YORKSHIRE ASSOCIATION

OF
AQUARIST SOCIETIES

 



  
 

FISHKEEPING A HISTORY



Over the years it has been the general consensus of opinion that there are two kinds of Tropical Freshwater enthusiasts in our wonderful hobby. However despite repeated attempts to bring the two closer together, it has not, for whatever reason, been possible to achieve this and I personally feel both sides have lost out.
Together we would have had a stronger base and as a result may not have found ourselves in the position we do today. So who are the two groups?

Firstly there are the "Fishkeepers"- the group who are a little apprehensive about becoming society members on the grounds that they don't have the knowledge to join a 'gang' of experts, As we all know nothing could be further from the truth. They do however have sufficient interest to create a living picture in their home to add to the décor. Sadly that is about the extent of their involvement.
The second group are the 'Aquarists' who usually have a number of tanks and who endeavour to establish the conditions required for the species they intend to keep. With good husbandry and a little patience they are often rewarded by the fish spawning, thus they are helping to conserve these species. Any such success often leads to aquarists plucking up the courage to enter either a single fish, matched pair or breeders team in an open show, usually starting with their own society's show.
Fishkeepers will, I feel sure, have attended at least one open show if for no other reason but to satisfy their curiosity. Having seen what is involved, the more adventurous have grasped the nettle and benched an exhibit as an 'independent'.
All societies are grateful for their support whether as a visitor or an exhibitor.
There is nothing more rewarding than to find you have won an award with one of your own bred fish.
Perhaps I'm an old sentimentalist, but I still cherish the first plaque I ever won - it was for class 13 at the open show at Staithes (North Yorks) on Sunday 2nd May 1965, the judges being Messers D Dunford J M Skinner and P S Moorhouse.
The place card has miraculously survived or how else could I have revealed the judges involved. I realise there will not be many readers who will recognise the names but I will assure them that they were three of the most respected judges of their day.
That then is a little of the more recent past, but when was the hobby started in England? The earliest reference I have been able to find of exotic species being in this country was in the year 1665 when one Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary, "28th (Lords Day) Thence home to see my lady Pen, where my wife and I were shown a fine rarity: of fishes kept in a glass of water that will live so for ever; and finely marked they are being foreign". Mr C.W.Coates of the New York Zoological Society expressed the 'educated guess' that the fish referred to would certainly not be goldfish, but more likely to be Macropodus Opercularis (Paradise fish). Goldfish would not be able to live as long in a small container nor could they be described as being finely marked, whereas the Paradise is.
Unfortunately no reference was made to how or why they arrived here nor why they should be shown to Mr and Mrs Pepys in particular. It is pure supposition on my part that some seafarer brought them back either as a souvenir from one of his voyages or maybe as a gift for a loved one.

Whilst mentioning gifts, it is known that Madame Pompadour, the millionaire mistress of Louis XV was presented with a very rare gift of goldfish. Sadly history does not record who made the presentation or when, but it has to be sometime between 1721, the year of her birth and 1764 the year in which she died.

During the 1800's it was discovered that to keep fish healthy it was necessary for a continuous supply of oxygen to be provided and also by including such plants as Vallisneria, Myriophyllum, Nitella and Chara, they would produce the oxygen whilst reducing the level of carbon dioxide. Several more researches were published and interest in the keeping of fish progressed.

The first public aquarium in the world, known as the London Aquavivarium was opened in the London Zoological Gardens in 1853 and was supported for some 40 or so years. In 1923 the modernised aquarium was established under the Mappin Terraces. It is also recorded that a Count Montizon took the first photograph of a living fish here and this was exhibited at the anniversary meeting in 1854. Obviously this was a remarkable achievement as, at this time, photography was only in the experimental stage. The Aquavivarium created world wide interest and by 1865 public aquaria had been opened in many towns and cities, one of which was Scarborough.

Visitors to these establishments appear to have had their appetites whetted and wanted to reproduce something of what they had seen in their own homes. There must have been a significant number of them for in May 1924 a Mr A.E.Hodge founded The Amateur Aquarist to cater for their needs. The magazine continues to be published today albeit as The Aquarist and Pond keeper (now Today's Fishkeeper) Mr Hodge went on to sponsor the first Home Aquarium competition for tropical and coldwater fish in 1926.

In 1934 the then Duchess of York, now the late lamented Queen Mother had a tank installed for the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, so from this fact we can proudly boast royal associations.
The interest created by fish in the home was immense and the Manchester Exhibition of 1935 attracted an attendance of 45,000 visitors. The hobby went from strength to strength and in 1936 the first Yorkshire society was established in Leeds, followed closely by Sheffield in 1937 and Hull and Bradford in 1938. The outbreak of the second world war in 1939 meant that aquatic activities were suspended for the duration.
The Leeds and Sheffield societies were reformed in 1946, along with a new society at Halifax. As each year passed fish keeping became more and more popular with new societies becoming established quite regularly. By 1957 there were some 27 societies recorded in Yorkshire . Some form of co-ordinating body was required to formulate future policy and to achieve this a group of the most suitable representatives were

 

THANKS AGAIN ARE EXPRESSED TO GERRY FOR THIS ARTICLE