We receive a fair number of queries about our products, and that's pretty cool.
Hobbyists ask all sorts of questions. As a person who has been in the hobby and industry for many years, it is gratifying to see people ask questions. Questions are meaningful, often insightful, and provoke discussion. As a marketer, they're awesome- it means someone is intersted in your product or idea. As an educator, questions are proof that you have touched someone enough to have provoked more interest.
The old expression that "there is no such thing as a stupid question" is pretty much true. Although, on some days, I sort of apply a more philosophical bent to this axiom: While there might be no stupid questions, in my opinion, there are stupid contexts in which questions are asked. Yeah, like when someone buys a product, fails to follow the instructions and recommendations, and then asks why the product didn't perform as expected. I mean, the stupid part isn't that the product didn't perform as expected. It's that someone didn't feel it necessary to take the time to read any instructions, caveats, warnings, and other information available about the product before simply using it in the manner in which they wanted to, and then, when something went awry, they questioned things.
It's a form of arrogance, or at the very least, impatience, if you ask me. In a worst case, its a way of shirking of our individual responsibility on others. At best, it's laziness.
The time to question, show concern, be skeptical, and even a bit afraid, is before you employ something. The time to read about how to prepare, use, or apply a product is before you prepare use, or apply the product.Thats why websites in any industry should offer as much information as possible about the product, its preparation, and use, in a readily accessible format.
To not take the time to research information that is readily available is not only irresponsible, it's inexcusable, IMHO. If you haven't guessed by now, I feel very strong about this topic.
It's why we've embraced the idea of providing as much honest information as possible on our website, blogs, and social media. Not just "look at the shiny new thingamajig" articles, posts, etc. It's why we don't shy away from presenting the good, the bad, and the ugly when using our aquatic botanicals in your aquarium. It's why we encourage you to take all advice offered by us or anyone- with a grain of salt, and give due consideration to the said advice before moving forward.
At Tannin, we realized that the use of many of our aquatic botanicals is something new for a lot of hobbyists, and that there would be a lot of questions, concerns, and perhaps some issues. It's why we've gone to great lengths to explain on each product page how to employ each product. We understood that there are "best practices" for preparing and using botanicals, which is why we advise how to prepare each one on its product page, as well as in a centralized "Aquatic Botanical Preparation" page, which you're referred to on every product package.
We realize that there are potential limitations and even negative outcomes if you don't employ the products in a responsible manner, which is why we have a warning to prepare everything, go slowly, and evaluate the affect the botanicals have on your system as you go.
We proffer slow, gradual implementation of our botanicals. You'll see us time and again advise you to take the time to prepare, add, and evaluate the things that you add into your aquariums.
It's why we write very candidly-in both our Aquatic Botanical Preparation page and in this very blog- about things like the yucky biofilms that you'll encounter, and the potential for algal growth on your botanicals, and the fact that your water will get that brown tint, etc. It's why we talk about the potential for out of control pH plummets in an established aquarium with very soft water should you add a lot of product at once, and that adding our botanicals en masse to an established, stable aquarium is not advised. It's why we've published post with titles like "The dark side of blackwater tanks" ,"High Maintenance? High concept? Or just an acceptance of natural processes?", "The therapeutic value of aquatic botanicals. Is there one?" , "When good botanicals go bad", etc., etc.
You need to know the information before you use our stuff. You need to know what to expect, what can go wrong, and what to do to make it work. It's the most responsible thing we can do as a vendor. Every vendor or manufacturer is doing consumers a disservice, IMHO, if they are not addressing these things to to their customers.
And, every customer is doing a disservice to themselves (and their animals) if they are not taking advantage of these resources when they are offered.
So, feel free to question, theorize, ponder, and then act. But do realize there is a lot of information out there for the taking, and that the time spent researching this stuff will make you a better prepared, more thoughtful, and more confident hobbyist.
Stay focused. Stay inquisitive. Stay skeptical.
And stay wet.