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Living with Fish
The aquarium hobby is popular around the World. In the U.S. it has been described as the second most popular hobby (stamp collecting is first) with nearly 100 million fish in hobbyist's tanks. In Canada there are more than one million aquariums. In Germany there are nearly a million aquariums and some 36 million fish and the numbers are similar in Japan. Norway and half a hundred other nations. But is it a permanent hobby? Do aquarists remain fish-keepers for long periods?
Not as many hobbyists are as devoted to the long term as one might like. Each year ten to twenty percent of us leave the hobby. The reason most often given is that the plants no longer grew or a combination of fishes led to losses which could not be checked. A dead fish is reason for sorrow, as the death of any animal will disturb an animal lover, but the experience should not become so emotionally overwhelming that we cannot learn from our mistakes.
It is easy enough to buy an aquarium, accessories and fish but some knowledge is essential if the fish are to be kept alive and healthy for any length of time. Properly kept, many fish live five to ten years. Some even longer.
Fish do not breathe oxygen as we do nor do they have our unlimited atmospheric resources. They are limited to the oxygen the hobbyist puts into the tank — be it cleaned, filtered and fresh, or turbid and almost unusable. In an aquarium a fish must swim and breath in its own excretion unless the water is cleaned.

A place for an aquarium in every home

Aquariums are virtually ubiquitous and while there may be reasons for not wanting a tank, a lack of space is not one. A simple glass tank can fit any place and a larger or more complex set-up can be as attractive as the finest furniture. A place can be found in every home. Something as simple as a window sill is acceptable - though not ideal - as long as any heating vent nearby is screened at the bottom and the tank is protected from the sun at the top. A plastic sheet angled across the vent will work at the bottom and at the top an aquarium cover will protect the tank from sunlight but remember, water can be quickly heated to more than 100° F (40° C) in a window with a southerly exposure. Few fish can tolerate temperatures above 85° F (30° C).

A living room or den is an ideal place for an aquarium. It should be placed so it can be viewed without intruding on other elements in the room. An aquarium can provide a lively, colorful, natural focus of attention and should be easily seen from the sitting area, preferably from the aquarist's favorite chair. It must not overpower other elements in the room. The stand and the tank should blend with the furniture and other decor.
Possible locations:

- As a room divider

  • A custom designed aquarium
  • A tank on a stand
  • Built into a wall
  • Tank on masonry Base
  • Between two rooms
  • A large tank at floor level

- A free-standing aquarium

  • On a pedestal, possibly decorated with carpeting that matches the floor
  • On a support of wood, stone or concrete (possibly decorated with carpeting or painted and styled to match the furniture)
  • On an aquarium stand
  • On a chest, table or other furniture
  • On a modern metal stand such as those used to hold television sets.

- On the wall as a living picture

  • On a special shelf
  • In a custom-made alcove.

These are only a few of the possibilities and hundreds more come to mind. There are virtually no limits to the places one can fit a home aquarium.