When you're stuck.

It happens to every hobbyist from time to time.

You get stuck. 

You get a bit "winded.."

You run out of creative energy, or perhaps reach a mental state where you're not able to think about- let alone, execute on some of your  big ideas.

Ive been in that rut before. In fact, not too long ago. I let stuff frustrate and stymie me: "That tank is too small!" "That piece of wood can't work in this shaped tank!" "I can't hide the damn filter!"

Shit like that. I even have common "themes"- often revolving around stuff that I should be able to just look beyond. But I often can't, and it bums me out.

Seeing stuff like filters and other hardware that I can't conceal well drives me crazy to no end. And I really hate the limitations of some setups. I will have this great idea, get it going...and then bail out on it after a week or two, because I simply can't get it to do what I want, lol.

Sound familiar to you? Or, likely, this sort of "tantrum" thing is just me.

What to do?

I have learned to go back to the basics of what moves me.

Keep things very simple. Don/t overthink everything.

And don't start out with a setup that you know will frustrate you.

And there is another thing you can do:

Think like a beginner.

Perhaps the outright beginner in the hobby knows something that we don't.

I think I- we- that is, more "advanced" hobbyists...know too much. This knowledge sometimes works against us. We overthink, over-plan, over-visualize.

We expect too much from some stuff.


And I don't mean that from an arrogant perspective or anything.

I think that I, like so many hobbyists at my level of experience, tend to overthink every aspect of the aquarium hobby, particularly during the new tank startup phase, rather than just letting myself enjoy the moment- the wonder, and the awe that comes from doing something special, beautiful, and, let's face it- incredibly cool!

I mean, setting up a legit slice of Nature in your own home?

This IS something amazing, huh? 

Something that nine-tenths of the world will never get to experience or even comprehend.

So perhaps- just maybe...we know too much.


We understand all of this stuff. Or, we think that we do...And it puts "shackles" on us.

We experienced it many times over the years, and have watched- and even reassured- others that "All of this is normal" and to, "Just be patient and it will pass..."

You know- "aquarium stuff."

Outright beginners actually have it much easier in this regard, I think.

They aren't bound by the same expectations that we are bound by. It's kind of liberating!

And they take joy in just...having access to this wonderful underwater world.

I mean, when just having a glass or acrylic box of  freshwater or saltwater in your home is a novelty- a cause for rejoicing! You tend to live in a bubble of gentle "ignorance" (eeehw- that's kind of harsh)- okay, let's call it "blissful lack of awareness about some things" that some of this stuff really sucks...

And that's actually a beautiful thing- because a beginner is taken by the sheer wonder- and joy of it all.

They don't stress out about stuff like algal films, detritus on the substrate, micro bubbles and the occasional falling piece of wood in their aquascape. They're not worried about that yucky algae, or surface film, or any other of a dozen minutiae like we are, because they don't KNOW that it can linger a long, long time if you don't manage the tank correctly at this phase.

They're not "handcuffed" by their past experiences and the knowledge of having set up dozens of tanks over the years. Rather, they're just stoked as fuck by the thought of Glowlight Tetras, Amano Shrimp, Glass Catfish, and ultra-common Bettas taking up residence in the new little utopian aquatic microhabitat they just set up in their New York City apartment!

That's amazing.

When we're stuck, I think it's entirely possible to release ourselves from the "burden" of our own experience, and to allow ourselves to enjoy every aspect of this great hobby, free from preconception or prejudices. To just make quick  easy decisions based on what our research- gut, or yeah- I suppose, experience- tells us is the "right" thing to do, then letting stuff happen.

In other words, taking control of the influence that our own experience provides, rather than allowing it to taint our whole journey with doubt, dogma, second-guessing, and over-analysis of every single aspect.

It's liberating.

And relaxing.

Embracing the sheer joy of being a beginner. Again.

Sometimes, it's okay to look backwards. 

It might just propel you forwards in ways you never even imagined it would.

Stay relaxed. Stay engaged. Stay thoughtful...but not too much.

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics 

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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