Crash!!! What exactly happened?

So, a reader asked me to tackle this one...I hope that I don't come across too...I don't know- "high and might" or what not...I hope that we can have a discussion without too much negativity. I can see the hate mails coming my way...

Let's talk about that dreaded, yet apparently real phenomenon of "tank crashes."

A "tank crash!" Yikes.

Ever had that happen?

Nah, me niether...In fact, I don't know too many people that it happened to. Okay, I suppose I can qualify this. I've heard a bunch of people claim things like tanks "crashing" as a result of some sort of technological failure, such as a heater failing join the "on" position and cooking their livestock, or the cleaning lady accidentally spraying household disinfectant over the open-top reef aquarium.

But the reality is, a real "crash"- the kind people talk about on discussion forums, is generally attributable to one thing, IMHO- failure on the part of the hobbyist. Yeah, it sounds like I'm being kind of arrogant, but it's true..."Anomalous" crashes are usually caused by our own errors. Aquariums tend to NOT just "crash" without our "assistance"- and that's a kind of cold, hard fact. Not a shot at anyone who's had such a problem, but the reality is, you probably did something, like overstocked, overfed, failed to engage in regular maintenance, etc...and the cumulative affect of these things resulted in a failure.

Common "crashes" are usually attributable to stuff like a bioload that is simply too great for the filtration capacity of the tank in question. Perhaps it was a case of "too much, too soon"- you ramped up the population to a "well established" level, yet only in the first few weeks of the tank's life. Or maybe, you simply added too many heavy-metabolic waste-producing fishes at one time, overwhelming the capacity of the filter again, resulting in a deadly ammonia "spike" that killed your fishes.

Okay, fine, you had a disaster. If you examine what occurred, and you learned that it was something you could have prevented, and haven't repeated it, than the awful tragedy was something that had some educational "value" to it. It may seem hard to reconcile when innocent animals die, but you can at least say that their deaths helped prevent future tragedies from occurring. Cliched, but true.

The point of this "analysis" of the idea of a "tank crash" is not to deliver a beatdown...It's just to keep us all honest...Tanks don't simply crash for no particular reason.  They just don't. We have to accept that. Algae problems, environmental fluctuations- all have root causes in stuff that WE started- or failed to stop! No shame in that. None of us is perfect. We've all made mistakes, and we will continue to make them.

We just need to admit that perhaps we were wrong, and that we can LEARN from it.

So, stay positive. Stay open minded.

Stay wet.

Scott Fellman

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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