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Inconsistent Information About Aquarium Care

How Can I Know Who to Believe?

(The First Tank Guide)

So, how do you know who's right and whose advice should be followed?

There are several things to take into consideration when evaluating the fish care advice you receive from any location. Among these considerations are the source's credentials, whether the information is supported, whether the information is rational, what information is being contradicted, and the motivation of the source of the information.

  1. What are the credentials of the person you are getting advice from?

    Look to see if that person has any qualifications listed. If this person has their own web site, but doesn't post their own qualifications, you should take more time to consider their advice before acting on it. When materials are published in a book, you have the publisher supporting the author's credibility, however, on the web, anyone can publish anything, so review their credentials closely.

    Among the things to consider regarding credentials are:

    • What works has this person published on the topic at hand?
    • How long has the person been doing this?
    • What is the person's relevant education on the topic?
    • What references are cited or are being used to provide the information to you?
    • Are there any testimonials about the validity of the information provided?

    Remember, these items all need to be taken into consideration together and weighed against each other to determine the validity of the source.

    Also, keep in mind to question the validity of any information you are receiving in an environment where an individual's credentials cannot be published, and identification can be easily faked, such as chat rooms or bulletin boards.

  2. Is the information supported?

    Is the person giving you the information supporting it with background or providing your with resources from which you can confirm and expand on this information?

  3. Is the information reasonable?

    After hearing or reading the information you have been provided, and considering the explanation and supporting materials for the information, does the information sound reasonable?

  4. Who does the information contradict?

    When you receive contradictory information, you need to evaluate the credentials and reputation of the sources of the information and determine which seems to have more credibility in this particular case. Furthermore, you need to evaluate the support for the information on both sides. You may find that, though the two suggestions sound contradictory, they are merely ways of solving the same problem from different directions.

    Also consider what interactions you have had with these sources previously. If you have gotten correct and reliable information consistently from one source in the past, you should keep this in mind while considering the validity of the information you are being presented.

  5. What is the motive of the person advising you?

    Is the person advising you trying to sell you something? If the person providing your advice is trying to sell you something in a situation where they benefit from the sale, consider their advice carefully to determine whether it has merit beyond the product sale. Of course, remember that if you asked for product information from a reseller or manufacturer, then you will need to evaluate this information differently.

In the long run, you will need to evaluate the information you have been provided and make your own decision. However, remember to think about the information you have been given, rather than just acting blindly on it.

"Thank you so much for your informative article on the painted fish. I HAD NO IDEA!!!! I feel so doggone guilty for buying the fish now. I had so many questions about these fish also: how did they evolve to that color, etc. (my lady friend calls them sci-fi fish). Anyway, I am printing a copy of your article on the painted fish, and hand delivering it to all my favorite pet stores. Hopefully I can convince them not to purchase these any longer. Additionally your information explained these fish have been expiring one by one in my tank. I was very concerned about that, as my other fish have been fine for months. Once again, Thank You."
February 2, 2003
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"Until we found your common sense approach to fish care, we were submitting them to ongoing jeopardy. Shortly after reading your web site, we emptied our existing tanks, put most of the chemicals in storage, and started from scratch. So far, so good, as the fish seem to be reveling in the change. Your guidelines provided for a new aquarium set up are right on the mark. It got to the point we just knew the information we were getting locally was wrong! We just didn't have the right ones to move forward!
Thank you very much for your free information as it would easily be worth the price of any book. We never could find one this good! We can we see you are very committed to this hobby. We are very thankful that you have taken the time to help other beginners."
August 7, 2004
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