NAME: Graeme Franz - ok, so it’s not Graeme in the photo but isn’t his fish a show stopper! Watch out Graeme, Colin is after your fish.
Q1 : HOW LONG HAVE YOU KEPT FISH
Around 30 years
Q2 : WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCES OF FISHKEEPING
My earliest memories of tropical fish keeping were to do with a family tank and a London pet market.
We used to have a 36” angle iron tank in our living room, which had a rock arch and a substrate of marbles which was a useful idea in which to get the egg laying tropical’s to spawn, as the eggs would drop between the marbles so the hatch and survival rate of the fry was fairly high. I can also remember that the putty seals around the glass had to be checked regularly as the odd water bubble would try to make its escape and so additional putty would have to be applied.
The lighting consisted of a single fluorescent tube, and the filtration was by way of a box filter, the tank was heated by a separate thermostat and heater, which came in glass test tubes with a rubber bung to seal against the water, they were then connected together electrically. The temperature was adjusted by a screw in the thermostat so not exactly easy to adjust accurately. A floating glass mercury thermometer was situated in a corner of the tank.
My other memory was a pet market called club row which was near Shoreditch in London. Back in the 1970’s it was a place where all manner of pets could be purchased, from cats and dogs to rabbits, guinea pigs, reptiles and amphibians as well as fish.
I remember going to these with members of my family to purchase fish, and i can remember various bags of standard tropical’s hanging on lines with meth’s burners underneath to keep some heat in the bags.
Obviously with the change in pet legislation many years ago this market still exists but it no longer sells any pets.
Q3 : WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST TANK
A 24” tank which housed a couple of angels, golden barbs and both a red tailed and silver shark, not exactly the best mix of compatible fish in hindsight!
Q4 : HOW MANY TANKS DO YOU CURRENTLY HAVE
Around 45 in total most of which are in a fish house
Q5 : WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN AREAS OF INTEREST
I specialise in tetradon species (pufferfish) and channa’s (snakeheads), but i am also interested in corydoras, cichlids and barbs.
Q6 : BEST THINGS ABOUT FISHKEEPING
Being involved in a hobby that is both relaxing and interesting.
Also being part of a friendly club that has not only a number of activities but also a wealth of knowledge across a broad range of fishkeeping topics.
Q7: AND THE WORST
Several spring to mind, aquatic shops that have wrongly labelled fish and staff that pass on wrong information to customers especially beginners to the hobby.
Shop staff that have no idea how to catch fish and thrash the net around in the tank in the same way they would use a fly swatter out of it, all leading to highly stressed fish before they are even bagged.
Also when it comes to the term “community fish”, too many people think that any fish labelled under this are ok to be put together in a tank, this is usually incorrect as for example angel fish and tetras, as the angel’s grow they will eat the tetras or any fish small enough to get in their mouths. Tiger barbs and any longed finned tankmates such as betta splendens (siamese fighting fish), tiger barbs are notorious fin nippers and will decimate the fins of any slow swimming tank mates which usually leads to deaths or diseases for the other fish.
Probably worst of all is the internet, yes there are some great sites that can be thoroughly recommended, but there is far too much rubbish that has been written, and for the beginner there are pictures and articles of fish that are not what they say they are. Also far too many people upload articles which are factually incorrect and give wrong or misleading information.
In essence there is a real misunderstanding that if an article is on the internet then it must be correct, and therefore research really should only be done from reliable internet sources or by an email to a local aquatic society or club.
Q8 : WHY SHOULD SOMEONE CONSIDER JOINING AN AQUATIC SOCIETY / FISH CLUB
After keeping fish for over 20 years and getting by with books and magazines for additional information, it had not really occurred to me to bother researching the aquatic club scene as i did not feel that anything could be gained by doing so.
I am not sure what inspired me to do a search of local clubs but the only one that was near to my area was Strood Aquarist society, and from making contact by telephone and then going to the first meeting i was made to feel really welcome and immediately felt part of the club.
That was around 10 years ago and in that time it has been one of the best decisions i ever made as the expertise and knowledge of the club members is second to none.
The club has two meetings per month and at most of these there is a speaker, dvd or general discussion.
The club organises trips to various aquatic outlets throughout the year and the highlight being a three day trip to holland visiting shops and bringing back many fish species not readily available in the uk .
We are always looking for new members of any age as we can all learn from one another, so whether you are an experienced fishkeeper or just a beginner to this hobby, please come along to a meeting and see what we have to offer.
Q9 : GENERAL COMMENTS
I have kept many oddball and tankbuster species over the years, including red tailed catfish, giraffe nosed catfish and most of the available tetradon (pufferfish) species.
My interest is still with puffers and more recently snakeheads although the dwarf species only, and by that nothing really over 15” unless very special, so most of the ones i keep are around the 6” to 10” mark .
I have been very succesful in breeding channa gachua and raising the fry to adults.
I did manage to get a pair of tetradon suvattii to breed but unfortunately i was not able to sucessfully raise the fry and lost these after about a week.
Due to the type of fish i keep i am more interested in the characteristics of the fish rather than as a fish breeder.
I have moved away from tankbusters with the realism that unless you own massive tanks that these should really be left alone.
I used to attend a few fish open shows each year, and showed a few fish at these events although i always prefered the socialising aspect of these in order to talk with like minded hobbyists from other clubs.
Unfortunately it seems there are fewer open shows every year which is a great shame.