Keeping tanks - then and now
This is just something to think about:
The book I was quoting was from the 19th Edition entitled, "Exotic Aquarium Fishes," a 595 page book written by Dr. William Innes. The first Edition was in 1938, and this Edition was written when he was 93 years old in 1966. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_T._Innes
I am mentioning it because that is the book I was brought up on doing Tropical Fish Aquariums as a child, and we had 6 Tanks. They were working beautifully! The 29 Gallon had 26 Angelfish we raised, and the guppy tank was so loaded we used to let the Angelfish feast on guppies.
1. There is no mention in this book of a Water Test Kit. I have never used one for an aquarium. I just let the Marineland Eclipse 2 BioFilter on my 30 gallon Tall do it's job, and pay for a new $1.00 to $2.00 fish when they croak. LOL
2. No regular water change was ever done to aquarium tanks when I was young! We just put in cooled boiled water whenever the water evaporated. The Black Skirts lived 8 years without ever getting the water changed in their tanks.
3. I raised bettas, I even had a salt water aquarium.
4. Our filter system was the floss and carbon side filters that were changed ever 2-4 weeks. We vacuumed the tanks with one of those battery powered vacuums every few months. Nothing else.
5. We had plenty of plants.
6. Fish population, the different tanks recommended by this 93 year old in this book are amazing! He suggested 11 different scenarios - 5 gallon - 17 smallish mixed-sized fish, 15-20 gallon 46 mixed-sized fish, 5 gallon 19 small-sized fish, 5 gallon 12 fishes a little larger, 7 gallon 8 fishes still larger, 10 gallon 31 small fishes 10 gallon 15 fishes a little larger average size, 20 gallon 60 fishes mostly smaller size, 20 gallon 37 larger fishes, 40 gallon 78 fishes mostly medium size 78 LOL!, 40 gallon 65 mostly large fish
Concepts that in today's standard we think are CRAZY!
I only started changing water every week coming back to the hobby about 12 years ago, and reading the modern literature. 1 1/2 years ago I lost 8 Angels that I had raised due to the City changing to Chloramine.
I don't know. I think some people make things too complicated for a person wanting to start a 10 gallon tank.
Are you certain your fish died from chloramine? Are you sure it wasn't a case of old tank syndrome caused by overstocking and no water changes in which after you finally did a water change the pH went from acidic to close to neutral turning the ammonium into ammonia? I ask because I have chloramine in my water and do weekly water changes has never killed one of my fish.
I never had any problem with a water change until the area where I live in Los Angeles made a decision to basically, spike the water with chloramine about 1 1/2 to 2 years ago. I had read online from a reliable Aquarium Fish Store that they had no problem changing the water on their fish, and that the chloramine in a small amount could be beneficial in killing diseases. Well, I decided to change my procedure of dechlorinating the water, and then I read right after my angelfish died that the City had changed to chloramine. I then could smell the spike in the water.
I really do need a Test Kit now to make sure all the ammonia is out of the water before I do a water change! I know that to be true, for it could also be higher. I have a 30 gallon tall with 21 fish. It is possible that it is overcrowded and the test could tell me if I need to reduce the population or change the filters more often. It is an Eclipse 2 with a Bio-Filter. I could have too much nitrate or nitrites in the water, it is possible.
Expectations are much higher now than they used to be as well. Having to frequently replace fish is not considered success by today's standards. Too, the quality of the fish is much lower than it used to be, which surely contributes to the difficulty there can be keeping fish nowadays.
I do agree that it is easy to over complicate things, and some people do to their detriment. Other people love the technical jargon - especially many of the people that post in the advanced section. Is it important to understand the specifics of how certain things work in order to successfully maintain a healthy aquarium? Absolutely not. One need not understand how water conditioners work in order to use them effectively.
This is a hobby and there are a number of different things that people enjoy about it. Some like the tech talk, others like to talk about how their betta looked at them this morning. We get to determine our own level of involvement in the various areas.
I do realize now that what I was writing would confuse a beginner, it is confusing.
What would be a good type of water test kit for me to start with? Someone mentioned a cheaper ammonia kit, and maybe that is a good idea for me?
Maybe I am forgetting details when I was young, (or mom did more than I realized), but it seems to me I had more fish in the tanks, more plants, less sophisticated filtering systems, did nothing to the water, less work, less diseases and the fish lived longer.
Maybe, the fish lived longer because they liked me more for feeding them live brine shrimp back then?
I had a good very good GPA going back to College, but not in Chemistry. I was looking at the Advanced Section, and technical jargon, wow!, you are not kidding.
I don't ever test my water - never have. I don't think you need a test kit if you are familiar with your fishs behavior. If they are acting like they are being poisoned by ammonia, then you're going to do a water change anyway so why bother testing? If the amount of water you change is dependent on your test results, then yes it's important I suppose. However, if you just change an arbitrary amount of water, then it doesn't matter as much.
Liquid test kits are considered to be the best.
Thank you, based on some of those comments one would think I sinned by never having a test kit.
Besides the scientific aspect, which wasn't real well known, tanks were quite expensive back then if you factor in inflation. Slate bottoms, metal frames, lots of hands on work compared to the mass produced aquariums of today. It's pretty common to find these metal framed aquariums in smaller sizes by today's standards, 5 gallons up to maybe 30 gallons. Today the 55 gallon is second only to the 10 gallon as far as unit sales, 55 gallon tanks in those days were huge! Due to this stocking heavily, and dealing with the occasional fish loss was common and acceptable practice.
Much more of the stock back then was also wild caught, preservation of the environment as far as tropical fish were concerned was unheard of. This gave a larger, and more sound genetic pool for the species that were sold, as opposed to the mass bred species found today. We're better with the environment now, but often have genetically inferior fish compared to what there used to be.
I do have to get a water testing kit due to the problems I have, that is the truth.
The fish tanks were all as you said metal frames. The 29 gallon we had was thought of as a huge tank.
I did bring that idea up that the fish were genetically superior back then, but another poster totally did not agree with what I was saying. Many of the fish we had were caught in the wild back then, and they seemed more aggressive and stronger to me than fish we get in the store nowadays. I bet one could even put a couple bettas in a 30 gallon now, (not that I would try it).
In a large enough tank, anything is possible :-)
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