Dawning of the age of aquariums

New aquarium club holds first public event

Laine Hepburn gives a mid-afternoon snack to his tank of African cyclids.

If your favourite pet is a fire eel and you’re thinking of raising a few crayfish in the same tank, be prepared for a very happy — and fat — eel and a cloud of crayfish scraps.

Laine Hepburn knows this, as well as which cyclids go with which and a wealth of other tips that could prevent a lot of heartbreak for aquarium owners.

The head of the newly-formed Central Vancouver Island Aquarium Club sums it all quite simply.

“Big fish eat little fish,” he said.

It’s a good rule of thumb, but owning an aquarium is much more complicated than that of course.

That’s one of the reasons why Laine and his wife Karen started the club — to disseminate information about aquaria and to chat about their hobby in an informal, friendly setting.

“It’s just a bunch of people who get together to talk about fish and the problems they’ve had,” he said. “There’s no treasurer, no minutes. It’s pretty laid back. We have about 12 to 15 members now and we’re looking for more, particularly in Parksville. Most of our members right now are from Nanaimo.

Whether it’s a hobby or, as Karen suggests, an obsession, depends, Laine said, on how badly one gets affected by MTS or BTS.

“I have more tanks syndrome and bigger tank syndrome,” he laughed. “I started out with a little goldfish bowl and now I have 10 fish tanks altogether, including  70-gallon one. Back in the early 1990s though, I had 30 tanks at one time.”

For the Hepburns, cyclids, aggressive fish from lake Malawi in Africa are the fishes of choice, but there are hundreds of possibilities for the aquarium enthusiast, from fire eels to freshwater puffer fish, guppies, freshwater flatfish, tetras and much, much more.

“There are different groups within the club,” Laine said. “There’s the guppy group, the goldfish people, the coy group, the cyclids … They all get along though. I like cyclids because they’re a fish with attitude. Others don’t like them because they’re aggressive. To me, goldfish are just feeders, but if you’re a goldfish person, you probably wouldn’t agree.”

Karen agreed.

“It’s like with the gardening clubs,” she said. “You have the roses against the lilies. It depends on where your interests lie.

Oceanside residents will get a chance to check out the club this weekend when they hold a special swap meet at Clearwater Ponds at 1581 Alberni Highway on May 28 and 29, from 10 a.m to 4 p.m.

“We’ll have all kind of aquarium items, fish tanks, filters and, of course, fish,” Laine said. “It’s anything aquarium related.”

As well, he said the club is seeking more members and he’s hoping some future members will drop by to see what they’re all about.

“We would like to grow enough that we can do some interesting things,” Hepburn said. “

For instance, the Edmonton club organized a trip to Africa to go to Lake Tanganyika.”

For details, visit viaquaria.com.



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