Welcome to the edge...

The edge of something is kind of an uncomfortable place to be, isn't it?

"The edge of town" seems like a far-off place, without contact from the rest of society. The  "cutting edge" means you're doing something that's at the current state-of-the-art, right? The "leading edge" is out in front of most everyone else, with the "safety net" to fall into should you fail being located far, far below. That's where early adapters to new ideas operate. The term "bleeding edge" is even more scary, more adventurous, defining that area where you've truly left what is known and comfortable, pushing the outside of the envelope as far as it can go..typically, to borrow the old "Star Trek" line, "Where no one has gone before."

Where do you, as an aquarist operate? Ever thought about that?

It's not too difficult now days for the typical hobbyist to work in the "cutting edge" environment, embracing hobby practices that are considered the state-of-the-art, such as breeding marine fishes, utilizing "estimative index" for fertilizing aquatic plants, or using the latest electronic controller to manage your aquarium's environment.

Where things get really interesting, however, is at the "leading edge" of the hobby. Those areas where there is no clearly defined set of instructions or rules. An area where every decision you make is a bit of an unknown quantity, with consequences to your actions that are not yet fully understood. For example, people in the marine hobby who keep non-photosynthetic coral aquariums are working the "leading edge", because many of the husbandry procedures, equipment choices, and implementations are not fully worked-out yet. There is still room to experiment, push things, and grow a bit. As early adaptors to the "New Botanical" movement, as we call it, you're at the beginning of the "leading edge" of hobby practices. Much is already known, much is yet to be learned.

Then, there is that "bleeding edge", defined as a category of ideas so new that they could have a high risk of being unreliable and lead adopters to incur greater expense and risk in order to make use of them. This area is popular among innovators, inventors, and risk takers. The first guy that took a leap of faith and mimicked natural processes by storing his Nothobranchius rachovii eggs in damp peat moss for 6 months before hatching them was seriously bleeding edge back in the day.

(Image by Cisamarc -CC BY SA 4.0)

It's not always about developing new technologies, equipment, or husbandry techniques. Sometimes, it's about ideas...creativity. Style. The risks of pushing it in those arenas are still there; only the consequences are different. Criticism and condemnation, as opposed to outright disaster. Different. Yet the same.

Where are you as an aquarist? What journeys are you willing to take to advance the state of the art in aquarium keeping?  Are you adverse to risks?  Are you fascinated by this nebulous, grey area where the stakes are so high and the outcomes unknown? Or, do you prefer to wait until things settle down just a bit before jumping aboard.

Does it matter? Yes. And no.

It doesn't matter where you are in the hobby. It matters where you're going.

Stay bold. Stay curious. Stay alert.

Stay Wet.

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics


Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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