Europe Vs Us Fish Keeping--the Debate

Lacey D

Member
I came across this fun 2 part video which goes into a little bit of the similarities and differences between European (specifically German) aquarium hobbyists and US ones. I found a lot of the points to be very good, such as the animal rights/cruelty differences leading towards more informed pet stores and staff in Europe than the US, and the Germans paying more attention to international trends, especially what is coming out of Japan.

I'm going to put my 2 cents down in the comments, but I thought I'd like a discussion from this international community about their perceptions of the hobby in their own nation and abroad <3

Part 1

Part 2 (There is some overlap between the two)
 
  • Thread Starter

Lacey D

Member
OK, as a US novice who has come back to the hobby after nearly 20 years away from it, my perspective: I think there is still the common belief that fish keeping is for children in the US--that fish are supposed to be a short lived "trainer pet" so they learn responsibility. That, combined with bad advice from chain stores and the increased inbred/overbred fragility of some species which were once "hardy beginner fish" like fancy guppies, neon tetras, and zebra danios, have lead to skewed and typically bad experienced among first time fish-keepers, which results in them leaving the hobby.

However, I see a huge shift TOWARDS the German/Japanese methods, especially when it comes to smaller more natural tanks, more fish variety and a LOT more plants than were available than when I was last in it. I think this is because 1) The internet, and especially YouTube, are showing people the possibilities and educating them; and 2) Even the chain stores are making real plants, drift wood and a much wider and more hobby appropriate range of fish available than before.

What we in the US need to work on is design, innovation, and increasing the local presence of fishkeeping--I belong to a club (the Greater Seattle Aquarium Society), but I doubt many hobbyists do, and even I haven't been able to make a meeting yet because they are in Seattle on weeknights...which means I have to drive 10 miles and sit in about an hour's worth of traffic to come in from the 'burbs. And they're the only ones at all in my area--the next major (freshwater) club I know of is 4+ hours away, in Portland.

Where we have Germany beat is potentially in our openness to explore and experiment, and at times our willingness to sacrifice design for function. (would like to have a German/European chime in on this )
 

BottomDweller

Member
I haven't watched the videos but one point of difference between the uk at least and the us is the price of fish tanks. I'm so jealous hearing about the dollar per gallon sale! The cheapest I've been able to find a 20 litre tank (roughly 5 gallons) is £30.
 

goldface

Member
I think the Germans have always been ahead of us, in terms of fishkeeping innovation, especially in regards to planted tanks. I agree that we in the US tend treat fish like toys. A lot of people new to the hobby are less concerned about planted aquariums, and more concerned about creating a certain theme, based off of a children’s movie. I remember going to Petco and seeing someone deciding between pink gravel and rainbow gravel, while a bag of natural ones were completely ignored.
 
  • Thread Starter

Lacey D

Member
BottomDweller said:
I haven't watched the videos but one point of difference between the uk at least and the us is the price of fish tanks. I'm so jealous hearing about the dollar per gallon sale! The cheapest I've been able to find a 20 litre tank (roughly 5 gallons) is £30.
I know a lot of people who have been in the hobby over a decade started building their own here, because of the huge expense of anything over 10 gallons. But that's still $13 for a straight glass aquarium...not even CLOSE to £30! But if you are buying anything with a hood, light, filter, etc, then yes, even in the US you will be paying $30 for a new 5 gallon, and it goes up from there.
 

goldface

Member
Lacey D said:
I know a lot of people who have been in the hobby over a decade started building their own here, because of the huge expense of anything over 10 gallons. But that's still $13 for a straight glass aquarium...not even CLOSE to £30! But if you are buying anything with a hood, light, filter, etc, then yes, even in the US you will be paying $30 for a new 5 gallon, and it goes up from there.
Did you mean over 100g?
 

aussieJJDude

Member
BottomDweller said:
I haven't watched the videos but one point of difference between the uk at least and the us is the price of fish tanks. I'm so jealous hearing about the dollar per gallon sale! The cheapest I've been able to find a 20 litre tank (roughly 5 gallons) is £30.
I feel yah, even though as an outsiders prospective (Australia never included in such debates! ) the cost of aquariums here is terrible, and would love to have one of those dollar per gallon sales!
 

