Emma McAleer

Store assistant at Fishkeeper Braehead

How long have you been keeping fish?

I have been keeping fish personally for around 7 years until I just had to move home, and when I was younger my mum also had a tank with mollies.

Which species do you most enjoy keeping and why?

I really enjoyed having a freshwater mbu puffer in my bigger systemised AquaOak tank. This fish was very sweet, and full of personality! Always came to the glass to say hello and watch me, and was ravenous at feeding time.

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

I had a ghost knife, and the actual care of it wasn't difficult as such, however it was challenging in the sense it always made me wary of water parameters being spot on as they are very sensitive!

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

Buy the biggest tank you can if you're really interested in fish, it’s a very addictive hobby. I learned the hard way and ended up with 4 tanks in the end, some being upgrades so I could keep bigger, or more fish. Also, take it slow. Remember it is an animal you are caring for, and to fully stock a tank straight away isn't the healthiest option for them. This helps to ensure a smooth running, happy and healthy tank.

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

Being able to see some new species of fish I haven't seen in person before, such as a blue ribbon eel. I love that there is always something new to learn – you never know it all.

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

Test kit. Checking your water parameters regularly is vital to successful fishkeeping.

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

Indian ocean. It would be perfect for diving with it's crystal clear water, and to see the bioluminescent plankton in the sea of stars. Or the jumping mobula rays in the Gulf of California.

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

Always the customers who are willing to take advice and learn.

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

Taking charge of and liaising with our assigned school setting up a tank as part of the Fishkeeper Fry project. The school absolutely loved it and thanked me thoroughly, which was very rewarding, as was helping inspire the next generation of Fishkeepers! They even sponsored a dolphin at the end!

What’s your secret fishkeeping “top tip”?

Patience goes a long way to having a successful aquarium.

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

Improved awareness of sustainability in fishkeeping, more fish captive bred, and corals cultured rather than taken from the wild. Also more realisation that fish are not disposable, and deserve a good quality of life as much as other pets do.