Lessons Learned from Fish Keeping

The Most Relaxing Hobby

image: Aquascape Paludarium blog

For most people, an aquarium is a decoration piece. In their minds, keeping fish is boring, particularly compared to having a loyal dog or a funny cat.

It is true, fish rank low as pets. You cannot really play with them or pet them. They do not respond to their name or cuddle with you. You cannot walk them to the park or play fetch with them.

You can only look at them. Boring right? I strongly disagree. Moreover, I recommend anyone to own an aquarium.

An aquarium is a water-filled tank in which fish swim around. Most people use them to keep fish. You can also keep only aquatic plants (some aquariums resemble magical gardens), small frogs, turtles, crabs, and other invertebrates, etc.

I love fish tanks in spite of some negative memories of having fish. For example, when I was little and still living in Tibes, Ponce, our dad had a goldfish tank. Beautiful. Except for my brother and I overfed the fish. Most of the fish died. We got a “pela” and were not allowed to feed the fish ever again. Good memories (shrugs).

my humble African cichlid fish tank

Still, I love my fish tanks. At one point I owned three aquariums (goldfish, community freshwater, species only tank). These days I favor my African cichlid tank.

You should give the hobby a try. It is not as complicated as it looks and it is more exciting than people think.

Indeed, I cannot think of a more relaxing hobby. If you put schooling fish together (or two shoaling compatible species) I swear there is nothing more relaxing than watching them swim back and forth. It truly calms the mind. Takes your stress away.

Besides a cure for stress, there are other benefits and lessons I learned from maintaining fish. It is a big responsibility. Those little ones depend on you for everything.

Here are the main lessons.


image source: BYA

In all honesty, I am not the most patient person. I like things done right away. I hate waiting. For people like me, aquariums are not the best hobby. Still, it will teach you to be patient.

When you are creating an aquarium, you are creating a fragile miniature ecosystem. You cannot rush it. In fact, it is better to err on the side of caution rather than risk damaging it. Our goal is to keep fish who thrive, not die.

Waiting twenty-four hours for the water to run before introducing any fish. Introducing one or two fish at a time and let the nitrogen cycle to set. Lots of waiting.

But wait we do, going slowly. It will be worth it.

Planning and Research

image: Advanced Aquarium Concepts

In everything we do in life, we need to plan ahead and do our homework. The aquarium hobby is no different.

Before we visit the fish store we need to decide where to put the tank. It needs to be near a source of water (you cannot do enough water changes) and no direct sunlight (unless you want algae, which you do not).

Furthermore, you need to decide what type of tank, size, decorations. Moreover, you need to consider fish habits, characteristics, and temperament.

For example, you would not put a slow-moving angelfish together with a fast swimming danio. Neither you would buy a single cherry barb when they love to school. And forget about putting together fish who love warmer water temperatures with those who prefer colder.

Planning and research will ensure a healthy and peaceful tank.


image: Reddit

Keeping an aquarium is a practical lesson in world-building. No, you are not creating a fantasy world or a galactic empire. Instead, you are building a living world of aquatic creatures with specific needs and requirements.

And yet, the design is completely up to you. Plants, rocks, bubble stones, gravel, shells, live plants… The choice is yours. You get to play god. Build a world from scratch for your fish to inhabit.

Surely, some of the most amazing tanks I had seen are mostly made of live plants. They resemble breathtaking landscaping vistas with the fish as decoration or as an afterthought.

Your aquarium is a reflection of your creativity.

Your imagination can produce aquariums which are conversation pieces. There is more to the hobby than just looking at fish.

Why Start an Aquarium?

YouTube image

We start an aquarium because we want to create beauty inside a stable and balanced habitat.

Or perhaps, like myself, you grew up near the ocean and miss being away from it. In a sense, keeping an aquarium reminds me of Puerto Rico. But even if you did not grow up in the tropics you can still benefit from fish keeping.

Believe me, it will relax you. It will improve your mood. You will fall in love with your tank.

And contrary to popular opinion is not complicated. Just remember, inside an aquarium, less is more. Do not overfeed, do not overcrowd (the less fish the easier to maintain), and change the water and filter often.

In conclusion, fish keeping is not boring. It allows us to create a beautiful environment that would bring us closer to nature. Additionally, it teaches us important lessons about patience, planning, and creativity.

Reader, do you have an aquarium? Are you considering starting one? Any tips? What lessons have fish keeping taught you? Please share in the comments.



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March 2023