The tank as an ornament: Where that thinking may lead? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 22 Old 05-19-2012, 02:07 PM Thread Starter
The tank as an ornament: Where that thinking may lead?

One of the things that fish stores often confront newbie fish keepers with is the tantalizing prospect of themed tanks. Stores stuff their shelves with brightly colored sands and gravels, unnaturally colored plasic plants and mass produced ornaments that were destined to be sold at dollar shops until people realize they could be sold as overpriced tank decorations. I know this all comes down to personal choice...they put the stuff out there and you make the decision. And yet...I cannot believe that the half of the stuff is something that makes fish happy. Bright colored sands and gravels lead to stress and don't foster natural colors or natural behaviors....couldn't the same be said when you have brightly colored objects as well? Is that really healthy for the fish?

I get the sneaky suspicion that all of these unnatural, ugly, often florid things that stuff the shelves your LFS's help along the mentality that fish are just ornaments. That mentality has consquences because people treat them as throw away and don't' really consider to care about their health or well being. After all, if it's just something there to look at and it dies? Throw it away like a cracked wall ornament and buy another. Has anyone else thought about this?

What are you thoughts in general about bright sands, bright gravels, and useless ornaments that serve no functional purpose that fish stores sell and many fish keepers buy?
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post #2 of 22 Old 05-19-2012, 02:57 PM
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Fish stores cater to the demands of the public. So they know what sells. Like the old saying "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". There are aquarist's that prefer their tanks to be natural with all live plants, maybe a piece of driftwood. Then their choice of sediment, be it gravel or sand is varied. So you will find as you enter the hobby, many people with differant ideas on how they want their tanks to appear. Some fishkeepers like to add treasure chest's, deep sea divers and whatnot. The important thing is to make sure that you maintain good water quality for the fish. This includes 40 to 50% water changes per week minimum.

Last edited by rjordan390; 05-19-2012 at 03:00 PM.
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post #3 of 22 Old 05-19-2012, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sanguinefox View Post
One of the things that fish stores often confront newbie fish keepers with is the tantalizing prospect of themed tanks. Stores stuff their shelves with brightly colored sands and gravels, unnaturally colored plasic plants and mass produced ornaments that were destined to be sold at dollar shops until people realize they could be sold as overpriced tank decorations. I know this all comes down to personal choice...they put the stuff out there and you make the decision. And yet...I cannot believe that the half of the stuff is something that makes fish happy. Bright colored sands and gravels lead to stress and don't foster natural colors or natural behaviors....couldn't the same be said when you have brightly colored objects as well? Is that really healthy for the fish?

I get the sneaky suspicion that all of these unnatural, ugly, often florid things that stuff the shelves your LFS's help along the mentality that fish are just ornaments. That mentality has consquences because people treat them as throw away and don't' really consider to care about their health or well being. After all, if it's just something there to look at and it dies? Throw it away like a cracked wall ornament and buy another. Has anyone else thought about this?

What are you thoughts in general about bright sands, bright gravels, and useless ornaments that serve no functional purpose that fish stores sell and many fish keepers buy?
I hear what your saying, but what I think it boils down to in my very limited experience is that there are just different levels of fish keepers. To list a few, you have the totally inexperienced, the children, the moderately experienced who go for planted or non, then there is the very experienced, that know exactly what they want, how they want it, and have the knowledge an experience to get it done. A this level your looking at specific biotopes with correct fish and plants etc. your average hobbyist just won't go to this level.

I am guessing here, but I bet that a huge percentage of fish keepers are in the total inexperienced/children bracket, who are pretty clueless as to fish stress, water parameters and least of all their natural habitat. what do they care whether there is biotope correct substrate or multicoloured marbles.. the majority of the time I am assuming it is down to inexperience or lack of of research that draws people to these kinds of products. And it if is not, then it is just down to a matter of taste... but who is right to say which is correct? I love over grown swampy lush green real planted set ups. I am not experienced enough to fully understand the biotope aspect, and would struggle to know where to start, and I find plastic ornaments like skulls and roman columns etc tacky, they aren't wrong, I just don't like them.

If there was someone that could categorically say that having such things in tanks was bad for the fish, then we could all stand on our soapboxes and condemn those that stray from what is right. its a grey area that I have kind of learned to be careful about how I express my opinion on, as if we were truly concerned with how things we do and provide for our fish affect their well-being we could start opening a huge can of worms. As Byrons article on stress points out, almost anything can cause stress to fish. even well intentioned actions by caring aquarists. The very fact that we have fish in our tanks is quite a brutal stressful start in this unraveling..... how is forcing fish to travel for days or more in cramped conditions, many dying, and then ending up in over stocked tanks in fish stores waiting for us to buy them and different to forcing them to live with tacky substrate and weird decoration.

My idea of fish keeping is to as best you can recreate the natural habitat of the species you wish to keep, this includes water parameters, temp, plants, decoration and tank mates. this is difficult to attain, and requires much work and research. sadly the majority of people who keep fish will never get to this level, and are happy to stick with the things at hand on the shelves of the LFS.

Peace always..

If you worry you die, and if you don't worry you still die..... so why worry?

