History of fish keeping as a hobby In the beginning
The first known freshwater fish keepers were the ancient Sumerians, who kept fish in artificial ponds at least 4,500 years ago (2500 BC); accounts of fish keeping also come from the Babylonians (500 BC) & ancient Egypt. In fact the Egyptians considered fish holy, worshipping the Nile Perch Lates niloticus
The Chinese, who raised carp Carassius auratus Gibel
around 3,500 years ago (1000 BC), were possibly the first to breed fish for food with any degree of success. The Chinese kept carp and started breeding them selectively during the Tang Dynasty, (618 – 907 AD). Records show these fish were kept for purely decorative purposes; people were forbidden to eat them!
The ancient Romans (who kept fish for food and entertainment) were the first known marine fish keepers. Keeping lampreys and other marine fish. In fact Cicero (a Roman statesman and orator) reports that the advocate Quintus Hortensius wept when a favoured specimen died, while Tertullian (an early Roman Christian) reports that Asinius Celer paid 8000 sesterces for “a particularly fine mullet”.
The Romans kept their fish in artificial ponds that were supplied with fresh seawater from the ocean. In the middle
In Medieval Europe (from 300AD), carp pools were a standard feature of estates and monasteries, providing an alternative on feast days when meat could not be eaten for religious reasons. Goldfish made their way into Europe by 1691.2 According to Tullock, (a 17th century diarist), Samuel Pepys, referred to seeing fish (believed to be a paradise fish Macropodus opercularis
) being kept in a bowl and referred to the set up as "exceedingly fine."
While excited about the prospects of keeping fish indoors, fish enthusiasts did not understand how the water needed to be "cycled" in order for fish to stay alive for long indoors. In 1805, Robert Warrington is credited with studying the tank's requirement to be cycled to keep fish alive for longer. The hobby required specialized equipment and attention at this point, reserving it for the wealthy. Fish tanks for tropical fish required heating via flames underneath (gas burning lamps underneath slate bottoms). When electricity was introduced into the home, fish enthusiasts began experimenting with electrical immersion heaters in glass tubes.
By 1850 the keeping of fish, amphibians, and reptiles had become useful in the study of nature. It was in the works of Philip H Gosse (an English naturalist) that the term aquarium
first appeared. His work aroused increased public interest in aquatic life. The first display aquarium was opened to the public in 1853 at Regent's Park in London. It was followed by aquariums in Berlin, Naples, and Paris. P.T. Barnum, the circus entrepreneur, was the first to recognise the commercial possibilities of living aquatic animals (possibly as a result of, Emil Robmabers’ essay, “Sea in a Glass," introducing fish keeping as a hobby to the public which was published that year) and, in 1856, opened the first display aquarium at the American Museum in New York City as a private enterprise.
In 1876 William C. Coup openned the New York Public Aquarium on the corner of East 35th and Broadway. This aquarium held not only display tanks but a library and reading room as well as a fully stocked lab of sorts with microscopes, experimental tanks and dissecting tables. It also had a room of hatcheries an unheard of concept at that time.
By 1928 there were 45 public or commercial aquariums throughout the world, but growth then slowed and few new large aquariums appeared until after World War II. Now many of the world's principal cities now have public aquariums as well as commercial ones and a hobby was born...! The first tanks
The first containers specifically designed for aquatic specimens were the strictly functional open-air tanks used by the ancient Romans to preserve and fatten fish for market. It was not until the 18th century that the importation of goldfish into France from the Orient for aesthetic enjoyment created the demand for small aquariums; ceramic bowls, occasionally fitted with transparent sections, were produced. In the large public aquariums built in many European cities between 1850 and 1880, efforts were made to create the fantasy that the spectator was entering into the underwater world. More recently, the trend has been to emphasise the natural beauty of the specimens and to make a sharp distinction between the water and the viewing space. In the future?
With so many diverse species and even further breeding within the species and the technological advancements with keeping fish in aquariums, it is not unforeseen how popular fish keeping as a hobby has become. Who knows what the future will bring but the goal will doubtless be to reduce fish disease in tanks, improve the global environment that fish live in and work on making the tank even more self sustaining. (Minimal effort, maximum enjoyment)
(note for mods; I wasn;t sure if this was ok to place here, if not please move to appropriate section and edit out this note, ty)