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my reddit mod application turned into a ranty manifesto...


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I saw an application to be a mod on a reddit aquarium forum and  decided to give it a shot. I recently lost my job, so I figure I have some extra time on my hands! I probably went a liiittttle too far with my answers, but it really made me think about where I stand in the hobby and how passionate I actually am about the little water worlds I'm building in my room!

I'd love to see how other would fill out this application! 

What is your experience in fish keeping?
I have only been fish keeping for under 2 years now (excluding the bettas we kept when I was a kid) and I maintain 20 planted aquariums: 29 gallons down to 5 in my apartment! I breed wild type bettas (with the goal of getting more tank bred wilds into the hobby in order to decrease the practice of capturing bettas from the wild): imbellis, mahachai, smaragdina guitar, channoides and wild splendens super reds along with domestic betta splendens, African Cichlids: currently Neolamprogus multifaciatus, endlers, guppies and angelfish. Although I don’t count the guppies and endlers since they don’t need my help to multiply! I keep but am not actively breeding various nano fish, cichlids, plecos, puffers, Neocaridina shrimp and snails (ramshorn, mystery, Malaysian trumpet and the ever-popular pond snail!). On top of the fish I keep, I spend plenty of time researching species I am unable to keep or even not interested in keeping because I want to be a well-rounded aquarist. When I’m not researching fish, I am learning about aquatic plants and am a proponent of having live plants in your aquarium if you can.  

Why should you be a mod?
I want to be able to help the new fish keepers and foster positivity in the aquarium community. When I started fish keeping I was part of a lot of groups on another platform and I saw a lot of individuals being attacked for how they were keeping a particular fish and many times the criticism and comments they received had nothing to do with their initial post. This behavior turned me away from those groups and it turns novice fish keepers away from the hobby. 

I try not to subscribe to any absolutes when it comes to my aquariums besides things like high ammonia can harm fish and a cycled tank is the key to a healthy inhabitants. Other than those kinds of basic ‘rules’ I believe there are endless possibilities on what can happen in any given aquarium because they are living ecosystems and just because one time somebody had a fish that did a thing, doesn’t mean that will be the case for everyone. 

Also, I’ve seen a lot of jumping to conclusions re: disease and treatment in the community, many times when there is actually a simple answer for what somebody is concerned about. For instance, I saw a comment on a FB Page a few days ago and the individual was asking if their betta fish had a lump on its side. All the comments were extreme; “it’s a tumor just give him the best life possible” and “Looks like a genetic defect like a bent spine or hunch back” when in actuality it was the betta’s swim bladder and he was new to fish keeping. I was able to pull multiple betta images and indicated with an arrow the swim bladder so he could see there was nothing wrong with his fish. I knew how he felt because I had the swim bladder panic attack the first time I noticed it on a fish! New fish keepers especially freak out about their fish possibly being ill and many forums and pages foster this culture of extreme diseases/treatments or the opposite: berating people for how they treat their fish instead of educating on the big picture, the disease is not key problem, getting to the root cause is in order to prevent continuously just treating the symptoms and not fixing the deficiently in tank that is causing the illness in the first place. 

I bring a ,possibly, unpopular approach to fish keeping. I try not to anthropomorphize my fish, they are not humans, yet many times they are treated through the human lens as opposed to individuals recognizing and honoring that they are fish (general term for all the aquarium fauna) and their needs/actions are based upon their physical needs to survive and breed. An example I see a lot is people saying their betta fish is “lonely.” This assumption is based on looking at a fish’s behavior as if they were human. Therefore, many solutions for the behavior in question (and many times it’s not even an abnormal behavior it’s just foreign to the owner) are based on what a human would want…like a snail “friend.” My fish are excited when they see me because I feed them and they like food, a lonely betta could be under stimulated based on its genetic predisposition to fight so let it flare for a while. These are my current working ideas based on the species I have personally kept and I reserve, as well as, welcome the chance to be proven wrong the longer I stay in this hobby. 

Most importantly, there is one way to do anything in this hobby. I love how aquarists come up with some amazing innovations while solving problems they face in their tanks and then sharing their solutions with others. We should be celebrating that! 

Ultimately, people should keep a tank (or 100!) that brings them joy, while also giving the tank inhabitants an environment that meets their individual needs. Above all else, you cannot be afraid to try things and fail…..failing is inevitable (I have proof in the form of many dead plants) and it is the key to growth in the aquarium hobby. Besides being a fun, educational, expensive and sometimes frustrating hobby, being a fish keeper is teaching me life skills like slow down, don't force things and let nature take its course (which is not my MO). I want to give back to this community that has been my savior during COVID and maybe stop just 1 new fish keeper from quitting before the magic happens. 



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