I received a nice email today- one of many we receive weekly, from a hobbyist who just received his shipment from us and was so excited to get started with aquatic botanicals...
It got me thinking about things that get us excited in the hobby! I posed this question to some of my fishy friends, and they had a wide range of interesting answers. The biggest and most exciting events in the hobby, based on this very un-scientific sampling, seem to be when you set up a new tank, and when you acquire/receive/purchase a new aquarium, gadget, aquascaping item, plant or fish....especially one you've been trying to acquire for some time...And I'm inclined to agree... And being in the business of helping fellow fish geeks do cool stuff with their tanks every day, I'd have to say that I won't argue with that one.
I love when I help a fellow hobbyist create a cool selection of botanicals and I get that email or text or PM and they say, "Man I can't wait to get the package...!"
Few things in this hobby or business thrill me like hearing the sheer joy of a fellow hobbyist, stoked as hell about getting something that he or she loves so much.
However, I think there are other exciting things...
Like seeing your favorite pair of fish spawn, and the appearance of the first fry. Few feelings in the hobby can match that!
Or, like going to conferences and having your head explode from all of the fishes, plants, gadgets, and fish geeks you encounter under one roof, or nailing the perfect aquascape, seeing your fave fish just thriving in your tank, securing that moss to a killer piece of driftwood just the way you wanted it...dozens and dozens of tiny little moments that provide us that little "rush" which keeps the hobby so addictive.
I don't know about you, but I still get that little ping of excitement every time I enter into my LFS! "Will THIS be the time I find that crazy weird dwarf cichlid I've been looking for? Will the store have that awesome new coral food I've read about but haven't yet tried? Will I end up walking out with a new nano tank?"
All those kinds of cool things that create excitement, and keep us engaged in the hobby. Granted, we all get excited about different things:
I hung with a bunch of guys at a reef conference (MACNA) once, who had very passionate and (to them) exciting exchanges about...testing for Vanadium in aquarium water (no, I'm serious! And they weren't really that drunk, either, and the discussion went on for hours! And to answer your next question: No, I bailed at like the 15-minute mark...)! And of course, I love "shopping" with friends for gadgets at aquarium shows; it's a thrill- (especially when they're the one spending money! Those vicarious adventures. Peer-pressuring your buddies into getting that _______ they're debating over is always fun! ("Dude! It's so cheap here! You know you'll go home and want it and it's gonna be like 25% more online...just get it NOW!" )
So many cool things.
And you know what? It even hit me this past month- after two years, I still get that twinge of excitement every time I step into the office. Because there is always something new and interesting...something to keep me excited, engaged, focused. Seeing your pics and videos of the awesome things you do with our aquatic botanicals- the sharing of your experiences and ideas with our ever-growing community...Amazing.
And then it all kind of goes back to what we mentioned at the beginning of this piece, about what is arguably one of the best moments for a fish geek: Waiting for whatever you ordered to arrive...Don't you just kind of "geek out" when you order something fish related online and it's going to be delivered today?
It doesn't matter if it's just a part for your RO/DI unit, a bunch of pelleted food, 10 pounds of activated carbon, or- on those truly special days- that breeding pair of Apistos or rare Gouramis- you still get this childlike excitement, like the night before Christmas or something, right?
If you're like me, you track your order online ("Oh, honey, Fed Ex says it's in their hub at Memphis right now! Oh, wait-it just got loaded on the plane to L.A.!!!), you watch your porch, you listen for every "delivery-truck-sounding" vehicle coming down the street (damn, just a school bus!), and look for an email from USPS, DHL, FedEx, or UPS with that beautiful subject line: "Your package is out for delivery..."
If you're at work when the shipment is due to arrive, of course, it's even more exciting, distracting, and nerve-wracking, isn't it? Your mind runs wild with every scenario: "What if it's a new delivery guy and he puts my package on the wrong porch?" Or worse, "What if the delivery person misreads the instructions and needs me to sign for the delivery? Where and when can I pick it up?"
Or even worse yet- the online status indicates that a "Delivery Exception" has occurred What does that mean? Is it a weather delay that has held up your package, or is it damaged and undeliverable, or...?
Need to call...but can't get out of that meeting...Feeling sick...
You know, stuff like that.
It's such a weird thing that many a good fish geek will simply take the day off when he or she knows that a package is set to arrive. We can't risk it being handled by ANYONE else, not even our long-suffering spouse!
Even the word, "package", brings up some visceral, child-like feeling in a fish geek like me. A "package" is a magical thing that contains cool stuff that can help you really geek out even more! I love that word.
And when the package does arrive- when it all comes together and you are there to receive it from the delivery person (who has no idea that you were stalking her while she parked the mail truck at the curb, took out your package from the back of the truck, and slowly- agonizingly slowly- walk up the driveway to your porch), your pulse quickens...
And it takes everything you have NOT to open the door half a second after the doorbell rings...No, you're too cool for that- you wait another second or two, and casually open the door to grab the goods. And of course, you are hoping- praying- that the delivery person doesn't engage in any small talk greater than the usual pleasantries or comment about the weather, because you've got to open that package!
And you casually close that door...and run to the drawer where your scissors is...Where is it?
And you finally open that package- a complete sensory experience, the feel, the sound, the smell of cardboard and packaging tape- all seared not your brain circuitry from a lifetime of waiting for and opening packages...
What a moment!
And even if it IS just a 6-pack of new filter pads, it might as well be that rare Gold Nugget Pleco you ordered from the guy in New Jersey. You admire your prize, and feel...well, content. For now.
It's the culmination of a long process. The pinnacle of an experience filled with all sorts of emotions, impulses, and rituals. You feel something. Relief, perhaps? Or the desire to go through that whole thing again next week. It's a rush of sorts.
And, later that evening, you go back online and peruse the vendors' offerings...
"Hmm, how much do I have to order to get free shipping...?
You are a fish geek. Through and through.
And all of these things-all of these experiences, acquisitions, and moments of enjoyment of the hobby with friends- are what excite me the most. All of 'em. Every single one.
We're all pretty lucky to have this, don't you think?
So, that being said...What do you consider the best moments...the most exciting things in the hobby? The most exciting moments in aquarium keeping? Let's here 'em!
Stay excited. Stay engaged. Stay geeky.
And stay wet.