STARTING WITH CLUE 5 GUESS THE FISH USING AS FEW CLUES AS POSSIBLE
With 2018 being all about ‘brand identity’ and with Joe Public getting on board with that, how do you define what it is you do? And does it even matter?
1 They have evolved the ability to shoot down prey with a jet of water. Some have been recorded firing jets as high as 5m!
2 These fish hunt in schools and spend a huge amount of time feeding on fish that live above the waterline, rather than in it.
3 Contrary to popular belief, most species live in freshwater and only a few are euryhaline, living in brackish water.
4 These fish form a monotypic family with 10 species within a single genus, all bound together under the scientific name Toxotes.
5 These wedge-shaped fish look a lot like white or silver perch with flattened backs, to facilitate their life at the water’s surface.
Are you embarrassed by the word hobbyist? And if you are, how would you rather define what it is that we do? I ask because I encountered a couple of folks recently who abhorred me using it. When I slipped the ‘h’ word out, it was as though I’d just unleashed some vile invective. They recoiled, distancing from the term. A world of labels Let’s cut to the chase. I could, if I wanted, apply a lot of labels to myself. I’ve been involved in conservation work before – am I a conservationist? I’ve been formally employed in a public aquarium – am I an aquarist? I’ve spawned many species of fish – am I a breeder? I’ve set up a planted tank and entered the International Aquatic Plant Layout Contest – am I an aquascaper? I’ve set up authentic biotopes – am I a hardcore habitat recreator? I’ve trained a goldfish to go through a hoop for a reward – am I a circus master?
We live in a world where everyone wants to define themselves along arbitrary lines into tribal groups. It’s a weird self-identity crisis that seems borne of the millennium and fishkeepers are just as guilty of it as anyone else. My only contention is that folks don’t use these terms with any irony.
There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a label and marking yourself out from others. Nothing wrong, that is, until folks start to see themselves as superior in their clique to the other cliques out there. “What, you’re ‘just’ a fish hobbyist and not an aquascaper...?”
I could give myself any of the titles from my list, and I’m sure any fans I have out there (I see you both) and my detractors could add many labels of their own – author, idiot, whatever. But the thing is, giving myself a label doesn’t change one aspect of who I am or what I do. I’m a fish hobbyist. Not one of those titles negates that fact. Not one of those titles is mutually exclusive from the term.
In fact, the only way I could see someone not being a hobbyist in this... erm... hobby, would be if they didn’t get any enjoyment from it whatsover – after all, regularly engaging in an activity for the purposes of enjoyment is the very definition of a hobby, whether that’s collecting (that’s most of us, then), or being artistic (waving at the aquascapers here).
There are three broad groups of leisure activity – casual leisure, serious leisure and project-based leisure. Hobbyists of all stripes fall largely into that middle ‘serious leisure’ category, which is to say our hobby may be pursued with such vigour that the eventual outcome is one of reward and accomplishment. That’ll be the likes of setting up a fish house for a selection of never-bred-before species, and then focusing on spawning them over the next year. you can dress such a project up any way you like – researcher, aquarist, whatever – but that’s still a hobby. I came away from my run in with the guys who hated the word – just the most recent of many such interactions I’ve had like this – scratching my head.
Maybe there has been a negative association with the word that has gone memetic and I’ve just missed it. Perhaps ‘hobbyist’ has become synonymous with an image of a parka-clad, sickly kid with a notepad writing down train numbers. But personally I’m happy to be a member of a huge club of hobbyists with achievements I can only aspire to one day match. Now stop pretending there’s something bad about the word. you’re one of us, after all...
Yep, still a hobbyist.