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Only fish
Hobbyists’ delight.
Fish and aquarium pictures by KAC

Are you someone who has bred fish in an empty Horlick’s jar that your mom was about to throw away when you were barely seven? Maybe even grabbed hold of slithering earthworms and looked at them with wonder before feeding them to the fish?

The world of fish enthusiasts or hobbyists is indeed an intriguing one, especially when they ramble on about fishy tales. Never mind if some fish are smaller than the little finger while others as large as the palm!

Taking this enthusiasm one step further, a group of fish-loving Calcuttans formed the Kolkata Aquarium Club (KAC) in 2007. Initially started through the social networking site Orkut, the forum later moved to Facebook. “But keeping track of discussions, documenting or even topic-searching was not feasible. That’s when we decided to get KAC registered in February 2011,” says Indrajit Bhattacharya, who founded KAC on Orkut along with fellow member Tirthankar Chattopadhyay.

And that was just the beginning. KAC started its online portal www.kolkata-aquarium.com last year and already boasts over 590 registered members. A big fish in a small pond, the club is the only one of its kind in the city. The online portal not only serves the purpose of interaction among enthusiasts, it also has sections dedicated to freshwater, planted and salted aquariums. Feel like a fish out of water? Go straight to Beginners’ Corner, where the big fish share tips with the new hobbyists.

“KAC has inspired us to be serious hobbyists. We know what fish-keeping means today and strive to pass on the same passion to others, especially newbies,” says Abhirup Dasgupta, a 24-year-old IT guy, the “know-it-all” of the group when it comes to planted aquarium science.

Kolkata Aquarium Club core members pose in front of the aquarium at The Park. Picture: Bhubaneswarananda Halder

The portal also acts as a virtual market where members can sell-exchange-share not just fish but also equipment. “There are times when a bulk order makes sense economically. The portal then helps set up a deal and we share the goods shipped,” adds Aninda Nath, who works with HSBC.

Step into the homes of some of these fish enthusiasts and you might find aquariums instead of walls! “If you actually step into my room, there is just about enough space to keep the bed. The rest are all aquariums,” laughs Souvik Ray, 29, who works with SBI.

What about families and partners? Don’t they freak out? “Well, they don’t take to our hobbies with a ready smile. But we manage — at times bribing them with gifts and pampering them to allow the new aquatic entrant into the house,” adds Aninda, grin in place.

The club also organises a number of collection trips. “We go to places like Bakkhali, Henry Island (South 24-Parganas) and even north Bengal to study and document fish habitats, and understand the biotope,” says 24-year-old Abhirup Bhattacharya, an expert on Indian native fish.

So, if you thought all that you need is a fishbowl, a pair of goldfish and food — it’s time to sit up and bite the bait. “Fish keeping” is quite a big deal and needs a lot of understanding and care to make sure your pets survive in a healthy environment.

Pssst... one thing worth noticing is the fact that there are barely any female fish hobbyists in this largely male gang.

Oh fish, we say!

DID YOU KNOW?

Fish do not like humans looking into their homes from all sides. So why not make their homes a bit more comfortable? Take thermocol and cut it to the shape and size of one of the aquarium side walls. Next, paint it with lacquer — easily available at any hardware store — and stick it on the inside of the aquarium along the wall with adhesive. This should make the fish secure, as one of the sides would be
out of sight for probing eyes.

KAC Trivia

Famous hobbyists like Heiko Bleher and Hristo Hristov, better known as Aquasaur, are frequent visitors to the KAC portal.
The maximum number of tanks owned by a group member is 20. Syamantak Chandra, a 26-year-old engineer, holds that place.
The largest tank owned by a KAC member measures 6ft x 2ft x 2ft = 680 litres. Abhinaba Dasgupta, an expert on the African Malawi Cichlid fish breed, is the proud owner.
KAC has been leading campaigns against the popular practices of colour-dyed fish, mutilated and deformed fish, fake food and supplies, and keeping goldfish in a bowl.

11 Quick tips for AQUARIUM Beginners

“Small tanks are ideal for beginners” is a largely-held belief. On the contrary, it is always advisable to buy at least a

A clownfish — also known as Nemo — merrily swims about in a KAC aquarium

20-gallon (90 litre) tank if one can afford it and has enough space. A large tank is more stable in terms of temperature and water chemistry.

Keep a check on the requirements and compatibility of the species with its environment before buying it.

Keep an eye out for split fins, damaged gills and other indications of a diseased fish before buying.

A fish should be put into its new tank/surrounding gradually. Float the bag for at least 15 minutes to equalise temperature.

Tap water should NOT be used to wash filter sponges and other “biological” media. Wash them with the used tank water to avoid killing beneficial bacteria that grow on the filter sponges.

A minimum of 25 per cent water change per month is the basic requirement but then changing the water every second week is even better.

Always feed fish small quantities of food and watch them gulp it down before adding more. Do not be tempted to overfeed because the fish “look hungry”. Feeding twice a day is sufficient.

Use a quarantine tank (a separate tank to acclimatise a new fish to the environment) wherever possible.

Build your school of fish slowly to give the bacterial population time to increase to match the additional waste load.

Understocking is always better than

overstocking. Even though 1” per gallon is often used as a general guideline, it doesn’t mean that one can put a 10” fish in a 10 gallon tank! The tank population will remain healthy only when understocked.

Chemical additives might be good but not when used in large quantities without proper knowledge of the consequences of its usage.