Time for more "aquarium yoga."
"Lokah samastha sukhino bhavanthu." ("May this world be established with a sense of
well-being and happiness.")
Vendors, authors, and fish in general will tell you that you have the power within you to truly enjoy the hobby, and it doesn’t just take a ton of money. If you’re not 100% content with your hobby, remind yourself that it’s not all about going out and buying the latest gadget, obtaining the most unusual fish, or tearing your tanks apart. It’s about having confidence is your aquarium keeping skills, managing your tanks with a sense of purpose, and sharing.
I think there are truly attitudes, actions and mental practices in aquarium keeping that can make you not only a better hobbyist- but can help you enjoy the hobby more and inspire others in the process. I've jotted down a few of my theories that you may or may not agree with...the result of practicing and observing the aquarium hobby for decades. They might be a bit off to some of you, but I present them anyways for your consideration:
Don’t pin the success of your tank on the “approval” of your fellow fish geeks. Enjoy what you enjoy- because YOU enjoy our society, we apparently place great stock in believing that a large part of our happiness comes from the outside- something that happens to us. In the aquarium world, you see a lot of people putting out these “build threads” about their tanks on forums worldwide, typically done in the spirit of sharing and growing in the hobby- terrific! However, if you read carefully, I submit that a fair number of these “build threads” are almost solicitations for “approval” from the aquarium keeping community. You can almost tell by the way the hobbyist who's posting goes out of his/her way to impress or even appease fellow hobbyists by showing off the tremendously expensive gear he/she is accumulating, the trendiest fishes to be kept in the tank, or the over-the-top modifications being made to the room the aquarium is housed in. It’s one thing to be “aspirational.” It’s quite another to be seeking the tacit acceptance for those we interact with. Life is too short to live for others- and that applies to aquarium keeping as well!
You don't really need this to enjoy the hobby. Seriously.
Take a few minutes every day to simply chill out in front of your tanks. I mean, we spend enormous amounts of time, money, and energy working on our reefs, taking pictures of them, tweaking systems, etc., which are indeed part of the fun of the hobby. However, they are “part” of the fun! How about just spending some quality time every day just chilling out in front of your display aquarium, actually enjoying it- not thinking of the next gadget you’re gonna add, or the dose of additive you need to throw in later. You might just love the hobby that much more! I can’t tell you how many hobbyists I visit worldwide who spend so much time concentrating on actually doing stuff with their tanks that they seem to never spend time simply enjoying them. I know it seems ridiculous, but ask yourself when the last time was that you simply stared into your tank without the intent of modifying, cleaning, or tweaking something? You might surprise yourself!
Look for the good stuff in your tank. As aquarists, we seem to be a very self-critiquing lot, don’t we? We’re always finding something in our tank that we think needs tweaking, fixing, or outright replacement. We never are satisfied, huh?
I submit that, rather than constantly evaluating the things that we need to “fix” in our aquariums, we should spend some time appreciating and complimenting ourselves (internally, at least) about the cool things that are going on in our aquariums. Sure, your “Buce garden” may not be full and lush as you envision it will be yet, but why not give yourself a pat on the back and realize that you’ve gotten a great start on creating this beautiful thing? You may be critical of the less-than-perfect-appearing plumbing job you did on your sump, but take pleasure in knowing that not only does it work, but it was your own scheme- and that, most important- it doesn’t leak! Little affirmations about the thing you put so much time and love into are never bad. And maybe you DID pull of something awesome!
"Totally pulled that one off!" pat yourself on the back. I will....Tai Streitman is like my blackwater hero, modest though he is...
Treat your self once in a while- just because. Okay, there are definitely those of you out there who will say that I included this one because I’m an aquatic hobby vendor. The reality is that I’m including this section because I’m a hobbyist! You work hard, and you probably work hard on your tanks. So, if getting that new gadget or acquiring that new Apisto gives you some pleasure, why NOT indulge yourself from time to time? Part of the fun of being in the hobby is that you can call the shots, and if you feel like you need a “treat” from time to time, you should go for it. Pay close attention to your desire- and your budget- and toss yourself a little reward once in a while- just because. Part of what makes the hobby so fun is that it’s OURS- and we are perfectly capable of knowing when we need to give ourselves a little boost now and then, right?
Go ahead. Indulge yourself. (Shamelessly commercial, Fellman. How DO you sleep at night?)
Share your tank with other fish geeks. Huh? Why keep it to yourself? Invite some of your aquarium-keeping buddies over to just hang out in front of your tank one afternoon. Do you need some help figuring out how to install that new gadget? Ask an aquarium buddy over! Or, just give away some fry of your "L Series" Pleco- just because. The hobby, and your tanks- are wonderful social “props”, and the common interest that you share with fellow hobbyists when you check out someone’s tank is very satisfying. Many strong friendships (and at least a few clubs) have formed over a few fish geeks getting together at someone’s house to check out the new tank, or help install the new lighting system. Don’t have any aquarium-keeping friends? Not a problem! Create some by posting in this, or other forums, and flat out ask for help, or invite local hobbyists over to check your tank out. You’d be shocked how many fish geeks will drive for miles and miles just to check out that 300 gallon Mbuna tank that you've been working on, once they’re invited!
Sharing fish. Never a bad way to make friends!
Play to your strengths. Huh? Think about the stuff that you do well as an aquarium keeper, and what sorts of fish keeping activities bring you the most enjoyment. Cleaning your tank? Aquascaping? Programming your controller? Just what is it that puts you in your “happy place” while working on your tanks Indulge in those things more often…Or better yet, offer your skill set and services to fellow hobbyists, either by interacting on forums, or by visiting fellow aquarists who need your help. Take it even farther by giving a lecture at the local club about the topic or topic(s) you know best..Not only will you help others enjoy the hobby- you’ll enjoy the hobby even more yourself as you share and interact with fellow aquarists…A great sense of satisfaction arises when you help others with something that they love, too.
Okay, I’m off of my whole yoga-esque thing now…
Probably was just a passing phase today…I'm sure I'll be ornery later. Well, it IS the weekend. And, it did feel good to get this out…I’ll be back next time with a more practical, nuts-and-bolts topic that will probably tick you off in some way…that’s what you’ve come to expect, right?
Until next time,
Share, enjoy, be grateful for what we have in the hobby, and practice great aquarium keeping…
And stay wet.