Glass bloodfin tetra, Prionobrama filigera
Whether you are a novice fish keeper or you have been in the hobby for decades there is always something new to learn. But where can you find reliable and accurate information?
Unfortunately the hobby is full of people who having kept fish successfully (in their own view) for a few months form an opinion that fish keeping is easy and that they already know everything there is to know about fish keeping. This is highly unlikely and probably really isn't the case.
The rise of the internet forum has given the self appointed advisors an opportunity to speak out and spread halve truths rumour and occasionally just plain old rubbish based on nothing more than their own intuition.
Forums use other forums for research so rumour and myth very quickly become well established.
This state of affairs obviously helps no one, so what can be done about it.
Without any doubt the best sources of information are scholarly articles and papers written by an expert in that field.
Such articles and papers are generally not written with the lay person in mind and they will require some work to fully understand them and then to try to explain them in more simple terms.
When citing information from a scholarly article that article should have a reference which links back to the original work in order to give credit to the original author and so that it can be checked by others.
Genuine news items as opposed to articles written for sensation are subjected to stringent editorial control and are generally very accurate where reporting facts are concerned. Again any work based on a news item should have a reference stating the source.
Are generally well researched often using scientific papers and both are subjected to editorial control and where a set standard have to be met. Although not always completely reliable because their information can become out of date and superseded over time. In general books and journals written by an established expert in that field are a good source of accurate information.
This is where you have to take care because anyone can publish anything, it is particularly easy to do this online. Using self published articles without any references, and written by someone who isn't an established expert in the field should be treated as questionable and generally not a reliable source of information. If on the other hand if the work has been written by an acknowledged expert and the subject is within their field of expertise then the information should be treated as completely reliable.
More myths and poor information is passed on in fish and aquarium related forums than almost any other source, mainly due to poor understanding and lack of proper research about the subject. Such forums often use other forums for reference, there is no substitute for real knowledge and expert sources both of which are readily available if people would just take the time to look properly.
For many novice fish keepers the first source of information is very often the retailer who is selling them their first aquarium. Some are very honest and offer good advice gained from years of experience, others offer advice with a view on making a sale. A new hobbyist won't be able to tell the difference. In general don't accept as accurate any advice or information from a biased source.
Example: If two studies about if fish feel pain were funded by two separate groups i.e. An animal rights group and the other by an angling association it is almost guaranteed the the findings will be very different.
Don't try to fool people in to thinking that the work is your own, a few simple checks will reveal the real source. If you state that "most experts agree" or "scientific studies show" then a source should be provided to back this up or the statement is worthless.
Please be careful not to spread mis-information. If you get in to a discussion with someone who disagrees with you, don't go looking for a variety of sources which simply agree with your point of view but listen to their arguments and see if they might have some merit. Otherwise we will never move forward.