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sparkling gourami Trichopsis pumilaAbove: Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila)

 

It’s been a long year, huh?

Well, really, it’s been a long few years. I started Fishwise three years ago, the day after my 18th birthday in 2014. That’s not how most eighteen-year-olds celebrate their birthdays, but I was full of ideas and ambition and a desire to change the world – along with the over-eagerness typical of young people. That’s not to say my ambition has diminished – I’d say it’s simply shifted – and I’ve been given a good dose of the ‘Real World’ knowledge that can be hard for the naïve young person to accept.

This is going to be a long post. At the end, however, I hope to discuss why this will hopefully become a rarer occurrence, with the plan to make articles a little bit more digestible in the future. More on that soon.

 

The Start of Fishwise

I started out with some goals: To provide an educational source of knowledge about ethical, sustainable and evidence based fishkeeping. Along with that, I wanted to distribute high quality products that were not yet available in New Zealand, along with 3D-printed items not yet available in the world.
Some things have proven trickier than expected. Over the years and many hours of reading long articles of legislation, I’ve learned that importing things that I felt would benefit the hobby was not as easy in New Zealand as it was in other countries. I’ve also found out that there is a common attitude overseas about the New Zealand market – that we’re too small to bother with. When comparing our profits to those overseas, particularly with import regulations, they might be right – but I personally am not interested in letting the NZ hobby suffer because we are small.

I’ve also learned the reasons around our import laws, and although I started out highly averse and frustrated with them, I’ve come to accept the laws and even support many of them. This, however, could be the Ecology side of me kicking in.

 

What’s been going on?

Speaking of that Ecology side, things have been busy. It turns out, running a business and attending University are not easy to do side-by-side. I’ve been able to keep up with the maintenance – selling products in the background, making small changes to the site – but I haven’t achieved a lot of the goals that I had set for the year. This probably has something to do with the whole “getting an education” thing that has transformed both my schedule and the way I view the world.

I am almost through my first year of University, studying a double major in Ecology and Microbiology. As with many Ecologists, it’s been a bit of an eye-opener when it comes to how the pet trade isn’t always great for our environment, particularly when it comes to invasive species, medication overuse, and pollutants. And sure, there’s a lot of issues out there – but that’s no reason to turn our backs on the very hobby that inspires so many to become our future ecologists, biologists, engineers, chemists and generally creates people who love to learn and take care of the life around us.

 

claudelands event centreAbove: The International River Sciences / New Zealand Freshwater Sciences conference 2017, hosted at the Claudelands Event Centre

 

Sticky Science

From a young age, natural sciences have been a big part of my life - but it’s taken me some time to realize that not everyone actually enjoys learning long words and reciting binomial names. For many, they just want to have fun watching these wonderful creatures move and interact and grow – and that is pretty cool, too.

Over the years, I’ve looked at my work and have thought about how much I’ve improved as a writer. Look at all the new language I’ve learned! All the chemistry! The technicalities! The spreadsheets! Right?

...Right?

Not quite. I’ve just finished my trip to the New Zealand Freshwater Sciences’ conference, which I’ll make an (also long) post about later, but there was a fantastic lecture from the Science Media Centre NZ about how poor us scientists are at our communication. We have books full of complex vocabulary to communicate with other scientists, but that doesn’t mean we know how to communicate to the public.

In essence, I’ve forgotten how to talk. I’ve not been effectively communicating with you, my reader, because I’ve fallen into the trap of “facts are good; opinions are bad; explain everything thoroughly with the correct terminology”. That’s perhaps a good approach when I’m writing for a lecturer, but not so much for everyone else.

 

The Plan

With this new knowledge, I hope to implement some changes to Fishwise. Some future goals are:

- Doing exactly this; blogging and communicating. I hope to keep up with regular content to, at the very least, provide some indication that we haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth.
- Adding headings to articles. For Science!, Blog Post and Back to Basics all being potential headers – this will help to give you a better idea on whether posts are of interest to you. Wanting to learn something out of the ordinary? For Science! has you covered. Wanting a refresher on some aquarium how-tos? Back to Basics is what you’re looking for.
- Update some previous posts – the kind of boring maintenance that just makes sure I’m not feeding you out-of-date information.
- Reviews and updates on the latest technology, discoveries and views on the fishkeeping hobby both in and out of New Zealand. One of the first I want to review is NIWA’s SHMAK app, an awesome invertebrate identification tool that should be coming out soon!
- Citizen Science! How we as communities can go out and make positive changes to our freshwater ecosystems.
I would also love to, at some point, provide articles from guest writers. Freshwater is one of my favourite things in the world, but it turns out there’s the salty kind as well! (If you’re keen to volunteer to write for us, feel free to contact me here.)

 

Honey gourami trichogaster chunaAbove: Female Honey Gourami (Trichogaster chuna)

 

Anything Else?

Hopefully this covers a decent portion of the many thoughts running around in my head – for now, that is. It’s a bit scary putting views out there, but I hope to do some more of this writing in the future, and am always looking for feedback on what you want to read more of. More posters? More photos? Let me know!

 

For now; thanks for reading, and I wish everyone a great summer break!

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