As you know, I seem to write a lot of blogs based on conversations I have with fellow fish geeks. I love fellow hobbyists! They motivate, delight, confuse, and inspire me. And sometimes, they make me want to shake them!
Like the other day, when I spoke with a hobbyist who had some really crazy cool ideas he wanted to play with in a new tank, but was worried about the criticism he'd take from his fellow hobbyists.
Of course, being the against-the-grain kind of fish geek that I am, I heard his feeble argument about why he shouldn't go for it, and I think I talked some sense into him.
Actually, I think I gently kicked his ass...but got the desired result, which was drumming it into his head that he is the master of his own destiny, aquarium-wise.
You hear me make this appeal a lot: “Do what makes YOU happy as a fish geek. You need not follow the “rules” laid down by others. Aquascape according to your own vision…experiment responsibly with new techniques as YOU see fit"…blah, blah, blah.
And I really believe it. I live by it, as a lot of you do, too. Hell, I even started a company because of it.
Yet, some of you still need the little shove. The encouragement. Positive reinforcement. There is no reason to hold back. Anything is possible if you try.
Oh sure, this is a bit of a generality…There are certainly "natural laws" and chemical/biological principles and laws of nature that can’t really be broken. Well, some can be danced around or pushed...with some collateral consequences. However, everything else- procedures, conventions, equipment choices, aestheitcs, stocking, even values- is your call. The things that hold us back from trying, in many cases, are not really “rules”, but we seem to treat them as such in this hobby, don’t we? And really, we don’t need to get hung up on this at all.
The reality is that many so-called “rules” in our hobby are, in reality, sort of “placeholders”, which were installed into our “culture” before a better understanding was achieved. For example, the idea that you need to keep certain fishes under specific environmental conditions to breed them is based on what the prevailing knowledge of the day was when the subject was initially breached, and no one really questioned it at the time. Over the years, dramatically different technique has evolved and sort of become the “new normal”, yet, for many years, you heard stuff like, “You must keep this fish in soft, acid water in order to breed it.”
It can be almost stifling at times, if you let this stuff get into your head...
We get into that mindset of being almost "apologetic" for attempting something against the grain, and it’s kind of a waste of time, really. Remember the old “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission?” I tend to agree with that statement, the reason being that if you aren't forgiven later, you probably never would have been given the “permission” anyway, so why not just go for it?
Besides, who’s “permission” do you need? Nature’s, maybe, in our case. But that’s about it. The hobby doesn't need more people to do the tried and true all the time. In order to advance, we need the fearless visionaries who seemingly swim against the tide. Not just "because"- rather, because you believe in the idea you have. You believe in yourself.
Fortune favors the bold.
So- build the 30-foot long, wet-season, flowing Igarape display in your living room. Try to group spawn your Bettas…whatever. Just be sensible, and don’t be an arrogant jerk in the process. The reality is that most things turn out okay in the end…
(I say “most”, because the “group spawning of Bettas” has “bad outcome” written all over it. Yeah.)
And if things don't work out, you've definitively proven the validity of the prevailing thought, right?
So, really, short of the massive criticism you might get form one or two people who have their head up their___ and who hide behind their keyboards, ready to strike out at anyone who questions convention- what holds you back?
Threat of imprisonment? Financial fallout? A visit by the “Men in Black?”
No. None of the above.
Just a few judgmental people on the forums, at the local club…people that will, for whatever reason, be agitated that you decided to go against the “establishment” as they see it. Will that really ruin your day, destroy your marriage, break up your resolve in life?
Will you cry for hours?
Of course not.
You might even squeak by under the “criticism” radar if you show a cool result. And even if you can’t- who cares? You’d be doing the hobby a service by at least demonstrating that the “old rule” is indeed worth holding on to…but you’ll have the added satisfaction of knowing that you put it to the test personally. You might even learn something new and useful as a “collateral” benefit! And you’ll have demonstrated to the “regurgitators” out there that boldly going against convention has it’s merits.
The price of admission to the arena of new discoveries? You might lose some fishes. It sucks, but it's inevitable. And you might spend some money. You might end up with a lot of algae. And your floors might get wet...
But those things are a daily occurrence in the hobby anyways, right?
So please, please take a few more risks…Please. I implore you. You’ve got the talent. You’ve got the idea…and you don’t need “permission” from anyone in the hobby.
Go for it.
I promise you…there’s at least one guy in your corner.
That is, unless you do the Betta group spawning thing.
You can’t do that…it’s...stupid.
Until next time…
Stay bold. Stay devoted. Stay independent.
And Stay Wet.