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Any ideas for getting people more knowledgeable about fish


FriendlyLoach
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I really feel bad for fish that are abused and I want to help them. I think the most abused fish are goldfish and bettas. Does any one have ideas. I feel that since many of us are knowledgeable about fish, it is our duty to try to inform new people to the hobby. I would love to see fish be medicated, bettas with heaters and 5-10 gallons, and goldfish in big tanks. Does anybody have ideas or are already working on this. 

One of my ideas is to try to convince places like Petco to put posters up about good fish care. I don't know... I just get so mad when I see these amazing fish abused. 

Thanks

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I think the line between informing and policing in the hobby can be a bit thin, especially when it's unsolicited. There is a fish store a couple of hours from me that has a huge amount of negative reviews because "his tanks are dirty" and that according to them, is abusive to the fish. I have been in there multiple times. He has a designated handful of tanks for raising Ancistrus and feeding Ottos, he also has a couple of green water tanks. He is limited on space and can't hide those tanks in a backroom somewhere to make it more aesthetically pleasing to people walking in. So he ends up with bad reviews from people who firmly believe that a few unsightly tanks means he doesn't perform the "once a week water change, keep tanks squeaky clean" maintenance schedule that the internet told them to do. There is such a broad spectrum of what determines "good fish care" in this hobby that I think more time should be invested in learning and experiencing collectively, rather than trying to teach. 

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I relate to this topic a lot. 

My step father has shown interest in the hobby especially as of late, so together we resealed a 40 gal, built a stand and stocked it. The guy's high stress so I figured a fish tank would mellow him out, give him a creative outlet, maybe a small sense of accomplishment. 

The problems come when feeding, water changes and lighting schedules are discussed. I try to keep things simple like feeding once a day, limited light, and me personally handling water changes, but the tank can't seem to stay the way it needs.

He likes to feed multiple times a day, wakes at 4 am and lights the tank till 10pm most days.  Were now running into a bit of an staghorn algae problem. I've tried to explain the science behind low feeding/light but I get the impression he thinks I'm trying to 'outsmart' him. He then does the exact opposite, as if to spite me. We've argued about tank Temps, the 40 is stocked with an oranda goldfish, 6 danios, 1 hillstream loach and some cherries.  Colder temp fishes so I try to keep the temp around 70 also to slow down metabolisms a bit, but often find my heater adjusted to 76 or 78. Any conversation usually turns into a bit of an argument at the expense of the fishes, well kinda, they usually get more food afterward.

As my love and knowledge of the hobby grows, i feel compelled to try and fact check or lend my thinking.  Its definitely a balance. Lately I've been putting CO Op videos in the background that roughly relate to the tank, in an attempt to give him info from someone else who he may listen to. I view it as a learning process, though I'm not sure if I'm truly helping him learn since I'm sort of micro managing the tank. Would it be cruel to let him take his lumps at the expense of the fish? 

 

 

 

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There's an old proverb: "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." 

I started getting really into this hobby a few years ago, and began watching a lot of YouTube videos. At first, I watched certain (unnamed) high-energy, high-intensity YouTubers. They definitely amped up my interest in the hobby, but over time I ended up sitting on the couch riveted to watching this dude just sit and talk about fish for hours at a time. This guy from somewhere out in Washington State . . . totally transformed my hobby. Then one day, he showed up at our fish club in Virginia! 

I'd say that the brand Aquarium Co-Op, and this whole forum exists for the purpose of aquatic education. 

HUGE THANK YOU CO-OP TEAM!

 

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I personally think that in order to have some substantial change you need to get some big social influencers involved, people like JunsKitchen who has a well thought out and well researched tank that looks to still be well maintained in the background of his videos. FishTube sadly doesn't get put on the "Recommended" list very often and the ones that do aren't very educational. Which is fine everyone needs to relax for a bit, but it's not going to help. Most people who aren't from the fish community will probably watch that one viral fish video than never watch from that channel again. If for example Aquarium Co-Op sponsored JunsKitchen and sent them a package with everything you need to start a tank and they made an educational video about it. Then gave a link to Aquarium Co-Op's YouTube for more information, probably a few thousand new people would learn how to take care of fish properly a thousand might decide to start a good aquarium and a few hundred might catch Multiple Tank Syndrome and tell their friends who have a betta in a vase how to take care of it. Then at least a million would get a vague sense of how to keep a good aquarium. Might not work though, I don't run a YouTube Channel or a business though lol...

