High summer temperatures make for ideal growth conditions and across the stores our pond fishes are bigger and better than when they arrived earlier in the year. The same warm conditions make moving home easier for new fish and with a few months before things start to cool, it’s a great time to stock your pond. This batch of red, sarasa comet and canary goldfish varieties in our Cheddar store show just how much they compliment one another.

sarasa comet nd canary goldfish - cheddar store Maidenhead Aquatics

Our hobby is an evolving one and advances are made all the time, some of these are more significant than others. It’s been very gratifying seeing the improvements made in the field of marine fish nutrition and prepared diets are now bringing extraordinary results with species previously impossible to keep in captivity long term. Traditionally, frozen foods have been the staple fare of saltwater keepers but their nutritional profile can’t provide everything delivered by a more balanced diet.

There are still some species that aren’t suited to captive husbandry and others which need to be carefully sourced in order to succeed. Advances in collection and transport techniques, shorter supply chains and better understanding of their requirements means that previously problematic feeding specialists such as Orange-spotted filefish (Oxymonacanthus longirostris) are now within the grasp of dedicated hobbyists. This pair at our Crawley store have been thriving on a pelleted diet for more than two years and show what can be done if delicate species are handled well at every stage of their journey to the home aquarium.

Orange-spotted filefish - Crawley store Maidenhead Aquatics

Not everybody likes their fishes small and pretty, fortunately the sheer diversity of these animals means that there’s something for everyone. If you prefer your tetras big and toothy and have the facilities to match, the Wolf fish (Hoplias malabaricus) might be for you. Often found in shrinking forest pools munching its way through dwarf cichlids and anything else small enough to fit, these are chunky but fairly sedentary pets that can be expected to grow 30 - 50cm in the aquarium. They’re capable of biting the hand that feeds them, so tempting as youngsters like this one at our Cambridge store may seem, they’re not for the faint hearted. A close look at the jaws of this fish reveals the kind of well-armed grin best appreciated from a safe distance.

Wolf Fish

It is rather ironic that during one of the hottest parts of the year we’re looking at an animal that likes things cold. Due to habitat loss, it’s true to say that it’s a lot easier to find an Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) in captivity than in the Mexican lakes where these salamanders evolved. Part of the Mole salamander family, Axolotls are neotenous and rarely develop into the land-dwelling form that is the normal adult stage for most of their relatives. In this respect they’re lifelong juveniles, able to breed in their larval form. They can also regenerate lost limbs and organs, so staying young at heart comes with definite advantages.

As pets, ‘Axies’ are easily pleased and will thrive in cool hard water that’s well-filtered but free of strong currents. As they feed rather clumsily on a diet of pellets, frozen foods and earthworms they are prone to ingesting gravel - to avoid this, keep them either on sand (which they can easily process), or a bare/solid base. This lovely wild type was one of a batch at our Chester store.

Axolotls - Chester store - Maidenhead Aquatics

If you’ve ever needed an excuse to get a chiller for your marine tank, or indeed an excuse to set up a subtropical reef tank then look no further. The Blue-spot jawfish (Opistognathus rosenblatii) is a cool water gem from the Eastern Pacific that combines the character of its kin with spots that almost hurt your eyes under blue lights. Both this fish and myself were enjoying the cool conditions in our Reefkeeper Rugby store on a hot day.

Blue spot Jawfish - Reefkeeper Rugby - Maidenhead Aquatics

Many of us inherit garden ponds, or have preformed features that have straight, deep sides that make planting awkward. Maybe you’d like to add an island to provide a refuge for wildlife such as frogs from the neighbourhood cats? Perhaps you have koi that tend to eat plants? For all these problems there’s a single solution - floating plant containers. These have become more popular in recent years and with good reason, they are literally a ‘chuck it in’ planting project.

These mixed baskets at our Andover store include rafting plants to boost wildlife habitat, as well as taller flowering plants to provide colour, form and nectar.