole different layer of craziness!

His call required a seemingly simple decision, actually- a choice between two different cichlids; however, choosing one over the other would take the aquarium in a definite "direction", so I suppose the consequences of the decision would be lasting.We went back and forth over the pros and cons, and following our discussion, the customer, apparently pleased/impressed with how I helped him arrive at a decision, asked, "How do you arrive at these decisions with such confidence?"

It made me think for a minute. After I laughed...becuase I have not always made good decisions! I used to agonize over everything. "Analysis paralysis" was like my modus operandi. We've covered this before here, huh?

How to make better aquarium-related decisions is actually pretty easy, but you have to be honest with yourself and stay focused on the primary issue. Of course, just deciding to share my thoughts on the process involved me weighing the potential "risks" ("Oh, there goes Fellman spouting off more wannabe psychobabble stuff." or "See, he DOES think he's the most important person in the industry.." or "Anyways, on to the next thread!") 

Seriously? ANOTHER option?

It’s all about how you approach it, really. 


Here's how I've stumbled through the aquarium decision making process after a lifetime of getting wet:

1) Deciding between, for example, two amazing fishes: A classic one, actually. Go with your first choice. Period. You can always get the other one another time. Think about it this way- If you’re taking all that time to mull over the decision, is it to gather data or to postpone a decision? Maybe the best decision is to pass on both? Maybe?

2) Make the most pressing decisions first. In other words, if you know that you have to replace that canister filter and you also have the opportunity to purchase that crazy rare pair of cichlids…get the canister filter first. Yeah, because you have a lot depending on that filter, whereas the fish can always be picked up at a later time. Really.

3) Don’t change your mind once you’ve made the decision, unless there is a very compelling (ie; vital) reason to change it.

4) Avoid soliciting 5 different decisions on “Which one” to get, or “which way to go”…Forums are great, but they create decision-making roadblocks, IMHO. Just don’t ask the world. Ask people whom you trust, who can bring specific value to their recommendations.

Every little thing impacts every little thing. What to do?

5) Blow through simple decisions with little reflection. Example: You need to get more carbon. You use a pound a month. Should you buy one pound or two pounds of the same brand? Who cares? Just get the carbon!

OMG, how insultingly simple I'm making everything sound...And really, that's not my point. I guess, having been through a lot of personal changes in recent years (seeing life, death, relationships, business all change in a heartbeat) has given me a different perspective than I've had in the past. I've learned that you need to spend more time doing something than deciding about it. I mean, you can grow old and die just deciding which Anubias to purchase...Why? 

I screw up. A LOT. Like, more than you do. But you know what? I learn from every screwup. And sometimes, I actually make changes. It's not that bad. 

And, it gives me more material to share with you! 

Anyways, start of a long day for me...getting ready to fly back to L.A. as I write this. Enjoy your coffee, your fishes, and your day.

And stay wet!

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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