What's in your tank? Have you stuck to the 'natural look' â€“ or have you added a Roman ruin? Or a UFO? Maybe a fluorescent skull? Bob Mehen wonders why some fishkeepers put such strange things in their tanks.
Having kept fish of all varieties for a number of years now, it never ceases to amaze me what objects people will put in their tank in the name of decoration.
The range in most of my local shops is staggering, and for the amount of space dedicated to these items I assume they sell well – but who is it that buys them?
Most of us will start a new tank with a reasonable idea of the "look" we're trying to achieve. The bare bones usually involve some kind of substrate, a few rocks and pebbles, maybe some wood, and some plants – real or plastic.
Most people I know who keep fish are attempting to create something that offers an attractive back drop for the fish, while offering the fish themselves a comforting, more "natural" environment. There does seem to be another way though...
Now at this point I have to admit to subjecting my goldfish to living with a large ceramic skull in a feeble attempt to convince my non-fishkeeping school friends that I was in fact the proud owner of some piranha, and not a pair of shubunkins called Bubbles and Spot – in my defence I was only 10 years old, and my friends were very gullible, knowing next to nothing about fish.
This kind of behaviour probably explains the countless boggle-eyed "Nemos" and bubble powered LED crabs - not to mention the more traditional treasure chests, and "no fishing" signs. Children love all this kind of thing, and if it keeps them interested in the hobby long enough to actually become really interested in the fish themselves then it's probably a good thing.
What does confuse me is the increase of enormous underwater ornaments – well out of the reach price wise of the average 10 year old. I've seen huge sunken pirate ships, crumbling temples, large 1950s American pick-up trucks and even a wrecked Grumman Hellcat fighter plane, which unless you're planning a Bermuda Triangle biotope seems a very unlikely aquarium decoration.
Add to this various under water LED lights and bubble curtains and your tank could end up looking like the cast of Rome's end of shoot disco hosted by Liberace.
I wonder quite what some of the fish make of all this – one day you're minding your own business, swimming up a tributary of the Amazon, then you're whisked halfway round the world into a tank full of illuminated goat skulls and UFOs... How would you feel?
Now all these things are a matter of taste I suppose – "whatever floats your boat", (or at least whatever lights up your boat in rainbow colours while emitting bubbles from a giant plastic octopus) – but I have to ask who is it that buys these things, and are they really part of the "best" environment for our fish?
What's the strangest object you've seen or put in a tank? We'd love to know! Why not send a picture and tell us a bit about it to firstname.lastname@example.org