In my latest weekend travel, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of aquarists, see plenty of fish rooms, more aquariums, and tons of fishes! And through it all, the amazing thing is the enormous variety of fishes which aquarists are playing with.
It seems that almost every serious aquarist I meet works with several...perhaps even many- different species at any given time. It's in our DNA...It's what we do.
Could any of us just keep ONE species?
If you've read my ramblings before, or have seen one of my talks, you know that I'm always trying to push fellow hobbyists to create aquariums that are a bit out of the ordinary.
So, I present you with my latest challenge: How about a system based on the needs of just ONE animal? What would you keep if you could just keep one species of fish? Would you even be able to do it? Coming from the "reef" side of the hobby, I'll take the liberty of speaking for my people and saying a resounding "No!"
Postmodern reefers have pretty short attention spans. We like variety, we like diversity, and we like action! I wonder if it's even possible for a reefer to keep just one species of coral? I'm the ultimate reef geek, and it challenges even my crazy sensibilities! Heck, I have a warehouse with hundreds of species...I wonder if I could handle it.
On the other hand, as freshwater hobbyists, we're far better equipped, mentally, to do this. I mean, with dedicated breeders working with Guppies, Discus, Plecos, etc., it's a non-issue.
Or is it?
Let's take the specialized fish breeder out of the equation for a minute and wade into the more populated waters of the mainstream aquarium hobby.
It seems that, short of hobbyists who breed certain fishes, you rarely see anyone keeping a tank devoted to just one species in a display tank- fresh or saltwater...
Why is that?
How cool would it be to just create an aquarium around ONE species of fish, coral, etc? I think it would be off the hook! I mean, you'd be an expert on Lamprologus steppersi, or the go-to-geek on Nannostomus trifasciatus, or..well, you get the idea. Limited thinkers may scoff at your apparent narrow-mindedness, but you'll know in your heart that your tank with 12 Scarlet Badis in an Indian jungle stream biotope is as cool as it gets!
There are a number of benefits to keeping a dedicated species aquarium. First and foremost, the fishes will not have to deal with the competitive stresses caused by the presence of others. Fishes will be more likely to develop a natural social structure, feeding habits, and reproductive behaviors than they will in a typical captive "community" situation. It will become much easier to develop a "baseline" behavioral/growth model for the animals you keep this way. Deviations from what you will come to recognize as "normal" for the species will be readily apparent and obvious over time.
Of course, breeding fishes and propagating plants is not only a fascinating specialty, it may be the key to survival for many fishes in the hobby, as wild collection becomes less and less sustainable for many. You hear it everywhere from hobbyists more familiar with this dynamic than I, but captive breeding is truly the future of the hobby. We've done an amazing job in the freshwater world, and the marine sector is playing catchup, steadily but surely!
By devoting a tank to one species, and possibly creating conditions conducive to their reproduction, you're embarking on a journey to learn all about them. This is truly taking the first steps towards reducing the pressures off of wild populations, so that we'll be able to enjoy them for generations to come.
Monospecific- One species....A very cool idea...And, if nothing more, it's a great excuse for another aquarium! "Honey, I'm trying to save the Xenophallus umbratilis from extinction..." Say THAT With a straight face, as you pitch the idea of yet another aquarium to your skeptical spouse, parent, or significant other!
In the end, it's just another way to enjoy an aquarium- one of many possible concepts you can try for interest, aesthetics- and just maybe- a chance to bring about the next hobby breakthrough!
So here's to you and your bravery as you take the "road less travelled!" See you en route. On the other hand, with breeders specializing in single species, perhaps it could be more popular already than we think? In the mean time, let's see your "monospecific" tanks, or hear your equally wacky ideas for one! Inspire, share...scare! LOL
Until next time,