If you're like me, you love talking to and reading about other hobbyists, and seeing how they do stuff. I love to sort of "peek in" on other "worlds" in which I may not operate. I not only gain some knowledge, but I pick up ideas that could be applied to whatever I happen to be working on at the time...
For example, I love reading forums on livebearers, in particular, the wild ones. I Love the work these people are doing; how they're managing some endangered populations of fishes, and seeing how they use their insanely good fish keeping skill to maintain and breed some of the more unusual varieties. Man, if I could just find one fro ma blackwater habitat....I can spend hours on the American Livebearer Association forums, just seeing how they roll. I love the technique, care levels, and ideas they share.
And I haven't kept a livebearer in years.
But I'd like to.
And what about the African Cichlid keepers? I love perusing websites and forums that cater to this section of the hobby. The cool thing to me is that there are so many different subspecialties within the African Cichlid world, that there is something for everyone. Like, the Lake Tanganyika people alone have shell-dweller specialists, and others who work with fishes from the sandy or muddy bottom environments (one of those obscure, yet irresistible niches that I can't help but be fascinated by!), and all sorts of pelagic and even benthic varieties to work with.
Yeah, if I were doing African Cichlids, I'd be a "Lake Tang" guy for sure.
And of course, one can't leave the cichlid world without taking a glance at the Biotodoma cupido...one of my fave "Eartheaters"- another fish I'd love to invite into my home for a while. I don't know why the idea of a sandy-bottomed aquarium with some wood, rocks, and a few hefty botanicals appeals to me so much...I suppose something about sand from my reef keeping background or something, right? I have kept these fish before in an aquarium that really wasn't set up just for them, yet I have this fantasy of a nicely-filtered setup with reasonably clear water and a mixed bed of sand for them to do their "benthophagous- lifestyle" thing...
Wow. So many varied ideas...so many different types of fishes and habitats for just cichlids...one could easily spend a lifetime playing with all of the different ones out there, huh? They could easily take me out of my blackwater realm into entirely different directions... And seeing what others have done to accommodate the diversity of this family really inspired me...For some reason, Mike Tuccinardi's Rio Xingu biotope aquarium does this to me! There is something extremely compelling about this tank that has grabbed me like few others that I've seen lately!
I love the idea of taking inspiration from- but maybe not being completely "biotopically obsessive"-about different types of habitats or niches, incorporating different types of fishes. It's just another avenue for my fishy obsessions...
So, that's why I have this fantasy about keeping some of the more obscure gouramis and wild Bettas...I mean, you've got small, interestingly-colored blackwater-loving fishes that are remarkably unique and as fascinating as the environments from which they come.
I could just imagine a small, interestingly- appointed blackwater tank, replete with lots of leaves and roots and palm fronds, and all kinds of stuff- with a little community of some diminutive gouramis or other anabantoid fishes...Just managing a tank like this would be fun in and of itself..but working with almost any of the cool fishes that inhabit this type of habitat could become a whole different obsession....
Speaking of obsessions, I've sort of had this off-again/on-again fascination throughout my lifetime with killifishes. The colors, size, lifestyle, and spawning habits of these fishes are obsession-inducing in and of themselves.
There is something altogether fascinating about keeping fishes that are from such obscure, yet highly specific locales as to have names like "Aphyosemion Calliurum Funge ADL 2013/39!" Yeah, and there is something only the initiated can grasp about packing up some peat fibers filled with annual killifish eggs- little time travelers- and packaging them up for hatching 9-12 months later. It's a very "romantic" process, when you think about it. Think of how much your life- or the world, for that matter- can change in 9-10 months while you incubate these eggs in a plastic sandwich bag, or the fact that some of these eggs are "programmed" not to hatch during that time span; only to remain in incubation for...years, potentially...wow!
When you think about all of the different fishes that we as aquarists keep, admire, and breed, it's truly remarkable. There are "experts" and "specialists" for virtually everything we keep. It's as much a tribute to the "spell" that fishes hold over us as it is the skill of those who play with them. I suppose that's why it's always a good thing that many beginners start with the venerable "community tank", and ultimately find out their obsessions and start specializing in them...Kind of like the "General Education" classes you have to take in your first year of college- you often need to try a variety of fishes and aquarium types before ultimately arriving at the one- or 100- types of fishes that grab your fancy!
There is almost no reason to be bored or "burned out" on this hobby. I've spent a lifetime playing with fishes, personally and professionally, and I have yet to be "done" with them in any way. Oh, sure, the interests flip-flop or evolve over time, with different fishes occupying my "I'm obsessed" list- but it's always SOME fish- SOME new tank idea...something that piques the interest, compels me. And I know it's the same with most of you.
This hobby, this interest...this obsession- with fishes and the habitats from which they come, is not just something you can set up a tank for and be satisified, IMHO. I think the true fish geek is simply never "done" with this stuff. Sure, tastes may change, levels of commitment may wax and wane- but we always come back and try something else. It's the reason 50-100 tank fish rooms exist...
Because we just can't let it go...we can stop "iterating" ideas, or trying new stuff. Even the most hardcore, focused "guppy gal" or "cichlid guy" has a tank full of...Rainbowfishes, or whatever- lurking somewhere in their vast fish room collection.
Yeah, it's an obsession, isn't it? With thousands of species possibilities, and hundreds of sub-specialities within the various families of fishes, there is literally a fish for everyone- at every skill level- with almost any interest.
Guess it's time for another tank...or should I say, "tanks?"
Stay obsessed. Stay engaged. Stay fascinated.
And Stay Wet.