86 ssinit

Member
I don’t know seems like there’s a bit of a fish dictatorship going on in Germany. Ie you can only keep these fish by themselves if you don’t the people blast you or blacklist you. As allways in America were free to do what we like. I have the Innes book of aquarium fishes and have allways treated it as the Bible of fish keeping. It was published in 1966 and gives us ideas on what fish can be community fish and what should be kept alone. Now of course things have changed over the years. But fishkeeping to me has allways been about community tanks. What fish can peacefully live with what. Luckily nobody here can stop me from enjoying my hobby.
Unforunatly as said earlier fish are treated like a beginner pet here. Fishkeeping is also not the biggest pet market in this country. But that said there’s probably as many fishkeepers here in America as there are people in Germany.
I’ve been keeping plants for at least the last 30yrs and plant keeping has become a major part of the hobby these days.
Forunatly here in America we have the ability,availability and know how to enjoy this hobby as we please. There is no book of rules on fishkeeping and hopefully there never will be.
Sorry for the rant but I just can’t imagine rules and fish police and fish rights.
 

DoubleDutch

Member
86 ssinit said:
I don’t know seems like there’s a bit of a fish dictatorship going on in Germany. Ie you can only keep these fish by themselves if you don’t the people blast you or blacklist you. As allways in America were free to do what we like. I have the Innes book of aquarium fishes and have allways treated it as the Bible of fish keeping. It was published in 1966 and gives us ideas on what fish can be community fish and what should be kept alone. Now of course things have changed over the years. But fishkeeping to me has allways been about community tanks. What fish can peacefully live with what. Luckily nobody here can stop me from enjoying my hobby.
Unforunatly as said earlier fish are treated like a beginner pet here. Fishkeeping is also not the biggest pet market in this country. But that said there’s probably as many fishkeepers here in America as there are people in Germany.
I’ve been keeping plants for at least the last 30yrs and plant keeping has become a major part of the hobby these days.
Forunatly here in America we have the ability,availability and know how to enjoy this hobby as we please. There is no book of rules on fishkeeping and hopefully there never will be.
Sorry for the rant but I just can’t imagine rules and fish police and fish rights.
Ever been to Germany ???? I am really amazed by these thoughts.
 

DoubleDutch

Member
Lacey, I am now 5 years on Fishlore.
The hobby overhere is mainly based on German brands and knowledge. My son lives in Germany (and is in the hobby too) so I've frequently visited LFS's overthere.

There is hardly such a difference as these guys are talking about. There are a lot of people have the same communitytanks as you Americans do, most people are not specialised on one species.

One thing is that the most famous wholesaler (Gläser) is based there so over a long period of time more rare fish were imported. Those often are kept by specialists. Brands are often older than most in the US, but there hardly is any difference anymore.

Also : looking for trends and looking at Asia / Japan is exxagerated incredibly.

There isn't that of a difference and certainly not the one these guys are trying to tell us.

Europeans can learn a lot of you guys and the other way around. There is no better or worse.

I seriously don't like vids like these cause they try to point out differences instead of the things we share (and that is a lot more than we differ)

I love to be on this forum fot that reason.

One difference maybe is the online part.
Cause distances aren't that big overhere LFS's are better reachable I think. I always want to see the actual fish that I like buy.
 
  • Moderator

smee82

Moderator
Member
Ill chime in on the chinese side and that is its cheap, cheap like a chicken. Which means that people don't care and will just replace fish as they die.

I got a 110gtank, 50 gallon sump, aquasoil, lights, co2 setup, pump for $300. Last time I went to the fish market I got 50 CPDS for 100rmb,about a dozen didnt survive the qt and I gave my neighbour another dozen for free. But the markup is that huge that if I go to a pet shop 2 will cost me 10 to 15 rmb.

Its also very hard to rely on anything that you buy be it fert, meds or equipment. You can buy 2 of the same thing at the same time and the quality of both will be completely different.

