Member Spotlight on bowcrazyOnline Aquarium Fish Magazine | Member Spotlight - bowcrazy
Hello everyone my name is Mike (aka bowcrazy). I am a former US Navy sailor but for the past 30 years I have been employed by the local phone company as a combination technician. The Navy provided me with the education that has allowed me to raise a family and enjoy my hobby of raising tropical fish. I have a loving wife who gave me 3 children and they have given us eight grandchildren which I enjoy spoiling the most.
It began way back when
I got into the hobby of fish-keeping back in the mid 60s around the age of 10 when a lady gave me a few guppies to care for. She got me started in a hobby that I have been able to enjoy for almost 50 years.
When I started keeping fish there weren't many resources for a 10 year old to draw from to learn how to keep fish. Oh yes, now and then you could find a book about fish that might have had 100 pages or so but they still weren't very helpful to a 10 year old who knew nothing other than how to catch fish. Most of the books I got back then didn't explain the nuts and bolts of fish-keeping but rather what kinds of fish there were.
Nowadays there are literally tons of books out there that you can get that cover just about every aspect of the fish-keeping hobby from cycling your first tank to breeding what ever species you want. I have my own small library of books and magazines on the hobby of fish-keeping but all these books come with a cost and if they don't cover what you need them to cover you have wasted your money but with web sites like FishLore we now have information at our finger tips almost free.
The Internet has made it so much easier to find out how to properly care for our fish. There are fish profiles, information on tank cycling and how to treat diseases and build your own equipment than was ever available to me when I started. Nowadays a 10 year old has access to some of the best fish-keepers in the world to they can ask questions of and get advice from as well as being able to share their own experiences with others.
Way back when it was believed that doing water changes was what killed fish so most everyone I knew let their tanks get so nasty that you could hardly see the fish before they broke down and cleaned the tank and filter. There was no one around to ask stocking questions to, who knew that 50 guppies didn't belong in a poorly filtered 10 gallon tank.
Thanks to the internet and web sites like FishLore there has been an information explosion which has allowed hobbyists to share information among each other. Simply being able to chat with each other we are able to exchange ideas and experiences which has saved tons of fish the stress of inexperience. Search engines help us look up fish and plant profiles so that we can better care for our fish and keep them healthy.
I kept Guppies until I joined the US Navy at 17. I was unable to keep a tank for several years because I was at sea but once I got stationed in Key West Florida in 1975 and was able stay put for awhile I got my first 55 gallon tank, which I still have.
As a sailor I wasn't able to spend a whole lot on my hobby so I resorted to gathering rocks and fish from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Key West. I sat it up as a natural saltwater tank and I got my water right out of the Gulf. I purchased some of my fish from the local fish store but I caught most of them using a slurp gun while scuba diving. I personally think it was one of the nicest tanks I have ever had.
When I got out of the Navy and returned to my home in Oklahoma and got married to my loving wife. She knew I liked keeping fish because of the 55 gallon tank set up in my home but she didn't realize just how much until years later when we could afford to expand my hobby.
My (our) tanks
My wife and I presently have 18 freshwater and brackish tanks in our home that range from 10 gallons to 125 gallons and they are filled with several species of fish. Not all of them are set up right now but most of them are and I have plans to have the others sat back up real soon. We mostly keep Angelfish, Mollies, Guppies, Endlers and various types of Tetras but I am presently babysitting a 15 inch Albino Channel Cat for one lady and 3 Single Tailed Goldfish for my grandson that he won at a carnival. He is only 4 and thought they would get cold in their pond over the winter so he asked me to take care of them for him.
I currently have my own Molly breeding project and they have taught me a lot about fishkeeping. I have found breeding Mollies to be extremely rewarding both educationally and monetarily. I not only get to learn from them as they grow but once they are of juvenile size I trade them for other fish and supplies. This is just one way I have found to help subsidize the cost of the hobby but by no means does it totally pay for the hobby.
