Aquariums – Bringing The Ocean To Us

Aquariums – Bringing The Ocean To Us

By Michael Russell

I was talking to an old friend of mine quite recently and he mentioned his hobby which was collecting tropical fish. Let me say now that this is a hobby that holds absolutely no interest for me at all. However, after talking for a while with him, we moved around the reasons why this is actually an extremely popular pastime, and what type of aquarium he owned, how it added to his lifestyle, how it fitted in as a piece of “furniture” in his home and what maintenance of this rather large glass bowl entailed. I have visiting my friend’s home on a number of occasions and had noted that his aquarium does somewhat dominate the domestic scene of his living room.

I happened to visit him after our conversation and I went there with the intention of looking more closely at his hobby and asking what I felt were a few pertinent questions on what he did to replenish the aquarium and how in fact he kept it clean!

My reaction was quite different on this visit. I made a point of taking stock of this enormous glass cube. Let me say before going any further, I have no knowledge of what fish or other creatures reside in this aquarium, my interest was more how it fitted into my friend’s family lifestyle.

First of all, it was massive! It took up a complete wall. My estimation was that it must have been around six feet wide – don’t know the metric equivalent sorry – the part that was visible at the front would have been around three feet high. Imagine, it was like having an enormous television set just showing a picture of colourful fish consuming a complete wall in your living room. Yet, large as it was, and attractive and plentiful were its contents, the thing that fascinated me was that it was so serene. A radio was playing some rock music in another room, but the hypnotic effect on me was astonishing. I had never put myself in the situation where I could check out this well-held theory before, but – yes – the image had such a soothing effect that conversation in the background was pretty well ignored. In fact, the questions for my friend were completely forgotten.

Imagine then the effect of a theme park aquarium. I don’t know if they are called that, but I am sure you know the sort of place I mean. Dark room, walk under glass walls and ceilings and see amazing creatures of the deep swimming effortlessly above you.

I moved away quite quickly from the description of my friend’s aquarium but it was time I compared the two feelings – the theme park aquarium to the domestic variety. Do you know, the feeling was almost identical? The only difference was that I was visiting the larger version with my grandson and looking after him precluded giving it much concentration.

I wonder if it is the glass that generates the hypnotic feeling or maybe just the smooth swimming of the fish within the bounds of an aquarium. I know I should consider the freedom of these water creatures and respect their perceived environments, but I could not help but feel they seemed reasonably happy where they were. I am sure that you will have your own opinions.


Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Aquariums

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