Keeping things fresh for 2018, there has been a staffing overhaul on team PFK. Former editor Karen Youngs has now left to work on a different (non-fishy) title, meaning that former features editor Nathan Hill has stepped in to the role of associate editor.
Replacing Nathan, we have Steve Baker who joins the team as staff writer. Switched on readers may recall Steven’s name from when we featured his spectacular ‘Wall of Life’ aquarium in the July issue.
So, without further ado, we hand you across to Steve to introduce himself!
“I would first like to say an all-encompassing hello to all of our readers as your new staff writer – I hope to bring you interesting, informative and encouraging articles and reviews with an air of character.
“So that you know who I am a bit and where I’m coming from, I’ve been in the ornamental aquatics trade nearly all my working life (some 20 years). I’ve worked for numerous retail businesses and wholesalers – some pond fish specialists, most covering all aspects of fishkeeping. Before any of that I’d spent 3 years at an agricultural college studying toward a Fisheries Studies BTEC National Diploma.
“My Fish journey really started with a tropical tank for my 10th birthday and a pond in my parents’ garden combined with a love of nature from a very early age. My real passion is for tropical fish, or more correctly, tropical habitats and the fish and plants that live within them (not that I shun our native watery habitats and inhabitants). So, my thing is biotopes and naturalistic set-ups but I do like to push myself, test my boundaries, so in my new position you’ll see me trying my hand at modern-day aquascaping for the first time, working out my own approach to marine keeping, and forcing myself to go back to basics for features.
“My concern with the industry is that there are still lots of people out there pushing advice and fishkeeping practices that I was introduced to when I started fish keeping in 1989! For some, it seems the only thing that’s been updated is the equipment we use while ethics have stalled.
“On social media I see many new and experienced fish keepers helping each other which is great. Most groups and pages give a lot of good, up-to-date advice, steering newbies away from the classic mistakes – think of those surrounding fishless cycling, correct care for Betta splendens, or correct tank sizes for goldfish, etc. Maybe modern media is less attractive to people unwilling to adopt new methods, though there are still some groups that are less than concerned with up-to-date practices.
“There seems to be a resurgence of subjecting potentially very big fish to small tanks. This is akin to locking a human up in a small with a low celling, no chance to exercise muscle tissue, very little to stimulate the mind, and barely enough room to grow straight, let alone to full potential.
“Responsible retailers miss out on sales because there are always stores that will sell an unsuitable fish. These sales can lead to the fish suffering a tedious existence, or the fish keeper becoming dismayed at the prospect of the unexpected costs of a larger tank, eventually quitting the hobby completely.
“Studies have shown that fish do feel pain and that the traditional idea of a fish holding a three-second memory is farcical. Nowadays, if people keep dogs or a horse in poor, confined conditions they face being convicted of cruelty, but fish seem to have missed that boat with most people. The fact they have a spine means they should be as treasured as a more conventional pet legally – though personally I don’t understand that, in my mind the irritating fly around my food has just as much right to live, if not more, as I do. Still, the phrase ‘it’s just a fish’ is still heard regularly by shop staff.
“This is the place to gain favor for my kind of thoughts as most – perhaps nearly all – readers of these pages may hold similar views. At the end of the day, you’ve spent time and money to read and learn about the marvels of our underwater environments and the information and views I’ve read within this magazine over the years have always been up to date and pushing modern, responsible practices. That’s the biggest reason I am proud to be working on such a publication and encouraging good care for our wet pets.”
We hope you join us in wishing Steve a very warm welcome!