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How many years have you been a aquarium hobbyist?

2920 Views 45 Replies 44 Participants Last post by  narntson
As the title of my post explains I am interested in how long people have been active in the aquarium hobby. I have been a hobbyist for about 60 years. I started when I was 11 or 12 years old and have seen many changes in the hobby. There were none of the big chain pet stores and many hobbyist ran small stores in their homes. I visited many of these small shops in northern Colorado and learned from these hobbyists. There were bigger aquarium stores in Denver and it was a treat to visit these. There was no internet to exchange information on. I read as many books as I could find on the hobby. Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine was digest size and I looked forward to reading it every month. I found a small book called The Amateur Aquarist written by Mark Samuel in 1894. It talks about a natural aquarium with just goldfish and plants. He talks about a number of the plants that are still used in our tanks today. He used sand as a substrate and discusses how the plants provide oxygen for the fish. There is a short discussion of water analysis and ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and hardness. From people like him our aquarium hobby has grown to what we see today.
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We had a goldfish bowl with some anacharis in it as far back as I can remember. I would help do the weekly water change when I was very young. (of course we left the water sit out overnight on the counter. If you want to count that it's been 55 years or better.
From the 7th grade on I started with a stainless frame 10 gallon on an angle iron stand in the dining room. We added another to the bottom of the stank down the line. Then I started sourcing broken tanks and buying them, usually for about 25 cents. I would dig out the black sealant, replace the broken glass and reseal. At one point I had a piston air pump with air lines run under the house to tanks in different rooms. I always had an affinity for plants and always purchased the best looking plastic plants available.:wink2:
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I first started roughly 12-14 years ago and its amazing how far the hobby has come. There were maybe ten or twenty readily available aquatic plants, and they were mostly generic stems. I remember being unable to find something to use as a foreground/carpet plant.

Ultra-high tech tanks with pH controllers and heater cables were also popular around that time.
Got my first fish when I was 6 or 7 or 8 , so that makes it 60 years give or take a year for me .
Over 60 years for me too, on & off, since before I became a teen-ager.
I've had success with all live-bearers of course, but have also bred discus, angels, gouramis, bettas, danios, zebras, and several species of tetras.
Most of my on & off fish-keeping has been discus, over the past 35 years.
I feel old as I'm typing this.......but at least not as old as some of the others who posted here!

I guess I've been involved in the hobby in some way on and off for close to 30 years now. My father got me into it when I was a little kid in the 80s. Took a hiatus for a while and got back into it in college in 2000 or so. Had to take another hiatus towards the end of college and beginning of adult life; and since I got back into it again in 2012 or so I've really developed a passion for it all and now have a fishroom with multiple tanks that keeps on growing!
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About 40 years here.

As mentioned above, we were flying blind back then. The advent of the internet is a huge advantage to those getting into the hobby today. Our methods were mostly advice from the LFS, a few books you stumbled across, but mostly trial and error. I cringe when I think back to some of my very early tanks and the mistakes I made.

I always had low tech planted tank, but didn't know there was a name for it at the time. I only went higher tech a year ago, and forums like this are the reason I did. For most of my fish keeping life, I never knew tanks like that even existed.

So a big thanks to those who so willingly share their knowledge and experience. It's been a huge help to me as I decided to go down this road.

As a quick side note, I shared this thought via PM with another member here. When I first went high tech I read some post somewhere where someone said it takes about a year to get a planted tank dialed in. I laughed. I was Naive.
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It's nice to feel young :-D 15 years in this hobby. Started as a 8 year old kid with this horrible bow 60 litre tank with two angels, pleco, neon tetras. Changing water with getting the fish out, boiling filter and decorations, at least I've got live plants! 3 year later I tried 240 litre tank with discus... What a bad idea for a kid... Well, They even spawned a few times, but mostly deaths, deaths and death. Then 10 years ago I started my ropefish tank and now I feel like I'm not so stupid any more ;-)
About 50 yrs. for me way back than it was steel frame slate bottom tanks and a 20 gallon weighed about as much as a 75 does now lol We had a great assortment of plants to Anacharis,hornwort and another weed plant that you had until it outgrew your tank and you just replaced it,had great luck breeding Angels and one of my favorite memories was a pair of Kribensis that bred four times and raised there young like the best of parents.
I think it was 1982 when I got my cousin's hand me down tank. Ran it for a few years, no later than 86, then tore it down as girls, cars, and other teenage things got my attention.

