Can it wait?

There are things in this hobby which we never really understand, but that predictably drive us crazy. And there are those things that arise, which we have to handle, that annoy, disturb- even scare us.


The motor in your canister filter is making that familiar chattering sound- you know, the one that means the impeller needs to be taken out and cleaned. And of course, that means shutting it down, removing it, cleaning it, reinstalling it, and getting it primed again. You sort of located it in the part of the aquarium stand that's hardest to access...And you remember from the last time what a pain in the ass it was to do this...

Can it wait a bit longer? Is the chattering noise that bad?

I mean, you're not loosing any circulation or's just that the sound is a bit...annoying...and...

Some stuff that you need to face with your tank is more than just a pain in the rear- it's the kind of thing that disrupts the entire fish population until it's completed. That overgrown stand of Cryptocoryne wendtii really needs to be thinned out before it takes over the whole right rear of your tank!

And it's badly encroaching on that rare Red Crypt from Borneo. And of course, it's growing behind that insanely cool stack of driftwood that you finally got to hold position after 2 hours of frustrating effort, and the 'scape has been just perfect ever since that day! Thinning out this group of plants will not only risk the wood stack tumbling down, it'll just be a disruptive mess that will no doubt aggravate all of the fishes, including that skittish pair of Betta coccina that are finally starting to come out after weeks of timid appearances.

Can it wait a bit longer? Does the plant grouping really need to be thinned out now?

The aquascape really doesn't look that bad, right? And that rare red Crypt; is it REALLY that cool? I Mean, it WAS pricy, but...

Sometimes, it's about doing stuff that's simply annoying. Maybe it's messy. It's always disruptive, to some extent...And occasionally, it's about decisions which affect the harmony of the tank.

And then, there are those other times...the so-called "911" moments. The ones that result from rolling the dice and making a decision that could have went either really good or really bad...and it went really bad this time. The need to act is pretty much a given...Adding that extra male Ram to the small group you had in play created a big blowup in the social order; this new guy is being chased all over the tank by the dominant fish.

All of the other fishes are sort of freaked out by the aggressiveness, hiding or acting weird; this calculation was wrong on this occasion, and the consequences threaten the life of the new fish, and the overall harmony of the tank. It's obvious that the new guy needs to come out- and fast. And of course, this the beautifully planted, intricately-scape tank that you've been sharing all over Instagram, and moving the wood and those rocks to get the one beleaguered Ram out is going to pretty much destroy the scape. Oh, and did I mention, he looks like all of the stress may have caused him to contract some sort of disease...Why is he scratching?

And this time, the "can it wait?" calculus is not really in play. Nature- and the fishes- have made the decision easy for you..Well, "easy" is relative, of course. More like-binary. The consequences of waiting- on this occasion- are pretty obvious. Leaving this fish in means he dies, and possibly spreads disease to the rest of the inhabitants. Those "micro-calculations" you occasionally make about "...the needs of the many being more important than the needs of the few or the one..." (to borrow a famous Star Trek phrase)  are of now out of the question.

Time to "rip off the Band Aid" and act.

It can't wait.

The most humbling, if not educational hobby moments often come from the simple set of decisions that we have to make- decisions that were set in motion by other decisions, perhaps weeks or months before. Yet decisions which have both short and long-term implications for your aquarium. 

And always, hopefully- you learn and grow as a result of both the experience and the decision.

As the old expression goes, “Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.”

That pretty much sums it up, right? 

Besides, that chattering noise the pump is making really IS annoying, huh?

Stay decisive. Stay observant. Stay diligent. Stay grounded...

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 



Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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