2 min read

Back to Basics: Learn All You Can

By:  Karen Randall (BAS)
Published in The Daphnian, May, 1991

In the first flush of excitement over a new tank, the beginner is likely to buy before thoroughly doing their home work.  With no experience in the hobby, they are likely to make costly mistakes, either financially, or in terms of small lives lost.

It is your responsibility to at least know enough about your charges to provide them with proper care.  I suspect that once you get started, you will find that the more you know, the more you will want to learn.  This month, I’d like to discuss a number of ways to expand your knowledge of the hobby.

Start building your fish library as soon as possible, and READ those books.  Even if you are on a tight budget, you should have a least one good reference volume that contains a section on tank set-up and maintenance, and a section covering at least the more common community fish.  You will find there are tons of interesting books available ranging from very general to those with a very narrow focus.

Try to find books by several different authors, and compare the different ways they handle various situations.  Read with an open mind, and then choose a method that makes sense for you.  One of the things that makes fish keeping so interesting is that there are often several ways of achieving the same results.

Although some libraries have a number of books on aquarium fish, be aware that practices in the hobby have changed significantly in the last few years.  A book that is ten or fifteen years old should not be relied upon as a single source for information concerning tank maintenance.  Reading older aquarium books can be very interesting though, if you take into consideration the technological advances made since the book was written.

If you are reading this column, you are probably already a member of an aquarium club.  This is one of the most cost effective ways of learning about the hobby.  Fish people are, for the most part, happy to share their experience with others.  The hobby is so diverse that a person can be an expert in one area, and know nothing about another type of fish.  So club members are constantly helping each other to learn more.  Remember that there are no dumb questions.  If you don’t know the answer, there is some one else who has asked the same question before.

Most clubs maintain a library.  This may consist of books belonging to the club, or simply be a collection of exchanges from other clubs.  Either way, this material is usually available to the members on request.

Another excellent way of obtaining loads of current information for a reasonable cost is to subscribe to one or more of the magazines devoted to the hobby.  Each of these magazines will appeal to a slightly different group of hobbyists, but all are interesting.  If you can afford only one, take a look at several before deciding which to subscribe to.  (Borrow back issues from another club member).  If you can afford more than one, you’ll probably learn something different from each of them.

Please take the time to learn about your fish.  If you are going to keep animals in a captive environment, you owe it to them to make it a safe and comfortable one.  One of the most fascinating aspects of this hobby is the opportunity to learn about the little piece of nature we are keeping in our homes.  Keep learning, and before long you’ll find that in conversations with other club members you’ll be giving