With the American Thanksgiving holiday upon us, it’s only fitting that we at Tannin Aquatics pause and reflect upon the blessings and advantages that we enjoy. This is not just applicable to life in general, but to our hobby experience in general. Of course, we are all grateful for the freedom that we enjoy, as well as for the sacrifices of our military men and women who secure those freedoms. Like it or not, we take for granted the liberties bestowed upon us by our democracies, and the opportunity to control our own destinies. And of course, we are all thankful for the loved ones we have in our lives.
Okay, with the more "generic" stuff taken care of, it’s time to lie thankful from a fish keeper’s perspective! Here are my top 6 things I’m thankful for as an aquarist this year:
Livestock availability and selection: Can you believe the sheer number of choices that we have available to us now? I mean, when you have literally hundreds and hundreds of varieties of cool fishes-both wild and captive bred, it’s an amazing time to be in the hobby! If you look back less than 10 years ago, our selections were so much more limited, really! And in the reef side of the hobby-the amount of propagated corals was seriously small. Captive-bred Anemonefish were a novelty at best; today they are pretty much the industry/hobby standard. Amazing. Stuff changes.
Forums and Social Media: The fact that I can wake up each day and share my thoughts and opinions about fishkeeping with each one of you is awesome! The aquarium hobby has become, thanks to the pervasiveness of social media, a more “open source” endeavor, with anyone being able to share his or her experiences with fellow hobbyists around the world instantly. Feedback is available 24/7, in real time. Hobby breakthroughs, disasters, and trends are instantly disseminated for the benefit of everyone. When a hobbyist has a breakthrough and announces her first successful spawning of the Rio Nanay Angel, for example- we’ll all know about it within hours! And we can live-stream it! And we can all benefit from her experience, too! So what if we have weird usernames on the forums- at least we’re communicating!
“Old School” fishes are still available and enjoyed: In fact, many of the fishes that were popular 50 or more years ago are not just available, but highly sought after by hobbyists, who actively purchase and trade them. Although our hobby changes literally by the hour, we haven’t forgotten the fishes that we enjoyed in years past!
Lighting is better than ever: Thanks to the literal explosion in LED technology, super high-quality, ultra-effcient lighting is available to every reefer at pretty much every price point. Tis year alone, there have been amazing breakthroughs that will change the way we light aquariums forever! With highly specialized optics, custom spectrum colors, and dozens upon dozens of control options, it’s possible for even the most non-tech-savvy aquarist to create lighting that can faithfully replicate say, the seasonal lighting conditions on the Orinoco. When coupled with other aspects of aquarium husbandry that have improved, who knows what breakthroughs will be occurring over the next few years in fish propagation?
Hobbyists are looking at aquariums as an aesthetic compliment to their living space: Sure, you’ll still find plenty of jury-rigged “project” aquariums around the world, but, more than ever, your far more likely to find a beautiful tank with awesome aquascaping and the the equipment tucked neatly into a cabinet, garage, basement, or dedicated “fish room”, where it won’t damage the aesthetics of the display. Some of the top “builds” in the hobby are ones that embrace a design ethic that actually enhances the too in which they are located, rather than detracts from the overall design. What do we owe this to? Well, a variety of factors: First, manufacturers seem to get it- we like stuff that makes our homes look good! Second, smart aquarists realize that if it looks good, their formerly disapproving spouse might actually enjoy the aquarium. Finally, I think we’re just “maturing” as hobbyists culturally realizing that the impact of an aquarium is far greater if the whole system is appealing to everyone. Sure, it’s cool to see cool gear, like pumps, skimmers, controllers and reactors - but not in your living room!
Aquarium keeping knows no racial, social, or gender barriers: Regardless of race, creed, age, color, gender, physical limitation, or sexual orientation, aquarium keeping is not discriminatory. What counts to a fish geek is the aquarium, the animals, and the skills of the hobbyist who created it. This is one of the most amazing phenomenon I have noticed in my many hobby speaking trips around the nation: A tank is a tank to an aquarist- and we are united by our common love for the hobby, the animals, and the lifestyle it encompasses. An aquarist is an aquarist, regardless of what religion he or she practices, who her or she sleeps with, or what color his or her skin is. And THAT is the single greatest thing in our hobby that I am thankful for in aquarium-keeping. We are all part of one fantastic, highly-integrated community which treasures and enjoys the same thing.
And thanks to each and every one of you for being a friend, contributor to the practice of botanical-style blackwater aquariums, and to raising awareness of the wild niche habitats we love so much, and...and of course, to those of you who have supported us throughout our first 2.5 years of existence. We could not have done it without you. We're so grateful get to do what we love each and every day...We'll never take it for granted. And we promise to do more and more each year to help you enjoy this amazing hobby!
May the blessings of the Holiday Season bring joy, peace, and freedom from want to you and your family this year, and may those of you who are facing health or other personal challenges take comfort in your hobby and the community that surrounds it. Be thankful for what we have accomplished, for the sacrifices that others have made so that we can enjoy our endeavors, and never lose sight of the fact that we are all sharing the same planet. Share and learn from each other about fishkeeping - and life. Embrace our differences and savor how they help create stronger and more satisfying bonds between each other. Most important, let’s never forget that the people who comprise our community are the number one reason why we enjoy the greatest hobby on earth!
What are you thankful for this Holiday Season? Share your thoughts with your fellow fish geeks!
So, don’t eat too much, take your time getting around this weekend, spend time with your family, and of course…drop a few bucks at your local fish store or favorite online vendor…like Tannin Aquatics, for example. (Of course…I had to get the shameless plug in there somewhere!)
Stay excited. Stay dedicated. Stay enthusiastic. Stay engaged. Stay happy! Stay healthy..
And Stay Wet!