Let’s start with pond fishes, as Easter typically heralds the start of the pond season. We do our best to prepare our outdoor fish for the rigours of the British weather and they’re a hardy bunch - take care not to shock those living in the luxurious warmth of indoor pond sections though. A pond thermometer can help to minimise the stress of moving to an ice cold outdoor pond by telling you when the difference isn’t too great. Speak to a member of staff for more guidance.

Away from the vagaries of early spring, it was a treat to see Congo tetras (Phenacogrammus interruptus) growing into their adult finery at the Basingstoke store. Typically these fish arrive as dull juveniles before growing into the magnificent adults that have been popular choices for large community aquaria for years. Only males develop the long fin extensions and bright colours but this species thrives best as a mixed shoal in a spacious, planted tank.

Another good choice for larger fish communities, the Two spot mystus catfish (Mystus bimaculatus) is a bewhiskered beauty that is capable of swallowing small tetras and barbs but entirely peaceful with fishes too large to swallow. As demonstrated by this group at Cirencester, these fish are not shy when kept together, although like most catfishes they appreciate hiding places and can be nocturnal when first added to a new tank.

Marine creatures tend to be strange. Who’d have thought that not only was it possible to find a tool-using crab, but that it was possible to keep such a creature in the home aquarium? Boxing crabs (Lybia tessellata) are perfect for nano aquaria, as they tend to get overlooked in larger set ups due to their small size. They harness the stinging power of two anemones, which they hold in their pincers and brandish at any threats. This one looked quite at home in the invert section at our Swindon store. 

Some crustaceans have a very different relationship with anemones and in the case of the Peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) they view them as a meal. Less outgoing than their Cleaner shrimp cousins, peppermints will control the pest anemone Aiptasia but being a creature of deep water, shun bright lights and often work best on the night shift. When they feel comfortable and secure they can be seen out and about, like this one at our Dartford branch.

The march of the Medaka (Oryzias latipes) continues. If you’re unfamiliar with these little temperate surface-dwellers then you’re missing out, they’ve been in space as well as being a popular pet in Japan. Ideal for planted aquaria large and small, they even do well in predator-proof outdoor water features in the summer months providing they’re brought inside before things get too cold. These were enjoying a more down to earth environment at the Farnham store.