Reading Digital_God's post really made me feel bad. Because it's so true.
Please read this post carefully and to the end. As usual I make my points in an unusual way, at times leading you toward making my point at the end:
How "safe" is every one of us from being visited in regards to keeping illegal aquatic plants? If I type my first and last name in the Google image search EVERYTHING that comes up is aquariums. There is a single picture about something else (some kind of cheesy sink design). But everything else is planted aquariums. The images are linked to my name from all kinds of websites. I cannot possibly delete them all.
I have a friend that is proud that when you search his name on the internet nothing comes up. He has nothing to hide except his cigarette smoking from his wife, haha. I guess at this point I could wish I was him. But really - why? As a president of the Dallas/Fort Worth club I really need to have my things in line anyway. That means "destroying all evidence". Because soon I will be "in possession of evidence" I guess...
This post is not meant to sound grim. It's about ballance. I'm posting because there is something else - a positive side to all this. This whole thing does not have to be so dark. Yes, just like everybody else, I don't feel good about someone telling me what plant to put in my living room tank. But we, as a club, are going to work this out and we need to stay positive. And active as a club. Here are some good ideas:
1. Disposing of our plants.
The thought of burning or bleaching my plants is really ugly. In less than a month the big Bolbitis in this tank has grown into a true deep forest looking monster. Many, many fresh new leaves with a myriad of fine details - an exquisite natural view that only a live plant can display. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1OmBKqqbmY
This aquarium is clearly visible from even 500 yards away because it is in the front room of my house. I will not put up curtains to hide it. You know what I will do with this plant? No burning, no bleaching. I will offer it to someone in another state where it is not legal to keep. Cheap or even free. I will do that with all my plants. If you were considering the sad act of killing your plants please consider selling them out of state or even giving them away out of state.
Except that Bolbitis heudelotii is on the "White list"! Meaning I can actually keep it. That's "good news", allright.
But my point is a little different: Not only we can avoid killing our plants by selling them/giving them away. We can also make quite nice looking aquascapes with the plants on the current "White list". If you didn't know Bolbitis was legal then maybe you should read the "White list" again and see what plants are actually legal: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild...sed_list.phtml
Yes, not the most exciting thing in the world, but that will allow us to continue our hobby in at least some fashion. From past experience living in countries with heavy "regulation" or just plain little resources I know well how creative people become under restrictions. This may sound pretty grim too and quite separated from what we perceive as "freedom", but let's be positive about it all. We can find ways to continue enjoying our hobby and eventually having the freedom that we have enjoyed so far.
2. The "paranoia".
That is what we need to avoid. I personally do not enjoy the feeling of "being undercover". In my childhood I lived in a so called "communist" country where secrecy was encouraged because "the enemy is always alert". Such life is nothing less than horrible. Later, in the US, I worked for a person that forced all his employees to cover his lies so he can make higher profits. Either way - the "paranoia" life style is what we need to avoid. You do not want to be hiding aquatic plants, trust me.
The hobby can be enjoyable despite the restrictions. Providing we don't constantly focus on the "limited freedom". And if we keep the club and the hobby alive we have a shot at this same "freedom". Just like the club is alive and well when we enjoy each other's company and have plans for the future. We have been going strong for many months now and we can keep it going.
3. What do do if you actually have someone show up at your door waving a seemingly legal permit to search your house?
Anyone can pop up and show you a document that you may take as real. From what I understand there should be a phone number on the seach warrant and you are allowed to make a phone call and check BEFORE letting people in.
Please, someone, correct me if I'm wrong.
4. Let's be mature and pro-active about the whole predicament. We have been put in a predicament indeed. It is not only the monetary value of our plants but also things like the emotional attachement to plants we may have had for years or acquired in specific ways. It is also the feeling of restriced freedom without any wrongdoing from our part. We also question the decisions made about including/excluding this or that plant from some list. Basically we have too much going on and it would be easy to just get out of this hobby. Or try to conceal a few plants. Or stop attending the meetings.
Once again - we can find ways to continue enjoying this hobby and developing it further too.
Here's a good motivating conclusion: So far DFWAPC is the only aquarium plant related establishment in Texas that has actually buckled up and ready to work with TPWD toward permitting more and more plants to be used in Texas home aquariums.
We can make a difference. Looking forward to see everybody at the January meeting! And we already have an amazing host for one of our next meetings!