Alex Fieldsend

Sales Assistant at Chesterfield

How long have you been a Maidenhead Aquatics Team Member?

Since November 2015 , so about 3 years.

How long have you been keeping fish?

I was 12 when I first had a proper set up (we are all guilty of childhood bowl.

What was your first aquarium and what fish did you keep in it?

A Marina 35, with a Black Moor called Rocky.

What was it that got you hooked on fishkeeping?

Diversity, and not specifically regarding fish species, Visiting lots of different shops to define it further, the excitement of seeing something new, finding lots of experienced fishkeepers with good advice and knowledge.

What was it that made you decide to turn your fishkeeping hobby into a career?

I have been in the aquatics trade for 6 years In total, previous jobs I’ve had gave no nourishment for an insatiable hunger for more knowledge and problem solving. This line of work certainly has plenty to offer.

Which species do you most enjoy keeping and why?

That’s unfair to ask, but… Killifish. I base that purely on an inquisitive yet shy nature. Not to mention a huge variety of colour and shapes.

Which species was the trickiest or challenging for you to keep and why?

Chromaphyosemion Volcanum, (Volcano Killifish)
I travelled for 2 hours to pick up a trio, they were being kept in quite harsh conditions in the store I collected them from, so some reconditioning was required. Moral of the story, if you ever travel long way to buy fish be prepared to bite the bullet if it’s not quite what you were expecting.

Which species haven’t you had a chance to keep yet but dream of having one day?

A fishkeeper should never say that they have kept everything, but I have kept everything that I want to keep… that is of course until I see something new!

What pearl of wisdom would you give to first-time Fishkeepers?

I think many people will reinforce my answer. Don’t wash your filter under the tap, and don’t fully stock your aquarium quickly

What would be your dream aquarium?

A 4ft x 2.5ft x 2ft Professional Open top Planted aquarium, with 6 x 7500k 2000 lumen T5’s A 10L Co2 canister with Probe and Solenoid Fertilised Substrate and some nice big chunks of mountain rock. Lots of Rotala, Micranthemum, Didiplis and Staurogyne.

What was your most memorable fishkeeping experience?

The first time I got Hemianthus Callitrichoides to carpet in a rock, it looked awesome.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned since joining Maidenhead Aquatics?

The amazing processes the company go through to ensure great health of fish, not only the husbandry of the fish that already reside within the establishment, but all new fish being acclimatised whom have been imported from all corners of the globe.

What’s your favourite aspect of your work at Maidenhead Aquatics?

Customers 100%, my job would not be as rewarding without them. Both new and returning customers, building friendships and being trusted with helping them get more enjoyment from our hobby and ultimately their investments.

What question do customers ask you most often?

The main bulk of questions are always in regards to livestock compatibility. However a specific question I’m usually asked is: How do you set up a planted aquarium.

What’s your favourite/most useful piece of fishkeeping equipment and why?

Barrel Pumps, simplistic yet amazingly useful for moving large volumes of water without lifting. One of the best gadgets to help change water.

What’s your top tip for customers taking their first plunge into marine fishkeeping?

Marine fishkeeping is not hard, but it can be expensive (which can inherently make it hard) Go for as large as you can afford and if you can make your own water to save money.

Which aquatic habitat, like the Amazon or the Red Sea, would you most like to visit?

The Democratic Republic of Congo and all its bodies of water. Who wants to come with?

What’s the best customer you ever had and why?

His name is Kurt, he’s a great guy, he worked in the fish trade with his brother back home in Jamaica and offers lots of different perceptions and fun stories. A great customer isn’t always the ones with the deepest pockets but with the richest experience.

What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had at Maidenhead Aquatics?

Everyday is a rewarding experience, people who return to tell you of their success, i.e. successfully treating a disease or correcting a water quality issue, with or without our advice.

What species would you recommend for a child’s first aquarium?

Not goldfish, Betta Splendens makes a great first-time fish. Vastly more tolerant of the kind of conditions that beginners may subject them to. Colourful, fun and don’t require large aquariums.

What’s the most unique species you’ve ever cared for at Maidenhead Aquatics?

Periophthalmus Novemradiatus (Dwarf Indian Blue Mudskipper)

We set up a nice brackish water system for them which was made out of concrete and sealed, with bits of mountain rock creating crevasses and ravines.
All the kids loved them!

Describe the trickiest fishkeeping problem you were ever able to solve for a customer

I wouldn’t like to say that any one experience would stand out for me, If I was going to say some of the trickiest problems to solve are usually due to Ammonia test kits.

We get a lot of customers that use chemicals that de-ionize Ammonia but also test for Ammonia
sometimes convincing them its there test results are not harmful is quite a challenge.

Which of the fish in your store has the most character?

We used to have a Stars and Stripes Dogface Puffer (Arothron Hispidus) His name was Gilbert and measured around 20” his home was a 8ft x 2.5ft x 2.5ft He would spit water to get your attention and follow you end to end. And boy could he eat!

Do you, or have you had a pond? If so, what is/was the best thing about it?

I have never personally owned a pond. But I do like Koi when they skim the surface of the water, open mouthed ready to receive their food.

Which wild species do you find the most bizarre, interesting or impressive?

Anableps Anableps (Four eyed fish). Although not particularly colourful, its amazing anatomical features blow my mind. Despite their name they only actually have 2 eyes but do have 2 pupils, Another great feature is that they are livebearers

What’s your secret fishkeeping “top tip”?

Water treatment company’s have no care for your fish and the water only has to be consumable by humans. Most water providers have an website where you can check the quality of your water. Good things to check are: Nitrates, Chlorine, PH, KH and also bacteria colonies. Do bare in mind that these are usually only tested bi-annually and may not always present the truth.

What do you think is the future of fishkeeping and what developments would you most like to see?

I think the future of fishkeeping lies on sustainability, more efficient LEDS, the ability to breed more species of Saltwater fish, along with more people embracing aquaponics.

What’s your best tip for building a pond?

Avoid building on or at the bottom of a slope, avoid placement under conifers or anywhere that will get excessive leaf litter. And finally, the MOST important advice, a well shaded area preferably close to a boundary wall. This can be particularly difficult in east or west facing gardens.

How many aquariums do you currently keep at home, and what are these? (please submit photos of these).

Unfortunately I do not currently own any aquariums at home, But hope to have a nano planted Aquarium in the near future.