You can't have it all...Can you? Maybe.

If you're like most hobbyists, you're convinced that one of the best parts of the game is setting up a new aquarium. 

And I agree!

And of course, one o the fun parts of this process is deciding on what fishes and plants  you're gonna keep in there! Now, often, aquariums are developed around a "theme"- geographic, ecological niche, or general fish types (i.e.; cichlids, Tetras, Barbs, etc.). Other times, it's a more defined "stocking plan"- a desire to create a tank for ________________.

It's my belief that we all sort of have some ideas in mind before or during the process of setting up a new aquarium...A stocking plan is just sort of how we role...well, usually. 

Did you develop a "stocking plan" for your most recent aquarium? If you're like me, I'm SURE that you did!

I think that, despite how casually we might approach it, we all have lofty plans to stock our new tanks exactly how we want. We get really excited, start adding all of the fishes we planned on...and then, before we realize it...we're full.

No more room for new fishes. None.

Like, how can this be? Why does this always happen? What do you do?

The simple answer, is the fish geek one, of course: Get another tank! Because even a good stocking plan will simply set you up for frustration!

Why? Because, quite simply, you can't have it all.

Doesn't matter if you created a 5-gallon aquarium, or a 500-gallon aquarium. It hits you just the same.


Think about it.

We spend all of this time researching each one of the fishes we're going to add to our new aquarium, develop sequences for whom is added when- and so forth. And, for the most part, we execute on our plans pretty well. In fact, probably too well.

Sometimes, we have to wait a very, very long time to acquire that one fish we need to complete our plan...

I've had this situation where I've set up a tank with a very specific stocking plan in mind, only to be thwarted by the fact that the species I was looking for simply wasn't available..or at least, not readily.

And that requires some real "gut checking", right?


For many of us, another thing occurs: What inevitably happens is that we look ago our newly-stocked tank, brimming with life, and we're totally enamored...To the point where we wish we added that one more fish...Wouldn't that pair Checkerboard cichlids be so cool? Ohh, can't do it- you opted for a family of Apistogramma instead....

Oh, and those cool Barbs you saw at the LFS yesterday would be so cool..but this is a South American-themed tank, and they're from Asia..It would look... weird...Right?

And a lot of us just enjoy the process of setting up and establishing a new tank so much that we just want to do it again!

So, I submit to you that, from the minute we "finish"- or for that matter-start- a new aquarium, we're actually working on the next one!

Because everything that we couldn't include in this one, we have to add to the next one. It's not that we don't enjoy or appreciate what we already have. Ot's just that there are so many possibilities out there, right? Some new fish- some new concept- will capture your attention.

That's what being a fish geek is.

That is the crux of what we call "Multiple Tank Syndrome." 

I maintain (and YOU will conform!) that it's simply not possible for a serious fish geek to have just one tank. Or, if he or she is stuck with one tank, there is almost certainly a lot of scheming going on, and changes in the setup might happen sooner, rather than later.

In other words, we cope.

Far be it from me to look on this phenomenon with anything but awe. It infects every fish geek, regardless of the original intentions, budgetary restrictions, space, or impact on spousal relations.

It's how 30 tank fish rooms get built, for goodness sake.

"Multiple Tank Syndrome."

Very real. Very challenging.

And very cool.

If you have this- consider yourself blessed.

Your a genuine, 100% fish geek.

Simple as that.

Revel in the title. Relish the affliction. Stay obsessed. Keep scheming. Keep dreaming. Keep building. Get another tank...

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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