Aquarium the easy way
I live in the bush when it comes to having a hobby. In a small town in the countryside there is not customers enough for special interests. These facts have forced me to make my aquarium hobby rational and simple. In twenty years we have had a zoo-shop only for two short periods. Otherwise we have to travel at least 35 miles to nearest shop. That means expensive articles and food.
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Biotype as model
Another thing is that we can never be sure that our methods are the best. Do we need expensive pumps and filters and so on. In the beginning I was mad with these things and bought three aquaria in the middle class. Under the period with a shop I could sell my fishes or change to a new sort whenever I needed. So in a few years I tried many species.
Now we have no shops since three years. I have my Princesses of Burundi in two variants as the main inhabitants in 350 and 180 litres. In some small pots I have those living in shells and of two species.
"You must have a plan" ... are flying words we learn our children. It is good to have a plan whenever we have a project with many moments and aspects. Then it is near to think in biotypes as we se them in nature. For normal sweet water we can make three categories.
The Brook has often sections with smooth water or stony places were the small fishes or smolt hide and live on what the stream give. There can also be small lagoons besides with much vegetation and suitable places for specialised species. It is simply amazing how nature fills out every niche with life and that the species specialise and change shape and behaviour to fit their environment.
Downstream comes the River where the small fishes normally are near the shores and in small lagoons. Only bigger and strong fish can live in the stream and they usually "stand" behind a stone and watch for coming food. In the river the water is usually deeper than in the brook. The vegetation follows in size the environment.
The Sea has two or three types with intensive life. One is near the shore, another on stony bottoms and thirdly just under a steep where the water circulation brings food. From angling we can learn that there are not fishes everywhere in the seas. In brooks and rivers it is easier because we can see where it must be a suitable place. We can look out for outlets from smaller brooks where the fishes stand with their mouth open so to speak. The nursing places are smooth waters with much vegetation and often sand bottom and perhaps some predators sneaking round. Near the shore there can be some roots living or dead depending on the place. Often the sea eats land.
That is in short our possibilities and we have to imagine that a little aquarium is a brook. Many species prefer a water level less than 25 centimetres and can then be treated like a brook fish. The little bigger pot is normally 60 centimetre long 30 centimetres high with place for air and wide 35 to 40 centimetre and then 50 to 60 litres. We give them to our children as the first or use them for smaller fish and smolt. About the small sizes for steady use I have a separate section.
Suitable for making a sea looking aquarium are the sizes from 350 litres and more and you need a room that is fitted also in size. It would look odd if you set a thousand litre of water in a small room
There are many thumb rules, but they should never be rigid. I buy fish told to be very moving but they stand at a place. I buy fish told to live in flock and when they come into my aquarium they seek a standing place and defend it. That is why I am sceptic in these maters too.
Part of the plan is the size of room and the size of the aquarium. Only nerds like me have several pots in a room. Next step is to decide what sort of fish and if you have a bigger aquarium I recommend to read as much as you can about the sorts you want. Some help there is in it and you will know how big they ca be.
Do not think you can make big money by breeding fish. The Zoo-store needs large margins and it is better to support it than that it maybe closes next week. Then I speak generally about places like mine of course.
A little food some day an exchange another day may be what you need. Other try to breed expensive fish, but the price law is that high prices means fever buyers and perhaps they are not on your location. The aquarium business is simply very mall in most places. Then it is better to have fishes solely for fun. For me it has often been a question of space.
The problem is if you have good conditions the fishes will breed much more than in nature and they have no enemies in the aquarium ... and you protect them. On a little place there are limits how much you can sell of one sort. That is why I changed fish often when we had our store. So I could breed something new. I got too many fishes and gave away them for almost nothing. Now with no zoo dealer I let my Princesses live their own life. They control their breed by themselves such as it is in nature
But let us have a look on some real aquaria.
This aquarium is my own construction and made by our glazier.
The only fault is that the stand is too low. However then I had always many plants and seldom I saw the back wall. Now when I have no plants I do not see the fine background I made by photographing a brown cliff and made an enlarging for the background. I have brown stones gathered from Lake Vaenern.
It was often a quest of patience to see some fish except the small preferring open water in the middle. However some of them would rather stay at their place. In the corner we see one Papilochromis ramirezi I got one breed of. Then the female died and I got no new.
I have no good picture of "Pelvis" from that time.
In this pair the female is the active and she shows instantly her red belly "pick here" when she is ready. Then she tried to get him to her nest. My male had longer fens and brighter colours, but there are many variants of these. Same counts for many aquarium fishes caused by long time of commercialism.
Then followed the Pelviachromis pulcher and filled the whole place for a long time. I had to change to something else. I love especially when the female shows the belly. Some may say they are too easy to breed and too common. I do not think that way. Fish as fish and if you love them you will have fun with every kind.
The measures are length 100 cm. high 30 and dept 60. And I furnished it like a little lagoon in a brook were the water flow out from the pump. Stones and roots made the structure and plants filled it soon.
I had fish resistant down to pH 5,6 and then it did no harm when I put autumn leaves on the bottom. It is seldom a problem to get acid water. The pH lowers by itself and roots and plant rests do the rest. But my lesson came when a fresh water mussel died. The cause was that the acid water eroded the shell.
Small fish of this kind do not live for long in nature. For instance the guppy can make three breeds in a year and the law of nature is just to keep the population in balance with access of food.
I fell in love at once when I saw these brothers in the zoo shop. I had no place to keep them. But at the same time the merchant offered me a used suitable pot 120 x 60 x 50.
So I had simply to make room at home. The scalare is living in the river biotype. But these are hybrids while the natural dress is grey with dark stripes. I figured a "river biotope" which is simply some root and there should be reeds too, but something like that was not available. I had to use the old receipt "take what you have".
The echinodorus sword grow fast and wide and. To that some normal fast growing winding plants.
I got some other fast growing plant. But the red plant was seldom red because the algae loved it.
Some of my fished live long. The oldest was a labeo bicolor which died 14 years old and his brother 12. These brothers became 11 respective 10. They all became a part of me. When you have aquarium for a long time you just feel if something is wrong.
The old receipt patience gave me this picture of two beauties. The male ramirezi was left from the other aquarium.next