General Aquaria Discussion • 'Ideal Specimen'.... For all fish 'collectors'

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Postby why_spyder » Mon May 12, 2008 11:24 am

bmills wrote:While we cichlid-keepers enjoy a group of species that are very characterful relative to other aquarium-fish, nevertheless aesthetics is the starting point for the hobby. If it were not so, we would not keep fish in glass display tanks, and rather would house them in conditions that controlled external stimuli and stresses much better (eg in large, densely planted and/or aquascaped black plastic tubs).


I keep mine in plastic tub (for now) and still enjoy the looks of the fish - I just have to scoop them out to see it better. :lol:

Very good post - well worth the read. :thumb:
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Postby dogofwar » Mon May 12, 2008 1:31 pm

Great post bmills.

I think a better way to put it is:

Reconciling what's "natural" and what's aethetically appealing to aquarium keepers is just not possible.

Even in the case of little brown Tanganyikans, people tend to select (and assume are "more pure" or "higher quality") those small brown fish that have a more vivid pattern (vs. those with a less distinct or muddier pattern) and are large for their species.

Not sure about shell dwellers without straight faces, but I've seen people spend lots of time selecting (from wild) multies for "uncrossed stripes" in their pattern...which is a purely aesthetic trait.

Small, "Ugly" individuals might be better adapted in a natural population...but less aesthetically pleasing to aquarists.



[quote="Number6"][quote="dogofwar"]Reconciling what's "natural" and what's appealing to aquarium keepers is just not possible.[/quote] I don't agree here... I wouldn't say that the majority of aquarium keepers always want bigger and prettier, else there would be NO market for little brown Tanganyikan cichlids...

shell dwellers are a prime example... so far, and without exception in my experience, every fan of shell dwellers I have ever met value two things along... straight faces and living in shells. For that group of cichlids, reconciling the norm of the species and what aquarists want sounds bang on.

Not all cichlids are Haps. ;)[/quote]
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Postby PsYcHoTiC_MaDmAn » Mon May 12, 2008 7:11 pm

why_spyder wrote:
bmills wrote:While we cichlid-keepers enjoy a group of species that are very characterful relative to other aquarium-fish, nevertheless aesthetics is the starting point for the hobby. If it were not so, we would not keep fish in glass display tanks, and rather would house them in conditions that controlled external stimuli and stresses much better (eg in large, densely planted and/or aquascaped black plastic tubs).


I keep mine in plastic tub (for now) and still enjoy the looks of the fish - I just have to scoop them out to see it better. :lol:

Very good post - well worth the read. :thumb:


I've kept mine in rubbermaid containers before (usually as a temporary measure and it drags on for a period) though these are the "transparent" ones, so you can see the fish, but looks a little foggy
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Postby Toby_H » Mon May 12, 2008 10:48 pm

I've been using a 300 gal Rubbermaid tub as a fish tank for years...

They fish are easy to keep healthy, grow quite large and show very nice coloration... although the tank is ugly the fish are pretty...

Which even keeps this in line with the priority of aesthetics...
The happier you make your fish the happier they will make you

Minimum requirements means minimum happiness for all
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Postby bmills » Fri May 16, 2008 12:18 am

Hehe, I've just returned from a 3-day executive "love-in" for my company in the Australian bush and have just seen the various replies to my comment - and they have made me smile.

I did not intend to provoke a discussion about the value of RubberMaids as suitable aquariums (although, like many of you, I have had reason to test them for temporary periods, and yes they are awesome!). Just to make the point that our hobby has to strike a fine balancing act between:

1. the ethical - which is the provision to the fish that we keep of an environment in which they can thrive, and do not suffer (i.e. the respecting of them as living creatures); and

2. the aesthetics - which is the provision to us as the hobbyists of the utilitarian benefits and pleasures of keeping beautiful fish in beautiful tanks... and for some like me - but sadly not all - of keeping the best 'pure' fish in the best 'pure' environments that one can attempt to recreate

I would be interested to hear again from CichlidWhisperer given the evolution of this thread since her last post. I guess what I spent a lot of words trying to say is that I agree with her focus on the intrinsic value of ANY fish as pets and living things once we have them - once we have accepted a responsibility of care for them.

