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Fishkeeping Biography

This page is the story of how I gradually got more and more hooked on this very absorbing hobby. I have been a tropical fishkeeper for many years now and currently have about 30 tanks, ranging from small rearing/isolation tanks of 18" / 45 cm long (about 8 gal/40 litres) to tanks over 8 feet (2.4 m) long. Details of some of these can be found in the Tank Setups section. I started out, like many hobbyists, with a small community tank. I did a huge amount of reading before I started out, and consequently avoided at least some of the common beginner mistakes. However, I also learned that a deeper knowledge is only gained by experience, and that books can only teach you certain aspects of good fishkeeping (that hasn't stopped me collecting quite a large number of books though!).

I started out with a 2 foot (16 imperial gallon) tank. Initially I had guppies (of course!), glowlight tetras and corydoras catfish. At this time I discovered that breeding guppies simply involved keeping a male and female together in a tank! Therefore I was soon finding young guppies in the tank. I purchased a small 18x12x12" tank to raise the fry in - and so the progression from keeping a single fish tank to becoming a hobbyist had begun... I soon purchased another small 18x12x12" tank to serve as a quarantine/isolation tank.
Eventually I started to yearn for other species of fish which I knew were too large for my 2 foot tank... so I purchased a 4 foot tank. I moved my Siamese Algae Eater to this tank and added a Red-Tailed Black Shark, and a few weeks later five Silver Sharks. I decided to stick to other S.E. Asian species and also to plants from the same region and so this evolved into my planted S.E. Asian setup. Over time, barbs, gouramies and clown loaches were added.

My first fish tank!
My very first tank!

When I upgraded my S.E. Asian setup to a larger tank, I placed it on a second double stand, and the original 4 foot tank on the bottom became firstly my Amazon tank and then later my South American catfish tank with corys, pictus cats, an ancistrus and banjo cat and my angelfish, to make use of the upper tank region.
By this time however, I had also begun to take an interest in Malawi cichlids, so when my brother sold his coldwater fish I stepped in to take the tank off of his hands and my Malawi setup, my sixth tank, was born. A seventh tank was added, another small 18x12x12", because by this time I was breeding Panda corys and also attempting to raise Angelfish.
My next change around occurred after I could not resist buying a Polypterus from my LFS, which was initally housed alone in my original 2-foot tank. Knowing this would not be large enough for a permanent home, I moved my S. American catfish setup to a new 3-foot tank (tank #8!) and used the 4-foot tank for the Polypterus, who soon had a few new companions in the way of larger catfish and two more Polypterus species. Eventually, this Polypterus tank was upgraded to a 48x18x15" tank (#9!), to give the Polypterus and catfish more floor space. The original 4 foot tank was used for my Malawi's and a now-spare 3ft tank became a Tanganyikan setup. Due to space limitations, my setups stayed this way for a while, with about 6-7 out of the 9 tanks up and running - the smaller ones being used for rearing and quarantine as necessary.

Due to my space limitations, I was very pleased when I finally had the chance to set up a proper fish house several years ago! The availability of a solid outbuilding would mean I could have some of the larger tanks I'd wanted, as well as hopefully making maintenance a little easier (no more spills on the carpet). Around mid September 2001, I finished sealing and insulating this building, and installed a power supply, lighting and a heater (to heat the whole room, rather than individual tanks). I acquired some larger tanks too - a 7'x 2'x 2' , 5'x 2'x 2' and a 3' x 2' x 2', as well as some additional smaller ones.

The fishroom had several changes over the next couple of years. Some of these represented my ever-growing interest in oddball fish, and further attempts to increase the number/size of tanks! However a warning to those on the same slippery slope: it's never enough! :) A house move in Spring 2005 (not easy with all these tanks) led to building a new larger fish house, so I was able to realise my intention to do it bigger and better this time...

2008 update: details of the new, larger fishroom and tanks have been added to the My Tanks section!

I now also work in my local specialist aquatic store, which has expanded my knowledge of different species and aquarium equipment in a way that would not have been possible as a hobbyist only. This fish store has over 300 tanks of freshwater tropicals including many rare and unusual fish, and was the perfect part-time job to help out financially until I finished my PhD - especially as I could now get major discounts on my aquatic supplies!

I have found fishkeeping to be an enormously absorbing hobby - to an extent that is just not imaginable before you get 'the fishkeeping bug'. Many of you reading this will know what I mean. It has also widened my knowledge about the geography of the major tropical fish regions and encouraged me to learn to scuba dive. Fishkeeping is about more than keeping fish as pets, it can be enjoyed at many different levels by people all over the world, and the internet has made it easier for this worldwide community of fishkeepers to communicate through aquatic websites and message boards.

The addiction continues...

aka Rockfish




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