That said a lot of businesses will have extremely expensive and rare fish that they do take care of but not your average joe.
 

86 ssinit

Member
No Doubledutch I’ve never been there and the only reference is the above videos. That’s what the thread presented and I thought we were responding too. I’m glad to here it’s not like the guy on the left was saying. But he did say mono species and it’s frowned upon and your store can be blacklisted if you have different species.
 

DoubleDutch

Member
86 ssinit said:
No Doubledutch I’ve never been there and the only reference is the above videos. That’s what the thread presented and I thought we were responding too. I’m glad to here it’s not like the guy on the left was saying. But he did say mono species and it’s frowned upon and your store can be blacklisted if you have different species.
I really don't understand why these guys seem to tell a sort of fake news to me.
Blacklisted stores cause of they have more species ??? That must be a joke.
Google Zoo Zajac Duisburg. One of the biggest LFS's of Europe. Never seen so many species at once (maybe Pier Aquatics).
 

chromedome52

Member
While I was active in the Killifish hobby, I noticed a few notable differences between German and American enthusiasts. German Killie people, and Europeans in general, absolutely hate albinos and color varieties. Anything other than the "natural" color of the fish is unacceptable. Now, that is specific to the Killifish people. There are livebearer enthusiasts that I've also met, and they are very much fascinated by genetics, so color varieties, even albinos, are desirable to them. German Discus people are very into breeding new varieties, but the far East overtook them and have surpassed them.

For a long time, I was told that the Japanese get first pick of new species, rare fish, and other goodies because they were willing to pay exorbitant prices for them. Germany was next, because they would be most likely to breed them. Americans were cheapskates, and it was considered a black hole: lots of stuff goes in, but almost nothing comes out. However, these days the Americans are doing more collecting of their own, and it is resulting in more interesting fish coming straight to us. Unfortunately, a lot of those fish do not get bred before being released to the public, so they die out of the hobby quickly by ending up in community tanks. U.S.A. hobby is still very much a black hole.

What I'm most aware of is that the German experts used to be more precise in the way they treat their breeding fish. I had a two volume book called Spawning Problem Fishes, written by a German in the early 60s. The carefully detailed process for sterilizing the container, preparing the water, and preparing the breeding stock for spawning was far more precise than almost any American I've ever known would be capable of.

I'm surprised the hobby hasn't died out in England yet. The extreme animal protection laws they have should have shut down virtually every store by now. However, I do know several specialists who trade internationally, and I suspect they go around these laws quite frequently.
 

BottomDweller

Member
chromedome52 said:
I'm surprised the hobby hasn't died out in England yet. The extreme animal protection laws they have should have shut down virtually every store by now. However, I do know several specialists who trade internationally, and I suspect they go around these laws quite frequently.
Yeah, I have a garden centre near me. It's not even a pet shop it's a garden centre. It gets the most unusaual fish in but iften just once and then they're gone. They're always selling illegal fish, mostly crayfish that aren't allowed in england. I'm surprised they haven't had genetically modified fish yet. Still, I never buy fish from there since they treat them so poorly and don't have a clue about fish. Every tank has dead fish.
 

Seasoldier

Member
chromedome52 said:
I'm surprised the hobby hasn't died out in England yet. The extreme animal protection laws they have should have shut down virtually every store by now. However, I do know several specialists who trade internationally, and I suspect they go around these laws quite frequently.
I wouldn't say our animal protection laws in the UK are 'extreme' especially where fish & inverts are concerned, it is difficult living in rural areas to find a really good LFS nearby but in major towns & cities we, like in the US from what I've read on here, have a mix of very good aquatics shops & also some very bad ones like our 'Pets at Home' stores which I think equate to your Petco / Petsmart stores but then my daughter works in The Abyss, a big aquatics warehouse selling fresh & salt water fish & every type of kit to look after them that you'd ever need & they really look after their stock but that's a 2 & a half hour drive away for me. I have now found a more local one which is very good, holds a good stock of fish but only fresh & the owner is also a hobbyist so it's more than just a business for him but even with our laws & regulations he still orders most of his stock from Poland which is delivered weekly by van all the way from Poland. I watched the videos & I don't really agree with the German viewpoint that European tank setups are more natural & US setups are mostly movie theme based, I feel this is more of an age & even a gender based difference, I think youngsters wherever they are tend to go for the more colourful aspects of multi-coloured gravel & plastic plants & ornaments etc. but if they stay in the hobby their tastes change over time & they shift to more natural setups as they mature. I've seen some pretty great setups from the US members of the site but also ones which have made me wince but that's also true of European setups I've seen.
 

