I want to talk about a very well hidden part of our hobby. Something that us fishkeepers don't like to speak about and often keep hidden away from other fishkeepers. I want to talk about the fishkeepers widow.
The Fishkeepers Widow
When we are enjoying our hobby and we are maintaining our aquariums with regular water changes, daily feeding of the fish and constantly tinkering away at things, it can really take up our time. I know from personal experience that Saturday morning water changes can evolve into full day sessions. You start off with what should be a quick 20% water change but you spot a plant thats needing moved, then you discover eggs so your setting up that breeder tank you had in the cupboard. Lets face it guys, we could spend every spare minute of our time on our fishtanks. Thats the way your supposed to feel when you have a hobby you love. Or at least so I thought.....
I live in a busy house with my wife, five children a dog and a cat. My spare time doesn't start until the kids are in bed so during the day when passing my fishtanks, if I see a plant thats maybe needing attention or some algae on the glass (we all get it guys) then it needs to wait until the evening before i can sort it. So come 9pm, when all is quiet, I will often lift the lid of the tank down stairs and get to work. Before I know it an hour has passed and I hear my name being shouted from upstairs. No its not the kids waking up but its my wife wondering where I have disappeared to, again. Even though I explain that there was something needing fixed or sorted in one of my aquariums, she just doesn't get it.
My wife has a funny relationship with my aquariums. She will often say she likes a certain fish or plant but it doesn't go any further than that. As long as the cabinet matches the rest of the rooms decor then I'm winning. Oh, and as long as it doesn't take up any of "our" time in the evenings I can work on them as often as I like.
There is definitely some challenges to living with someone that doesn't share your interest in aquariums. Here are the most common ones I've come across either in my own home or from other fishkeepers...
- Questioning the amount of money being spent on your aquarium
- Justifying that next fishtanks
- Maintaining an acceptable balance between fish and family life
I often find myself talking away about one of my fish or plants when Im either reminded that she has no idea what I'm talking about. The most common situation for me is when I start to talk about a conversation that took place that day on our Facebook group. As hard as Diane tries to follow what Im saying, its like I'm talking a foreign language to her. I know most fishkeeper must experience that blank expression whenever they mention the fishtanks to their other half.
As much as we will our non-fishkeeping partners to show an interest in the hobby we enjoy so much, they will only humour us and tolerate our endless enthusiasm at best. I have often tried to involve Diane when im planning a new set up. The idea that maybe if she picks the fish, she will begin to take an interest, but no, to date, I have not been able to get Diane to pick a fish. Diane won't event visit a fish store. My fishkeeping is absolutely definitely my own hobby and it seems like its set to stay that way for some time.
For many fishkeepers, having a non-fishkeeping partner comes with more challenges than a lack of conversation. Many of us have to justify the large amounts of money we spend on equipment or fish. Ive heard some very interesting methods of getting round this such as "just say the price was smaller that it was" or get the new fish into the tank before they notice" but my favourite is " I just tell him ive eaten loads that day. He never asks questions incase i think hes accusing me of being fat!". There is a quote I've come across which i like to share often.
"its better to say sorry than it is to get permission"
There is also a funny quote floating about Facebook which We can all relate to and it states "the thing that scares me the most about dying is my wife selling all my coral for the price I told her I paid for them and not what they are actually worth". How many of us play down the price of that new fish?
I often see fishkeepers with fish rooms, sheds and huge tanks in their homes. The first thing that always comes to mind is how the heck did you get approval for that? Id never be able to pull that off. It doesn't bother me, I could not give a fish hut the time or money at this time in my life so I am happy to have 2 or 3 tanks for now. But I always wonder if there was a battle to get that 6ft tank in the living room.
Fish can be boring, smelly, dirty and costly. It is absolutely a hobby for some and not for all. I have to say that I have the upmost respect for the non-fishkeeping partner. They put up with a lot. Saturdays can be lost to water changes, shop visits and strange folk turning up at the front door with bags or buckets of water. Sundays can be lonely with their partners away to auctions or shows. Its for this reason I call these patient, understanding and amazing people.......
The Fishkeeper Widow