Have you ever thought about the "game plan" of creating an aquarium? I mean; like what's the goal? TO create an evolving habitat? Spawn some special fishes? How do you get there? Or, is there even a "there?" And does it really matter how quickly you get "there?"
The other day I was perusing a hobby forum post (yeah, I do that still!) from a guy who had recently switched over his lighting to LED's, and was sharing pics and some comments about his results. The plants looked beautiful, and obviously were healthy, colorful, and growing. And this was a guy that was a hardcore T5 user for many years (man, I made that sound like he was on heroin or something, huh?), and decided to make a big switchover on his "high tech planted tank" (lol that term makes me laugh, don't know why) to LEDs.
Among the many questions he fielded from fellow hobbyists were numerous, repeated inquiries about how fast his plants would grew under the LEDs. There was worry that his plant growth would slow dramatically. Speed was the constant here...
I mean, I suppose it's a fair question, right? I remember from my coral propagation days, , in addition to color and health, we are all about growing corals as quickly as possible, so we can bring them to market in a relatively short period of time.
However, in the instance above, these were hobbyist inquiries, and I wondered why "quick" growth was so important? Back to the reef analogy- In my personal reefs or tanks with aquatic plants, sure, I want to see growth, but the main goal is color, morphology, long-term health, then growth. Yeah, when you're starting with a bunch of tiny plant cuttings or coral frags, I can understand that you'd want to see it fill in fairly quickly.
However, I really want to see the thing look nice, too.
I was wondering if it had to do with some inherent impatience that we have as aquarists- or perhaps as humans in general-a desire to see the "finished product" as soon as possible; something like that. And there is nothing at all wrong with that, I suppose. I just kind of wonder what the big rush is? I guess, when we view an aquarium in the same context as a home improvement project, meal preparation, or algebra test, I can see how rapid growth would take on a greater significance!
On the other hand, if you look at an aquarium as you would a garden- an organic, living, evolving, growing entity- then the need to see the thing "finished" becomes much less important. Suddenly, much like a "road trip", the destination becomes less important than the journey. It's about the experiences gleaned along the way. Enjoyment of the developments, the process. In the botanical-style aquarium, it's truly about a dynamic and ever-changing system. Every stage holds fascination.
IS there even a "finish line" to an aquarium?
Which brought me into one of my philosophical ponderings. I mean, to most aquatic hobbyists, what's more important? Rapid growth, a "finished" appearance, or some other factor? And why? I suppose if I ask 100 hobbyists, I'll receive 100 different answers, but I am really curious about the prevailing attitudes among fellow hobbyists.
And, to add to the equation, there is the simple, but inescapable fact that an aquarium can be a real PAIN sometimes- challenging us and testing our skills, patience, commitment, desire, and oh- yeah- our finances! It's never as easy as just starting up a reef aquarium/blackwater aquarium/planted tank, doing "A-B-C-D" and simply ending up with this killer system as a matter of course. There are all sorts of challenging twists and turns along the way. Nature follows its own paths; its own "whims', if you will.
Besides, what fun would it be anyways if that's all that there was to it, right?
So, to get back to my original question: What do you feel is more important with your aquatic plants, fishes, and corals- Fast growth, or great looking specimens-¦or some combination of both? And why? I pose the question again that I posed above: Is an aquarium ever really "done?" Is there some point of finality when you just say, "Okay, I don't want to change anything, add anything, take out anything?" Is this even possible? Would you want that?
We start with leaves and botanicals; let them do their own thing...Nature takes over; but there really is never a "finished" state, IMHO.
Part of the pleasure is working with nature; being challenged by her.. adjusting I mean, when there is nothing more to do but change water, tweak a few gadgets, and feed, is it still an enjoyable hobby? Is THAT a hobby in and of itself? Further, have you EVER gotten a tank to that stage? Where you're simply observing it and nothing else? What's it like?
Sure, the reality is that an aquatic display is not a static entity, and will continue to encompass life, death, and everything in between for as long as it's in existence. Yet, what is it that really happens in a truly "mature" aquarium?
There might be some competition between fishes, plants, or corals that results in one or more species dominating all of the rest- or does diversity continue to win, with lots of different life forms eeking out an existence in your artificial microcosm, just as they have managed to do for eons in nature?
Heavy duty questions, huh? But interesting ones, nonetheless, arenâ€™t they?
Your thoughts? Discuss, please.
Until next time,
Stay focused. Stay determined. Stay patient. Stay purposeful. Stay engaged.
And Stay Wet