JadeMau

Member
Seasoldier said:
I wouldn't say our animal protection laws in the UK are 'extreme' especially where fish & inverts are concerned, it is difficult living in rural areas to find a really good LFS nearby but in major towns & cities we, like in the US from what I've read on here, have a mix of very good aquatics shops & also some very bad ones like our 'Pets at Home' stores which I think equate to your Petco / Petsmart stores but then my daughter works in The Abyss, a big aquatics warehouse selling fresh & salt water fish & every type of kit to look after them that you'd ever need & they really look after their stock but that's a 2 & a half hour drive away for me. I have now found a more local one which is very good, holds a good stock of fish but only fresh & the owner is also a hobbyist so it's more than just a business for him but even with our laws & regulations he still orders most of his stock from Poland which is delivered weekly by van all the way from Poland. I watched the videos & I don't really agree with the German viewpoint that European tank setups are more natural & US setups are mostly movie theme based, I feel this is more of an age & even a gender based difference, I think youngsters wherever they are tend to go for the more colourful aspects of multi-coloured gravel & plastic plants & ornaments etc. but if they stay in the hobby their tastes change over time & they shift to more natural setups as they mature. I've seen some pretty great setups from the US members of the site but also ones which have made me wince but that's also true of European setups I've seen.
So are colorful setups...bad? I've never had anyone tell me my setup was bad, I just thought it both complimented my style and my fish, but I never sacrificed function for form, I should note. I'm new to the hobby so... The most important thing to me was getting stuff he needed. Like live plants. Although sometimes they can look "pretty", I guess, I'm not really a fan of plastic plants, although the real ones can be a pain (no problem growing that's for sure). I like really neat and unique setups, too, but I also like natural ones (which come to think of it may be reflected in my tank choices, lol).

As for the topic if fish getting pushed on people...I hate that, and honestly, that's a problem with all petstores, they're more focused on sales than animal's well-being (the companies, not necessarily the employees, of course), and I despise it. I wound up with Archer because my mom works at a pet store (she's one of the good ones), a woman came in, allegedly from another store that sold her a betta for her preschool or kindergarten class. He was special needs, so I'm wondering if he had been there awhile and just decided to pawn him off to this poor lady. Needless to say, I had to learn pretty fast what to do, and luckily had enough prior knowledge to take the first step with.
I like my tank, and so do my critters, it's not the most lavish nor the most naturalistic, but I think it works, they love it...
 
  • Thread Starter

Lacey D

Member
JadeMau said:
So are colorful setups...bad? I've never had anyone tell me my setup was bad, I just thought it both complimented my style and my fish, but I never sacrificed function for form, I should note. I'm new to the hobby so... The most important thing to me was getting stuff he needed. Like live plants. Although sometimes they can look "pretty", I guess, I'm not really a fan of plastic plants, although the real ones can be a pain (no problem growing that's for sure). I like really neat and unique setups, too, but I also like natural ones (which come to think of it may be reflected in my tank choices, lol).

