A fish geek just won't tell you that...

Let's face it. If you're in this crazy hobby world long enough, you start discovering things. You start doing stuff a certain way, acting in a certain manner. And you start believing some of your own rhetoric. But the reality is, there are things that you simply won't do or even say as a hardcore fish geek. A real fish geek won't ever tell you certain things... Here are a few of my personal faves which come to mind:

“I’m done adding fishes to this tank”- I mean, seriously, when was the last time you EVER heard ANY aquarist tell you this, and then really not add any more fishes to his/her tank? I don't care if there is no more than 4 inches of free real estate in that tank, the hardcore fish geek will find a way to get another one in there.  Let’s face it- we just seem incapable of saying no. Even if it means relegating a once favorite fish to another tank (Oh, THAT’s why he was shopping for an “extra” light fixture last week!), or asking another hobbyist to “fish sit” a specimen for “a while.” These desperate actions are often accompanied by much behind the scenes negotiation with his/her significant other for a new tank, as the hobbyist attempts to overcome what one of my fish pals properly calls “The Spouse Factor.”



“I’m fine with a little algae in there.”- Oh, come on. You know as well as I do that, even though our rational mind tells us a little algae is a natural, almost unavoidable part of an aquatic system, almost every hobbyist is obsessed with eliminating visible algae from his/her tank. I mean, we spend hours and hours, and collectively, thousands of dollars per year on products that promise to remove algae from our system forever. No one seems to want to see even the slightest amount of nuisance algae in their tank, despite any cherry proclamation to the contrary. An algae problem- and most hobbyists will tell you that even a patch of isolated algae is a “problem”- will result in sleepless nights, vast internet searches for algae control techniques, and investment of money into their removal/elimination from said tank. Now, those of us who are hardcore biotope-themed hobbyists are an anomaly -, perfectly okay with it...but, we're kinda weird...


“That _____________ doesn’t nip at my plants”- Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute. We’ve all made that bad call, where we’ve taken the chance with a known “plant nipper” in our tank under the assumption that tons of algae and enriched frozen foods will keep her from picking at our precious plant collection, only to have been burned by continuous minor damage to said plants. We’ll try to rationalize it to our fish-keeping buddies, telling them that “this is the FIRST time I’ve seen him do that!” when one of them points out that your beloved fish is carefully (ok, not so carefully) picking at your prized Bucephalandra. Despite rationalizing with yourself that it’s only picking at biofilm on the surface tissue, you know that the reality is that the plant is not looking is good these days, and that: a) you have a long and arduous task of removing the fish from the tank, and b) You’ll have to put your pride on hold and admit that you were…wron- ….okay, “not entirely correct”  in your call. 



I love my aquascape. Wouldn’t change anything!”- If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this, only to see an aquarist modify, tweak, or otherwise completely tear down his or her rock and wood work because they weren’t really happy with it, I wouldn’t have to sling leaves and pods for a living! I can literally count the number of aquarium hobbyists who truly “set and forget” their rock work on the fingers of one hand, and their names were: Steve Weast., Steve Weast, and Steve Weast.  One of the greatest reef aquarium aquascapers of our time, he is my inspiration (much like Amano is to freshwater planted aquariums). He thought through every possible permutation of every rock before setting it in his tank, trust me.It was one for the ages.

Let’s be perfectly frank- you may SAY that you love your aquascape, but the minute you see that cool tank down the road, or that incredible “tank of the decade”, or worse, see an empty aquarium with perfect proportions at the LFS with your name on it, you’ll start picking apart your aquascape like  an overeater at a free buffet. It won’t be possible not to at least “imagineer” a modification to your rock and wood work to look “more open” or “more like that formation in ___________’s tank.” I submit that we are never really satisfied or completely content with our aquascaping. Unless our name happens to be Steve Weast….


“I re-did my fish room plumbing scheme to make things easier.” - Are you KIDDING me? When was the last time you ever heard that? It’s generally the other way around, and you know it: “I’m adding a new carbon reactor, so I replumbed a section of the feed line to my trickle filter, via the shared line that it has with my automatic water change system. This will free up the other 7 lines back to my Discus refugium, Daphnia propagation tank, and mechanical filters. Now, I just have to turn this valve, shut off this feed line, turn off the pump, take out these two reactors, remove the fitting, and I’ll easily be able to change the media whenever I want!”

Huh? I mean, seriously, we laugh at how complex people in other hobbies make things, but the reality is that we are the “Kings of Complication”, forever tweaking our systems to add more devices, more options, under the guise that we’re making our lives "easier." Hah, who are we fooling, right? We love solving simple problems with more complexity. Even a simple connection can be made more complicated, right? It’s what we do. It keeps the aquarium gadget industry working, keeps home depot staffed, and keeps the credit card companies happy. I guess “making things easier” in the aquarium hobby has broader macroeconomic implications than we could ever imagine, right? Um, yeah.


Okay, so there are five of my favorite things that you’ll never hear an aquarist say and really mean it. I think we’ve almost all been guilty of a few of these, and we can pretty much take it to the bank that there are dozens more of these “absolutes” that hold, well “absolutely” no meaning. Let’s hear ‘em! 

We’re fish geeks. We are constantly evolving, improving, tweaking. We love to talk the talk, walk the walk, spin tall tales, share our success, fry, and laugh at our foibles. Another thing that you’ll never hear from an aquarist: “I’m not having any fun.” I think THAT is a near impossibility!

Another absolute statement:

I’ll always sign off like this…

Until next time.


Stay wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics



Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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