Public aquariums can provide hobbyists with numerous insights that can apply to their home systemsHere in the US, the summer travel season is well underway, and popular attractions all across the nation are swarming with tourists. For those of us enamored with marine life, vacation travel often involves a visit to major public aquariums, where we can spend several quality hours figuratively immersed in the underwater realm. (Turns out most facilities get pretty upset if you try to do this literally!) As a reefkeeper, what I find particularly interesting about visiting public aquariums is not just the enthralling experience they provide while I’m there, but also the information I glean from the exhibits that can be applied to my own systems back home.Here are just a few examples: Aquascaping inspiration The smaller display tanks that are often peripheral to the gazillion-gallon crowd-pleaser tanks in public aquariums can provide excellent insights on how to configure rockwork and other aquascaping features in your home aquarium for optimum aesthetic appeal. Sure, artificial elements (e.g., faux coral inserts, etc.) often stand in for the real thing in these tanks, but it’s easy enough to extrapolate from the design concepts on exhibit. Which fish species might coexist Seeing different fish species or conspecific groups “playing nice” in a public aquarium display tank can be helpful in determining whether they’re likely to get along in a home aquarium. However, you do have to take the size of the exhibit into account because both heterospecific and conspecific aggression tends to become more intensified as tank size diminishes.
Petco, parent company to Drs. Foster & Smith and Live Aquaria reached out to us to see if we wouldn’t mind introducing their new freshwater fish compatibility guide to our readers. Below is the guide link and some comments from Petco. “Think about all the elements you need to have a successful, healthy aquarium: clean water, the right amount of food, accents for the fish—and, of course, a combination of compatible fish. Yes, just like the ocean, not all fish like each other. Put together a bad combination and you’ll end up with unhealthy or dead fish. Bad fish partners can increase stress and create an environment that’s unpredictable. That ability to swim together—or lack thereof—extends not only to fish
A recent shot of Paul B’s 40+ year old reef aquariumMany marine fish can survive in captivity for decades, and many corals and other sessile invertebrates can hang in there, well, who knows how long. In any case, maintaining a marine aquarium “for the long term” can mean an awfully long time. Just ask Paul B, author of The Avant Garde Marine Aquarist. His current tank has been up and running with much of the same livestock since somewhere around the Second Battle of Bull Run (being a New Yorker, Paul presumably wouldn’t have called it Second Manassas). My style of aquarium keeping also leans toward the long-term, so I thought I’d dedicate today’s post to what I consider the pros and cons of this approach (versus keeping specimens for relatively brief periods and frequently changing up your livestock) for those whose hobby experience doesn’t yet span decades:Pros: You gain a new respect for the growth potential of specimens—and thus the benefits of spacious housing. For example, reading that fish species X can reach Y inches/centimeters in maximum length doesn’t compare to actually seeing the genuine article fully grown and swimming around in your tank alongside a bunch of other fully grown specimens.