As for the topic if fish getting pushed on people...I hate that, and honestly, that's a problem with all petstores, they're more focused on sales than animal's well-being (the companies, not necessarily the employees, of course), and I despise it. I wound up with Archer because my mom works at a pet store (she's one of the good ones), a woman came in, allegedly from another store that sold her a betta for her preschool or kindergarten class. He was special needs, so I'm wondering if he had been there awhile and just decided to pawn him off to this poor lady. Needless to say, I had to learn pretty fast what to do, and luckily had enough prior knowledge to take the first step with.
I like my tank, and so do my critters, it's not the most lavish nor the most naturalistic, but I think it works, they love it...
Oh no, I don't think colorful or fun is bad in any way---your tank is your tank, and it's great that there are options and it isn't JUST either all natural rock or bright pink. I think the main issue I have is that for the longest time, it seemed like the "day-glo" tank style was all the major fish stores were stocking, because US fishkeeping was aimed at children, with small, bright setups. It fit many adult styles too, for a long time. And that's not to say that adults still can't like that style, but tastes and fashions changed to be more natural, 'organic' and simplistic furnishings and home decorations, and so the neon rock tanks no longer "fit".
 

Seasoldier

Member
JadeMau said:
So are colorful setups...bad? I've never had anyone tell me my setup was bad, I just thought it both complimented my style and my fish, but I never sacrificed function for form, I should note. I'm new to the hobby so... The most important thing to me was getting stuff he needed. Like . Although sometimes they can look "pretty", I guess, I'm not really a fan of , although the real ones can be a pain (no problem growing that's for sure). I like really neat and unique setups, too, but I also like natural ones (which come to think of it may be reflected in my tank choices, lol).
Hi, no I don't think colourful setups are bad it's all down to personal choice & the style of tank that each individual enjoys, so as long as the setup whatever it is doesn't pose a problem or may harm the fish in it then each to their own. My personal liking is for as natural a setup as possible but I would never condemn anybody for wanting something like a film or cartoon themed tank & would even say that if they're done well they can look quite spectacular.
 

DoubleDutch

Member
Seriously think we'd better debate (If there should be a debate) about the simularities instead of debate about differences.

There seems to be a great need to point out differences nowadays. With terrible results.

A They are often based on incorrect information and misjudgements.
B What's the use to know differences (if those excist)

When you read the posts overhere you will already notice miscommunications etc. "So you don't like this...........but I do like that etc etc . .."

I am on Fishlore for some time and noticing a lot of prejudices (is this English) I once had simply are completely untrue / incorrect.

Differences divide, simularities (there are a lot) unite.

Kind regards Aad
 

Seasoldier

Member
DoubleDutch I agree mostly with what you say but I also think differences can be exciting & mind opening to new ways of doing things, can you imagine how boring the hobby could become if all tanks were roughly the same or all complied to set standards, differences can be good as long as they're not used to judge people & beat each other up over them.
 

DoubleDutch

Member
Agree with that but then you're speaking about real differences and not ones based on prejudice and wrong info.

The story about the banned LFS's aso is really untrue, incorrdct and ridiculous for instance.
Seasoldier said:
DoubleDutch I agree mostly with what you say but I also think differences can be exciting & mind opening to new ways of doing things, can you imagine how boring the hobby could become if all tanks were roughly the same or all complied to set standards, differences can be good as long as they're not used to judge people & beat each other up over them.
 

Seasoldier

Member
HI Aad, yes I am speaking about positive differences which we can all learn from but unfortunately there will always be those that base their beliefs on prejudice & wrong info, it's unfortunately the human condition & is not confined to our hobby, but happily on this site I have found it to be the exception rather than the norm & I believe our mods do a good job in keeping that way.
Kindest regards
John
 

goldface

Member
Let’s solve this using simple logic:
We can all agree that the US > the rest of the world, right? And if that’s true—then it has to be that the US > Europe; thus, US fishkeeping > Europe fishkeeping.

Seriously, though, I think if we compare similarities, it’ll get boring; we’ll get a lot of redundant info. I like seeing differences, and how things are done one way doesn’t mean other ways are wrong.
 

Seasoldier

Member
scarface said:
Let’s solve this using simple logic:
We can all agree that the US > the rest of the world, right? And if that’s true—then it has to be that the US > Europe; thus, US fishkeeping > Europe fishkeeping.
scarface not sure of your use of mathematical symbol here, are you seriously meaning that the US is greater (>) than the rest of the world / Europe & therefore US fish keeping is greater (>) than Europe fish keeping? I don't believe that's any kind of logic & definitely don't agree.
 