Last edited by rhymon78; 05-19-2012 at 06:26 PM.
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post #4 of 22 Old 05-19-2012, 08:11 PM
I prefer the natural look so the aquarium appears like a window to a true natural freshwater river, lake or pond. On the other hand, if the water is well maintained and they are well fed, I'm thinking the fish can tolerate a treasure chest or a fake deep sea diver or whatever....just saying

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post #5 of 22 Old 05-19-2012, 08:20 PM
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I agree.. I don't think fish think "gah why is there bright pink rubber coral in my tank?!." As long as there is cover for them, it's fine.. Fish will always be thought of as disposable. Usually when a fish dies in a well cared for tank, the problem is solved, then replacements are bought, rarely with much mourning. People put bright pink fluffy sweaters on their dogs and this actually makes the dog less disposable to them, more personalized...
Honestly, I don't even think our tanks are usually very accurate. Whenever I see a cam into an amazon biotope, it's always brown, murky, and full of debris, you can barely see any fish. Algae abounds in our local freshwater habitats, but we fight to keep it out of our tanks. Closer, but not all the way. I find planted freshwater tanks always look nicer than their wild counterparts, but the opposite with saltwater tanks.

taking a break from fish-keeping.
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post #6 of 22 Old 05-19-2012, 09:00 PM
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I too prepare the "natural look" of an aquarium. Plants, and natural colors. I do use black substrate and have no brightly colored objects in the tank, other then the fish. If bright colors scare fish, they should all be terrified of each other in my tank, especially my Dwarf Gourami as he is a very brightly colored fish.

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post #7 of 22 Old 05-19-2012, 11:31 PM
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Yea , kind of a touchy subject, but here goes. Alot of the fish we get come from farms and never been in a wild setting, Idont care how experienced you are it is impossible to get your tank and water exactlly like the wild since things in the wild change so quickly. If your really that concerned about them being in their natural habitat then leave them there period, dont confine them to your tank at home. Fish in the wild will scatter and swim away from people yet we walk right up to our tank to see them and think we are not causing stress? EVERY fish in an aquarium is under some degree of stress which is kind of irronic since we have them to reduce our own stress.
And hey some of those decorations are just too cool looking to not use, where else can I use a giant clam shell with bubbles coming out of it.
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post #8 of 22 Old 05-20-2012, 04:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Hanky View Post
Yea , kind of a touchy subject, but here goes. Alot of the fish we get come from farms and never been in a wild setting, Idont care how experienced you are it is impossible to get your tank and water exactlly like the wild since things in the wild change so quickly. If your really that concerned about them being in their natural habitat then leave them there period, dont confine them to your tank at home. Fish in the wild will scatter and swim away from people yet we walk right up to our tank to see them and think we are not causing stress? EVERY fish in an aquarium is under some degree of stress which is kind of irronic since we have them to reduce our own stress.
And hey some of those decorations are just too cool looking to not use, where else can I use a giant clam shell with bubbles coming out of it.
Exactly, everything we do from the first till the last when it comes to keeping fish in captivity causes them stress.

To me its all down to personal taste, my idea of keeping an aquarium is to recreate (as best you can) their natural habitat, this could just be the types of fish they would or wouldn't encounter in the wild. As you said, most fish we buy are farm raised so this is really irrelevant to the fish, its about the interest the owner has in being true to the biotope. Like you say it is probably impossible to accurately recreate a 'true' biotope, but if you get half way there, at least thats kind of an accomplishment if thats what your intreated in.

If your not interested in that kind of fish keeping, then having a tank with fish they wouldn't normally encounter in the wild, fake plants, weird decorations and multicoloured gravel is fine... either way we can't as fish keepers say our way is right as whatever we do is likely to in some way cause stress and a premature demise.

I guess the only real benefit to captive fish is that we take away that predator/prey aspect they would normally encounter in the wild, which in turn prolongs their life I guess.

Peace always..

If you worry you die, and if you don't worry you still die..... so why worry?
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post #9 of 22 Old 05-20-2012, 06:07 AM
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I keep natural looking tanks and I look at my fish as ornaments. They are not pets, they are property - the tank is living art. That being said, it behooves me to keep my fish and tanks in pristine condition, if I want to get the most enjoyment from watching them.....

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post #10 of 22 Old 05-20-2012, 08:59 PM
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My fish are all pets and most of them (I still need to name a few) have names as I stare at them long enough to notice different quirks in their personality and slightly different markings (such as the size of a black dot or something).

I think fish rather enjoy captivity. Today I was hunting rocks at this nearby run-off-thing (eventually I just started watching the fish and tadpoles; it also dries out during the summer) and in the process I stepped on some motherboard of some device, and found rusting iron and dead animals littering the area. :/ I'm pretty sure these would be removed/never placed in a home aquarium. Plus pet fish are safe from stupid kids that catch bull tadpoles (and fish if they could) and skip them across the water. WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT?! Plus, when you hang out with your fish enough, they recognize you and swarm over to greet you (probably just asking for food though, but it's still cute. :3). Basically, pet fish live an easy life with free food, friends who shouldn't kill them, protection from droughts and toxins, and help if they get sick or injured (all they lose is a ton of running space).
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