March 23, 2023

Fishy Secrets Revealed: The Pros’ Most Embarrassing Stories

We all have those forehead-slapping moments when we make a stupid mistake… and we hope no one finds out about them. Hey, not to worry – even the most seasoned of fish pros have made a few missteps.

“There is a steep learning curve in this hobby.” I remember being told this wise piece of information by a resident fish guru of when I first joined the site. She was so right. In fact, I don’t really think the learning ever stops. This hobby is full of science, chemicals, diseases, species, and a million new things to learn every day… or so it seems to me. With all of this information, a lot of mistakes are made. Some are big, some are small, and some are laughable (at least, after the fact).

Not terribly long after I had gotten a basic handle on the hobby, I set up a 75 gallon tank. One day, a wonderful surprise awaited me – there were newly laid eggs in my tank. I didn’t know where they came from, so I took a picture. I posted the pic on the chat room, where everyone was perplexed as to where they came from. No one knew what would lay these eggs, or what they might be. The suggestion was to pull them out and attempt to hatch them in a smaller tank so I could watch closely.

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I pulled the eggs and waited. And waited. And waited.

As photos around of my mystery spawn were making the rounds in the chat room, another member of the forum cracked the code. It turns out they weren’t eggs at all, but rather the pellets inside the osmocote capsules (plant food) he had sent me and that I had buried in the substrate.

To this day, five years later, I still get asked if my fertilizer ever hatched. Fish people do have a sense of humor!

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Inspired by my own stupidity, I asked around some of my fish circles to see what other embarrassing things they’ve done when keeping fish. Because I promised to keep them all anonymous, they were happy to share. Here are some of my favorites:

“One of the filters on my big tank suddenly stopped working. I called the Fluval customer service center because it was brand new. I tried everything they suggested, but still nothing. I found out what the problem a few days later when Piddles the cat sauntered by. It turns out that she would walk across the power strip, and turned on a timer that kept turning the filter off. I felt like an idiot. My husband also had a fish brain fart. While we were troubleshooting the filter problem, he was wiggling the impeller/motor and didn’t realize it worked like a cam lock. WHOOSH – water everywhere!”

“I once cried my heart out because I found my Pom Pom crab dead in my reef. When I took him to the pet store to find out what killed to my dearly departed pinching friend, I was told that it was only a molt.”

“I almost froze my fish by lowering the temperature 12 degrees without realizing it. I didn’t notice until all my corries started going belly up on the bottom. Two gallons of 120 degree water later, and they were all fine.”

Many others had chimed in at my request with basic answers that I think occur at least once in every fish keeper’s lifetime. Things like draining the tank without unplugging the heater, which results in the tank shattering, to leaving the lid off of a tank and having fish jump to their doom. We’ve all made mistakes, and if we can’t learn from them and laugh at them, then the hobby would be pretty boring, wouldn’t it?

Do you care to ‘fess up? Chime in below in the comments with your most embarrassing moment as a fish keeper.

summerSummer Davis is the mom of three kids, four dogs, and several tanks of fish. She boasts a passion for all animals, whether they are in the water or on land. This fish aficionado has kept many different species in her time, but holds a special place in her heart for wild and domestic bettas. When she’s not talking about fish, Summer “spins” her extra time as the director of a baton twirling organization.