The past year and a half for the aquarium hobby, personally, was a rough one. I did eventually get my Tanganyikan cichlids, which started out in the 40 breeder, but I moved them to the 20 long instead. (There was a never ending bloom of algae and muck in the 40.) My 40 breeder has since remained empty, and I have a 20 long sitting on top of a 10 gallon. For some reason, I thought what I really needed was a reef tank, or a very large (120+) tank. But the thought of a reef tank wasn’t all that appealing, the work involved seemed too great. The large tank size would be wonderful, but I still had doubts in my mind about our local water quality. (Nobody wants a 100+ gallons of muck!) All of these experiences and thoughts brought the hobby to a standstill. There was even a moment where I felt as if I had already “taken care of everything,” and that “there was nothing new.” The lack of a quality LFS does not help either. One of the best in the area has since closed, and most LFS’s are too far away, or specialize in reef only. This led to the extended pause. In this time, I have evaluated what makes me excited in the hobby, and res discovered so many species I have never even attempted to keep.
There are many different reasons why aquarists get into the hobby, and they each have their passion. I don’t believe I have found my passion quite yet. But I have at least found the path that may lead to it. Here are the topics I’m hoping to delve into further, as I start again on the path of an aquarist.
Biotopes: Biotope aquariums have always inspired me. Each tank could be a different environment, in a different country, with different fish. Each with a different story and unique look. All of my future display tanks will be in a biotope setting. With my rather large range of tastes, I will have to either cut down on the environments/species I want to keep, or go smaller. A few that really intrigue me include:
- South American black water river, Amazon
- Central America, Yucatán Peninsula
- Africa, Lake Tanganyika
- Uruguay River
- Southeast Asian black water
- Orinoco River Basin
- Africa, West African River
- Central America, Costa Rican
Breeding: I’ve had some success breeding simpler fish, including angelfish. It was a very rewarding experience for me, and something I had rediscovered. So far in my aquarist career, I’ve breed 7 different species of fish. I’d like to add more to that list. Some of the species I would like to try include:
- Dwarf cichlids (Rams, Apistos)
- Tanganyikan cichlids
- Angelfish (again)
New Species: I’ve rediscovered some species I have wanted to try, and may be more suitable in species only tanks. Being older, I think I have the discipline now to run a true species only tank. Many of the cichlids are new to me, including New World cichlids, dwarf cichlids, and many African species.
Behaviors: I realized I have not seen all of the unique types of behaviors fish can have, especially when in a species only tank. This one is part Breeding and part New Species.
New Source For Fish: With the closing of the only quality freshwater LFS, my area has become a desert for fish. Wandering through rows of interesting fish was one of my biggest forms of inspiration. This may have been one of the biggest impacts on the hobby for me. Unfortunately, the other LFS’s here are too expensive, or are only big box stores with nothing unique. I have since found a place in OR, The Wet Spot, that I ordered my Tanganyikan cichlids from. I calculated their shipping costs, and it is still cheaper to order from then vs buying at the local big box stores. They also have an amazing selection of fish, and a wonderfully friendly staff. My LFS is now in another state, but I at least now have a source of quality fish. Fishroom videos on YouTube are now my inspiration to find or rediscover new species.
Custom Water: This is a strange topic, but one that has haunted me for my entire aquatic life. When I was in my first home, the water there was well water. It was rather good, but had hints of sulfur and was super hard. This limited what types of fish I could keep. When I move again, the same thing, the city water was ok, but stil chlorinated and too hard. In my current situation, the water is very hard, and actually has nitrates and nitrites, as well as other chemicals in trace amounts due to the agricultural area. I’ve since setup my RODI unit properly, which will allow me to create pure water, effortlessly. (And in the process, harvest the waste water for other uses.) This allows me to now have a blank canvas to create my water, to suit my fish – an idea that I have never explored before. Soft water loving fish are not a possibility, as well as liquid concrete loving fish, like Tangs.
These are just the key items I’ve discovered in my moment of reflection about the hobby. Since I’ve explored these options, I have found my passion for all things aquatic, returning. I have not felt this way for well over 7 years. There is still a lot of work and equipment needed to get from where I am now, to where I want to be, but this is a strong start. I’ve never felt more invigorated to jump in and get my hands wet!