Thinking about it....or not.

I've come to the realization that I tend to overthink way too much.

I mean, it invades every aspect of my aquarium-keeping world. I tend to "mess" with my aquaecapes too much. I have to add "one more thing" to an aquarium setup. I contemplate wether this fish is better than that fish...and end up purchasing neither one.

You know. That kind of stuff.

Or aquaecapes. I'm notorious for overthinking 'scapes. Or making too many know, "Ohh, just ONE more rock will do it..." (and then another 3 hours goes by and I'm still back at the beginning...with a totally different configuration than I started with).

This can be a bad thing...or a good thing, I suppose.

The other day, my wife was making some cuttings from some of our houseplants, and asked me from across the house if she could use an old fishbowl of mine for something...and of course I shouted back, "Sure!" Not really knowing what she was doing.

Later that afternoon, when I went into the laundry room area to rinse out some frozen fish food in the "utility sink" we have in there, and I saw this cool little arrangement of cutting from her houseplants, placed in water, anchored with some pebbles.

It looked pretty cool. Had a certain "style" that I found really appealing. It looked as cool as something that I would have taken a long time and many changes to come up with. And I asked here how long it took her to do it, and she was like, "No time. I just threw 'em in..."


Of course, I was sort of flabbergasted.  Not that it was this "high concept" thing, of course, but it drove home a lesson for me: Over-thinking stuff is sometimes not an asset, especially to the aquarist. Yet, in the back of my head, I go through "iterations" of this bowl, complete with some Fundulopanchax gardneri or other killies, and am like, "Ohmigod, I need to try this..."

Like, building upon her idea immediately. Cool.

And later that day, I took delight in seeing my friend James Sheen of Blackwater UK doing this cool sort of "Botanical Wabi Kusa" thingy (which he admittedly started spontaneously late one evening). Another example of executing instead of over-thinking. Bringing something interesting into the world without "analysis paralysis!"

I've realized now, in my ripe old age, that some of my best aquarium ideas seem to come from spontaneity. And some of my best executions come from just...doing. Not thinking too much. I'm not sure if that's how YOU work, but it's made me (I think) a better hobbyist, and a happier aquatic business person! 

As an "explorer" of non-conventional methodologies, I tend to try a lot of things, in order to see what works and what doesn't. I try to move pretty quickly, seeing which concept works and which doesn't. Interestingly, I'm not crippled by this "over-thinking" malady when it comes to that kind of stuff. Quick iterations are part of my my "operating system..."

Maybe it's "Aquatic A.D.D." or something (I have this theory, lol), but I think it can actually be a good thing. I often try to think of what it is that makes this pop up in my mind all the time...

I think that it's a matter of wanting to try a lot of concepts out which get's me moving, and it's the "fine tuning" stuff that takes me into this frustrating territory. Like, "big picture" changes and ideas are no problem...but when it comes time to something like selecting which variety of plant or whatever I'm gonna throw in the tank...It hits.

It's always the same few things that trip me up if I let them: Aquascaping, fish selection, and light settings (damn you, LED HAD to make it possible to come up with thousands of possible blends, didn't you?)

I realize that options are good. Really good, especially when it comes to equipment choices, settings, etc. As much as I'd like to say it can be "overwhelming" or whatever to have all of these really isn't. So much better to have to ferret out what you need from an ocean of selections versus just having to "adapt" one or two things to every possible use you can think of.

And it's the same with the stuff that we do. Better to let the full range of your imagination inspire and guide you, instead of limit you. That's why I treasure thinking outside the box so much. Not because it's cool to just do things differently "because." Rather, it's because it's really important to follow up on some of those thoughts and ideas we have. Every single one has the potential to lead to some breakthrough or advancement in the hobby. Use the relentless flow of ideas to your advantage.

And in reality, every single one has the potential to provide us with the pleasure that only this engaging hobby can bring.

Can't you think of at least a few things that you tried on a whim, only to realize later that they were incredible efforts that brought you so much joy?

I'll bet that you can.

So, next time you're struggling to decide between a few ideas....just do 'em all. Execute each one in it's own time. Let them breathe. Develop them. Or squash them quickly. 

But do try them.

Because it's far better to do something than to jest think about it, IMHO.

And a lot more fun!

Today's simple thought, courtesy of my wife's 2-minute arrangement of houseplant cuttings...

Stay creative. Stay relentless. Stay engaged.

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 




Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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