Fish keeping in homes has existed for a long time. In ancient times, it was the only way to keep the fish fresh – there were no refrigerators. People would catch them when they were already hatched from the spawn and then transfer them to ponds, but as time progressed they realized that there were ways to get them to breed right there in the ponds.
Aquatic farming (aquaculture) was born. Slowly, fish evolved from just food and became ornamental. They were now kept for their looks and were studied in-depth. People wanted to learn more about their habitat and their anatomy.
Over the years, fish keeping became a hobby. Freshwater aquarium information has led to successful aquarium keeping and the same can be said of salt water fish tanks.
Let’s take a step by step look at how things evolved over the ages.
It is thought that the Sumerians kept eels for food as far back as almost 5000 years ago. More recently, about 1000 years ago, the Chinese found out that goldfish could be raised in freshwater ponds, and they could sometimes get offspring of different colors. It was an exciting discovery – they decided to keep these pretty offspring just to look at. They went on to discover that they could control spawning and get offspring that had different golden shades – this was about 680 AD.
There was no stopping them. They continued experimental breeding and soon discovered that they could get beautiful fish that had multi-colored bodies, longer fins and eyes that looked different. It wasn’t long before the rich started to buy these as pets, and they had to be moved from ponds in bowls. Often, for ornamental value, the buyer would leave them in the bowl. Soon, it was a roaring trade. Goldfish were sold all over the Far East. They ended up in Europe by 1700 AD.
The Victorian Era
The great American entertainer, P. T. Barnum imported some goldfish to the US from Japan in 1850. He had brought in different species and by 1870, they were on sale all over the East Coast. Any parlor worth its name had a goldfish bowl sitting somewhere – and next to it a Boston fern.
People soon discovered the importance of having a balanced aquarium environment for the fish. Filters, aerators and freshwater tank heaters were invented, but before that, plants were introduced to try and mimic a natural environment as much as possible. It seemed to help a great deal. Snails and other small mollusks went into fish bowls. The variation of fish species also went up, and soon it wasn’t just goldfish any more.
1920 – 1930
Electricity was now common in many homes, and aquarium device development kept increasing. Electricity was used to drive these inventions, and it was soon apparent that these were truly the answer for those who wanted to adopt fish keeping as a hobby.
Slowly, fish from Europe, more exotic breeds, started to arrive. The breeding continued and there was always something new and exciting for hobbyists. Europeans, especially in Germany were very advanced in fish breeding – they managed to conquer disease in the aquarium.
After the 2nd World War
Fish importations were halted – countries were being careful. There was a lot of reconstruction as well, and luxury hobbies were stifled with the money being directed to rebuilding lives.
Germany, a prime source of aquarium fish was also now under the spotlight from the rest of the world for the happenings there during the war. People eventually turned elsewhere for sources. Airplanes aided the transportation of fish by minimizing the travel time.
Gradually, life went back to normal and aquarium hobbyists were able to pick up where they had left. Freshwater breeding became a focus at this time – people realized that it was cheaper and just equally rewarding. There was a great leap in availability of freshwater aquarium information from research and experiments.
Americans have been the greatest aquarium keepers since the hobby reached their shores and continue to be. They have helped make great advances in the types of breeds, reaching as far off as Africa to look for new ones that they can crossbreed to get even better freshwater aquarium fish.
Today, most freshwater aquarium information is found on the internet, with the hobby having grown to all corners of the world. It has become much cheaper as well, with improved breeding methods and cheaper access to information.
It is expected that it’s just a matter of time before advances in the computer reach the inside of an aquarium. Who knows, maybe very soon, well have a microchip that can regulate an aquarium’s environment without any interference from the aquarium owner?