This year has been a big year for enjoying hobbies like fishkeeping. Here’s how to take it up a level for next year.
Get a bigger tank
There is nothing more liberating than moving your prized collection to a larger tank. Fish grow larger in bigger tanks and you can have more of them. It’s win-win!
Get a second tank
Although many fish will mix, some prefer different pH or temperature, or can’t be kept with other fish. Set up a second tank and start on another underwater adventure!
Testing water is one of the boring parts of fishkeeping but it’s so important. Test, test and test again and you will know your tank a lot better and be able to remedy any problems before they happen. Your fish will thank you for it too.
Change the water more
Changing water is good for so many reasons. It dilutes waste products, adds buffers and encourages growth. Water changes are one of the most important maintenance jobs you should do.
Breed something new
Ever bred fish before? Guppies or Platies maybe? Why don’t you try a dwarf cichlid like Kribensis or egg scatterers like barbs and danios? If you’re an accomplished breeder try a new species or a fish that hasn’t been bred in captivity before.
Build a pond
If you like aquaria you’ll love creating a pond. Litre for litre they’re really good value, they bring wildlife into the garden and you don’t have to worry about drips and splashes. Throw in a few hardy goldfish, go all out on a Koi pond or leave fish out altogether and let nature colonise the pond its own way.
Is your filter struggling to clear water? Your lighting a bit dim or lacking colour? Make 2021 the year you treat yourself to some new equipment or even a new tank. Change from internal to external filter, fluorescent to LED, or use wi-fi for the ultimate in app-controlled fishkeeping.
No room, don’t worry, as nano tanks can take up as little space as a lamp or a fruit bowl, and are cheap to buy, decorate, run and stock. Get a nano tank right and it can be just as eye-catching as a larger one.
Aquascaping involves the layout of wood, rocks and plants, and is a bit like the Chelsea Flower Show underwater, or bonsai versus vegetable growing. Use rock placement and fine-leaved plants to recreate terrestrial scenes in miniature, representing mountains, forests, valleys and green pastures. You’ll need some equipment to help you like fine tweezers and a CO2 kit, but get green-fingered and it can be highly addictive.
Most tropical fishkeepers come to a point in their hobby where they get into cichlids. Many people already keep cichlids like Angelfish and Rams in their community tanks but set up a tank just for cichlids and you could go for an East African Rocky lake. Central American river, or West African forest stream.
The draw with cichlids is their adult colouration, intelligence and the way they care for their offspring. There can be plenty of rough and tumble along the way but give them a try. You won’t be disappointed.
The brackish environment is a strange one indeed, home to strange fish too like Pufferfish, Archerfish and mudskippers. You can set one up using just freshwater equipment but the look of a tank set up to replicate a salty mangrove swamp looks anything but run of the mill.
Marine fish and invertebrates are unrivalled in their form and colour, but don’t let their difficulty in keeping become a barrier to keeping them. The equipment and experience are better than it ever has been and even a complete beginner can have a full-blown reef tank with live corals within six months of getting started.
Make fishkeeping friends
Fishkeeping can be viewed as a geekish hobby that some people want to keep quiet, but there is no better hobby in the world and there are millions of other people around the world who are just as interested and addicted as you, and even like the same fish. Whatever type of aquatics you’re into, there will be others who are just as obsessed about it as you are, so go online and get connected. You could make friends for life.