Fish, Tanks and Ponds an Introduction.
July 11th, 2015 9:08 am     A+ | a-
By Andy Rapson

I can't ever recall not being interested in fish. Like many others of my generation my first attempts at fish keeping were a few minnows and sticklebacks kept in an old jam jar before moving on to a more serious goldfish bowl complete with four goldfish. At the age of nine I made my first "pond" which was basically my little sisters old baby bath sunk into a hole in the garden (complete with minnows and sticklebacks). It was at this point that things took a more serious turn, one day while looking for more minnows and sticklebacks or maybe something more exotic like a stone loach or bullhead if I was really lucky, I saw something which almost made me wet myself a baby Pike about 3 or 4 inches long. Even at 10yrs old I knew Pike were territorial and I knew that I wasn't going to be able to catch it with my hands, so off I went home to make a fishing net which basically consisted of a pair of my mums tights over a wire coat hanger which had been opened to form a loop. The net worked and I was thrilled, mum was slightly less thrilled to see me and my quite large entourage walking up the main street with a pair of her dripping wet tights dangling from a bamboo cane.

Anyway the Pike went in my "pond" and very quickly set about eating all the minnows and then the sticklebacks (at least it was eating ).
Then at 12 I got my first tropical tank after trying to keep some barbs with my goldfish, I guess my dad finally realised my hobby was a real interest and bought the tank for me. It was a complete set up with two each of all the usual fish 10 in total, the tank was 20 x 10 x 12 and I loved it.
With my now serious hobby having begun properly my ambitions grew out of all proportion. I built a concrete pond on a much larger scale than the old bathtub using some cement which I had seen laying around in the garage doing nothing (ok it was my dads cement but basically he wasn't quick enough ) The resulting pond was worth the telling off.

My collection of tanks grew over the next couple of years and everything was going smoothly. Then a big moment, I had my first fry naturally I couldn't possibly go to school and leave them on their own at that age so I sneaked back home to look after them and got caught.
Time for some changes, my parents decided that one tank was enough and the rest had to go. And momentarily that is what happened. But not wanting to give in quite so easily I found that the shelves in my wardrobe 5 in all could easily hold a 12 x 8 x 8 fish tank and remain hidden, so I was back up to 6 tanks once again even if they were quite small. It didn't last an air pump gave me away when it moved slightly and touched the back of the wardrobe, I believe it sounded like a pneumatic drill, oops.

I didn't get the telling off that I expected, instead my dad handed over the garage for me to set up a few tanks provided that everything was kept tidy, within a week I had 18 tanks and I eventually reached double that number. I joined various clubs and associations regularly attended fish shows and when one of my clubs put on a show I always made sure that I was the judges runner. It was my job to put the cards on the winners but the real reason I wanted that job was because the judge would tell me what he was looking for and point out all the various good or bad points of the various fish (I learned a lot).

Then at 18 I bought my own tropical fish shop in the village of Crosshills, N Yorkshire. This was at a time when Rift Valley Cichlids were starting to appear and Discus were still practically impossible to keep. It was my ambition to keep and breed both (I have done both several times now).
I had the shop for a few years before selling it,

At 24 I got married to a non-fishkeeper. She didn't like it when I spent a years tax rebate on a single Koi (a very high quality Kohaku) she was even less impressed when I decided to treat it in the bath when it developed a slight bacterial infection, (never put potassium permanganate in a white bath), it was probably doing so which led to my divorce!!!

I have carried on keeping fish but in the early 90s things changed. Fish clubs began to fade away and once large fish shows which used to attract tens of thousands were down to a few hundred. The time of the internet had arrived.

Taking up the new challenge I joined an MSN group about fish keeping, I was made asst manager within 3 weeks and manager in 5 weeks. Then I made my own MSN group called Fish, Tanks and Ponds. A lady called Michelle who I knew from the previous group began helping me and she became a manager of the group.
I started to develop an interest in fish photography around this time and this has been a growing interest ever since. After the first few blurry images from an early (cheap) digital camera I have been constantly upgrading in an effort to improve. One of my first successes in this area came when some photo I'd taken were accepted for fishbase and I was accepted as a fishbase collaborator whilst still working on our MSN group.
The group soon reached a point where it could grow no more having used all our allotted space on MSN. So we moved to our own site and Fish, Tanks and Ponds proper was born and the site has been a great success although their was a brief interuption when I was admin on the Practical Fishkeeping forum and writing a few articles for them.

My interest in fishkeeping is so widespread that it includes almost everything, I don't find any type of fishkeeping without interest but gradually my interest moved away from having a particular favourite fish or family of fishes and moved towards how we keep them. By this I mean filtration, health, husbandry in general and of course breeding lots of different species. I like breeding cichlids the most because of the way they care for their own brood, but I've also bred a few characins, catfish (corys), barbs, danios, livebearers but mostly it has been cichlids.

Recently my main fish keeping has been Malawis, Tanganyikans, Planted Tank and Koi. But my latest tank is going to be an African river type tank which is currently being set up.
Here are some examples of my own fish and tank. I emphasise SOME because there have been many others including a few fish only marine tanks, oddballs, native marine, fancy goldfish, discus, dwarf cichlids and even a 450L barb tank.

1, Planted tank.

Planted Aquarium

This tank changed and evolved over time and never really looked the same each time it was pruned. Things were added and removed on a regular basis often because the plants simply out grew their space. The tank was set up with the seemingly out of vogue Denerlle system. Out of fashion or not, the system does work and over a long period too.

2, Tanganyikan tank.

Tanganyikan Aquarium

I love Tanganyikans, although mostly cichlids they are extremely diverse where each species has a special niche. The main problem is that many local shops simply don't stock them any more and so after just over a year I have decided to replace this tank with something else. Such a shame.

3, Pond.

Only some of the fish belong to me, the pond is shared with a good mate of mine. This is it's latest incarnation because it began life as a small wildlife pond many years ago.

There have of course been many others and I'm sure there will be much more to come. One tank I am really very keen to revisit would be a native marine tank and to keep some of the many species found quite easily in our rock pools. We spend at least a couple of weeks each year in Cornwall where I spent a large part of my childhood rock pooling. It is fantastic to see just how all the small gobies abd blennies ect live in the wild. This is something that I never tire of seeing.

4, Rock pool aquarium.

This is a temporary tank which was set up while on holiday and used mainly to enable me to take better and more natural looking photos of the inhabitants. Because there was obviously no time to cycle the aquarium I used Bio Marine Polyfilters in a small internal power filter. This was a great success and there were no water quality issues during the entire duration of the holiday.

African River Aquarium.

Designed to look like a river channel and filled with various african tetras, barbs, cichlids and catfish this tank is one of my own favourites.
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