I have to admit, if there is anyone in the hobby who preaches the virtues of consistency, it's me. I am a huge proponent of doing the same thing over and over. It's like my mantra.
Consistency in many aspects of our work is a good thing.
However, I think I've taken it a bit too far I the past...to my own detriment.
Yes, I'll admit it...
When it comes to my aquariums, I've always sort of been a serious creature of habit...Like, a ridiculously habitual, "tidally locked", almost inflexible fish geek. Thursday is water exchange day. at my house. Sunday is filter sock replacement day.
Feeding times are 4PM and 8PM....
Like, it's kind fo weird...but it's how stuff has worked for me for...like, well- forever!
Over the past few years, fortunately, I've broken out of some of these ridiculous scheduled habits. I realized that changing stuff up creates opportunities to create new things. It's always a good time to change it up a bit! I mean, life's too short, right?
I was getting into some serious habits, for no real reason.
And I found that switching things up isn't so bad! It's important to to that, and it's fun, too.
Like, the other day I did a rare Tuesday water exchange on my brackish-water aquarium. (usually, it's Thursday)...And guess what? Everyone did okay. The fish all lived. The tank is intact.
The world didn't stop rotating.
And water exchanges are one of the practices that we perform that I think are perfect examples of rituals which can and should be varied from time to time. I mean, as long as you're exchanging, say "x" percentage of your aquariums' water each month, is the schedule you perform the exchanges on really that critical?
No, it isn't.
And it's better, I think.
I mean, think about nature. Rainstorms and weather patterns come at various times during the month, let alone, the week or the day...Nature has a sort of "predictable unpredictability" that I think we as hobbyists should consider switching up schedules on stuff like water exchanges. Altering flow within our aquariums. And we should vary lighting schedules- if only slightly- throughout the year.
Granted, we have personal schedule and viewing times, etc. which dictate some things, but wouldn't it be interesting to see if creating variations in our fishes' environments throughout the year makes a difference in their health and behaviors?
I think so.
It's long been known that manipulating photoperiod, temperature, etc. can induce spawning in some species of fishes. It's a sort of "thing" with fishes like killies that you can affect incubation and/or hatching schedules of eggs by varying incubation parameters, agitating them, wetting them and drying them again (in the case of the annuals), etc.
So, why not change up a few things from time to time?
I think we sort of already do this with our botanical additions, removals, and utilizations, right? We knowingly or unknowingly simulate the regular addition and export of plant materials into blackwater habitats, and the impacts on the aquatic environment can vary from time to time.
Just like in Nature.
Seasonal changes, and even those which occur on a much shorter time schedule- like monthly, weekly- or even daily in some habitats, impact the life cycles and habits of the fishes which leave in them. They've adapted to these changes. What secrets about their habits, health, and spawning activities could we learn if we attempt to replicate some of these changes in our aquariums?
We've done some extensive research and experimentation with seasonal cycles with our "Urban Igapo" work, and the results have been very, very interesting! Seeing the way we can manipulate our aquarium's environments to recreate seasonal cycles is something that we haven't really begun to appreciate with our fishes!
What sort of other factors can you play with in your tanks to gauge impact? The list of possibilities is endless, isn't it? From hardscape to hardware...it's huge.
The whole idea of "breaking patterns" really dovetails nicely with our idea of the "evolving" aquatic environment, doesn't it?
Yeah it does!
Something to think about from time to time!
Stay unpredictable...Stay experimental. Stay observant. Stay curious. Stay creative. Stay excited!
And Stay Wet.