Thunder_o_b

Member
The thing is, I never have thought about the us vs them bit. I don't know, I just figure ya'll are fish keepers like me, we share ideas, and help each other out.
 

goldface

Member
Seasoldier said:
scarface not sure of your use of mathematical symbol here, are you seriously meaning that the US is greater (>) than the rest of the world / Europe & therefore US fish keeping is greater (>) than Europe fish keeping? I don't believe that's any kind of logic & definitely don't agree.
My sister-in-law doesn’t find any of my America is #1 jokes funny either The logic wasn’t meant to be taken seriously at all. It was just a cheesy opener.
 

DoubleDutch

Member
Seasoldier said:
HI Aad, yes I am speaking about positive differences which we can all learn from but unfortunately there will always be those that base their beliefs on prejudice & wrong info, it's unfortunately the human condition & is not confined to our hobby, but happily on this site I have found it to be the exception rather than the norm & I believe our mods do a good job in keeping that way.
Kindest regards
John
Agree, but that's not exactly what the vid is about in my opinion. Even doubting a debate about differences (that are for a big part are incorrect) will help anyone. It only ends up in best / good / better / worse / bad. Learn from each other is another thing. That's what this forum is about I'd say.

But I'll rest my case hahaha. As long as it is used for advise I am okay with that.

BTW : The Netherlands second huh woohahaha.
 

whux

Member
I'm very excited to watch these videos when I have some more time.
What I can say already:
I'm an American who has been living in Germany for the past 5 years. I have more experience in the German side of fish keeping than the American side, so to say.

At the end of the day, I think there are not any very large differences in fish keeping, but one thing I really have noticed is the different mentalities in regards to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in keeping fish. I know this can become very heated very quickly, I don't want to say which is right and which is wrong.
But, I see often that Germans tend to estimate that you need a larger aquarium for some species than the American market. I am a member of this forum and of a German forum . If I post asking what the acceptable minimum litre/gallon for a certain species is, I will almost always get a different answer. Even reading Information about certain species online in German vs English differs.

I also think people in general (keyword: in general) have different expectations for fish/animals in General. I grew up in an American household where my entire family had (and still has) the mentality "it's just a fish." I had a lot of fish growing up, comets in bowls, bettas without heaters...and a lot of dead fish, too. I know a lot of Americans who believe this mentality as well. My US friends seem always very surprised and in awe at my Aquarium that I spend so much time and money doting over my fish because...well, they're JUST fish.
Here, most of my German friends would die if I put a comet in a bowl or had a Betta without a heater. I think there's a bit more understanding in Germany about responsible fish/pet keeping. Germans are generally more direct than Americans, in my opinion, and are not afraid to say that you are doing something wrong. To a point, it can be sometimes too much, too "by the book." I feel like Americans are more willing to experiment or try something to see if it works. Of course, that's just my experience and people I've met, but I've met enough people where I start to see a trend.

I haven't been in an American fish shop in a while, so perhaps it has changed, but at least around 2 of 3 years ago, I was in a couple different pet shops near my home town and none of them had live plants. At least where I live, the "trend" of planted Aquariums doesn't really seem to have caught on yet. Here in Germany, I think every pet store I've been to has had live plants for sale.

But I hope to respond more in regards to the video once I've watched it. These are just my two cents.

Edit: responding on my phone messes with my spelling and punctuation, sorry if I missed something.

Edit #2: sorry keep thinking of things to say.
It's also important to consider why there is the stereotype that German shop workers are generally more knowledgeable. In Germany, we have a system where you can do a 3 year long apprenticeship to become a store worker. A lot of stores like to employ people who habe completed this schooling because they are more knowledgeable and specifically trained, in this instance, to work in a pet shop. That doesn't mean you can't get a job working at the till or catching fish for customers, but if you have this training, you'll earn more and be a greater asset to the company. In the US, at least where I lived, a lot of the employees at the pet store were students or people just needing a job. Again, the system sys expectations are slighty different.I bring this point up because someone mentioned this on the First page.
 

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