NANFA-- some aquarium history

Nick Zarlinga (
Sun, 15 Dec 2002 13:40:20 -0500

I have been reading a copy of "A History of the Aquarium Hobby in America"
by Albert J. Klee and ran across this account from Robert A. West in 1864.
I thought it would be of interest.

"In stocking a 'river garden' with fishes, two things must be borne in mind-
they must not be too large, and they must not be too numerous. The losing
sight of these two facts, or either of them is fatal to the success of the
aquarium, especially with regard to size. Large fishes consume more oxygen
than this artificial pond can supply. Three inches should be the extreme
length of any admitted into a moderately sized aquarium. Small goldfish,
from their capacity to bear high temperature, and no less for their beauty
and the variety of their markings, will be the first choice of an
aquarianist. But they grow rapidly, if healthy and properly fed, and must,
therefore, sooner or later be parted with- a grievous trial when one has
loved and petted them. The minnow (Fundulus heteroclitus), lively and full
of frolic, yet easily tamed; the common shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas), a
very handsome fish; the yellow perch (Perca flavescens) when, and only when,
quite small; the sun fish (Lepomis gibbosus), also only when quite small for
when well grown he will worry and tormanet to death the smaller fish; the
pigmy dace (Umbra pygmaea), a beautiful little fish, not more than an inch
and a half long; the black-nosed dace (Rhinichthys atratulus), a beautiful
little fish common to all our brooks, and distinguished by a black band
running from the nose down each side and dividing very definitely the
silvery abdomen from the olive brown back, as happy in the aquairum as a
fish can be anywhere; the common sucker (Catostomus commersonii), when quite
small and the tesselated darter (Percina copelandi), may all, or some of
them, according to the sizze of the tank, be brought together in peace and
harmony, and will afford a sufficient variety of animated nature."
(Editor's Note; The preceding is verbatim except that the scientific names
have been corrected to present day usage; the popular names that West uses
have not,however, been corrected.)

Nick Zarlinga
Aquarium Biologist
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
216.661.6500 ext 4485
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