James Sampson

Junior Partner at Summerhill

How long have you been a Maidenhead Aquatics Team Member?

13 years, I started working at the Cambridge store as a sales assistant, worked my way up to Manager later moving on to manage the busier Scotsdales store before becoming a Junior partner in the company 7 years ago and am now responsible for three store (

How long have you been keeping fish?

As long as I can remember, I kept them as a child and my dad always had fish so I grew up around and keeping fish. My dad and I had an arrangement that he would buy the tanks if I cleaned them, it was an arrangement we both enjoyed and we ended up with ei

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

The first aquarium I brought for myself was an 18” clearseal tank, filtered with an undergravel filter. I kept a selection of tetras, cherry barbs, badis badis and chequerboard cichlids.

What was it that got you hooked on fishkeeping?

I’ve always had an interest in animals and the natural world. As a family we had quite a menagerie of pets, everything from hamsters to Chameleons but I always had a fascination with fish. I think it’s the ability to use such a variety of fish species, pl

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

I got my first job in my local fish shop at the age of 13, three hours on a Sunday cleaning the fancy goldfish system. I decided then that one day I wanted to run my own store. I’ve worked in the industry ever since and my knowledge and passion for the ho

Which species do you most enjoy keeping and why?

I have a real love of Catfish above all else there are so many to choose from Corydoras, wood cats, synodontis, lorricarridae and many more. I have kept so many different species over the years but the variety of L Number Plecs available and their individ

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

The biggest challenges I have had was with a Harlequin Lancer catfish. Having ordered these countless times and never receiving one I finally managed to get hold of one. When it arrived, it was tiny and would eat nothing but bloodworm, being only able to

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

I’ve always wanted an L95 Orange cheek pinecone pleco.

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

Don’t underestimate the importance of water quality, regular testing and water changes are so important to the longterm success and health of your aquarium inhabitants. Take your time to really understand what your testing and why, optimum ranges for the

What would be your dream aquarium?

I’m lucky enough to have almost the aquarium I’ve always wanted. I decided long ago I wanted a 6’ x 2’ x 2’ aquarium and I currently have the Aqua oak 5’ x 2’ x 2’ which houses a selection of catfish and South American cichlids mainly. I’m very happy with

What was your most memorable fishkeeping experience?

I would have to say breeding the Stingrays in the shop display whilst I was at Maidenhead Aquatics at Cambridge. Being able to see the pups move under the skin of the heavily pregnant mother and how cute those little pups were when they were born was trul

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

I have learnt so much in my time with Maidenhead about all aspects of the hobby and fish. I would struggle to pick one thing.

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

I love working with people who are passionate about and interested in fish and sharing my hobby with them and our customers.

What question do customers ask you most often?

Have you got any chips…… it never gets old….

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

I will always recommend the basis of success in fishkeeping is a good filter. I run a hydra filtron 1800 external filter on my 460L aquarium and a hydra 20 on my 70L planted aquarium and find that these make a huge difference to the water quality, clarity

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

Don’t overstock.

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

I’ve been lucky enough to snorkel on the great barrier, off the coast of Komodo and in the red sea. I passed my PADI a few years ago and have been Scuba diving with Manta rays in Bali and did a day diving on Sipidan in Malaysia which was truly awe inspiri

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

I have and have had so many great customers, but I would have to say my best customer was Lee Evans. I have always been a fan and he came into my Summerhill store a few years ago and I was truly honoured to serve him.

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

Gaining my OATA advanced diplomas in Fish Biology and Fish health and Water Quality and Filtration. Its such an in depth and informative course and I felt a great sense of achievement on passing. I would recommend anyone else to do the course.

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

Cherry Barbs, White Cloud Mountain Minnows, Peppered Corydoras they’re small hardy, colourful, peaceful and can be kept in a tepid water aquarium.

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

I kept a Mbu Puffer in the display Aquarium at the Cambridge Store, he grew from a 4” baby up to about 18” and he was such a personable and intriguing fish. He definitely recognised certain people, mainly those who fed him, he really was a pet who would f

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

We have recently started stocking Discus at Summerhill and I’ve really started to fall in love with them, they’re always happy to see me, they’re greedy little things and will feed directly out of your hand, whenever I go near the display tank I get charg

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

I had a koi pond at home when I was growing up and I have since dug a second pond for my parents when they moved to a new house. You can’t beat the tranquillity and peace of sitting by the pond on a summers evening. I have plans for a nature pond at home

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

One of my favourite oddity fish would have to be the Gulper Catfish, these catfish have a truly bizarre ability to consume fish as large or even larger than themselves. They have an enormous mouth and a row of fine backwards pointing teeth to grab and hol

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

I think the future of fishkeeping is with us breeding more of these species at home or at fish farms, the longer we keep these animals and study them the more we understand about how to successfully keep and breed them. The availability of tank bred speci

What’s your best tip for building a pond?

Hire a digger…

How many aquariums do you currently keep at home, and what are these?

I currently have two aquariums at home. One is a 5 x 2 x 2 Aqua Oak 460L aquarium which houses a wide variety of species mostly catfish and South American Cichlids. This tank has been running for two years and is filtered by two external filters a hydra f