With the American Thanksgiving holiday upon us, it’s only fitting that we 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 democracy, 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 look at the Thanksgiving holiday, from a fish keeper’s perspective. Here are my top 5 things I’m thankful for as a fish geek this year:
LIvestock availability and selection: Can you believe the sheer number of choices that we have available to us as fish geeks now? I mean, when you have dozens of varieties of one species of Apistos, for example it’s a great time to be in the hobby! Less than 25 years ago, our selections were so much more limited, and the amount of tank bred fishes was seriously small compared to today. Some captive-bred were a novelty at best; today they are pretty much the industry/hobby standard. Amazing.
Forums and Social Media: The fact that I can wake up each day and share my thoughts and opinions about aquarium-keeping with each one of you is awesome! The reef 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 the first successful spawning of some new African Cichlid, for example- we’ll all know about it within hours! So what if we have weird usernames on the forums- at least we’re communicating!
Lighting is better than ever: Thanks to the literal explosion in LED technology, super high-quality, ultra-effcient lighting is available to every hobbyist at pretty much every price point. 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 in Lake Victoria, or the rainy season in The Amazon. When coupled with other aspects of aquarium husbandry that have improved, who knows what breakthroughs will be occurring over the next few years in biotope replication?
Hobbyists are looking at specialized, amazingly aquascaped aquariums as an aesthetic compliment to their living space: Sure, you’ll still find plenty of jury-rigged “project” tanks around the nation, 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 aquairum. Finally, I think we’re just “maturing” as aquarists, realizing that the impact of a fish tank is far greater if the whole system is appealing to everyone. Sure, it’s cool to see pumps, controllers and reactors - but not in your living room!
Aquarium- keeping knows no racial or gender barriers. Regardless of race, creed, age, color, gender, physical limitation, or sexual orientation, aquarium keeping is not discriminatory. What counts to a reefer 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 a fish geek- and we are united by our common love for the hobby, the animals, and the lifestyle it encompasses. A reefer is a reefer, 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.
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 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. Most importantly, let’s never forget that the people who comprise the hobby community are the number one reason why we enjoy the greatest hobby on earth!
What are you thankful for on the eve of this Holiday? 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, where we will be featuring 25% off of everything! (More about this later, of course…had to get the shameless plug in there somewhere!)
Stay engaged. Stay excited. Stay generous. Stay cordial.