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What do you value in aquariums?

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What do you value in aquariums?

Post by GaryE on Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:08 am

I spent a good chunk of time in an overly long fish auction yesterday, and in my boredom, I watched what people valued in their hobbies.
I don't necesarily mean what they like - but I was trying to figure out what underlies the passion that would make a person spend an entire day at a meeting like that.
I realized that for me, I would be content seeing ten different geographic varieties of a vaguely attractive grey fish, because I like seeing how populations of fish vary across their geographic range. Every trip online to figure out why a wild-type fish is as it is invoilves Google Earth for me. So as such a nerd, I expect odd and uncommon fish to fetch good prices. I'm generally wrong about that.
I had a good conversation with a very passionate (okay, it was a conversation where I sometimes grunted or smiled) young shrimp breeder. For her, the kick seemed to be learning the genetics of her expensive little charges, and trying to create different forms through combining geographic varieties and species.
She also used the word "profit" at least fifty times, which was a bit of a novelty for an experienced fishkeeper who has learned the dominance of the idea "expense" in this hobby.
I watched the planted tank crowd get very excited about building and nurturing their underwater gardens.
The carnivorous fish people were hunting for things to watch kill, and for things their pets would eat.
The goldfish people were trying to sell fish that had outgrown their tanks, now that pond season is done.
The list making breeders were trying to find new things to add to their club Breeder's Award lists, and new challenges for their skills.
The engineering tank people were buying gadgets and pieces of gadgets.
A lot of people were searching for brightly coloured beauties at bargain prices - hoping to increase the spectacle of their mostly Malawi Cichlid tanks, or to simply try keeping a colourful fish they had never seen before.

It was kind of neat, overall, because so many hobbies were intersecting at one meeting. I think I'm driven by curiosity about nature, and at the still startling idea of being able to observe evolution (given how I was brought up) in something as simple as a fishtank.
What do you think is your motivation for fishkeeping?
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Re: What do you value in aquariums?

Post by alexmtl on Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:24 am

Gary

This is a great philosophical question. As well, this is an even more insightful personal question which I think each one of us has a great response. The term "profit" is fitting as we all seek to "profit" in some way, whether by saving an endangered species (profit the genetic diversity), profit our animal caring, loving and nurturing, profit our curiousity. Yes we all benefit, and profit is a gain, though we usually think that it is a selfish financial gain. So I see myself "gaining" much.

What I value most :
- Seeing that I can create a population of hard to find fish, from a small seed. Kind of like a "Noah's Ark", save the species value.
- Learning as much as I can about the species and admiring the beauty of the creature in it's natural form
- Sharing and teaching others about these beauties

Great question Gary.

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Re: What do you value in aquariums?

Post by Biulu on Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:02 am

Ha, I guess I fall into Gary's plant crowd category! I consider myself to be a nature lover (and yes Steve, I have even worked as a treehugger!), the main reason why I studied forestry as it is one of the most diverse expressions of nature. As such I love ecosystems and observing nature.

I also love growing plants. So when you combine the observation, ecosystem part with growing plants you get my tanks. I like to have tanks where you can 'discover' new things such as a shy fish peeking out of the plants, a new shoot. Tanks that don't bore when you look at them and that are pleasing for the eye. And it is a kick in itself to grow a plant successfully.

For me plants and fish go together, and fish seem also to have a much more natural and interesting behaviour when you provide them lots of natural elements in their tanks (wood, rocks, plants) which in turn make the tank again more interesting to observe.
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Re: What do you value in aquariums?

Post by hello_rockview12 on Fri Nov 29, 2013 9:36 am

Interesting thread, I'm surprised it hasn't gotten more responses.  I think I would also fall into the plant crowd category.  I wouldn't say the plants come BEFORE the fish but I would put them on par.  That being said, when I am sitting down to simply enjoy the aquarium and not do maintenance, I am mostly watching the fish, the plants are the background.  When it comes to the big picture the plants are just as important as the fish.  The idea of having a balanced ecosystem in my living room is real satisfying to me.  

When it comes to fish it is very important to me to provide as natural of an environment as possible so that I can observe natural behavior.  This includes plants, stocking levels to satisfy social needs, nutrition etc.  Right now, shoaling tetras are my favorite thing to watch!

I am also into aesthetics when it comes to the aquarium and that goes for both the fish and plants, especially when it comes to the main display tank.  The more active/flashy the fish are and the more attractive the "scene" is the more non-hobbyists show interest and ask about it (including the significant other) - and I love to share my knowledge and have conversations about aquariums.

Great observations, Gary.  Different strokes for different folks.  I follow some "monster fish keepers" on instagram and it fascinates me that they go to great lengths to find the angriest fish that can do the most damage, sometimes even to the fishkeeper themselves!  
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Re: What do you value in aquariums?