Returned to the hobby in 1995, and have maintained at least one tank since then.

As others have mentioned, the Internet has been a boon for knowledge, but it's doomed the local shops. i was lucky enough to have a great mom'n'pop shop when I got back into it in 95. Not sure if I'd still be involved without their support into the beginning.
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Some parts of getting old definitely suck, but kind of nice to have almost 400 years of experience here in the 1st 11 post. What a wonderful wealth of knowledge to draw from!
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14 years, I remembered my first tank.. goldfish... gah!
In 1978 I started my first tank, a 45g long community tank and have been keeping fish since. Two years ago I started my first planted tank and one year ago I took the next step with CO2. This was an entirely new world compared to just keeping fish but it's been a fun and fascinating experience, even with the bumps I've encountered along the way. Without a site like this one and all the knowledgeable people here I doubt I would have attempted it. I continue to enjoy the hobby, there's still so much to learn.
1969 I was breeding convict cichlids. So like almost 48 years.
3 years, started with a 10 gallon kit from Walmart, with 4 koi, 2 tiger barbs, and 2 neons, also from Walmart. Let's just say, that tank didn't last long. 😐
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I have been at it for about 40 years. It all started with a goldfish that I won at a school carnival. Unfortunately, it was a jumper and we soon found it on the kitchen floor all dried out. Funny, this hobby was never a main one for me. At best it ranked out 2nd behind my love of High Powered Rocketry (, but HPR is exceedingly expensive. The aquarium thing started out cheap enough, but I'll be darned if it doesn't seem to be catching up with HPR pretty quick.
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I got my first tank almost 30 years ago when I moved into my first apartment. It was a 29 gallon hex tank. Beautiful tank. I had large blue gravel, an undergravel filter powered by a power head, an HOB filter and fluorescent lighting. I grew Anachris, hornwort and java moss. Everything else died. I had a raucus community of angel fish guaramis, guppies, tetras, kuhli loaches, bumble bee gobies and of course a male Betta (so pretty much anything that caught my eye because I didn't know any better).

I added two female Bettas because my male was lonely. This prompted me to buy a second tank, a 20 gallon show, in order to keep the girls from killing the male.

I took a long break from aquariums after my tanks were ruined during a couple of moves and just got back into it 3 years ago. I am so happy about the advances in technology, and the internet. I have wonderful aquariums loaded with plants now.
My grandmother lived with me and had a 10 gallon I helped take care of, but we did a 'teardown' every year or so, and never did water changes. We also had large fish in a 10 gallon... We never knew why most of the fish would die when we washed and scrubbed the tank down. The only filtration was one of those plastic, in-tank, air driven filters we would pack with floss and carbon.

When I was around 12, I got my first plant. It died quickly, eaten ny the green acara or 12 inch pleco- hard to tell.

Eventually, probably around 15, I found a book at the library and rapidly learned it, tore down and scrubbed the tank, and started with new fish- guppies.
I read another book... And another. Our local library had about 15 books on fishkeeping, and I got to the point that I would critique every aquarium book I read, as I started keeping more and more plants.

At my peak, around 19, I had 6 tanks and was a paid consultant and biotope designer for an online aquarium plants seller- Sweet Aquatics. Work wasn't constant, but I loved it, and used most of the money to expand my collection.

I'm 32 now, with a glorified pretzel jar in a windowsill as my only tank. It's growing well, and thanks to some roaks, It's looking pretty good. Can't wait to build my collection up again. :)
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