Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dealing With Burn Out

Dealing With Burn Out

Burn out
No, I'm not referring to water dripping onto one of your many electrical strips, I am talking about something that happens to many hobbyist at one point or another. As you are going along doing your water changes you suddenly realize that your tanks have turned into a chore rather than a pleasure. You used to get a thrill out of your tanks, seeing baby fish or a new plant pop up. Now when you gaze in the direction of your tank or fish room you get a long list of "to-dos" popping up in your head. You find yourself avoiding the tanks, diverting your eyes from the multitudes of little fish. You go longer between doing your water changes, you aren't as diligent about dosing your fertilizers or supplements. Your bulbs go unchanged. You derive little pleasure from you once highly enjoyed hobby. What happened? You have burned out.

Whats The Cause?
Burn out can happen to anyone, whether they have one tank or hundreds. Whether they have been in the hobby for 20 years or one. What causes it? Well, that is probably different for everyone. As humans our interests do change over time. Perhaps you now find that orchids or glass blowing gives you your thrills. Maybe your life has become busy and time is just something you don't have to spare. For some people, once their tanks are set up and they are not out buying new fish and selecting plants and researching who can live with who boredom sets in. What ever the cause, it does happen.

How To Handle It
Many people, when they "burn out" take down their tanks give their fish away and leave the hobby for a while until they are bit by the bug again. Many others continue on with their haphazard maintenance and their fish and plants suffer. If you want to keep your tank up and running but just need a little boost in enthusiasm for the hobby try a few of the following things.
1. New is exciting, redo your tank. Trade your fish in, redecorate and try different fish. Setting up a new tank is often very exciting for people and this may just be what you need. If you have been keeping fancy guppies forever, try something completely different, like cichlids. If you are keeping a reef tank, try switching to fancy goldfish. A change may just be your cure.
2. Join an aquarium club. Excitement and enthusiasm are contagious! Surround yourself with others who enjoy the hobby. You can get new ideas, trade fish and just have a good time chatting about the hobby.
3. Spend time just enjoying your tank. If all you do is maintenance on your tank and you never sit back to enjoy the fruits of your labor it can be very easy to burn out. Try moving your tank somewhere that you can easily see it.
4. Try less tanks. If you have a huge fish room with tons of tanks all over, try taking some down and focusing on just a few display tanks or on just breeding a couple of species that interest you.
5. Go to the next level. Have you mastered keeping the tropical community tank? Maybe you are ready to go to the next level and start breeding or head into salt water fish keeping.
6. Make it easier. Invest in automatic water changing systems, feeders and dosers or hire someone who does tank maintenance. If you have less work to do on your tank you will probably enjoy it more, not to mention that playing with new gadgets is always fun. Also, this way, if you are burnt out your fish will not suffer the consequences.

If you find you just can't muster up enthusiasm for the hobby you once enjoyed, perhaps it is time to take a break. Remember that the fish rely on you for their survival and if you are dreading working your tank you are less likely to take as good care of it. Besides, why do something you don't enjoy? Many people find they just need a break for a couple of years. If you decide you need a break, I highly recommend you keep all of your equipment in storage as the fish bug often bites again.

Photo credits in order of appearance: nellring, tkcrash123, threefingeredlord

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