The good old days of fishkeeping - better times...?

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... or viewed through rose tinted spectacles? When he's not reviewing cutting edge fishkeeping equipment PFK editor Jeremy Gay likes nothing more than to reminisce about the old days...


I'm probably old before my time but as well as celebrating the new trends in fishkeeping I also enjoy the memories of fishkeeping gone by.

The eighties is when I first got into fish, no doubt down to my parents and their twin four foot aquariums — one for tropical and one for coldwater.

Back then it seemed like everyone kept fish, as three of my uncles did too, and when the tanks got stripped down to be cleaned everyone who knew about fish were drafted in to come and help wrestle "the sucker" (Hypostomus sp.) out of his tank, as he had previously cracked his tanks, according to my relatives.

Best of all the grown ups used to shut me out of the living room so I didn’t get in the way! (There was even a time when my mum would turn off my air-powered filter every night because it was noisy!).

Pink kissers

Back then my parents bought fish in pairs and kissing gourami and scissortails were seen as pretty exotic, at least in my house anyway. A pair of Angelfish were pride of place and they regularly spawned on the undergravel filter uplift.

Brands such as Whisper, Uno, Clearseal and Algarde were what I used, (or maybe it is what I could afford?) and according to the books, Swordtails grew to 17.5cm/7" and Rosy barbs to 15cm/6"!

The cable tidy was the state of the art in my world and I could only stare at those Eheim internal filters and powerheads through the glass display cabinet in my local aquatic shop, which was local because I could walk to it.

And this may be where the rose tinted spectacles are donned too, so please correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m sure male dwarf gourami didn’t used to have that unsightly, angled head hump and Java moss would grow on a broken flowerpot without fertilisers and CO2?

So let's talk about the old days and please let me know your fond memories. To the seasoned aquarists, were fish genuinely hardier back then and was the hobby cheaper or more expensive than today?

Let me know the pros and cons of fishkeeping way back when, the brands, the styles and the people, by leaving a comment below.