Meeting your aquarium where you are...

During a recent pod cast interview, I was asked a question which...well, kind of blew me away. In essence, it was, "Do you set up a tank around a fish, or do you create a tank and then select fish for it?"

Which comes first? The chicken or the egg?

And this is a really interesting concept, right?

I mean, when I conceive an aquarium, I think I personally tend to develop an aquarium based on the habitat or niche that I want to replicate, as opposed to developing a tank around a specific fish.

I guess I have the mindset that you create the environment that interests you, and the fishes which live in this environment dictate their addition. 

And this makes a ton of sense to me. You create a habitat based upon accumulations of leaves, seed pods, branches, etc. So the logical question is, "What type of fish or fishes live in this habitat?"

Examining the environment itslf; what's there...WHY it is there, and how it evolves, and continues to evolve, seasonally, annually, or whatever, is really interesting stuff.

And the answers will become quite obvious with research and exploration. To me, this is a sort of "expeditionary" approach; almost an adventure! Like, "Let's go to_________, check it out, and see what lives there!" I think that this approach leads to the creation of aquariums which replicate nature on a level that is quite different from a tank simply based on say, Flowerhorn cichlids, Tiger Barbs, or whatever.  

Or, is it?

I see how you can argue this form both angles, of course. I guess it's about placing emphasis on either the habitat or the fish? Does it even matter?

I think it's about placing emphasis on one or the other, but you might disagree.

My orientation has always been about the "wholistic" aquarium, and how to set the scene and "evolve" it over time. The reality is that, water chemistry parameters notwithstanding, most fishes can adapt to a variety of physical habitats.

Like, Discus, which are found in habitats replete with vertical roots, riparian plants, branches, etc., can adapt just fine to an environment in an aquarium consisting just of stones, for example. Will they behave differently? I think it's likely, but that's the basis for an interesting study, huh?

What do you think? Where do you see this lining up during the process of creating an aquarium? Does it even matter?

Not earth-shattering, but a great, if not thought-provoking fish geek discussion topic, I think!

Let's hear your thoughts!

Stay thoughtful. Stay curious. Stay bold. Stay resourceful. Stay excited...

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 



Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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