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Darren's Fish Keeping & Aquariums

I have been keeping fish on and off for about 25 years. I started with a tiny 12" x 8" x 8" tank with a air pump powered filter, which I now know is totally in-appropriate for keeping anything living, so it was probably good that I swapped it for some WWF videos. My next aquarium was 24" x 12" x 15" and this time it had a proper internal filter and I kept a pair of Rams, some White Cloud Mountain Minnows, a bristle-nose Plec, and some golden barbs. I again kept some in-appropriate fish in this tank, but I didn't know any better. Back then there wasn't the internet with petabytes of helpful information immediately available. More aquariums came and went, but below are my current aquariums.

RC Aircraft resources header image. An Avro Vulcan Bomber XH558.

With Fish keeping, comes great responsibility

What does this mean? Simply, be a responsible fish keeper. Fish are living creatures and need to be treated with properly and with care. You are responsible for them, their well being, and their environment. It sounds like a lot, but it isn't really, and it pays off in a healthy, happy aquarium.

I don't intend this page to be a fish keeping for dummies/experts/anyone affair, as there's already plenty of information easily available on this. However, as I'm showing my aquariums and others may see them and decide that they want one too, it's only right that I include the basics. Again, I'm going to skim the surface, so always do fully research everything involved if you are thinking of keeping fish. If you find any of this information helpful, you could always thank me with a kind gift from Pro Shrimp.

The Environment

We're starting with the fishes environment, because this more than anything else will dictate what fish you can or can't keep; this is due to the fact that the aquarium will most likely be the most expensive setup cost. You can find bargain aquariums second hand, but be prepared to clean the aquariums with a 6-1 water-white vinegar mix and re-seal the tank (Resealing an aquarium). The size of the aquarium also dictates the power rating of your heaters (if going tropical), the size of your filter system, the size of your water changes, the amount of substrate, the amount of lighting you need, the weight the floor needs to support, and many other things that you don't necessarily thing about.

Once you have your environment, you can decide on what type of fish to keep. Fish come from different parts of the world with a unique set of parameters that they need to be kept in. Generally, there are 3 bases:


Each of these bases can also be divided into another 3 general climates:


Each group will have hardy and delicate fish, and a different set of ongoing costs. For example, the cheapest fish to keep would be Temperate Freshwater, as you have no heater costs, and could potentially use dechlorinated tap water to do your water changes. Tropical Marine being the most expensive, especially with corals, due to needing a water heater, higher intensity lighting and RO water and salt needed when doing water changes.

The Fish

The number of fish you can have depends on the size of the aquarium. There are a couple of different formulas to working out the number of fish, but whichever you use, you need to calculate everything based on the fish's fully grown size and the size of group they need to be in to be happy. For example, a Clown Loach may be 1.5" long when you buy it, but, fully grown a Clown Loach can be 12" long and needs to be kept in a group of at least 5 fish. So if your aquarium can only support 60" of fish, those 5 Clown Loaches are all that you can have. You also need to take into account how active a fish is, as I would give them double the space to ensure they have enough room to swim. Goldfish grow to huge sizes and produce a lot of waste, so unless you have powerful filters and an 8'x2'x2' aquarium (where you could have 4-8 goldfish max), leave goldfish for ponds.

Again, with fish, research is your friend. Maybe keep fish from the same region so that you can match their water parameters perfectly. There are plenty of regions to chose from, for example the Cichlids of Lake Malawi in Africa, the Gouramis, Loaches, and Danios from India, or the huge array of fish from the Amazon. Build the environment to match their home, match the parameters, and see them happy in their natural surroundings.

The Big Fish Campaign

Maintenance

All aquariums need maintenance, from cleaning the glass, checking the water parameters and doing water changes, to dosing fertilisers and pruning in planted tanks, or adding trace elements, cleaning skimmers, and more thorough parameter checks in marine aquariums. Each system will need regular maintenance, so before even thinking about fish, make sure you have the time to do this, and with systems like marine, make sure you can afford the maintenance.

You should look to do a 15% water change once a week. The 15% should be of the total water volume, including any external canister filters or sumps. I usually round up to the nearest 5 litres for convenience, so for a 400 litre aquarium with a 100 litre sump, you would change 75 litres a week. With brackish, marines and some freshwater, this would be 75 litres of RO water, to which you would add minerals for the freshwater and salt for the brackish/saltwater tanks. The rest of the aquariums, you could use tap water mixed with a decent dechlorinator such as Sechem Prime.

My Aquariums

6' Tropical Aquarium

This aquarium is a weird one to start with as it's a work in progress, but it will be my biggest aquarium to date. The build was making the page quite large, so it now has it's own dedicated page here. Below is a projection of what the finished aquarium could look like.

2' Tropical Aquarium

This aquarium is a small planted tank, located in my bedroom. I keep shrimp and small species of fish such as, Emerald Dwarf Rasbora and Pigmy Corydoras.