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Taking a chance...

Tannin Aquatics

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We've had an interesting, productive, and I think beneficial discussion about people who don't listen to good advice...That spurned conventional thinking out of arrogance or impatience. Well, I think it's also time to talk about those who push things a bit because they know the odds, study the situation, and think they might have found a different way. They forge their own paths, play that hunch, don't fall into groupthink...those who take chances to evolve. 

I don't put myself up there on a pedestal, but I'll use my hobby experiences about times I've taken chances as an example...

When I took a chance and created my first reef aquarium, I ended up having a pair of Clownfish spawn.


When I took a chance and dried out the peat moss from a spawn of "top-spawning" killies, I netted 130 fry.


When I took a chance and attempted to grow seagrasses outdoors in pond soil, I ended up with about 300 plants.

When I took a chance and purchased my first pair of Bettas, they spawned within a week.

When I took a chance  and tried my first attempt at fastening a couple of  Anubias nana to driftwood, I ended up with about 30 plants.

When I took a chance and tried using Catappa leaves in an aquarium for the first time, my Glowlght Tetras responded by spawning about a week later.


When I took a chance and shut off my protein skimmer in my reef tank for a week, all of my corals that were pallid and colorless began coloring up and extending polyps throughout the day.


When I took a chance and partnered to create an online coral business, we ended up profitable in our first year.

When I took a chance and gave my first talk at a conference, I ended up getting 4 other speaking invitations right off the bat.


When I took a chance and removed the eggs from my first pair of Angelfish, almost all of them hatched without incident.

When I took a chance and stopped obsessing over specific nitrate and phosphate readings in my reef, it thrived like never before.

When I took a bunch of other chances on various things, I did have some failures. Yet, surprisingly, far fewer than I would have expected, looking back. Yet I learned. Improved. Iterated. Progressed. 

You will take chances in the aquarium hobby. You will study the associated risks, weigh the potential consequences, and ultimately "pull the trigger."


Sometimes you'll fail. Spectacularly. Other times, you'll succeed beyond your wildest dreams. Many times, however, you'll gain something by trying.

There are no certainties in the hobby. The only certainty is that if you don't take a good risk once in a while, you'll not have the experience of knowing what it's like to try.

It's important to follow basic "rules" in our hobby, such as understanding the nitrogen cycle, temperature control, the need to export nutrients from closed systems, etc.

Yet it's equally as important to play a hunch, try a different route, or take a chance on a new idea now and again.


The worst consequence of trying and failing with a new idea is that you might lose some animals. That's pretty awful. 

The worst consequence of not taking a chance with a new idea is that you will never have the opportunity to know if your idea was valid- and you might lose some animals anyways. And that's awful.

The downsides to both are similar. Yet the reward for taking a risk and trying something new in the hobby is...progress. 


To not attempt anything, such as taking a risk when trying to breed a relatively rare, "import-only" fish is that we will continue to rely on wild imports, further degrading the natural environments from which they come, and reduction in wild populations.

To lose a few animals in an attempt to save incalculably large numbers is tragic and risky, and would have some questioning if we should do it at all. It's a choice the intrepid tropical fish keeper needs to make for his or herself, and weigh the moral implications of such decisions carefully.


There has been, and always will be, opportunity to push the envelope in the aquarium hobby. There has been, and always will be risk associated with doing so. It's not for the feint of heart. But it's important.

The consequences of not taking risks at all are well known, too.

The choice is ours.

Something to think about on a Sunday.

Stay adventurous. Stay optimistic. Stay focused.

And Stay Wet.


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics


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