I love this hobby, so much so it has taken over my life, but so many non-fish keepers ask me what I like so much, and then 20 minutes later wish they hadn't. So in no particular order here are ten things that make me love this hobby, and one thing that I think is the worst thing about keeping fish.
1. I get to watch the entire life cycle right in front of me.
From flirting to establishing territory, through to breeding I can watch everything. right in front of me. I get to learn new things about fish constantly. Did you know that wild-caught guppies act totally different to fancy lines? Or that some female cichlids will build a barrier across the entrance to their cave before laying their egg?.
2. I can create a world that is better than many would see in the wild.
It's not a perfect world out there and so many of the species of fish we keep are under pressure from pollution, habitat loss, or even introduced predators. In our tanks, fish can live longer and healthier lives. Space can be a limitation, but adding decor can help them stay mentally active, add the right tank mates, and try and mimic the things they would see in a perfect wild. I love botanicals to help recreate the water, features, and microfauna your fish would experience in their ideal environment.
3. I get to nerd out on science
I love learning, and from water chemistry, to the food they need to eat, and so much more, fish keeping allows me to keep learning new things every day.
4. It's so calming.
When I've finished a stressful day there is nothing as nice as sitting down to watch the fish. For that time there is nothing else but those little lives going on in front of me. The drama, the breakups, the fry, the triumphs, the disasters, all played out in my tanks. It's not just my opinion either; research has shown that watching a fish tank can give a whole host of benefits in terms of relaxation and de-stressing.
5. Fish aren't critics.
So what that I'm not the perfect aquascaper, or that I have a no fishing sign from when I started in fish keeping, or that some of my tanks are old and scratched. As long as their main needs are being met the fish don't really care.
6. It's a great social hobby
From social media groups, (don't forget to check out ours here) to fish clubs and associations, there are tens of thousands of people more than happy to talk fish at the drop of a hat.
7. You can help the environment in real ways.
Did you know that many wild-caught fish are caught from the wild in a sustainable way? The money you pay for your fish goes back to local people, and that means they can make a living from the river they live on. No need to chop down trees or mine the ground. Instead their money comes from a healthy environment.
8. No two tanks are the same
I love my tanks, sometimes, but you may hate the fact I like to have things as close to natural as possible, and that is fine. As long as the fishes needs are met, you do you.
9. Some of my fish are like big puppies.
Don't ever think all fish are mindless with no memory, many have similar intelligence levels to cats and dogs. They recognise you, they beg for food, and they can be trained, unlike my cats.
10. No matter my day or my mood, my fish need me.
When things are a bit too much your fish don't care, they need water changes, feeding and checking, and that might seem like a negative, but the fact I have to get up and go deal with them can make a real positive difference for me.
Now for the dislike. The thing that I think ruins the hobby for thousands of people. It's not easy, and yet shops, and websites, and even other people make out that it's just a matter of adding water. From understanding your parameters to working out compatible tank mates, through to water changes and yes cycling your tank to start, fish keeping is complex, involved, and far from easy.
There is, I hope, a solution. We are a social hobby, and I'm hoping that we can spread the word, fish don't make a great first pet, or a simple pet, but with a bit of work this can be one of the most rewarding hobbies you can image.