Aquarium Fish

Member Spotlight on Orion5

Online Aquarium Fish Magazine | Member Spotlight - Orion5

Hello fellow Fishlore members!

I'm honoured to have been chosen for the member spotlight. For over 25 years I've been keeping fish in one way or another, and it's one of the few things in life that I always come back to over and over again. As a child my family and I knew nothing about fish keeping, and so we washed (yes, washed!) the aquarium once a month, soaped up the sponges in the filter with dish soap so they were squeaky clean and did the same thing to the rocks and decorations. I squirm in discomfort at the memory. Eventually I left that small backwoods town and came to the city where, lo and behold, there were aquarium MAGAZINES to be had!! Publications such as Aquarium Fish Magazine and others opened up a whole new world to me, as I discovered that there was an actual organized hobby behind keeping aquariums. I never would have known.

Of course, the magazines led me to the fact that there were even fish clubs that I could attend- right in town! I've been fortunate to have been a member of the Montreal Aquarium society, one of the oldest aquarium clubs in operation (started in 1937 I believe), for the past twelve years. And I must say that in all of my experience keeping fish the Society has been the most helpful ally, along with the magazines and the internet. But nothing beats actually speaking to other fish keepers about their experience and getting their advice, not to mention getting invitations to see their tanks and systems at home. The vast amount of expertise and willingness of other aquarists to help out is probably one one of the things I'm the most grateful for in any part of this hobby.

Although I have kept numerous tanks over the years, have bred angelfish and goldfish, I currently only have a 10 gallon planted tank with Endler's Livebearers in it. Over recent years I have shifted my focus more toward the study of freshwater habitats, plants, and fish instead of actually keeping them in aquariums; and because of this I have an extensive library on biology of freshwater environments, aquariums, fish, etc. My academic background in environmental studies and biology has helped me with several problems I've experienced in keeping fish. I am also quite involved in various animal rights causes, which puts me in a rather tight ethical spot when it comes to keeping fish in glass boxes... a discussion for another time. I figure sharing my experience and knowledge mitigates some of the inevitable cruelty our charges experience when we bring them home from the pet shops and plop them into our home aquariums. At least I hope so...

One of my main interests for a long time was fish diseases. I would purchase the sickest feeder goldfish at the pet stores to practice treating them, and well over 99% survived. If there is one piece of advice I could give aquarists, it's that your water quality and the nutritional content of your food, in that order, will do more to heal your fish than most medications will. Also, find a routine that works, and STICK WITH IT. I believe that the obsession with testing water parameters, while noble and sometimes necessary, is a bit excessive amongst newer aquarists. Learn how to observe your fish, don't overstock, research before you buy and be patient, and you will likely end up not needing test kits at all. (Of course there are exceptions, I understand that.)


I have the aquarium set up backwards because I need access to the HOB refugium, which is the scrubber. Makes for a less-than-perfect display tank.
Fish Tank
This one is a close-up of algae growing on the scrubber mesh, after about 4 days. Don't know if you can see it, but the algae begins to pearl like many plants do.
Fish Tank
A lower image of the tank, under the scrubber refugium. I have about 10 or more marimo balls in there- one of my favorite algae.
Fish Tank

Currently and in the future I foresee working more on filtration and phytoremediation of fresh water as a direction I will pursue. The reason I set up my 10 gallon tank was to test my new algal turf scrubber, an invention of Dr. Walter Adey some time ago, and to see if this contraption - which uses algae to filter water - could make aquarist's lives a little easier and buffer their tanks against unforeseeable disasters. Being a horticulturist I believe plants, micro- and macroscopic, can and will save the world.

There are so many people I need to thank for helping me along in the world of aquariums, but most of all I would like to thank the boyfriends/partners over the years - especially my current partner - in tolerating my obsession. Without their love and support and ability to turn the other way whenever I started some new project, I would never have been able to advance. And of course to all the members of forums such as yourselves, clubs, societies and conferences. Your experience and help is the most valuable thing any aquarist could ever have. Thank you all so much!

Thanks for reading everyone, and I wish you the best of luck in your fish keeping endeavours.

Paul (a.k.a. "Orion5")

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