addicted or insane


Where Do You Fit In?
Are you addicted or insane, or Just plan Nuts

By Jim E. Quarles

Since I have been involved in this hobby for well over fifty years, I feel qualified to both ask and try to answer the above question, about those of us who refer to ourselves as tropical fish hobbyists.

Now please understand that though I may be somewhat qualified to answer the question , it does not mean that you can rely upon my sanity any more than your own.

I am very fond of the old saying " The whole world is crazy accept you and me, and lately I have had grave doubts about you! ".

While it is interesting to ponder the question, from my personal experience the dividing lines between these categories are faint at best. Of course, listing each person in any one category or the other is subjective, and must be done with the understanding that any given individual is likely to move between these three stages.

Let us examine each category and list a few traits that might tend to help us determine the appropriate state a hobbyist is in at any fixed time.

My Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary on page 215 defines " Dedicated as follows:
The act or rite of dedication to a sacred use. ( sounds a little nutty right there doesn't it). Also a setting aside for any particular purpose.
To devote to a service of worship { principles of a divine being, but this can be applied to fish keeping as well.}. I do know quite a few people who consider their fish divine beings, ( they are insane as defined later).

Now let's get practical. I would define a dedicated hobbyist as one who devotes considerable funds to the scientific pursuit of a fixed aim, be it dealing with a individual species ( discus people take note,) or project. This is the type of person when you greet them with :" good morning." replies in Latin in two parts, neither of which makes any sense to the average (sane) person. The best definition of this type might simply be " very strange." But read on, in a lot of cases, depending upon degree they also qualify as insane or just nuts.

We must move on to the addictive type, but may return to the traits of those indeed strange types since it is sometimes hard to tell them apart.

By far most tropical fish people fit into the category of being addictive types, which does not preclude insanity or being nuts.

Once again we must refer to Wester's Dictionary, on page 10 ( near the front of the book, they got to this one quickly,) why not there are so many of us!


Defined as: One who is addicted to a habit, given up or over to a practice, One who is capable of being addicted, ( one size fits us all.) I know personally this would have to cover at least 85% of those I have ever known in the hobby.

Now the hobbyist will try to pose as normal in most cases. it only after you get to know them and see the fish tanks all over the house, even in the bathroom, that that you realize they are not (quite ) all there.

I have known a lot of them to devote more space to fish tanks than to living space in their homes. (This is a sure sign of insanity.) Few of these people can be considered normal if judged by non-addicted people. Another trait you will note with this type of person, they go form one small success through a long list of failures, only becoming more addicted with each additional failure.

In a lot of cases ( 60% or more ) they also spend far more on their hobby than they do on their family as a rule: ( if the kids need shoes, going bare foot is good for them ) if they need another fish or fish tank.

One sure tip off or trait is that these people belong to fish clubs or societies, devoted to fish keeping. (God help the wife is she plans something on a meeting night). You will also notice that in most cases they have little life other fish keeping in some form or other. (Now this borders on being just plain nuts).