I had a good fishy friend over to my house this weekend, and we were checking out tanks, talking fish...the usual stuff you expect when fish geeks get together.
My friend brought up the subject of how we obsess over our aquariums...well, deeper than that, how, as serious aquarists, we approach our aquariums by considering every little detail.
For example, when the subject of lighting came up, my friend, one of the best reef hobbyists I know, in addition to being an all-around "waterman", pointed out that my LED lighting in my tank was set towards a far greater blue-white spectrum than made sense for a system intended to resemble a South American stream, and that the predominant colors of my fishes were reds and browns, which are accented far more by reds and greens in the lighting program. Plus, the blue tended to wash out some of the tint in the water, much to my chagrin. So, with a few simple tweaks to the light program, we have a far more superb rendition of color than ever before.
When you feed your fishes, you may love the convenience of frozen brine shrimp, blood worms, pellets, whatever, and tend to use that as your "exclusive" or primary food by a significant margin over other foods. Not always a good idea if you're feeding foods that are richer, fattier, and more difficult for fishes to digest. The idea of a well-rounded diet is really important, as fishes need a higher nutritional profile than we give them credit for to stay in top shape. And of course, different foods are better suited for different situations, such as when you're conditioning fishes for breeding, forcing growth, or helping your females recover after spawning. Each situation requires a different approach to feeding.
Thinking about stocking your aquarium has never been one of those "oh, I'll get to it later" sort of things for most serious hobbyists. Stocking is viewed as a make-or-break part of aquarium design and is rarely approached in a nonchalant manner. Nor should it be. Taking into account the type of system you're trying to create, and the various strata and microhabitats that your target fishes inhabit within the system is vital to creating a successful, healthy, interesting system in the long term. A lot of "old timers" in the hobby will tell you that many great aquariums are indeed great because they take into account the environment within the aquarium for stocking, "optimizing", if you will, available niches within the system by selecting appropriate animals.
I mean, there are so many things that you can approach in this manner...and to many, this level of attention is not tedious, obligatory, or stressful. It's simply the way to create maximum enjoyment from your hobby.
I can't tell you how much I've learned about seemingly obscure and unimportant aspects of the hobby by delving into greater detail when setting up my system, only to realize that the benefits I've reaped from this process are far, far greater than I could have imagined.
So the next time you're looking at something seemingly as "pedestrian" as two or three different filter media, take a moment to consider and reflect upon what each can bring to the table for your specific needs. Think beyond the marketing hyperbole; the hobby "hype", and consider how this stuff fits into your system. You might just find yourself making some seemingly surprising decisions when you approach these types of things from the standpoint of "why should I go with this particular one" as opposed to "I need some carbon"- or whatever.
They're not just mundane. They're not for getting "lost" in.
Details can help you create something truly special, and can make the difference between a good aquarium and a really phenomenal one.
So, roll up those sleeves, pull up a chair, and ponder a bit.
Stay engaged in the process, engrossed in the fun...
And Stay Wet