visiting a real reef

What are your other hobbies?

One thing we all share in common here is our love for saltwater fish, corals, and other invertebrates–educating and having fun around that hobby is core to the mission of SaltwaterAquariumblog.com, but it certainly isn’t my only hobby.

Which made me wonder–what else might we have in common? Are there other hobbies and interests we share? The inspiration for this post, therefore, is a bit about finding connection with you, constant reader (I always wanted to use that phrase, Stephen King uses it), but also is sort of inspired by all the online shopping I’ve been doing from quarantine.

You know that ad section that says…people who bought this also bought…

Or

You might also like…

Then it serves up a few suggestions.

So I thought…why not…it’s a bit off-topic, but why don’t I share a bit about some of the other ways I keep busy and have fun… and ask you to share a little bit about how you have fun with a comment at the end of the post. Sound good?

Let’s give it a shot.

Here are a few other hobbies that I enjoy.

Snorkeling

Ok, so, this one probably isn’t much of a surprise. Nothing beats seeing a real reef (or even just some fish and rubble) in the ocean. When it’s vacation time, I am certainly drawn to the warm sunny waters and hope to catch some time floating on top of the water.

visiting a real reef

Do you like snorkeling? I bet you do.

Fishing

Ok, so, I haven’t ventured very far away from fish yet. To be honest, I was a little timid about sharing this broadly. I hope you don’t find this to be too barbarous, but I do, also, love to go fishing. It seems like I shouldn’t love it–I care so much about preserving the lives of the fish in my tank. I care about proper handling practices, humane treatment, providing the right environment for them to thrive.

But my joy of fishing goes back just as far as this hobby. And I feel like they are connected hobbies, in some strange way. Understanding the behaviors and patterns of the targeted species is required to have a successful day on the water catching…and not just fishing…and so this is definitely a dopamine stimulating hobby for me.

What do you think? Do you enjoy it too? Do you find this to be a conflict of interest? I do want to hear from you…just…don’t be too mean, okay?

Crabbing

I promise we’ll break some new ground, soon. Still attached to the water. Still fascinated by the ocean’s bounty. Still hungry…still amused each time the crabs grab onto that chicken neck and won’t let go.

The best part about this one is that the action is usually so good that my girls will join me out on the dock (as long as it isn’t too hot).

Crabbing, anyone?

If you’re looking for an aquarium related crab article to dig into, check out:

the Amazing Arrow Crab

Emerald crabs for algae control

Gardening

Let’s keep with the food theme…but venture away, a bit, from the old fish and invertebrates, but something else I love to do is gardening. Fruit and vegetable gardening, to be precise. The goal: maximum production of delicious food.

I do think it stimulates the same pleasure gland (ew gross…that’s not even a thing…) as the reef keeping–it’s all about learning about the care needs of something (the different vegetables, in this instance), assigning myself a few menial tasks, like weeding, watering, fertilizing and then taking all the credit when the plants do what they do naturally.

Also, like in this aquarium hobby, there are plenty of mistakes to make (like planting too early and having everything wiped out by frost). Parts of it are like growing and fragging corals, as well.

How about you–do you like to garden? I recommend it highly

Making maple syrup

Sticking with the food them here (no wonder I’m overweight), I want to share this unique hobby–making my own maple syrup at home–from the (regular, not sugar) maple tree in my yard. Yup, you can do it too. It requires very little equipment and you can do it with any species of ┬áMaple tree (or even a few other trees that produce sugary sap). I had so much fun with this in the previous winter but took this year off because of all the damage my tree took in the storm last May. But I’ll be back in action next Jan/Feb.

If you’re interested in learning more, I did start a small website to share my journey about making maple syrup at home. One of the biggest questions is when exactly do you start? The whole thing is weather (temperature) dependent and you have to guess when to start. So I posted with a weekly journal style to help give some transparency to the impact of the weather on the yield to help others who are interested jump into the guesswork with at least one data point.

This would be a tough hobby to get into if you don’t have access to a maple tree nearby, but it is fun, relatively easy, and delish!

