Epiphanies, "edits on the fly", and wholesale changes..The value of unexpected detours.

Maybe it's me, but I think that playing with botanical-style aquariums has made me a better overall hobbyist. Not just because I'm learning how natural materials like leaves and seed pods and such interact with the aquatic environment, but considering the long-term implications of everything I add to my tanks.

Now, I encourage consideration of all of the changes we make to our aquariums...but I also advocate a bit of "chilling..." 

Yeah, I sometimes think that we, as hobbyists, tend to overthink stuff. We worry about getting off course, or not sticking to our goal.

Yet, we do that one more rotation of the rock or piece of driftwood, add that one more pinch of food, change that light setting just a bit more, etc., etc., etc. Sometimes, it creates the look you're after. Others, just frustration and more "edits..."

I can't hope but wonder how well things would do if we trust our initial instincts and simply stop after "the first round." You know, not going on and on an on and making more and more changes, to the point where they take us very far afield from the original goal we had.


Then again, what's wrong with epiphanies, edits on the fly, and wholesale changes to our best-laid plans? 

I know that I've done this before.

"Iterating" stuff to the point of obliterating my original concept. Changing things to such a great extent as to be completely different from what I originally intended to do. I remember in my early reef keeping days, this would happen a lot. Move that one rock or switch out that one coral colony for the purpose of "creating flow" or "making room for growth", or whatever, only to realize that a seemingly well-intentioned, simple change did not stand alone. Rather, it required me to move two other rocks; re-position one other coral colony...all of which resulted in completely different look and feel than I originally envisioned.


I think such "detours" are often beautiful- often leading to new ideas, new discoveries, new aesthetics, and inspiration for others. Things happening in unexpected ways are what can propel the hobby forward.

Everything doesn't have to follow a plan.

A detour can be amazing.

However, if your looking for a specific result and go too far in a different direction, it's often a recipe for frustration for those of us not prepared of it. Sure, many of us can simply "go with the flow" and accept the changes we made as part of the process, but the aquarist with a very pure vision and course will work through such self-created deviations until he or she gets to the destination. Many find this completely frustrating. Others find this a compelling part of the creative process.

Open your mind.

All of it is part of the journey.

Detours and "edits" or whatever you want to label them helps us perfect our craft, hone our skills, challenge our minds...and, if we're really lucky-they help create outcomes we never even imagined.

And the process usually starts with one rock. One piece of wood...One thought.

That's the beauty of detours.

Simple thought. 

Stay open-minded. Stay curious. Stay diligent. Stay prepared.

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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