Post by goldfishbetalover on Fri Nov 29, 2013 7:46 pm

not sure how I missed this post...
I guess I have been so wrapped up in my girlfriends new tanks and the cloudiness in one of my own!
I love your comment Alex particularly the one around "Noah's Ark" like a "Noah's Ark", save the species value....what a lovely thought!
I have learned much since becoming a part of this forum...about people and their love for this hobby! I am truly grateful that I am a part of this forum!
When I decided to "adopt or rescue" our 2 fancies and black moore they were lvg in a 10 gallon tank....they came home with me and stayed in this temporarily approx 2 weeks before I upgraded to a 75 for them. Although I was not literally as many of you do saving a species I did indeed feel as though I was saving their lives....or at least giving them a 2nd chance and a longer time to live...made my heart so happy to do this for them...
It has been so uplifting to watch them grow the way they should in their new large space...I in a sense feel the same way about the baby comets...all of them were so tiny when they came to our home and already have displayed growth and happiness...extremely satisfying to see. I love to simply sit in front of our tanks as do our children and watch them...graceful, peaceful, and also at times playful!
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Re: What do you value in aquariums?

Post by GaryE on Sat Nov 30, 2013 6:45 am

About 25 years ago, my wife had a student who was a Professor of Theology and Philosophy at a European university - a really heavy duty kind of guy. He used to drop by the house sometimes after the course, and he lectured me on having a God complex with my then three aquariums. His view was that people needed something to have power over, and that the fish were a sort of not yet invented Sims game.

I figured he had never kept fish.

I just listened, and figured his beliefs were a filter for how he saw things. Still, it was an intriguing thought.

I've come to the conclusion that control is not the issue for fish. If it is, you'll be selling the tanks and buying a spoon collection within weeks. I think it's more more an issue of lack of control - a tank takes on a vibrant life on its own very very quickly if you set it up right, and what the fish do is not what you want them to.

They interact with water and parasites - they get sick. They get territorial and fight. They form beautiful partnerships and raise babies together. Or they cannibalize their young. Sometimes they protect a wounded companion, and sometimes savagely murder him. Sometimes there are what seem to be mentally ill individuals that are completely psycho with their tankmates, and then, in the same species, you will have an alpha that is tolerant and easy going.

I've learned that African, Central American and South American cichlids have evolved different body languages, and I have learned how to break up Central American cichlid fights using hand motions from outside the tank. That was cool.

It's just a really rich world that passes in front of your eyes. Whether it's an individual goldfish exploring a new larger tank or a school of cardinals moving through a complex system of plants, currents, rocks and grumpy companions, it is a really interesting hobby.

For sure, I set up an environment for my fish, and I maintain it. So I guess I can be suspected of playing God. But there is very little control and these fish of mine don't believe in me. They just live their complex lives right next to me living my complex life.

They are absolutely interesting, as are the plants and insects, whether we look at them alone, or we look at species. I think people who don't get into aquarium keeping, gardening, animal keeping, frogs, birdwatching etc really miss out on something good.

My big African tetras which I have never been able to identify just started spawning (while I was writing this) in some ragged java moss right under the outflow of one of the two largest Aquaclears I run on my 120. What suddenly got them going? I wonder if I should take some time today and maybe steal that moss and see what would happen if I tried incubating these eggs I can't see... yeah, that's how it works.
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Re: What do you value in aquariums?

Post by goldfishbetalover on Sat Nov 30, 2013 7:38 am

I fully agree...folk who do not get into fish, gardening, other pets....etc...etc....are truly missing something in life! It is transforming, reflective, interesting....... People who don't have them have no idea what they are missing though......
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Re: What do you value in aquariums?

Post by mikebike on Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:58 pm

I started keeping critters from the local ponds as a child.

I learned that a tank need to be balanced
planted and livestock.

I continue to try to achive a low maintinence planted enviroment for my fish

There is no better felling than going away for a few days and retuning to tanks of healthy fish with no problems.

Balance in life
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Re: What do you value in aquariums?

Post by Sbenson11 on Mon Dec 02, 2013 6:50 pm

Ok Sigmund, I can't say you have been out in the sun to long, but maybe your sniffing the chemicals again.

i think the word profit is fitting in this case, as I profit emotionally from having fish and all the other pets from our zoo in our life. While there are times when I would sooner launch one of the animals out the window then feed them one more time, our house would be a very quite and lonely place without them all.

However if one were to add up the cost of previously mentioned zoo, profit would be the last word to use.

Steve

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Re: What do you value in aquariums?

Post by alexmtl on Mon Dec 02, 2013 6:55 pm

Sbenson11 wrote:Ok Sigmund, I can't say you have been out in the sun to long, but maybe your sniffing the chemicals again.
Gary, the Fish Whisperer, probably smoking something in his pipe

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Re: What do you value in aquariums?

Post by GaryE on Tue Dec 03, 2013 4:44 am

Hey, it was bad enough when the Philosophy prof I wrote about told me all aquarists had God complexes, but are you guys saying I'm a wannabe Rob Ford?

Ooh, think of the tanks I could have if I'd inherited a fortune like that...
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