Love your hobby - a call to action!

There is a quote I see pop up from time to time that I've been thinking about this morning. I think it is very suited to the fishkeeping hobby right now and one that every fishkeeper should really embrace.

"Do what you love & Love what you do"

We all love keeping fish. This is evident each time I visit our Facebook group and read the conversations everyone is having. I see so many people get so much from their hobby each and every day. People making new friends, discovering new species, sharing advice, support and experience. As far as our hobby goes, us fishkeepers are great at supporting each other. 

However, as with any hobby, there is an industry behind it making money by selling the things we all need, bringing out new and innovative products to make fishkeeping even better. These companies play a vital role in our hobby, without the forward thinking of people like Gunther Eheim who created the first suction filter who knows where we would be. 

Society today is all about making things easier, which in theory, is a good thing. We can now go online and order anything from any part of the world. wether its rare species of plants, fish or specialist equipment, if we want it we can get it. This makes our personal fish keeping experience unlimited.

Before the internet, we could only access fish and equipment via our local fish shop. While this was not always the most convenient method for us all, it was a sure fast way of our hobby sustaining itself. finding a good fish shop was like winning the lottery back in the day. People would travel every week just to see what was waiting in the tanks at their favourite store.

Today, fish keeping is different. With massive nationwide retailers & online stores the need to visit our local fish shops seems less important than ever before. As consumers, more often than not we choose convenience over loyalty. It happens to most high street shops when the large superstores come to town, small shops like dry cleaners or DIY shops find themselves overshadowed by corporations like Asda  walmart who offer everything in one place and very low prices.

The independent fish shops are currently fighting for their lives. The big retail chains like Dobbies & Fishkeeper are opening all across the UK and our once treasured fish shops are closing down one by one. Its simply impossible for them to compete with these big chains. The fishkeeper that used to take his kids to his favourite fish shop at the weekend to show them all the new fish is now taking his whole family out for the day to visit the garden centre with the aquatics department, nice cafe, farmers market and softplay instead. While I can understand that from a consumers point of view, these big shops offer so  much in terms of stock, they are not any cheaper than the local fish shop, infact in most cases, they are more expensive.

Another issue that continues to surface is the lack of knowledge displayed by the staff working in these aquatics departments. Now I know there are some very experienced fishkeepers working in some of these chain stores who do a very good job, but the majority of "aquatics experts" are undertrained and lacking basic fish keeping experience. This is not their fault and I have nothing against these people who are simply following the instructions given to them. However this scripted approach when selling fish just doesn't work. New fishkeepers need to know the basics of setting up an aquarium, filtration, cycling the tank and biological filtration. I just don't hear staff in these large stores engaging with customers in this way.

Our local fish shops on the other hand, go out their way to insure beginner fishkeepers all clued up and ready for adding their first fish. Ive heard stories of customers visiting their local fish shop and walking out with not only the fish they want but samples of food and other freebies to help them along. Some local shops even offer to fix your broken filters for you to save you buying a new one. You would not get that level of service from the big guys.

This brings me back to the quote above.

"Do what you love" This indicates that we all love our hobby and fishkeeping is definitely something we love doing.

"love what you do" I feel strongly that we should all care about all aspects of our hobby. We should be supporting new fishkeepers and offering helpful advice. We should be doing our best to support local fish shops and building strong relationships with these people. Our local fish shops should be our go to place, our meeting place and ultimately our source for fish, food, decor and anything else that takes our fancy.

I ask that anyone reading this blog to cherish your favourite fish shop. Know the staff by their first name. Speak with other customers and take your time to enjoy your visit. I guarantee you will get so much more out of your hobby. You will also be doing your part to preserve one of the most important parts of our hobby.

Bye for now

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