Fixing stuff..when you're not sure what is wrong.

To my friend Linda...this blog is inspired by you!
What's wrong?

It's kind of hard when you can't really tell, isn't it? Many of us have had that weird experience of glancing at our aquarium one morning, giving it a good, long stare, and concluding that "Something is just not right..." 
That's a pretty unnerving feeling- especially if you're a veteran hobbyist, isn't it? I mean, after a few years in the fish game, you'll often find that your "feelings" about stuff like this are usually not without merit.
Something probably IS wrong in the tank.
Did it catch you off guard? Did you see it coming? What to do?

Yeah, I'm in one of those "heal people" modes today...Had a friend call about a disaster in her aquarium the other day that, well, she sort of saw coming...but didn't really follow her instincts...

We've all been to that place before, right?

I mean, there is something wrong- you know that. Something doesn't look right, smell right, sound right...feel right. You can't put a finger on it. All signs point to a brewing problem.  An instinctive feel...There were- perhaps, a few things-that, when looked at individually, appeared to be unrelated; uncorrelated. 

But you took one glance at the system and you knew- knew that something was wrong. And the weird thing is, it could have been a long time coming, not some sudden, catastrophic event. Perhaps that little incident on Tuesday. You know, the one where you forgot to do that thing that you usually do?

Or maybe, just maybe, it was that you failed to notice that trending decline in an important parameter. Maybe you've gotten, I don't know- complacent, perhaps? Casual? Or just too busy to notice? Maybe you just focused on the wrong things...Stuff that you needed to focus on fell by the wayside in order to monitor more obvious, easier-to-manage stuff. We've touched on this before. Maybe you even knew there was the potential for problems but decided not to deal with it at the time. Human nature, perhaps? something is now wrong, and you can't just talk to your corals and fishes to find out what it is. You have to sift through the available evidence, analyze what you've seen, and figure out how any of this stuff-either individually or collectively- could have created a problem.

You need to ask questions...of yourself. Did you change something recently that you always do? You know, something that was working perfectly? Or did you simply decide that you didn't need to do it this time, because_____________?

Or perhaps, there was something you were or weren't doing from the get-go, but you flat out got away with it....and now it's catching up. Something is failing. Perhaps it's been eating at you inside for a long time; perhaps it's something you knew you needed to address, but, for whatever reason, you kept burying it, pushing it towards the back of the mental "aquarium to do" list. 

Guess what?

It's okay. It's all okay. It's okay because you know now, and admit that something is wrong. You can't really run from it or deny it. You have two simple choices: 

1) Fix it.

2) Let it go.

I'll wager that, if you're like most hobbyists, you'll opt for #1. However, if you opt for #2, that's okay too, in a way...Because at least you addressed the problem and decided not to do anything about it. At least you admitted, acknowledged there was a problem, and for whatever reason, chose not to act on it right now.

If you chose number 1, your mission, although perhaps aggravating, is pretty straightforward: Find out what's wrong and make it better.. By deciding to fix the problem, you're being courageous, facing the concerns, fears, issues without ducking from them. That's a huge positive in my book. 

It hurts to admit that we've done something wrong sometimes. It's hard when you were warned about the consequences by others, or knew about them yourself, and chose to ignore them. It sucks. But guess what? When you attack a problem head on to fix it, once and for all- it's not a problem anymore. You just need to set your fears, worries, and yeah- ego- aside for a bit, and, as the old Nike slogan goes, "Just DO it."
Follow those instincts that tell you something isn't right. Solve the problem.

It works great in life- and by extension, it works amazingly in aquarium practice.

In my mind, many of the toughest obstacles we face in aquarium keeping are the ones in our own heads. With those obstacles removed, we're unstoppable.


Stay bold. Stay honest with yourself. Your reef will thank you for it.

And stay wet.

Scott Fellman

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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