Caution. Concern. Outright paranoia. And the stuff in between.

I have a friend who is like completely convinced that, every time you sneeze, cough, or have a headache, or display any overt "symptom" which could somehow be correlated with symptoms that are associated with a cold- that you've acquired some illness, and that you're headed for a week of bed rest, chicken soup, and Netflix. 

Super paranoid. Drives me crazy.

And yet,  it reminds me of some people I know in the aquarium hobby...  They have an ultra-paranoid mindset that makes me wonder just how they could enjoy any aspect of this game! They're always worried about something with their tanks.

There seems to be a lot less enjoyment and a lot more worry.


And, I sometimes wonder if we as hobbyists tend to become just a little more "paranoid" about stuff than we need to be? I mean, is it a product of knowing a little "too much;" having access to data that was previously unavailable, obscure, or otherwise not utilized? Or perhaps, it's an artifact of the increasing complexity of the equipment we use on our aquariums?

And as a result of having more data, experience, and "stuff" in our hobby, we have more things to be concerned with than ever before!

It's just that simple. 

Are you a hobbyist who, when you're looking at your aquarium, notice that any sound, any behavioral change in your fishes, any minor appearance difference- can send you into a veritable frenzy of cross-checking, water testing, examination, etc? Oh, you may not admit to it; you might think that you're immune to the concerns, etc.

But you're not. And the questioning in your head begins...

Is it that new plumbing connection making that weird trickling sound? Did the light come on a bit later today? Are those Apistos engaged in courtship behavior, or is that some sort of response to stress? Why did the phosphate test show an increase of 0.2ppm? Is that piece of wood shifting. Is that curling leaf on that new Buce a sign that it's gonna melt?

All sorts of issues...stuff which we may never have considered before; yet stuff that's become an essential and important part of our daily aquarium practice. And yes, in generations past, when hobbyists were keeping fishes in glass vessels without pumps, heaters, and filters, they had other things to worry about with their fishes. 

It's part of aquarium culture, I think. And a sort of statement on just where we are in the history of the hobby. The things we are concerned with now are just a product of the times.

Let's face it, we are all sort of paranoid- and I mean that in the nicest way possible. We're damn concerned about the well-being of our fishes, the safe operation of our aquariums, and the overall health of the system. And we should be. We have so much more information to draw upon and analyze than ever before.

That's a good thing, unless we take it too far.

I do also know some hobbyists who, at the first sign of "something not looking right" will launch into a frenzy of water quality checks, corrective filter-media changes, vitamin-dosing, large water exchanges, etc. Now, again, it's great to have a keen eye. It's also great to have a set of "emergency practices" to fall back on if needed.

However, I guess the biggest question is: Are they needed? Perhaps even more stressful to our fishes- and ourselves?

That's where the "baseline knowledge" of our aquariums, honed by keen observation, experience, and the intimate knowledge gleaned by understanding exactly where we want things to be are so important.

For some of us, any little "anomaly" which deviates slightly from what we know and are comfortable with makes us at the very least, cautious and alert...Perhaps, uncomfortable, and at the worst- panicked.

That's too far, IMHO.

Don't panic. Don't be uncomfortable. 

Just be concerned.

Check it out. See what's really going on. Correct only if needed, and get on with your day. No frenzied preventative correction which might actually initiate more problems and stress on your fishes than they're supposed to solve. Maybe you'll catch a problem. More likely, you'll have just suddenly realized that the weird humming sound coming from your canister filter is simply the normal sound it makes during operation. 

And that strange quivering that your new Barb is doing is a challenge to a rival male. Or that the filter pads are getting clogged more quickly than before because you recently added a bunch of different leaves to your tank.



Don't make this hobby more difficult than it is by thinking that you're "connecting the dots" -when you might just be inventing problems that aren't there. 

Because every sneeze doesn't mean you're sick.

It might. But likely not. 

Todays ultra simple, yet hopefully useful thought.

Stay alert. Stay cautious. Stay observant. Stay informed. Stay Active. Stay calm.

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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