One of the cool things about our hobby is that we can switch stuff up.
For months, I've been kicking around ideas for my next new aquarium. Well, for a new concept within one of the existing aquariums I have. It gets stronger every day. And it's a normal sort of thing...At least, I tell myself that it is!
I mean, we all do this...like, constantly, right? Edit. Ideate. Iterate.
It's not a bad idea to evolve existing tanks.
Sometimes, it's a little "adjustment" to an existing system.
Incremental changes or aesthetic tweaks that get you into a different "groove."
Other times, you get the call in your mind to just "erase" and start fresh. Sometimes, it's for specific reasons: the current setup isn't working well for you or your fishes. It's tough to maintain, or difficult to keep up with.
Or maybe, just maybe- you're a bit "over" it.
You know, ready for something totally new.
Those of us who are limited in the number of aquariums that they have (or want to have, as in my case!) are often faced with a dilemma of sorts: We want to try different things, and the only way to do it... is to break apart one of the current aquariums that we have going, and to re-do it.
That kind of sucks...but in a way, this sort of compromise is part of being a hobbyist, right?
Tinkering. Tweaking. "Playing" with stuff.
You can call it something fancy, like "iterating"- but in the end, it's really about tearing up your current aquarium and re-doing it in some different way.
And that's just part of the game, right?
Not everyone can have 30, 12, or even 4 aquariums in their home, shitty though that might be! Yet, many of us have big ideas, unique plans, and strong aspirations...lots of 'em- and the only way to execute is to do these "makeovers" on a regular basis...
Or at least, when the "muse" hits!
I don't know about you, but it's always been a bit of a "guilt-inducer" for me to do that. I mean, you've got this aquarium that is (hopefully) all that you expected it would be. Looks great, functions awesomely, and has been perfectly manageable. And then, in the middle of this wonderful endeavor, you have the urge- or perhaps the inspiration- to try something totally different.
And you break out the metaphorical "eraser" and just wipe the slate clean; start fresh.
It was never easy for me to do this.
I mean, I'm the guy that would keep tanks set up for years with only minor aesthetic/fish population tweaks along the way. Patient. Stable. Consistent.
I was always kind of proud of that.
I used to think that it was kind of weird how those competitive aquascaper people who you see on Instagram and YouTube could just tear down an amazing tank and start all over after just a few months, seemingly without a care in the world.
How could they just do that?
And then, the ideas came.
As the owner of what people tell me has become a sort of niche-centric, progressive, creativity-enabling/inspiring company, I realized that I needed to show some different "looks" that I myself, or my colleagues have done- on a semi-regular basis...to sort of "keep it real" for me and to inspire our customers. Perhaps it can be seen as an excuse of sorts, but there is some legit rationale behind it!
I mean, I receive lots and lots of pics from talented hobbyists worldwide each week, showing their amazing botanical-method aquarium work- but it is also important to show my own stuff. It keeps me in touch with the "craft"; the reality of what we do. And let's face it- it's more authentic when you're a "doer"- not just a "talker."
And still, for a long time- I'd wonder just how these competition 'scapers could pull this off (at least mentally)- re-doing tanks so frequently. I mean, they have the talent...It's the mindset that eludes me.
What is it?
And then I began to understand: It's about this need to "continue."
An urge to create, expand horizons...
And when you're space-limited (or, "tank-limited") the only way forward is to break down the current tank and start working your new idea.
I've finally gotten myself to that place after decades...
It becomes more of a process...Or maybe, a progression of sorts.
And after psyching myself up...the day comes, and I dive right in.
Out go the fishes, re-housed to a different tank (if keeping different fishes is part of the plan, that is), and the "remodeling" process happens.
And, for about the first hour, I usually feel guilty that I broke apart something cool. Something really nice. Special, even. I worry about the well-being of the animals, fist and foremost...but only for a little bit, because I know that wherever I house them, it will be in optimum conditions for them...('cause that's how I roll!)
So, then the guilt gives way to a tinge of nostalgia...Remembering how nice it was to take the tank from idea on a piece of paper to full-fledged miniature ecosystem. I recall the challenges, obstacles, and triumphs...
Within two hours, I'm back to being excited again, staring at a now empty tank- you know, the proverbial "blank canvas" that we all drool over. Aquarists love this sort of stuff! We LIVE for it! At that point, it's all about the possibilities. The chance to do something really special "this time."
Can you relate to this process? This mindset? I suppose if you have 45 tanks in your basement, this manifests itself differently, but to those of us with a handful- or less- the process takes on a far more "sacred", almost ritualistic meaning.
Yet, we do it.
We plunge forward. And we realize that the best part of being an aquarium hobbyist...is being an aquarium hobbyist. Regardless of what we're doing at any given moment.
I mean, if you're satisfied with the tank you've got the way it is- mazeltov! Good for you. If you're not...or if you just feel the urge to do something different...Do it.
Don't feel guilty like I do sometimes. Feel excited. Motivated. Stoked.
Know that you're at another fork in the road on your aquatic journey. And it's totally okay to go in whatever direction you want.
And that's pretty damn cool, if you ask me.
I hope that the story of my little epiphany about this subject has struck a chord within you.
Keep moving forward...push the outside of the envelope. Run down that dream. Scratch the itch.
Stay forward-thinking. Stay creative. Stay relentless. Stay engaged...