when Keeganthen quite a bit youngerfirst started showing
real interest in my aquariums, he couldnt understand my
lack of interest in keeping cool fish.
Why wouldnt I let him put that 10-inch clown knife fish and that 8-inch tiger shovelnose catfish in my 180-gallon show tank? After all, all I had to show off was a group of relatively small cichlids.
It wasnt hard to explain that, with the clown knife and shovelnose catfish, I would not have any of my cichlids very long.
More difficult was explaining my preference for the small cichlidsdwarf and semi-dwarf African speciesover the larger and admittedly showier fish he would regularly bring to my attention.
Keegan, I explained, through the years Ive kept large and small fish, and I still get a thrill out of seeing a beautiful, large show specimen in an aquarium.
But day-to-day I like to watch an aquarium that provides as much of a natural environment for the fish as possible where the fish look like they belong, instead of looking out of place.
Thats a lot easier to accomplish when you put small fish into a large aquarium. They become more interesting because they behave normally. Theyre even more interesting when the small fish have the intelligence of cichlids. See?
Sure, dad. I see what you mean, Keegan replied. You think we can set up a special tank for the knife fish and shovelnose cat?
It took a a couple of yearsand one national cichlid (ACA) conventionto do the trick, but finally came the words a father hears all too seldom:
Dad, you were right. I like the aquariums with the smaller cichlids much better. What say I trade in the catfish and knife fish somewhere and make my tank a cichlid aquarium?
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