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I sure wish someone had told me about cycling aquariums and properly sized betta tanks when I bought mine!  I took the advice of the pet store employee who seemed to know what she was talking about, but it wasn't good advice.  I think there are a couple issues that make this pretty complex though--

1. The information is out there, but people have to care enough to seek it out BEFORE they start.  Yes, I got bad advice from the pet store who wanted to sell me a fish when I wanted to buy one, but I should have planned and researched better instead of going on a whim.  I still feel bad about that fish, but it has served as great motivation to plan ahead and do better because I saw what happened because of my poor decision making.  I can take responsibility for that and do better.

2. Giving advice about things people have done unintentionally is difficult--it's easy to just induce shame and resentment and embarrassment rather than the desire to improve.  For example, if someone goes to the doctor and the doctor tells them to lose weight, that's the doctor's job.  But if you're just some person walking around telling strangers "Wow! You really need to go on a diet!" you're not going to be helping anyone.

3.  I think this has to largely come from people who are selling the fish--it's their job to help people make good decisions... but it's also their job to sell fish.  I think it's pretty hard to turn down sales and tell people "You have NO IDEA what you're doing--go do some research and then come back."  And it's hard for the person set on bringing home a fish for a birthday present to accept that they need to spend a month cycling their tank!  Basic fish care requirements are a lot more complicated than care for a dog or cat--an they're not as popularly known.  The more the info is available on great sites and you tube, though, the more people are going to start learning, and the more people there will be who can pass on the good info to friends and family who call them saying "I think I want to get a fish.  You have an aquarium--where do I start?"

 

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1 hour ago, Taco said:

I relate to this topic a lot. 

. . . I view it as a learning process, though I'm not sure if I'm truly helping him learn since I'm sort of micro managing the tank. Would it be cruel to let him take his lumps at the expense of the fish? 

Since it sounds like he's working directly against your advice, and not listening to anything you say, I don't see where you have any other options other than keeping doing what you're doing, which seems to be counter productive.  I'd wash my hands of the whole thing.

Edited by JettsPapa
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There's still a big problem with the general public viewing fish as ornaments (party gifts and table decor for wedding receptions) and not viewing them as feeling, living beings. Media such as TV shows and movies still perpetuate keeping goldfish in 1 gallon bowls, and bettas in tiny cups on a shelf. Education is the solution, but there's a lot of misinformation and misconceptions to break through. And many people are resistant to change. 

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I get it. Back in my youth, I did the “let’s see how big I can get my Oscar”, by feeding feeder fish and frozen beef heart...in a 29 gallon tank. Fortunately, thanks to the internet  I’ve learned better.  
 

If you think fish abuse is bad just think about large birds. I never realized what a problem it is until I visited (I was doing an estimate for new countertops) a lady who ran a bird rescue in her home. She must have had 15 or 20 Parrots, Macaws,  and Cockatoos (in a normal 3 bedroom home) that had been either abandoned or their owners had died of old age. Consider that birds like that are extremely intelligent and bond for life with their owner, PLUS they live a very long time...50 to 75 years in some cases. People buy these birds thinking they’re cool and have NO concept of the demanding lifetime commitment they take.

All of the birds at the rescue were sadly neurotic. Many of them had plucked out most of their feathers, others would just sit and squawk or constantly go up and down on their perch. None of them could be adopted, they weren’t there for rehabilitation, just to live out the rest of their lives in a loving environment.

Several years before that, I had done an estimate on an unoccupied rental house. The owner told me before I went over there to not get freaked out by the weird noise coming from the back bedroom. It was an abandoned Maccaw that the previous renters left behind. I had gone completely crazy....making a low repetitive growling/squawking noise as it paced back and forth and plucking at his feathers. The owner of the house said he had tried to sell it to a pet store but nobody wanted it. It was probably a $2000 bird in good health.  I hate to think what that bird’s final fate was . I wish I had met the bird rescue lady at that time .

 

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26 minutes ago, L.W. Wetarm said:

If you think fish abuse is bad just think about large birds.

I'm glad you mentioned this.  This is a real problem, and it's very sad.  Birds do not make good pets for most people.  I also see many people not paying attention to dog behavior and creating problems in their dogs.  Then they blame it on the dog, give it away, and get another one ("that one was the wrong breed," "rescue dogs can't be trusted," etc.). 

Whether it's fish, dogs, birds, or any other kind of pet...to me it boils down to two main reasons that people mistreat their animals: 1) ignorance and insensitivity to the animal, and 2) laziness and impatience.  People do not want to work at things, and they do not want long-term solutions. They want a quick and easy fix to everything.

