This sentence is like a stake to the heart to me, but it is one that most of us have probably heard more than once during our aquatic journey. Read on to find out why this judgement is completely and utterly wrong, and what you can say when, and I hope you don't, hear this again!
There are so many benefits to keeping fish and so many ways to do it, the hobby really can be for just about anyone! From fanatics to occasional hobbyists, there really is no limit or requirement. The hobby and its community doesn't discriminate against age, gender, race, ability or any other characteristic. It is all inclusive, diverse and allows your individual creativity to flow!
It’s no secret to anybody that owns an aquarium that keeping fish can offer great health benefits. There have been a number of studies to support this claim too, so its not just another fish nut telling you so! In a study by Clements et al (2019) the effects of human interaction with fish in aquariums was explored and concluded that there are many potential benefits to a human’s general well-being and both physical and mental health. I can certainly put my hand up and say that after spending a few hours watching and maintaining my aquarium I certainly feel much calmer and more relaxed, which can only mean positive things for my general health.
The hobby can also incorporate many other interests, like art, gardening, plants, pets, science, reading and more. For instance, I also enjoy gardening at the weekends and my wife loves house plants and interior design, which is why I love the aquascaping aspect of the hobby and why my wife loves helping me design the overall look of our tanks. We have combined our other interests to come together and enhance our skill and enjoyment in aquariums, and you can do the same. You only have to browse Instagram to see so many talented artists and photographers who have also positively blended their talents and interests into this hobby. We at AquaHabit meet with a number of these hobbyists in our “5 minutes with…” blog series, I strongly suggest checking these out for top tips and inspirational photos.
There is also a real community feel in the fishkeeping hobby, no matter what experience level you have there is a plethora of support online or in your local aquatic store, not to mention the many YouTube channels and websites providing step by step guides. You are never alone in this hobby and there's always at least one person to talk to that has experienced the same struggles you are. The hobby brings people together in a positive way and that's always a good thing!
For plenty of fish keepers, the hobby involves the whole family. I certainly enjoy the family aspect of it, and as you've probably seen on our AquaHabit Instagram account I regularly bring my two young sons in on the action! It gives us a chance to bond and spend time together after a week of work, and is a learning opportunity for them. The responsibility of looking after a pet and caring for that animals health and habitat is a necessary life skill for all children, and fishkeeping is such an easy way to get them started at any age. I truly hope that I am bringing up two new enthusiasts to keep this hobby going, and giving them skills and memories that will last a lifetime.
I will finish off by saying, with time and energy comes great rewards! I always say to everyone that this hobby is what you make it, if you want low maintenance on a low budget then that’s an option or if you're after high end and jaw-dropping scenes then that's an option too. It genuinely has something for everyone and I would encourage everyone to give it a go and tell people that fish are, most definitely, not boring!
Disclaimer: it is not all plain sailing, there are many things that can put off potential fish keepers, such as algae issues, weekly maintenance routines and cost…. this hobby does take time to develop, its very rare that you can pick anything up and be good at it straight away, and this is no exception! Be patient and kind to yourself!
(Stay tuned for future blogs that address these issues).
Clements, H., Valentin, S., Jenkins, N., Rankin, J., Baker, J.S., Gee, N., Snellgrove, D., and Sloman, K. (2019) 'The effects of interacting with fish in aquariums on human health and well-being: A systematic review'', PLoS ONE, vol.14, no.7 [Online]. Available at https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0220524. (Accessed on 22nd September 2020).