Getting down to it. Keeping it "simple." Or not.

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."- Albert Einstein

Yeah, some of the stuff we play with is not so easy for me to explain...So  I think that 'ol Albert was right- Perhaps I don't understand it well enough.

I have a lot of questions about all sorts of aquarium stuff.

Like, more questions than answers, it seems.

And I wonder if I make things more complicated than they need to be? Or, if they are simple enough? Do we as a hobby do this?

I think we do.

Personally, I have chosen to employ simplicity over complication in the hobby. I have always felt that we've become a bit too "gadget-heavy" in some areas of the hobby, and that these so-called "improvements" often do little to make things more "simple" for us...I mean, you have to learn HOW these things that are supposed to "simplify" your life work in order to simplify it, right?

Yeah, everything has a sort of "cost", right?


You can't always assume that everything that is supposed to be easy really is.

Now, I certainly don't think that super-sophisticated ideas and equipment and such are "wrong." I just tend to question some of this stuff because I just don't understand them and how they are supposed to make the hobby more fun. Programming a controller to feed my fishes or test my water for me kind of defeats the purpose of being a hobbyist, IMHO.

It's like that with a lot of gadgets and practices that have become the norm in some hobby circles. I just don't understand the benefits they bring relative to the technique being used or the piece of equipment or product being employed.

Yeah, call me simplistic.And inconsistent....

I'm okay with that. I own it. 

I am not- SHOUDL NOT- bash these things or the people who love them. But I just have to be honest with myself. I'm a pretty simple hobbyist.

I have been for years. I like keeping stuff simple. I'm not one of those "DIY" kinds of hobbyists who builds stuff rather than buys it. Nope, I just do some of the stuff that things you can buy to do it for you allegedly can do!

I've been at it like this forever, with all types of aquarium stuff. 

However, the hobby marches on regardless of simplistic old-school guys like me. I see this in the reef-keeping world all the time. Technology to do everything...

I mean, as a reef aquarist, you're exposed to all manner of arcane ideas, products, and tactics  to supposedly help make your life as a hobbyist easier and your tank more successful. And apparently, the hobby is filled with ALL sorts of stuff that can supposedly make your tank successful if you use it.


I mean, there are so many variations of "everyday" reef hardware, like protein skimmers, reactors, electronic controllers, LED lighting systems, etc.- each supposedly offering advantages, gains, and improvements over the other. Some leave me scratching my head, like "macro algae reactors", because they add a layer of expense and technology to do something that can be achieved with a much more low tech solution (like growing macro algae in a lighted section of your sump-something 90% of reefers have), while not incurring the expense and additional complication of another (expensive) piece of equipment. 

Maybe it's just more fun to purchase or employ a gadget to do that?

In the hobby, I totally get that technology is awesome. It can help us. But I think a lot of the technology is designed to make the so-called "mundane" aspects of our hobby easier, to give us more time do what? Is the extra 20 minutes a week you'll gain by using some product that allegedly lets you avoid water exchanges- or does them for you- going to be used towards staring at your tank? What exactly will you save? And, I submit that some of the "mundane" stuff, like interacting with your tank, testing the water, etc.- IS the hobby. It IS fun- because you're making and managing a little aquatic world, right?

Now, I get it- if you have 50 tanks in your fish room, are a breeder, travel a lot, etc., saving 20 minutes per tank is life changing. I can't argue with that at all. As a former coral farmer, I can tell you that if my crew spent their whole day working on all of the little things that need to be done to tend to 14,000 gallons of saltwater manually, we'd have been out of business in no time.

However, for guys like me- and perhaps, you- the average hobbyist with an "average-sized" aquarium or two, is it that significant? Are things like feeding your fishes, conducting water tests, scraping algae, feeding your fishes, or conducting water exchanges that distracting from your enjoyment of the hobby that you need to spend tons of money to avoid doing them?

I have always felt that if your life is so busy that you can't perform some of the basic tasks associated with maintaining an aquarium that you should consider some other hobby. The involvement- I mean, to me, that IS the hobby.

I like to think I like simple stuff...but the reality is I'm pretty hypocritical. 

I mean, love the botanical-style approach because we are learning that we can use natural materials to have multiple types of effects and results on our aquariums. Simple, right? Well, not really, because we really don't understand every aspect of what botanicals do to our aquarium water. 

I talks about this sort of stuff as if it is a way of simplifying things in aquarium management, when the reality is, it opens up an entirely new set of parameters and things to monitor, doesn't it? It is an "unlock" in the sense that it provides us with a different way of doing things, but it requires understanding, acceptance of new ideas, etc.

Probably not really that "simple."


Well, I tried. I guess it's part of being a hobbyist, right? Enjoy the hobby the way YOU want to...even if guys like me think it's too complicated. :)

Stay simple- or not. Stay bold. Stay open-minded. Stay creative. Stay diligent...

And Stay Wet.

THAT was simple, right?


Enjoy your Sunday!


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 




Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


Leave a comment