I was talking to a "non-fish person" the other day, and she asked what it really meant to be a hardcore aquarist, a serious "fish geek", if you will -and what makes us any different from people in other hobbies and pursuits...or for that matter, from people who simply have an aquarium in their home.
At first, I thought that maybe we are all the same- "fish people..." Well, we are, to some extent...but when you attach that title of "aquarist" to yourself, you are a bit different.
So I drove off with the nagging question of "What makes you guys so different?" in my head. I had this bunch of thoughts as to how I'd describe myself...and it made me think about just what makes an aquarist different than other people...
And it made me want to list exactly why I think we are...and it sort of sounded like a "manifesto!"
I'm an aquarist.
I don't dabble in fishes. I'm obsessed with them.
I know that keeping aquatic life alive requires understanding, skill, patience, and good habits.
I know that a successful aquarium requires me to take certain steps that many other people aren't willing to do.
I regard my aquarium as microcosms of nature; a learning tool, an experience.. Their main function is not to simply provide a piece of decor in my home.
I have procedures for every scenario, every problem playing out in the back of my head. I have other obsessed aquarists to share these thoughts with. We are a community.
I obsessively maintain my aquariums based on husbandry methods that work for me; skills learned and honed from years of practice, towering successes, and humbling failures. I listen to other aquarists, then do whatever I damned well please, if I feel my way is better...And then I try theirs, when my ideas fail! I'm stubborn..and proud.
I don't chase down every hot trend, obsess over every new gadget. I try things that work for my animals. I geek out over obscure stuff, however.
I'm not afraid to try new stuff, but I always consider the impact of any new practice, procedure, or piece of gear.
I support those who are propagating fishes and plants because I understand that the world's aquatic habitats need our an aquarist, I know that the future of the hobby- the future of the world's ecosystem- is in part dependent upon how successful I am at keeping my animals healthy, and sharing my stories with others.
I screw stuff up all the time. And when I do, I share my errors with other aquarists, get up again, over an over, and try to learn from them.
I am eager to hear about what my fellow aquarists are doing, because that seemingly crazy idea might be the basis for massive success.
I realize that learning is a lifelong process in the aquarium hobby. I want to be doing this for the rest of my life.
I know that being an aquarist is not just a hobby...it's a lifestyle.
I am part of a tribe; a community, which grows and nurtures and shares ideas, concepts, experiences, and animals.
I am a part of a larger whole, which is much greater than the sum of it's parts.
I am an aquarist. And so are you.
And I'm pretty darned proud of that.
Why are you proud to be a hardcore aquarist? What do you feel makes us different than those who take a more casual approach?
Stay proud. Stay hungry. Stay enthusiastic. Stay humble. Stay bold...
And Stay Wet...