How long have you been a Maidenhead Aquatics Team Member?
I have been a team member for Just over 6 years.
How long have you been keeping fish?
I have had my own fish tanks for around 20 years now.
What was your first aquarium and what fish did you keep in it?
My first aquarium was a hexagonal starter fish tank, around 60 litres. The first fish I kept were White cloud mountain minnows, and a mixture of Leopard Danio’s and Zebra Danios. I also kept a mixture of peppered Corydoras and Normal and albino Bristlenose plecs.
What was it that got you hooked on fishkeeping?
My father kept fish for most of his life at minimal level, and as a child I had a great fascination with the fish and fish tanks he owned. Also visits to various aquariums, and aquatic stores spurred this interest
What was it that made you decide to turn your fishkeeping hobby into a career?
After deciding to withdraw from university and move home, a great pleasure for me and a source of focus became my fish tanks, and remembering back to secondary school work experience where I actually spent my time working in the maidenhead Scotsdale branch, I decided that I could take my interest and passion for my personal tanks and apply it to a professional role as a career.
Which species do you most enjoy keeping and why?
Stendker Discus. As a fishkeeper I had always seen discus in the hobby, and with their reputation for difficulty and sensitivity I always want to stretch my capabilities. Whilst keeping them I found that the initial “boring” look to them was like the tip of an iceberg. Overtime I observed the small gestures and behavioural tendencies these fish show, and how each one in my tank had a different temperament and standing with my tank. It’s surprising how delicate a 15cm fish can be!
Which species was the trickiest or challenging for you to keep and why?
Golden Datnoid would probably be the hardest for me. During the time of keeping I had a tank of predatory fish, that exhibited aggressive behaviour toward each other mostly over food and territory with in the aquarium. Even though this fish fell within this category, its mannerisms and confidence leant itself to a much less gregarious tank environment. It took a long time to successfully alter my aquarium to suitable house this young juvenile Datnoid, whilst still maintaining the same inhabits.
Which species haven’t you had a chance to keep yet but dream of having one day?
Earl’s Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus Earlei) , for me this is a dream to own, and to be exact at least a male female pair. I have a fascination with various wrasse but after being introduced to these and only ever seeing them a single time in person. This is one of my top goals.
What pearl of wisdom would you give to first-time Fishkeepers?
Patience for me is the greatest piece of wisdom for any first-fishkeeper, mixed with some perseverance, the more patient you can be the more pleasure you will get from the hobby. Nothing happens overnight, and when I have customers come back to me telling me about fish I have suggested but will take time to colour up, saying they now look amazing. This is the best feedback I could have. It is true many fish only get better with age.
What would be your dream aquarium?
Tough to decide between a large marine reef tank, and a root structure aquascaped tropical tank. Both have the potential for so much intrigue and growth that either could become my dream aquarium. All I know is I want it to be big!!
What was your most memorable fishkeeping experience?
Within my personal aquariums, the evening I noticed my discus had laid eggs successfully. I was convinced a pair had formed within my tank, and for weeks I waited to see if they would lay. It turned out that in the end another male would be the one to finally pair up with the female. Within a store, redesigning and aquascaping both large displays for two separate stores I have had the joy of working in. Both With similar aspects but with totally different materials used with different species in mind.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned since joining Maidenhead Aquatics?
Quoting a long term colleague of mine and his obsession with them “even silver fish can be amazing, there is always something more to see”
What’s your favourite aspect of your work at Maidenhead Aquatics?
Seeing fish develop over time as they settle in and gain their colours. Seemingly plain fish can change into amazing looking animals given time. And seeing new fish I have never kept come into the store.
What question do customers ask you most often?
Out of these fish which ones go together ?
What’s your favourite/most useful piece of fishkeeping equipment and why?
The Blanki, above all else this is the most useful, there isn’t a piece of algae it cannot get off.
What’s your top tip for customers taking their first plunge into marine fishkeeping?
Plan ahead, a lot of the time those amazing fish you have seen online or diving or in a shop/aquarium won’t go with everything or in any sized tank. You can create an amazing tank at any size you just have to take the time and get the advice on what would be best suited before jumping in to quickly. And as normal take it slow.
Which aquatic habitat, like the Amazon or the Red Sea, would you most like to visit?
Mangrove marshes would be the one I want to see the most. The depth of species and combinations found creates an amazing ecosystem in my opinion.
What’s the best customer you ever had and why?
A recent customer of mine who has come back time and time again for advice, they always take the time to listen and ask questions, and never hesitate to contact the store if they don’t understand something. They always take their fish tank seriously and test it regularly. And they also keep discus so that’s a big plus for me!
What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had at Maidenhead Aquatics?
Seeing overtime changes in stores that I have been a part of show success, even if it is only slight. Or customers noticing a change. That’s always a greatly rewarding experience.
What species would you recommend for a child’s first aquarium?
Depending on the child I’d have to pick between White cloud mountain minnows, as that’s what I started with. Albino cherry barbs because of the bright colours or a Glowlight Danio, because of the intrigued and activity levels they bring to the aquarium. They are all brilliant starting fish, which are typically more simple to keep, and provide colour and activity within the tank.
What’s the most unique species you’ve ever cared for at Maidenhead Aquatics?
Definitely a frogfish, they are weird wonderful and brilliant to watch.
Describe the trickiest fishkeeping problem you were ever able to solve for a customer
A long standing customer, with a very mature large fish tank started to see signs of fish going missing. No losses, no signs, no prior symptoms being exhibited. After a long time of troubleshooting problems of potential solutions. It turns out, the fish we’re forcing themselves into the pipes of the filter and happily living in a small area within his sump filter. With all the barriers they would have had to of gotten through it was quite impressive they actually made it there somehow. It seems simple but it took a very long time going through everything to try and solve the issue of the disappearing fish.
Which of the fish in your store has the most character?
Green Face bird wrasse pair in one of our larger tanks, beautiful to watch and a very interesting fish as well.
Which wild species do you find the most bizarre, interesting or impressive?
The humble stickleback, once they settle their ability to live almost anywhere outside is amazing and I always find them in the weirdest places.
What’s your secret fishkeeping “top tip”?
My top tip is to get clean up crew. If you appropriately stock your tanks, with catfish, and other species that will help clean your tank. This always helps with the longevity of your aquarium and the cleanliness of it as well.
What do you think is the future of fishkeeping and what developments would you most like to see?
Future of fish keeping would be for me seeing it become more popular and seeing the benefits owning a tank can bring to households. Many customers talk about how their kids love the fish tanks and I would love to see that develop into future fish keepers ! The best development would be a larger number of tank bred species becoming more wildly available there are so many species out their, it would be awesome to see them all flourish within the industry.
What’s your best tip for building a pond?
Do the necessary steps, make sure you protect your liner if you have one, you want a pond to last !!!
How many aquariums do you currently keep at home, and what are these?
Currently I have 1 fish tank, which is a seashell elite 4ft tank. It has tetras and pencil fish in it currently. And is planted.