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
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.
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.
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 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
AGAIN ARE EXPRESSED TO GERRY FOR THIS ARTICLE