Fish are one of the oldest life forms on earth. They have been around longer then mammals and are one of the major sources of food for a lot of people. They are environmental indicators foreshadowing what can happen to us should we continue to neglect the world the way we are.
All to often fish are ignored because they are difficult to see and find. They are hidden beneath the waves where most people cannot go and see them. The only exposure a majority of people have to fish are through the LFS and fish tanks.
Unfortunately since fish seem to be everywhere, we have diminished their value within society. They have gained a stigma as being a cheap and easy pet to keep. This complacent outlook regarding fish results in millions of fish being needlessly and ruthlessly killed each year. Our hobby has one of the highest dropout rates due to miss information and people unwilling to do the required research to keep their tanks going. The information is readily available and for the most part it's explained in a simple easy to understand manor.
Education is where hobbyists have the biggest role to play. It is our duty and responsibility to do everything we can to change this “add water and fish” mentality. The experience that we gather as we care for our fish is extremely valuable when it comes the understanding how complicated the natural world is and the fine delicate balance that Mother Nature is able to provide. We understand how the smallest change could kill a vast amount of life. Through keeping our tanks, it is easy to see how devastating pollution is to the world and when fish start to die in our waterways it is an indication of a much larger problem looming in our direction.
We have to educate ourselves as much as possible so that we can answer questions in a responsible and informed manor. We take the best care of our animals as possible. Then we educate the people around us with what we know. We make sure that we support the shops that practice good ethics and encourage them to do better then they are. There is so much more to keeping a fish tank healthy then just adding fish and water.