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I remember having my first fish tank when I was a little boy. I manage to persuade my mom that a tank filled with water and wildlife would be a good idea in my bedroom! I can’t remember exactly what was in the tank but I seem to remember neon tetras and guppies. Of course, I had absolutely no idea about the nitrogen cycle and sweet nothing about what species would live peacefully in a community tank! Success in this adventure in those years was very much about luck! I did my best to read a lot of information in the books I could find in the school library and in second-hand book stores. Over the years some of my fish thrived, while others met an early demise…

It was in my teen years that I tried again and this time also branched out into keeping tadpoles and growing them into adult frogs (on a tank without a lid!). Although I had gained knowledge of keeping an aquarium successfully during my earlier years, there was still a great deal of good fortune involved in keeping my livestock alive! I kept the usual neon tetras, zebra danios, Siamese algae eaters and guppies, while also trying to keep myself as informed as possible by reading all I could lay my hands on. The fishkeeping hobby fell into the background in my latter years of high school as what I deemed more exciting things took its place. 

After-school studies continued without any excursions into further fishkeeping. It was during my student years that the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town opened and offered an opportunity for the first cohort of volunteer guides. I happily signed up, passed the required exams, and spent many happy hours as a volunteer guide at the aquarium. I really enjoyed this experience although I’ve never ventured into marine tanks!

I graduated as a teacher and one of the first “decor” items in my classroom was a large fishtank set up in my reading corner. This was a highlight for the children in my class. When I left the school, my tank remained and it would be many years before I started up a new aquarium.

When I married the love of my life and were blessed with two active boys, I set up a tank in one of the boys’ rooms and enjoyed teaching them about fishkeeping. I have to admit to not keeping my eldest accountable for tank maintenance and it was nothing short of a miracle that the fish survived! 

Fast forward several years and now, with much older children, I have picked up the hobby once more and am really enjoying it! My day job is running a large primary school as principal. This is a more stress-filled job than most people realise and I absolutely love being able to come home to feed fish, maintain tanks, and simply enjoy watching the busyness of aquatic life in my tanks. 

Now that I’ve started Art’s Fish Room, I’m looking forward to growing this passion into a small business and helping to share information and knowledge about this wonderful hobby.

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