So, in response to OP's comment, there is nothing you can do.  The ignorance is only part of the problem, and it's hard to cure ignorance because people generally do not like to be told what to do.  Most people are also no good at informing others without condescension or just overwhelming them with info.  That's one reason Cory is SO GREAT at his job; he's great at informing people without any condescension.  If you really want to help a fish you see living in poor conditions, my suggestion is strike up a conversation about fishkeeping with the owner: "when did you get into fish? How did you get your fish?  I've had a betta too...now I have these fish...I just love watching them, it's so calming..."  You can add maybe a story of your first hellish algae explosion (or whatever) and then bring up Cory's channel and how that helped you learn so much and made fishkeeping a no-brainer.  If they want to get better and they want to learn, this conversation will flow naturally and then you can basically just let Cory do his job through the magic of Youtube, LOL.

I feel your pain, I really do...it's very hard to see animals living in poor conditions when they can't really change things for themselves.

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One person at a time. That's the best advice I can give you. Most of us don't have a huge audience like Cory (I shudder to even consider having that on my shoulders; he's WAY braver than I am), so the best way we can make a difference is one person at a time. People come in and out of our lives, both face-to-face and online. When the door opens for us to share what we've learned, that's the time to do so. I don't generally give unsolicited advice anymore. I learned that pretty much always falls on deaf ears. Ways I DO share:

One, I let my tanks be a testimony and happily answer questions. I share photos online, whether in social media groups or on my own personal pages, but I also occasionally have visitors in my home who love what they see.

Two, sharing fish and/or plants with others even in your own community can be a great door opener. I've had that happen 3 times just in the past 2 weeks by sharing plants with people here in town when I trimmed and thinned my plants and decided to find homes for the excess instead of trying to figure out where to set up another tank (tight quarters right now).

Three, being involved in online discussions. We're here because we want to share what we know AND keep learning. (As I tell my hubby, the day I quit learning is the day I die.) Being involved in online forums and social media groups provides opportunities to both share and learn. Recently, I saw a post in a social media group wherein the poster laid out her tank size, parameters, and occupants and requested feedback from the group about it. Multiple comet and fancy goldfish and at least one koi in a 10g tank. After I recovered from my near heart failure, I asked if she had plans to upgrade her tank SOON since the tank was too small for those guys long-term. Other folks in the group gave similar feedback and encouraged her to be consistent with heavy, daily water changes to keep up with that bio load until she could get the fish into an appropriately sized set-up. Everyone was really nice about it, thankfully. She thanked us for the input.

Four, be willing to admit "I don't know" when someone asks something I have no experience with, then say "but I'll help you find the answer". Not only do I think "I don't know" is the start of wisdom, it allows you to point them to GOOD resources. I recently shared links on social media groups to my favorite YouTube channels - like Aquarium Co-op - that I know consistently put out great content. In my post, I asked others to share their favorites, if they weren't already on my list. I've found folks are more willing to listen (in this case, look at the links I shared) when they know I'm willing to check out the ones they share as well.

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@Dawn Turner I think that’s awesome advice.

I’m of the mindset that we do the best to influence the people we can, and that’s enough. It’s like the little boy throwing starfish back into the sea. Just because we can‘t reach everyone doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to reach some.

I’ve thought before about running a Fish Education Week on my Instagram (not that I have many followers at all!) but using it as an opportunity to debunk some of the most common misconceptions about fish care. Just one factoid a day with a fun graphic or picture to go with it. If I ever do it, I’d be happy to share the graphics with the forum! I’m no graphic designer but hopefully they won’t look horrible. 😅

@H.K.Luterman I know you’re quite the artist so if you want to collaborate on something like this I would gladly hand over the art side!

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Just now, Hobbit said:

@Dawn Turner I think that’s awesome advice.

I’m of the mindset that we do the best to influence the people we can, and that’s enough. It’s like the little boy throwing starfish back into the sea. Just because we can‘t reach everyone doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to reach some.

I’ve thought before about running a Fish Education Week on my Instagram (not that I have many followers at all!) but using it as an opportunity to debunk some of the most common misconceptions about fish care. Just one factoid a day with a fun graphic or picture to go with it. If I ever do it, I’d be happy to share the graphics with the forum! I’m no graphic designer but hopefully they won’t look horrible. 😅

that would be amazing 🙂 

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1 minute ago, Hobbit said:

I’m of the mindset that we do the best to influence the people we can, and that’s enough. It’s like the little boy throwing starfish back into the sea. Just because we can‘t reach everyone doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to reach some.

Yep. The ones we reach can reach others. If we reach just 2, and those 2 reach 2 more each, and those 4 reach 2 each... before you know it, you've helped a bunch, even if it's indirect. Since most of have opportunity to reach more than 2, and so the ones we reach, information can spread well among those seeking it.

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