There are few things in the hobby, or in life, for that matter, that are near certainties. Too many variables, too many factors at play…
On the other hand, as a fish geek, you may not know this, but you pretty much have completely predictable behaviors that make you a prime candidate for sweeping generalizations. And, as the self-proclaimed guardian of fish-keeping "culture", I’m here to educate you today by making of few of these sweeping generalizations!
As a fish geek, it’s like in your DNA to think or act a certain way when you see stuff. You can’t reprogram yourself. It’s "hardwired" into your essence. Some examples to prove my hypothesis:
It’s impossible for you to pass up even the smallest, most obscure local fish store or pet shop that sells tropical fish, whenever you are out and about. I mean, seeing that battered sign that says “Tropical Fish” on the side of that weathered, bleak mini-mall calls to you like a siren. There is little you can do but make that quick turn, find a parking space, and causally stroll in to the shop. Sure, it may not look very promising on the outside (That poster for the "latest" under gravel filter powerhead system might give you pause), but this is the kind of place from which fishkeeping “urban legends” are spawned! Is THIS the place where you’ll find that Nanochromis transvestitus mis-marked as a “Fancy Krib?” You only know if you go, right? What are you waiting for? Flip a U-turn!
You’re drawn to the seafood department in your local grocery store, especially the section with the clams or live Maine Lobsters! You look at the clams under the unlikely guise that one of them might be a Tridacna maxima waiting to be made into sushi, and you’d unconsciously swing into action to rescue the poor animal from the chopping block. Did the refrigerator put it into some sort of "suspended animation", from which you with your aquarist skills can revive it and score an amazing clam for your reef tank?
And, you love looking at the doomed lobsters in the holding tank not because you are sadistic, but because you’re trying to figure out if that would make a cool portable aquarium system for cold water fish. Probably just needs a few tweaks and you're good to go, right? You secretly wonder what the store manger would do with the tank if they ever decide to stop selling lobster! Could you strike a deal and score a turnkey cold water aquarium system? You already know the answer, but the eternal hope keeps you coming back anyways.
The local home improvement center is your shrine, and the plumbing department holds the objects of your desire, but you can’t help but want to re-purpose just about every bucket, container, rain gutter, and shelving unit to some obscure fish-keeping purpose that you’ve been continuously mulling about in your subconscious for weeks. I know how you think. You are the one who figures out how to make a complete Bucephelandra propagation setup with a concrete mixing tray, some odd-sized PVC parts, and an LED shelf light. You can build the whole thing for only $17 dollars! You’re innovative, you’re creative...you’re...broke. Yup. You are a TRUE fish geek!
When you’re driving through a neighborhood that you’re unfamiliar with during evening hours, you’ll immediately be drawn, like a moth to a flame, to the glow of bright lighting seen through a window.
The discarded carbon bucket on the porch is another dead giveaway. Since you're not in Denver, you know that what's being illuminated belongs under water, not in a pipe...Your passengers have no idea what’s going through your mind, but you harbor this secret fantasy about hopping out, knocking on the door, and introducing yourself as a fellow fish geek: “I couldn’t help but notice the light..is that an Eco Tech Radion set at 6500k? I thought so…” Could THIS be the guy who has an entire colony of Otopharynx sp. "Lundo Island", with fry just waiting to be given to new homes? Or maybe he has a massive Eriocaulon sp. "Mato Grosso colony?" It’s possible…You..just..need..to..knock..on..the..door. But, you are late for your daughter’s friend’s birthday party, and you drive on…Yet, you can’t help but wonder.
Out to dinner at a fancy restaurant? one of life’s pleasures, if you ask me. And, if the place just happens to have an aquarium- or better yet, a planted, "aquascaped" aquarium, it’s that much better! On the other hand, you are a TRUE fish geek, and you know that what you are looking at is really a wretched assemblage of malnurished, ill-matched fishes and, heaven forbid, African Frogs, crayfish, and shrimp. Your initial inspection generally reveals your worst fears: The 1980’s are in the house, with reverse-flow under gravel filter and blue-and-green Epoxy-coated gravel substrate. You’re immediately put off by the tacky plastic plants, and even more turned off when the suave guy next to you with too much aftershave points towards a "Parrot Cichlid" with degraded fins and tells his impressed date that “This is an Angelfish! Very rare. Exotic fishes are very difficult to keep.” You bite your tongue, trying to play nice and not admonish “Biff” to keep talking about his adventures at the tennis club that afternoon instead of proffering absurd “information” to an unknowing, yet apparently easily-impressed date. You proceed to walk away because scanning the menu for a perfect Scottish Loch Duart Salmon fillet in a crispy potato crust with a triple malt Scotch on the side is so much more appealing at this point.
I’m sure that you have other observations equally as on point, which will support my theories, right? let’s hear ‘em!
I could, of course, go on and on, but I think I’ve successfully presented my hypothesis that us reefers are wired just a bit differently than the average person. We look at the world from our wet perspective! We fall into some predictable behaviors that other reefers can immediately understand, relate to, and empathize with. We are a cult, a band of brothers and sisters…a “tribe”, if you will, bound together by Seriyu Stone, L-series Plecos, and the search for the perfect Betta.
We are fish geeks. We are ONE!
Until next time…Keep searching for your hobby happy place…
And Stay Wet.