A "Disruption Manifesto."

I think the hobby is ripe for a bit of...disruption.

No, not the, "in-your-face, this is the new best way to do this, and your a loser if you don't..." kind of disruption. Nope. Rather, a re-thinking of stuff that we've done for so many years. A little collective soul-searching on our part. The kind of questioning of the naysayers and forum "experts" who tell you that you can't do something, or that it will crash your tank, etc.

A "disruption" to the kind of complacency and status quo that has resulted in the  "rules" that dictate how an aquarium "should" look, and hundreds of aquascaping contest entries looking virtually indistinguishable from each other as they try to replicate last year's winner, or some prevailing trend. It need not be a rebellion, yet I think that we need the kind of "disruption" that supports innovation- the kind which has, over the year, discouraged adventurous hobbyists from trying out new ideas and methods for fear of criticisms.

It's time to really make mental shifts at scale. The mental shifts which accept and understand that Nature has her ways of doing things; that real aquatic ecosystems aren't the perfectly manicured, highly polished image that we have coddled and upheld as the pinnacle of aquarium keeping for so long. 

It's time to look at Nature as our inspiration. 

It's time to play with dirt, soil, mud, silt, decomposing leaves, branches, marginal plants, roots...materials which replicate both the appearance and function of natural habitats from which many of our fishes come. And, if utilized skillfully and thoughtfully, can yield functionally aesthetic aquariums far different and unique from anything previously attempted in the aquarium hobby. 

It's time to let go of the shackles of rules and habits that keep us "boxed" in; afraid to change stuff. Things that force us to look at our hobby from only one perspective, instead of many.

It's time to merge what we've learned in the blackwater aquarium world, the botanical aquarium world, the biotope aquarium world, the vivarium world, and the planted aquarium world, to create a new emphasis and understanding of truly functional natural aquarium systems.

It's time to mix a new cocktail of bold thought, innovation, tough questions, and occasional disasters to force some progress...to learn new skills, create new hobby disciplines. To share ideas and innovations- to the benefit of all. It's time for new thinkers, tinkerers, hobby entrepreneurs to go for it.

Call it change. Call it disruption. Call it whatever term works for you...What we call it isn't as important as what we do.

It's all a form of progress. A way to move this hobby boldly into the second decade of the 21st century. 

Everyone's work in this area is important. It's important to the hobby, to our aquarium "culture", the science and art...and to the fishes themselves. Looking towards Nature as it exists, instead of how we want it to be, is a challenging, often difficult endeavor that can push us way, way out of our comfort zones, forcing us to adapt to a different way of thinking.

Forcing us to take on the challenges, questions, criticisms, and even insults of naysayers; those who think we're foolish and reckless. Perhaps we are. However, we're anything but boring. And the price of the "status quo" might even be higher in a future where the natural habitats of our fishes are disappearing at an astounding rate. 

Study them. Observe them. Replicate them in form and function, before it's too late. You can always replicate the work last year's aquascaping contest winner some other time, if you're so inclined. 

The hobby needs you. 

The unknown roads are there to take on. This process is hard. It's scary. It's uncomfortable. You'll have challenges, failures, even complete disasters. You might be dead wrong.

Or you might find a new path; uncover a new approach, a new direction...a way forward that was once thought impossible or foolhardy. You can expand minds, move the needle forward. If you're spot to the challenge.

Yeah, it's not easy. 

It's also enjoyable.

It can even be easy, when you let go, ignore the negative voices, and allow yourself to think freely in this hobby. Some of the naysayers might end up being your best allies...or at the very least, great inspirations to question, to innovate...to evolve. To change.

Let go. Move forward. Evolve. Share. Rinse and repeat.

It's time.

And yeah, it's kind of disruptive.

Stay unbound. Stay progressive. Stay bold. Stay innovative. Stay brave.

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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