Why Do You?

So why do you keep a reef or fish only aquarium?

As with everyone else I get visitors to the house who are relatives or delivery men etc. More often than not they’ll see my soft coral aquarium and stop and gaze at it. It really is surprising how it attracts their eye. Often the aquarium will be seen with all the lights on, white and blue, but sometimes only the blues are on if it is early or late. This is because aquarium ‘dawn’ or ‘dusk’ has arrived. This really makes it look beautiful.

The questions are usually along the same track. ‘That’s beautiful’ is often repeated and I must admit it gives me great pleasure to hear it. There are questions on why there are so many lights (I have a bank of white and blue fluorescent tubes), what the different corals are, are ‘those things’ (corals) alive, why the fish are so brightly coloured and the like.

Some questions go further including the difficulty of caring for it, how long does maintenance take, how long was it before it developed to the present point, how old are the fish etc.

I try to answer directly without being excessively technical or longwinded (probably boring to a non-aquarist). A brief outline is given and the overall function of lights and other equipment if questions are asked. I love talking to children about the aquarium; they are so puzzled and interested.

After one question and answer session – my neighbor had been helping me lift a central heating radiator – the final question was about the main reason I keep the aquarium. That stopped me! The answer given was that I found it enjoyable and relaxing.

This set me off thinking about why I really keep the aquarium. I know how I started; it’s a familiar route to many aquarists, from goldfish through to fresh water tropicals. Then I saw some marine fish and was amazed by their colours – a marine aquarium appeared shortly after. So there we are, the colours are the reason why I keep them. Well, no, that may have been the reason when I started but I have kept reef aquariums and still do. So it isn’t just fish colour.

I spent money – not the cheapest of hobbies this – upgrading my aquarium to yet another and then another. More or different equipment. More livestock. Better seawater conditions. More appropriate lighting. Also as time passed I had run into quite a few frustrations, such as a coral that refused to grow and waned away, a fish that passed on for no apparent reason, equipment failure, and, if the day was warm and sunny, not being over enthusiastic about routine maintenance, though the latter very rarely fortunately.

Some aquarists have to own all the latest technical stuff. They care about their livestock but their aquarium has loads of equipment for every conceivable purpose. These are ‘technical’ or gadget aquarists. Provided their livestock are fine no problem. Not me though, my equipment is purely necessary. ‘Simplicity means success’ is the way I see things. So I’m not a technical aquarist.

Bigger and bigger aquariums seem to be the way forward for some aquarists. In marine terms my aquariums have not been huge. I’m not striving towards the next tropical ocean. So it isn’t ‘bigger’ that drives me.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that the reason I keep a reef aquarium is very simple and basic: watching the corals gently sway in the currents, a shrimp sitting on a rock and colourful fish gliding about as they would on the wild reef.

Even though I keep things simple, if there is something I am convinced will make the aquarium environment better then I investigate it. So it’ll cost money (within reason!). So I could run into a problem or two retro-fitting the item. It doesn’t matter if the reef is improved.

That’s it then! I love the different livestock. I love providing a high quality environment where they can really flourish. I love watching it all.

I nearly forgot – and I’m addicted.

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