Aquarium advice

What type of fishkeeper are you? - New aquarium setups to try

Scarlet badis fish in planted tank

What is your personal taste?

Certain aquarium setups appeal towards different types of fishkeepers. Goldfish, tropical community, saltwater, cichlids, monster fish and shrimp. I’m sure reading that list at least one of these sounds exciting to you and on the contrary at least one of these will send a shiver down your spine! It’s no surprise that different people like different things, the world would be a boring place if not! It’s no different when it comes to the hobby of fishkeeping. As for myself, I enjoy keeping saltwater, tropical community and cichlid fish species, although obviously not all in the same tank! Whereas your answer will no doubt be different and that is something that should be celebrated.  In this article I will go over some new types of setup to try and what else to consider if you have become stuck in your ways in this amazing hobby.


Stuck in your ways:

As an experienced fishkeeper, specialising in a handful of species, it can be easy to become stuck in your ways. Keeping the same fish year in and year out, and while there is nothing wrong with this, sometimes you can become burnt out and start to get less enjoyment out of the hobby. Whether this is the case or not, try spicing up your hobby by keeping some brand new (to you) species of fish. I did this a few years ago and tried my hand and cichlids for the first time, after lots of research I found Tanganyikan cichlids to be my favourite. I setup breeding tanks for brichardi, leleupi, julidochromis transcriptus and shell dwellers, it was as if my passion for fishkeeping had been reignited! Caring for fish I had never even thought to keep before, cichlids were so different compared to the more generic tropical community fish I had become accustomed to. Trying your hand at a new fish species or type of aquarium setup can really help open your eyes to amazing diversity out there in the world.


Aquarium layout:

Part of what may dictate the new fishkeeping avenue you choose to go down may not just be the fish themselves but the look of the aquascape also. For me the allure of a rocky African biotope was exciting! I would suggest trying a setup which looks different to your current setup choice, if you are used to setting up planted aquascapes why not try a hardscape only setup? If you are happy keeping the same fish year in year out, then a different style of aquascape can also help reignite your interest.


Try saltwater for the first time!

I have decided to give saltwater its own section in this article because it is often considered the no go area for most freshwater hobbyists. Most freshwater enthusiasts turn a blind eye to that section of their local fish shop under the impression it is too complicated or expensive … I know I did when I first got into the hobby 16 years ago! While saltwater setups and livestock are generally more expensive, a nano reef tank can be setup on a budget similar to that of a high tech aquascape. I think one of the main pull backs from getting into saltwater is there is an element of the unknown, everything is new. The equipment, appearance and methodology behind saltwater tanks is so different from freshwater. The main difference being the water itself, most reef keepers aim for a salty of 1.025. Also, the filtration works differently to freshwater, most of your biological filtration is done by the live rock in your tank rather than filter media/sponges. Flow and lighting are critically important in a saltwater reef tank.

There is a wide variety of fish and corals to choose from, there is literally an ocean to explore. For you planted tank enthusiasts why not try a macro algae saltwater tank, these are stunning when setup correctly! Saltwater and freshwater hobbyists at times can feel worlds apart, most fishkeepers usually only keep one or the other. I know from personal experience after keeping freshwater tanks for 10 years the thought of setting up a reef tank was daunting. Although, it should not be nowadays as there are plenty of online resources to help you make the transition. Equally if your have been on the salty side of the hobby all your life why not try a freshwater planted tank for change? You may enjoy it more than you think! Personally, I keep both saltwater and freshwater tanks, but I must admit I am constantly draw to the bold colours of my corals and the hypnotic swimming motion of my clownfish, this is perhaps an avenue I should explore further in the coming years. This is what the fishkeeping hobby is all about. The enjoyment, the animals and challenge. The fact that a healthy mixed reef is difficult to achieve makes it even more rewarding when your research and hard work pays off.

Lastly, I wanted to raise awareness that no longer are reef tanks only for those with sumps, large tanks or an all in one system. Due to the advancements in nano reef tank equipment, you can setup a reef tank using almost any rimless aquarium that people regularly use for planted tanks. Just ensure your lighting and flow are up to standard for your filtration needs and your saltwater livestock. There are plenty of setups in this style available to view online. Please contact us if you have any queries regarding this.


Be different:

It’s important to remember to not be scared to be different in this hobby. Planted tanks are becoming increasingly popular and while there is nothing wrong with this it does not mean you have to follow the crowd if you don’t want to. Sit down and really think what you would love your setup to look like and what fish you would really like to keep and go for it. Just ensure your setup is adequate for the fish you plan to keep.



AQUAnatur was created by an established UK aquarium installation and maintenance company near London which has been running for over 25 years! Our team are very experienced and happy to help offer advice with any aquarium questions. We are always available via phone or email Monday-Friday, feel free to contact us, we would love to help! AQUAnatur supply a range of aquariums and aquascaping products. If you have a question, please leave a comment or contact us via phone or email.

By Alasdair McPhail

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