The generosity of hardcore hobbyists...A universal constant?

There is this unofficial characteristic that you find in almost every hardcore fish geek: A helpfulness, an undefinable generosity, compassion, enthusiasm- call it what you want- but it’s a palpable, measurable characteristic that separates hardcore fish geeks from the hapless dabblers in the aquatic hobby.

Not sure what I mean? When was the last time you went to the LFS with a bunch of fish-keeping buddies? It’s kind of like 8-year olds taking a road trip to Disneyland…The excitement and giddiness is unbearable! By the time you arrive, you’ve worked yourself up into such a frenzy that it won’t be a let down at all if the only fish you see are "Glowfish" and feeder guppies…

One of my favorite things I recall about co-owning my former company, Unique Corals, was the childlike wonder that hardcore reefers display when, after a long road trip from somewhere else, McDonalds coffee still in hand, they'd arrive at our facility and literally giggle with excitement as they start exploring the raceways looking for corals. 

Seeing that thrill in others never gets old…And that “thrill” that we get as hardcore fish geeks is a defining characteristic of our essence, as alluded to previously. The things that excite us are way different than the things that excite the casual fish keeper I mean, you know you’re hardcore when your buddies can’t wait to show others YOUR cool tank,  aquascape, lighting system, etc.- as if they somehow own it, too!

And, in essence, we all do. Not in the communist, “Everyone owns everything” kind of way- rather, the fact that every aquarist seems to take a bit of pride in things that his/her fellow hobbyist accomplishes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve arrived in a new town for a speaking gig, and the people who pick me up at the airport can’t wait to show me “______'s tank, because he has the coolest __________ ever!"

I love that. I mean, they’re excited to show you SOMEONE ELSE’S aquarium?


And what about generosity?

Hardcore fish geeks are typically overflowing with it. They love this stuff so much they’d literally give you their fishes just because they are stoked on them. I saw a sterling example at an event a couple of years back, when a fellow reefer/vendor was so stoked that I loved one of his (rather expensive) corals, that he literally said “I want you to have it..” I was like, “Well, dude, come to my booth and grab something..” And his response was, “Maybe.”

The guy never came. 

I mean, he was all about just sharing (a rather expenisive) something that he loved with another hobbyist who also fell for the coral’s charms..And getting something in return wasn’t even on his mind. This guy was so stoked that I literally was getting goosebumps just talking with him! An absolutely perfect example of what I mean when I say that hardcore fish geeks are the coolest group of people you’ll ever meet. 

I've seen this many times.

Hardcore fish geeks have this "air" about them…they just want to try new stuff, share ideas, offer their opinions, and most important- support. When you have a problem and go on a forum and post the story of your trouble- you almost always get immediate, overwhelming response…Because hardcore fish geeks have been there…or if they haven’t- they know that they will one day. And, they will typically give generously of their time and effort simply for love of the hobby.

“Payment” is usually in the form of fry, eggs, plants…at some far off date in the future. It’s like, “No worries, just score me some fry from that sweet L264 pair when you finally get them to breed.” (Even though the fish in question is like 1” in length and a year-and-a-half away from spawning)..and the cool thing: The fish geek who “owes” the fish/plant/whatever will NOT forget…One day, he’ll come to the local meeting with a nice little Pleco in a bag and tell the recipient, “I owe you from last year, when you helped dial in my CO2 system that night..”

Hardcore fish geeks have a long memory about stuff like that.

 And don’t ever tell a hardcore fish geek that you’re "just getting started in the hobby" during a visit to his/her fish room, or you’ll be up until 2:30 AM acclimating all the fry he/she is going to give you! It’s almost predictable how generous hardcore fish geeks are…to a fault, almost! 

And the cool thing- it’s like that in every fish-keeping community in the WORLD that I’ve visited…It’s like a universal culture. There are certain "constants":

*Every hardcore fish geek swears that he/she  hates Guppies, calls it “beginner's fish”, but secretly is looking for some ‘cause they can’t get them to grow.

*Every hardcore fish geek has at least three disaster stories to share (ya know, floods, broken hardware..or worse).

*Every hardcore fish geek has like a pound of Java Moss they want to get rid of, and will gladly drive 2 hours to do it!

*Every hardcore fish geek has a pair of Kribs that breed regularly, but they never get around to harvesting the fry to rear.

*Every hardcore fish geek has an “algae battle” story or three to tell!

*Every hardcore reefer has that ONE fish that he or she has been trying to track down for years...

Ah, hardcore fish geeks. I love ‘em. 

They GET it.

Stay hardcore. Stay Geeky. Stay devoted. Stay generous. Stay YOU...

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

Sanjay Ghataode
Sanjay Ghataode


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