Every once in a while, it's nice to look back on our hobby successes- and especially, our failures! This helps us gain perspective and keep pushing.
I was speaking with a friend and very talented fellow hobbyist the other day, who made a pretty substantial error in her aquarium. She was in tears. She ended up adding some fishes to her long-established community aquarium without her usual rigorous quarantine protocol. She had a hunch at the time, she told me, that these fishes would be okay, because they were from a very reputable source...someone she really trusted...
Well, you know the rest...A rapid, virulent disease outbreak occurred, in which she lost just about every fish in her extensive collection in a matter of a week. A near wipeout. The kind of event that makes you re-think everything...your abilities, your judgement, your hobby in general. A really tough loss.
Look, she'd been in the game for decades. She didn't need a lecture on the merits of quarantine...she knew.
It just took one moment of complacency. One error in judgment. One misstep...And decades of lessons learned were tossed aside with dire consequences.
She was being human. We are all humans. We screw up. Shit happens. There are only so many things you can do when you commit a major error like this: Quit. Deny. Accept, and move on, wiser for the journey.
You can take the sort of "self help" mentality and understand what is important in the hobby. You can tell yourself to enjoy every aspect of it (kinda hard to do, I know, when every fish in your tank is belly up).
But you need to. Really.
You can tell yourself that it was a mistake. You can cut yourself a little slack, and make a pact with yourself to never make the mistake again, and to recognize- even celebrate- the stuff you do well...the positives.
You can empower yourself and others by learning all you can from the mistake, and educating fellow hobbyists on how to avoid making the same one, with your experience as a guide. You can embrace the mistake. Own it. And let it stand for everyone as an example of what NOT to do.
You can embark on a new hobby journey to "pay it forward" and mentor some newbies on all aspects of the hobby...not just the one you messed up on. use the tragedy as a sort of stepping stone to a new part of your hobby life.
You can teach yourself that most powerful of words: NO! You can tell yourself in the future, Im NOT going to ignore the little voice in my head that says, "...this is a really bad idea.."
Hold yourself accountable. You screwed up. Not the LFS, not the aquarium manufacturer, not the company that made the gravel, or the lights, or the filter. It was YOU.
And that's okay. You own it, and you're better off for it.
I hope this helps you, Rose...I hope you realize that you are not alone. As for me? I've made so many mistakes in my fish career it's not even funny. But I"m better off for each one of them...you will be, too. You already are.
Get up again. Over and over.
Last, but certainly not least- be grateful. Yeah. Grateful to have the opportunity to keep the precious animals that we do. To enjoy them, care for them, learn from them. Be grateful that you live in a time and a place when it's possible to do amazing things with small fishes from distant corners of the world.
Feel bad for a little bit. Then jump right back into it.
Stay confident. Stay positive. Stay honest. Stay with it.
And Stay Wet.