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I’m awful at playing God

By Darcy L. Fargo

Darcy Fargo

Sept. 14, 2022

I should probably preface this by saying, “yes, I realize I have strange hobbies.”

That being said, there’s an ecosystem sitting on my desk at home.

Immediately to the right of my computer monitor, keyboard and workspace is a 10-gallon aquarium. I started the aquarium with the goal of supporting my growing freshwater aquarium hobby by breeding and selling its inhabitants. While those plans haven’t changed, I’ve enjoyed maintaining this aquarium and its inhabitants far more than I anticipated.

So, what am I raising? Neocaridina shrimp. For those not familiar, they’re a tiny (slightly less than an inch in length when fully grown), brightly colored (mine are red) freshwater shrimp.

While I find their shrimpy behaviors fascinating and entertaining, and I’ve enjoyed learning about their life cycles and care, I also love that they’re only one part of their ecosystem.

The 10-gallon glass box also includes a multitude of “macro-organisms,” tiny, bug-like creatures that survive on the waste, food remnants, biofilm and algae in the tank (I intentionally grow algae to add to that tank; the shrimp enjoy eating it). The tank also contains some plants (the few that survived the shrimp eating them) and more than a few pest snails that came with them.

While I’ve read countless articles and watched eleventy billion videos about caring for my shrimp, fish, plants and aquariums, the experience consistently reminds me of one fact: I’m awful at playing God.

If you can think of an aquarium problem, I’ve had it. Leaks? Check. Fish diseases and parasites? Yup, at least four. Unexpected spikes in ammonia or nitrites (both of which can hurt or kill your aquarium inhabitants)? I’ve lost count of those. Deaths I can’t explain? Oh, yes.

It’s been yet another reminder that no matter how much I think I know, how much I try to exert control, some things aren’t mine to manage. I can do my best to cooperate with God’s creation, but ultimately, I can’t control all (or any) of the variables.

I frequently forget these lessons. I’m pretty sure that’s why God continuously reminds me, even through my strange hobbies.

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