Getting it.

Only a fish geek really “gets it.”

There is this unofficial characteristic that you find in almost every hardcore fish geek: A helpfulness, an undefinable generosity, compassion, enthusiasm- call it what you want- but it’s a palpable, measurable characteristic that separates hardcore hobbyists from the hapless dabblers in the aquatic hobby.

JT Martin is no "dabbler.."

Not sure what I mean? When was the last time you went to the LFS with a bunch of fish keeping buddies? It’s kind of like 8 year olds taking a road trip to Disneyland…The excitement and giddiness is unbearable! By the time you arrive, you’ve worked yourself up into such a frenzy that it won’t be a let down at all if the only fish you see are Neon Tetras…

"I know they have that Apisto I want! And I can't wait to see that Bucephalandra selection! Are we THERE yet?"

One of my favorite things about owning Tannin is the total excitement our customers show when they receive their packages! We put a lot of care into making them like a gift you'd want to open at Christmas, so it's fun to see those "box opening" videos and pics; to feel the excitement! We get as big a thrill out of assembling your orders as we hope you do receiving them!

When I co-owned our facility at Unique Corals, I never got over the childlike wonder that hardcore reefers would display when, after a long road trip from somewhere else, McDonalds coffee still in hand, they'd arrive at our facility and literally giggle with excitement as they start exploring the raceways. 

Seeing that thrill in others never gets old…And that “thrill” that we get as hardcore hobbyists is a defining characteristic of our essence, as alluded to previously. The things that excite us are way different than the things that excite the casual "fish keeper"…I mean, you know you’re hardcore when your buddies can’t wait to show others YOUR cool tank, etc.- as if they somehow own it, too.

And, in essence, we all do. Not in the communist, “everyone owns everything” kind of way- rather, the fact that every aquarist seems to take a bit of pride in things that his/her fellow fish geek accomplishes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve arrived in a new town for a speaking gig, and the people who pick me up at the airport can’t wait to show me “Jim’s” tank, because "he has the coolest __________ you've ever seen!"

I love that. I mean, they’re excited to show you SOMEONE ELSE’S tank? Awesome.

And what about generosity?

Hardcore aquarists are typically overflowing with it. They love this stuff so much they’d literally give you their fry or plant cuttings just because they are stoked on them. I saw a sterling example at a conference not long ago when a hobbyist/vendor was so stoked that some guy loved one of his killies, that he literally said “I want you to have it..” An the hobbyists response was like, “Well, dude, come to my fish room and grab something..” And the vendor's response was, “Maybe.”

I mean, he was all about just sharing something that he loved with another hobbyist who also fell for the fish’s charms...And getting something in return wasn’t even on his mind. This guy was so stoked that I literally was getting goosebumps just seeing this. An absolutely perfect example of what I mean when I say that hardcore hobbyists are the coolest group of people you’ll ever meet. 

Hardcore fish geeks have this "air" about them…they just want to try new stuff, share ideas, offer their opinions, and most important- support. When you have a problem and go on a forum and post the story of your trouble- you almost always get immediate, overwhelming response…Because hardcore fish geeks have been there…or if they haven’t- they know that they will one day. And, they will typically give generously of their time and effort simply for love of the hobby. “Payment” is usually in the form of fry or plant cuttings- at some far off date in the future. It’s like, “No worries, just score me some fry of that sweet Krib pair when you finally breed them” (Even though the fishes in question are like juveniles themselves and a year away from spawning)..and the cool thing: The hobbyists who “owes” the fry will not forget…One day, he’ll come to the local meeting with a nice group of fry and tell the recipient, “I owe you from last year, when you helped dial in my Ehiem that night..”

Hardcore hobbyists have a long memory about stuff like that.

"Just let me know when you spawn 'em, bro.."

And don’t ever tell a hardcore fish geek that you’re just getting started in the hobby during a visit to your tank, or you’ll be up until 2:30 AM acclimating all of the fish and planting all of the cuttings he/she is going to give you to your rock. It’s almost predictable how generous hardcore fish geeks are…to a fault, almost! 

And the cool thing- it’s like that in every aquarium-keeping community in the WORLD that I’ve visited…It’s like a universal culture. There are certain constants:

*Every hardcore fish geek says he/she hates Water Sprite, calls it “weed”, but secretly is looking for some ‘cause they can’t get it to grow.

*Every hardcore fish geek has at least three disaster stories to share (ya know, floods, broken hardware..or worse).

*Every hardcore fish geek has like a hundred baby Mollies they want to get rid of, and will gladly drive 2 hours to do it!

*Every hardcore  fish geek has a pair of Apistos in one of their show tanks that breed regularly, but they never get around to harvesting the fryto rear.

*Every hardcore fish geek has an “algae battle” story or three to tell!

*Every hardcore fish has that ONE fish that he or she has been trying to track down for years...

Ah, hardcore fish geeks. I love ‘em. 

"I have some Mollies, if anyone wants some.."

You people- all of you- make my days- every day. We are a global, interconnected, interactive, fun-loving, fascinating, highly dysfunctional family of people who love this crazy hobby. Most important…

We are all friends.

And that makes getting up each day that much more enjoyable.

Until next time.

Stay generous. Stay enthusiastic. Stay compassionate. Stay excited!

And Stay Wet.

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics


Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


2 Responses

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman

April 01, 2017

You get an “Amen!” Blaise! Our hobby rocks!



March 31, 2017

Preach it, brother Scott! It’s that attitude of sharing that makes this hobby unique among all my hobbies.

Leave a comment