Our living room is home to our 125 gallon freshwater tank and it is houses 14 beautiful Angelfish, 3 Blue Gourami, 2 Honey Gourami, 2 Plecostomus and 6 Corydoras. It was set up in August of 2010 and is a moderately planted tank. It has sea shells I collected and broken ceramic jars as theme. It is a great conversation peace when family and friends come over.
Our bedroom has the newest of our tanks and it is a 70 gallon tall brackish tank that is stocked with various colors of Mollies. Its theme is mostly large rocks and plastic plants and it provides me with hours of peaceful watching.
Our guest bedroom is home to a 30 gallon hex tank filled with Endlers and my office is home to two 30 gallon brackish tanks that are home to my breeder Mollies. Most of the rest of our tanks are in our so called exercise / fish room and in there we have one 55 gallon freshwater tank with various species of Tetras another 55 gallon freshwater tank for the Guppies and 5 red Swordtails. There are also several other 30 gallon and 10 gallon tanks that home our fry along with the tanks set up for the Catfish and Goldfish.
The most difficult tank I have ever sat up was a 55 gallon tank with goldfish in it. My wife volunteered me to set up one of my tanks as part of the decorations for the High School Banquet and Prom which had a theme of under the sea. I did it under protest but did as she asked. I not only had to take down and clean the tank at the house and then move it to the school and set it back up again but between the banquet and prom I had to move it. They had me set it up in front of where the speakers where going to stand so that they could use it like a podium but once the banquet was over we had to move it over against the wall for the prom. Once the prom was over I then had to take it down again and move it back to our house and set it back up. All of this was done basically over a 24 hour period. When it was all done and over with I informed my lovely wife that was a once in a life time deal and to never volunteer me for something like that again. The kids love it and to this day some of them still talk about the prom under the sea but it was rather stressful for the fish keeper.
Looking to the future
Some day I would like to get back into the saltwater tanks and set up at least one large tank in our home. Due to our location I will most likely have to order in everything or drive quite a distance to shop for it so I have been putting it off for the time being. I personally think that a well kept saltwater tank has got to be one of the most beautiful things there is that you can have in your home. I guess I will be happy caring for my fish and helping other with theirs and play with our grandchildren until I figure out just what I want in a saltwater tank.
Tad Bit of Advice to Future Hobbyists
If I was going to give advice to someone thinking about getting into our hobby it would be "take your time and don't rush into things." Getting in too big of a hurry will just cause you problems in the long run and most likely cost you more money in the end. Take the time to do your homework and gather the information about how to properly set up and maintain a tank before you rush out and buy one. The information is out there free of charge but having to correct mistakes isn't quite so cheep for you or your fish.
The short amount of time that it takes to properly get a tank cycled is worth every minute in the long run because you will enjoy your tank longer and have happier and healthier fish. Taking the time to read up a bit on the fish you are interested in can save you some real headaches. So many have rushed into setting a tank up and filling it with fish to only see failure over a very short period of time and then get out of the hobby because they believe it to be too difficult to raise fish.
The next thing I would advise them to do is to purchase as big a tank as they can afford and have space for to start rather than going small with hopes to expand some day. By all means stay away from the small 5 and 10 gallon so called starter tanks because they limit you so much in what you can have. In my personal opinion my larger tanks are far less trouble to care for than my smaller tanks and there is an almost endless selection of fish you can keep in them. If you start out with a small tank you will more than likely end up over stocking it to start with but the next thing you know is you will be wishing you had gotten a slightly bit bigger tank.
I would like to take the time to thank the lady who got me started in the hobby even though I can not remember her name. She got me started into something I love. I would also like to thank my mother and father for not tossing me and my fish out into the back yard years ago, the US Navy for providing me with some of the best scuba diving spots in the world so that I could watch the fish in their natural habitat and all those who have helped me learn so very much about fish over the years. Most importantly I would like to thank my loving wife of 30 plus years for supporting me in my hobby.
Without the support of everyone and the help I have gotten over the years I am sure I would not have enjoyed the hobby of keeping fish as much as I do. I would also like to thank FishLore and their Moderators for being open and free to all. FishLore provides us a safe place to come to and swap information, experiences and give help and advice to those in need when we can.
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