Homebrewing and mead making

So…I like beer. I like to make food. I like to see if I can make stuff grow. Homebrewing is all of those things. Mix together the right ingredients to create the right environment for the yeast to grow and…see if they reward you with alcohol. Happy yeast, happy me…that is, until they die, sink to the bottom of the container and then I siphon them out.

However, as a guy who has done…thousands of water changes…racking the brew (or wine) off the lees, which is what they call the dead yeast, for some reason, is no sweat. Neither is testing and enjoying the end product.

You’ve probably heard of home brewing and I bet you’ve at least thought about trying it. But how about this mead making…what’s the deal?

Mead making

Nerd alert. Mead has to be the nerdiest alcohol one could make at home. But, I’m going to own that here. You already know I’m a nerd. How else would this website about fish (usually) even exist without having a nerd-card?

So, here’s the deal. I remember reading Beowulf in high school, I’ve always thought Vikings are cool/tough (not a statement on their political and social policies, just…you know beards, axes, treasure, etc.) and it’s sort of an ancient technique…So I wanted to see if I could master it.

I can’t. Half of the batches taste like burnt rubber. The other half like prison hooch. Every now and then, I get one right. I’m a much bigger fan of beer than wine…so I haven’t gotten into grapes…yet.

If you’ve ever thought about homebrewing beer or making wine at home–or want to know more–here’s what it feels like, to me. The most important thing is cleanliness. There is a lot of cleaning and sterilization-related items. So if you are good at quarantine and other maintenance-related tasks in the aquarium hobby–you might index well into the beer making. There is definitely an element of baking/cooking. There are recipes, ingredients, even kits to make things easier. For beer making, many of the kits seem to be pretty foolproof. And of course, there is new gear to add to your wishlist. Isn’t that what all of these hobbies are about? There is also the challenge of getting the techniques right, learning how to be successful, and the reward of trying something you created, in partnership with your yeast and something to showcase to your friends.

Sourdough bread

My latest little ‘hobby’ was to learn how to make sourdough bread, with a wild yeast starter. Yes, you too can have delicious, daily, bubbly bread, simply by mixing some flour with water and nurturing some wild yeast. The process of activating and purifying the strain reminded me a lot of my days growing phytoplankton, rotifers and copepods in my basement, for my fish larvae…only way, way easier.

Oh, yeah, and you get to eat the bread when you’re done. My kids love to eat fresh bread. Who doesn’t?

Sourdough bread making is part…Eureka! sense of accomplishment when you magically conjure an active yeast strain out of thin air and make your first loaf. Part ‘keeping a pet’, because you have to keep the strain alive by feeding & watering it, and discarding the waste. And, of course, it’s baking. And since we’re friends…I’ll admit…there’s something fun about playing with (stretching and folding) the dough. It starts out as a mess…a disaster…and then your hands transform it into something with shape, structure…and then you bake it into something delicious. And oh, by the way, even the failures taste good (unless the disaster is that you forgot to add salt…).

The usual stuff

Okay, so, I also like some of the usual stuff–spending time with family, taking vacations, etc., but enough about me, for now–how about you? Any reactions to what was shared here? Do you share any of the same hobbies? Anything you enjoy that I didn’t list here that you think I should look into?

Thanks for indulging this slightly off-topic post. I really am hoping to connect with you here–this isn’t a trick. Please leave a comment below. You have to log in to leave a comment. I’m not looking for any info. I don’t want any info. It’s just a security setting because of all the SPAM I get. This is a small site and I still spend hours combing through SPAM comments for unmentionable stuff. With that said, here’s how you leave a comment: Create a profile, log in, post your comment. It sits in moderation until I can review it and confirm you’re one of my friends here, not a SPAMbot. Then I will read it, approve it, and usually respond. The email you use to log in isn’t associated with the newsletter or email promotions or anything, just permission to post comments–and once you’re a known entity here–it’s much easier and faster to comment again.

So please, if this article interested you, please leave a comment. I’ll be back to you as soon as I can.

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