My Childhood And Fish Keeping
I have been keeping fish since I was about eight-years-old. My parents raised me to spend most of my childhood outdoors. I was in all kinds of sports and loved exploring the world around me. Boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, baseball, football, and exploring. I had a great childhood!
The fish I kept back then were from our local pond or lake. I did not have a filter or a heater, I just changed the water frequently. It’s amazing that my fish did as well as they did now that I am an experienced aquarist!
I kept tadpoles, mostly from Leopard Frogs. Have you ever kept tadpoles and them turn into frogs? I knew early in my life that nature could teach me many things about life in general. I kept painted and map turtles, Dogfish or Bowfins, and bullhead fry.
Once my parents saw that I was serious about fish keeping, they bought me my first real aquarium setup for my 13th birthday. I was beyond excited! Funny, I remember this birthday well, but I can’t remember what I put in the aquarium, lol!
Up until this point, I was learning a great deal and making lots of mistakes. Maybe I shouldn’t use that word; I was learning and experiencing. I like that better!
My Memories of Pete
What I really wanted to share in this post is my early first memories of live fish in my house. My Mother bought a gorgeous blue and purple fish. She had a large goldfish bowl to put him in and changed his water every day. She placed a large half seashell (like the one I took a photo of below from Florida), in the bottom of the bowl and captured an air bubble under it.
This was about as low-tech as a fish keeper can get! Pete would go under his shell to rest and he only had to lift his head to access the air bubble.
I later learned that this beautiful graceful fish was a male Betta Splendens, or better known as a Siamese Fighting Fish. She named him Pete. He looked very similar to the photo below.
We didn’t know back in the 1960’s what we know today. Pete started building his bubble nest signaling that he was ready for a mate. He would gracefully jump and had slow serpentine movements that were quite impressive. The third time Pete jumped completely out of his bowl, was his last time. Mother and Dad were at work and I was at school. It was a sad day for all of us.
Ever since I acquired the aquarium setup for my 13th birthday, I have kept fish. I only had one time period, for 10 years, when I didn’t keep fish. I had moved from Michigan to Florida.
After moving from Florida to Arizona, I got the bug again. I thought of how beautiful Pete was and I wanted a male Betta splendens and his friends to be part of my photography project.
This is when I set up my 16-gallon tank. I cycled the aquarium, added live plants, and then I bought my betta. It took me a few days of deep thought, but I decided to name him Adonis. (I kept a journal of the whole experience of cycling the aquarium, planting it, and choosing community members).
Adonis was a Violet and Blue Elephant-Ear Half-Moon Male Betta. There are some really fancy fish out there today. Recently, I unexpectedly lost Adonis. I grieved for days. I have no idea what happened as he showed no signs of being ill. When he didn’t show up for his dinner, I knew something wasn’t right. I found him in his plant.
Contrary to myths and rumors, Bettas need a heater as they are tropical fish. They also need a filter to keep their water clean. In my opinion (and many others), they need 5 gallons or more for freedom to swim, explore, and have a real life. Bettas are very curious fish and can get into trouble because of it. Adonis was in a 16-gallon aquarium with 4 Ghost Shrimp, 5 Black-Neons, and 2 Nerite Snails.
I believe all living things have a soul. God breathed life into Adonis so in my opinion, he has a soul.
If you are an aquarist, you will find that each fish is unique in appearance and personality. Adonis is loved and missed each day.
My childhood memories of my Mother and Pete, have lead me to take up fish keeping once again. I do not regret it!
The most important things in life aren’t things. Anthony J. D’Angelo
Fish are living animals. They deserve the best life we can give them. If you can’t afford proper housing and don’t have time to provide a clean environment, then my advice is: do not buy any fish! I’ve seen too many circumstances where people ask me, “I can’t afford a larger aquarium right now and I have 10 fish in my 5-gallon tank, what should I do?” It drives me crazy! Get all of the proper equipment together first (after you have chosen which fish you wish to add to your family and have completed extensive research into water quality, ph, temperature, hard or soft water, ultimate adult size, any special food requirements and appropriate tank mates).
Don’t ever buy fish on a whim! Be a knowledgeable fish keeper or don’t keep fish at all. It isn’t fair to the fish.
WARNING: Tropical Fish Keeping can be addictive! 🙂
I am planning on painting a Tribute to Betta splendens. My childhood memories, my present fish keeping experiences, and my fishy fantasies are helping to inspire my art and creative side.
Do you have any experiences you would like to share in relation to fish keeping? Please, comment below!