The beauty of the "ignorance bubble..."

I've been in the aquairum hobby practically since I could walk. And as a "lifer", I am obsessed with virtually every aspect of the hobby. I am a voracious reader of hobby information, in print and online, and ion course, in person with fellow fish geeks when possible.

I love to research stuff.

That being said, I think that I also tend to take in "too much" information at times. In other words, overly researching and analyzing almost every aspect of an idea that I have.

And that can be a problem. 


You WERE a beginner at one point. You didn't know anything about keeping tropical fish, except maybe that you were drawn to them somehow. And that is not neccasarilly a bad thing. Sometimes, NOT knowing-or being aware of everything- is a good thing.

Yeah, outright beginners might have it pretty good in the aquarium hobby.

Despite everything being new to them, they don't have the "burden of experience" holding them back. 

We do.

And that can be a problem at times.  

Perhaps the beginner knows something we don't? And that's to not sweat it so much. To educate yourself to the best of your ability...and then to just DO.

I often think that we- that is, more "advanced" hobbyists...know too much. We've "seen it all", know what to expect, and we let this guide- or perhaps, taint- our experiences... We often overthink, or over-analyze stuff.


And, just a result of doing this incredible thing we do regularly...we know too much.


We understand all of this stuff. Well, most of it, anyways. Enough to think about multiple angles and concerns...Enough to be hesitant when maybe- just maybe- we shouldn't be.

Sometimes, our experience holds us back from growing and learning more in the hobby.

Think about the advice we give to novices in the hobby. Much of it is simply based one having been through it ourselves many times. Yeah, we've experienced I algae blooms or whatever many times over the years, and have watched- and even reassured- others that "All of this is normal" and instruct them often to "...just be patient and it will pass..."

You know- "aquarium stuff."


Outright beginners actually have it much easier in this regard, I think.

I mean, when just having a glass or acrylic box of  freshwater or saltwater in your home is a novelty- a cause for rejoicing! You tend to live in a bubble of gentle "ignorance" (eeehw- that's kind of harsh)- okay, let's call it "blissful lack of awareness about some things" that some of this stuff really sucks...

And that's actually a beautiful thing- because a beginner is taken by the sheer wonder- and joy of it all.

They don't stress out about stuff like algal films, detritus on the substrate, micro bubbles and the occasional falling piece of wood in their aquascape the way many "advanced" hobbyists do.  And beginners in our little speciality? They're not worried about that "yucky biofilm" or water moment or any other of a dozen minutiae like we are, because they don't KNOW...or CARE- that it can linger a long, long time. They may our may not grasp that it's "part of the game."

And they likely don't care. 


They're not "handcuffed" by their past experiences and the knowledge of having set up dozens of tanks over the years. Nor are they thinking that they have some kind of "luck." Rather, they're just stoked as hell by the thought of Glowlight Tetras, Amano Shrimp, Glass Catfish, and "ultra-common" Bettas taking up residence in the new little utopian microhabitat they just set up in their New York City apartment! 

What could be more awesome?

I sometimes find myself in that same "ignorance bubble."

Happily, too.

Like, as most of you know, my knowledge of, and experience with aquatic plants is remarkably limited. I can barely identify more than a dozen species of plants, and I am not exactly well-versed on what they need to grow, outside of the basic stuff I learned in school.

Yet, there are times when I play with plants in my tanks. I have certain aquatic plants that appeal to me for various reasons, and from time to time, I'll incorporate them into one of my displays. 

Yet, the fact of the matter is, I don't really know much about plants at all. I just research what I need to know about them and work with them. To the aquatic plant purists, no doubt my applications (or, mis-applications, as the case may be!) are horrifying, laughable or just mildly amusing, at best. I barely know what I'm doing with my aquatic plants, but I have a lot of fun with them when I do play with them...I exist in an aquatic plant "ignorance bubble."  

I suppose the term, "ignorance" is a bit harsh...But it is a sort of a "blissful unawareness..." Like, I get it. I don't really know- or, for that matter, care- that I may not be utilizing the optimal lighting, fertilization regimen, or other best practices for my aquatic plants, to make them to grow like mad...

All I care about is that they are healthy, look nice, and enhancing the tank that they're in. That's good enough for me. 

It's a pretty fun feeling, too.

Just embracing the sheer joy of being a beginner at something again. Enjoying what's happening in your aquarium NOW- rather than worrying about it; impatiently "tweaking" stuff to get "somewhere else." 

Sounds like fun to me!

And look- if the bug bites, and you really want to just go "full ham" on a topic and become a specialist- you can. That's the beauty.

But you have to start. And that sometimes means taking a different mindset. 

I think it's entirely possible to release ourselves from the "burden" of our own experience, and to allow ourselves to enjoy every aspect of this great hobby, free from preconception or prejudices. To just make decisions based on what our research- gut, or yeah- I suppose, experience- tells us is the "right" thing to do, then simply letting stuff happen.

In other words, taking control of the influence that our own experience provides, rather than allowing it to taint our whole journey with doubt, dogma, second-guessing, and over-analysis of every single aspect.

The key, or the "un lock", is to try something that's new to you. Move into unknown territory. Learn what you can, and then go for it.  Don't be shy, or try to protect your ego. The simple fact is that, no matter where you are now in your hobby "career"- you had to start somewhere, right?


You WERE an absolute  beginner in the aquarium hobby at one point.

We all have things we know, and things that we're clueless about. 

And THAT is super exciting to me. Too step outside of what we know; to move into uncharted learn by doing.


Stay curious. Stay resourceful. Stay bold. Stay...blissfully unaware of some stuff...

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 


Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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