Only a real fish geek- a hardcore aquarist- really “gets it.”
Yeh, that thing called..."IT."
There is this unofficial characteristic that you find in almost every hardcore fish geek: A helpfulness, an undefinable generosity, compassion, enthusiasm- call it what you want- but it’s a palpable, measurable characteristic that separates hardcore fish geeks from the hapless dabblers in the aquatic hobby.
Not sure what I mean? When was the last time you went to the LFS with a bunch of fish keeping buddies? It’s kind of like 8-year-olds taking a road trip to Disneyland…The excitement and giddiness is unbearable! By the time you arrive, you’ve worked yourself up into such a frenzy that it won’t be a let down at all if the only cool fishes you see are some Green Neon Tetras or common Pseudotropheus zebra morphs.…
"I know they have that Aulanocara I want! And I can't wait to see that wild Betta! Are we THERE yet?"
One of my favorite things about owning Tannin is the childlike wonder that hardcore fish geeks demonstrate when, after a long road visit to our website, I'll receive tons of excited questions about how such-and-such a botanical will work in this aquarium ..You know their minds are going a hundred different excited directions...It's infectious!
Seeing that thrill in others never gets old…And that “thrill” that we get as hardcore fish geeks is a defining characteristic of our essence, as alluded to previously. The things that excite us are way different than the things that excite the casual fish keeper…I mean, you know you’re hardcore when your buddies can’t wait to show others YOUR beautiful tank, etc.- as if they somehow own it, too.
And, in essence, we all do. Not in the communist, “everyone owns everything” kind of way- rather, the fact that every hardcore fish geek seems to take a bit of pride in things that his/her fellow fish geek accomplishes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve arrived in a new town for a speaking gig, and the people who pick me up at the airport can’t wait to show me “Jim’s” tank, because he has the coolest “__________” ever.
I love that. I mean, they’re excited to show you SOMEONE ELSE’S tank? Awesome.
And what about generosity?
Hardcore fish geeks are typically overflowing with it. They love this stuff so much they’d literally give you their fry just because they are stoked that YOU"RE stoked on them. I saw a sterling example at a marine conference a couple of years back (when I still co-owned Unique Corals) when a fellow reefer/vendor was so stoked that I loved one of his (rather expensive) Acros, that he literally said “I want you to have it..” I was like, “Well, dude, come to my booth and grab something..” And his response was, “Maybe.”
I mean, he was all about just sharing (a rather expenisive) something that he loved with another hobbyist who also fell for the coral’s charms..And getting something in return wasn’t even on his mind. This guy was so stoked that I literally was getting goosebumps just talking with him. An absolutely perfect example of what I mean when I say that hardcore fish geeks are the coolest group of people you’ll ever meet.
Oh, and he never did show up at my booth.
Hardcore fish geeks have this air about them…they just want to try new stuff, share ideas, offer their opinions, and most important- support. When you have a problem and go on a forum and post the story of your trouble- you almost always get immediate, overwhelming response…Because hardcore fish geeks have been there…or if they haven’t- they know that they will one day. And, they will typically give generously of their time and effort simply for love of the hobby. “Payment” is usually in the form of fishes…at some far off date in the future. It’s like, “No worries, just score me some fry of that sweet Apisto when you finally spawn it” (Even though the fish in question is like .75” in length and a year away from spawning)..and the cool thing: The fish geek who “owes” the fry will not forget…One day, he’ll come to the local meeting with a nice bag of fry and tell the recipient, “I owe you from last year, when you helped dial in my LEDs that night..”
Hardcore fish geeks have a long memory about stuff like that.
"Just let me know when you spawn it, bro.."
And don’t ever tell a hardcore fish geek that you’re just getting started in the hobby during a visit to her fish room, or you’ll be up until 2:30 AM acclimating all the fry she is going to give you. It’s almost predictable how generous hardcore fish geeks are…to a fault, almost!
And the cool thing- it’s like that in every fishkeeping community in the WORLD that I’ve visited…It’s like a "universal culture." There are certain constants:
*Every hardcore fish geek downplays Java Moss, calls it “weed”, but secretly is looking for some ‘cause they can’t get it to grow.
*Every hardcore fish geek has at least three disaster stories to share (ya know, floods, broken hardware..or worse).
*Every hardcore fish geek has like 400 cichlid fry they want to get rid of at any given time, and will gladly drive 2 hours to do it!
*Every hardcore fish geek has a pair of Kribs that breed regularly, but they never get around to harvesting the larvae to rear.
*Every hardcore fish geek has an “algae battle” story or three to tell!
*Every hardcore fish week has that ONE fish that he or she has been trying to track down for years...
Ah, hardcore fish geeks. I love ‘em.
You people make my days- every day. We are a global, interconnected, interactive, fun-loving, fascinating, highly dysfunctional family of people who love this crazy hobby. Most important…
We are all friends.
And that makes getting up each day that much more enjoyable.
Until next time.