But I think that a different standard applies when we are breeding or buying fish, or creating new tanks, and in those circumstances where one is creating/importing NEW specimens and new environments, one can be more focused on those more aesthetic considerations of breed/strain purity and physical excellence - ie if we don't already have them, we shouldn't be aiming to buy/breed sub-optimal or even worse hybrid/unnatural specimens. I would argue similarly for consistency of environment in terms of providing aquaria with a setup and water chemistry and tankmates that are as true as possible to the kept fish's ideal habitat. Even from CichlidWhisperer's welfare-driven view, surely that provides for the best possible conditions - not the least hobbyist care and attention - in which the fish will thrive.

:fish:
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Postby CichlidWhisperer » Thu May 22, 2008 10:24 am

Sorry for the delay in replying, but I have been dealing with a few unexpected females in my male tank. :o In otherwords, I am ending up with some definite unplanned hybrids :roll: (for which I have homes already.. well hopefully have enough homes, but hoping under 20 fish...) I am still looking for good homes for the two adult girls though. The Afra is a textbook beauty for a female (actually thought she was a male based on her coloring) and the fish that started the entire thread, a Lab Perlmutt, is also a female. Maybe that is why 'he' was not a textbook looking male perlmutt???

In any case, I agree with what BMills has said about the difference between which fish are appealing to humans versus which fish are appealing to fish. Appeal is more than simply asthetics, and those adorable little tangs are good examples of that, although I find most of them absolutely beautiful with very subtle color (vibrant colors may not be what everyone likes in a fish either.) I would also like to add that what characteristics are beneficial to wild survival may in fact be (and probably are) totally different than what characteristics are beneficial to fish tank survival. I have my fish to live in a fish tank, not the wild.

Just my thoughts though... and I have to get back to trying to figure out what to do with the ladies... :? LOL...
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Postby Darkside » Thu May 22, 2008 1:20 pm

While in general I agree with bmills’ stance I’d like to deconstruct his argument and add a couple of things to it.


bmills wrote:Fish-keeping is essentially an aesthetic pursuit. The starting point for someone's interest in keeping fish is appearance. The physical appearance of the specimens, and the enjoyment of the aesthetics of their behaviour. The appearance of a functioning mini-biotope in one's home.


I don’t necessarily believe that the reason people begin keeping fish is entirely based upon the physical appearance of their specimens. There is a second factor which permeates this discussion, the idea of control over a detached environment. One of the reasons that fish keeping is so popular is the idea that when you have fish in a glass box, you have deliberately removed them from their natural environment and put them into a construction of your own making. There is a compartmentalization of “natureâ€
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Postby why_spyder » Thu May 22, 2008 2:43 pm

[quote="Darkside"]I’d also like to add to this. Another prevalent influence for the keeping of fish, especially for those who have been in the hobby for a number of years is the subject of rarity and a sort of avant-garde. In order to keep the hobby fresh, experienced keepers are always looking for something different, a fish they have not tried before or a method of keeping the fish that is relatively new. There are very few hobbyists who keep the original aquarium they set up long term without the addition of more fish, different fish or different aquariums. There are few in the hobby who have yet to feel the pressure of MTS (multiple tank syndrome) as they’re always looking for something new, and there is something else that they haven’t tried but would like to keep. For those who have been in the hobby for many years, there are few commonly available fish that they haven’t kept so in their search for something different they broach the concept of rarity. The concept of the avant-garde while more applicable to discussions of art and music has a place here in a manner of speaking (we are talking aesthetics right?). What I mean by this is the concept of “the new newâ€
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Postby dogofwar » Fri May 23, 2008 10:46 am

Very good discussion!

Put simply, aquaria represent idealized representations of nature.

Aesthetics is more than just "beauty". It's also about appeal. Aquarists choose to include aspects of nature in their aquaria that appeal to them....and exlude those that don't.

Some aquarists seek to replicate nature...as much as is practical (as actual replication in the confines of a fish tank - 10g or 300g - is not possible).

The hair algae and detritus layer that characterize many central american cichlid habitats don't appeal to me. So my tanks don't include them :) And I don't include silver brycons in many of my tanks...although those are common fish in these habitats.

For the record, I find multis (and brichardi) both beautiful and interesting. They're (relatively) common fish but appealing to me.

Others find rare fish appealing. I laugh when I see people extoll the beauty of Blue Eye Plecos...not so much because of the fish itself but because of its rarity (in the hobby...not nature) and price. There was no such clammoring a few years ago when you could buy a nice one for about $30.
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