I was recently asked to be interviewed online by a tropical fish enthusiast acquaintance of mine, for his Facebook aquarium group. He was doing a collection of group member profiles. I have been in the fish hobby and business since I was 11 or 12 years old, and was happy to participate.
I thought I’d share that interview here today.
Where are you originally from and where are you based now? I was born in Perth, Scotland. Moved to Canada in 1980 at the age of 10 with my family. I returned to Scotland in July 2020, some 40 years later…
How long have you been in the hobby? My dad bought our family a used aquarium when I was 11 or 12. It became a favourite project for my mom and I. Over the years, I have kept & bred a variety of fish, including African cichlids, livebearers, including Goodeids and rare varieties, catfish, plecos and loaches. I adore Neocaridina and Caridina dwarf shrimp. As I have recently just gotten back into the hobby after my move, I only have one 35 gallon community aquarium set up. But that will change! One of my favourite all-time fish is the Rummy-nose tetra. Their little red noses make me think of cute little drunk guys!
Are you an all-rounder or do you have specific knowledge in some areas over others? As I mentioned previously, I love the livebearers and Goodeids. I have received my Senior Specialist certificate for breeding livebearers. (CAOAC award). I also breed plecos and dwarf shrimp. I have kept lots of varieties of fish; tetras, African cichlids and catfish, a variety of South American catfish, loaches and botias, rainbow fish, bettas and more. I have also had several ponds over the course of my adult life. One of my favourite goldfish is the Shubunkin. No two are alike!
If you were to give any advice to someone starting out in the hobby what would it be? Take it slow. Ask questions! People are willing to help you. Don’t overfeed, and get yourself some healthy, good quality fish from a decent LFS or breeder.
What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you in the hobby, tell us about it? *Embarrassing moment alert! When I was 19, I worked for the brand new Big Al’s aquarium store in London Ontario. A couple of months in, we had word that Big Al himself was coming to visit the store. We had it in tip top shape. I was working that morning, and doing water changes on a saltwater aquarium. My manager came around the corner to introduce Big Al to me, just as I was sucking water down the siphon hose. Yep, I got a big mouthful of salt water and ended up gagging into the pail. What a first impression!
What’s the best thing that’s happened to you in the hobby? I find it rewarding when my fish are healthy and breed. Watching baby plecos come out of the breeding tube for the first time is great! But I was super excited when my crystal red Caridina shrimps bred. I was looking in as I fed them one day, and there, toddling along the substrate, was a teeny, tiny mini shrimp! That colony bred several generations for me, and are now with a friend of mine in the hobby and still doing amazingly well. Taking my fish to the shows and having them place in the top 3 of their classes is also rewarding. As well as receiving my livebearer specialist and advanced specialist awards.
Tell us a couple of things about you that members would not know and would be interested about? I recently became a best-selling author, thanks to my contributions to a collaborative book project. I am also a photographer and blogger, and working on a couple of new book ideas. I am a photographer also, and am currently awaiting my latest calendar of Scotland photography to be printed. Since coming back to Scotland, I have been active on Band (aquarium forums) and started a group for people in my local area to buy/sell/trade tropical fish and supplies.
I really enjoy keeping tropical fish. I find aquariums to be relaxing and therapeutic, and a great way to introduce youngsters to the natural world. It’s also a great way to make new friendships! Aquarium clubs are a great place to learn and get your hands on some amazing, healthy, and often hard-to-get tropical fish. I have often been heard saying, “Aquariums are like potato chips; you can’t have just one!” You can check out my aquarium YouTube channel here.
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