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Location: Connecticut, United States

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Wonders of Being an Aquarist

The Wonders of Being an Aquarist
By Jourdan Cameron
What is it about aquariums that seem to make people calm and happy? Is it the sounds of bubbles, rising from the depths and disappearing at the surface? Is it perhaps the constant tinkling noises that the filters make, just like a babbling brook? Perhaps it’s the denizens of this moist world, undulating back and forth, moving restlessly to and fro, waving their beautiful fins as pennants. Or perhaps it is the way they conduct themselves, some seemingly lowly, as the corydoras catfish, yet others behaving so regally, as the Siamese fighting fish. Whatever the case, however, when properly executed, aquariums change the atmosphere of a room. They can change the bland, sterile office of a doctor or a dentist into a sanctuary. The journey to the shadowy figure that breaks your jaw, and the wicked murderer who impales your arm, becomes a visit to a friendly dentist who fixes your teeth, and the kind doctor who enjoys healing you.
Aquariums have been proven to reduce stress, and as a result, blood pressure. Not only that, but an aquarium as a focal point can provide endless entertainment, conversation, and be a great source of relaxation. Who takes care of these aquariums, however? One who takes care of an aquarium is known as an aquarist.

Aquarists have much responsibility upon them. For one, it is vital that they start an aquarium properly. They need to carefully add ammonia to a new aquarium before adding any fish. This is to allow the nitrogen cycle to occur. Certain bacteria turn the ammonia into nitrites, and yet another turns the bacteria into nitrates, which are extremely less toxic than ammonia and nitrites.

This is known among aquarists as ‘cycling’ an aquarium, and it is a vital step towards the well being of any of the aquariums denizens. It is done in order for bacterial colonies to become established and help clear the waste products of fish. It is known as biological filtration because of how it employs the help of living bacteria.

In addition to biological, there is chemical and mechanical filtration, the former using various mediums, such as carbon, Zeolite, and assorted resins, to remove chemicals from the water. Mechanical filtration removes particles from the water. Chemical filtration, however, should be used sparingly, and is not a replacement for water changes, another important role the aquarist takes on.

Water changes are vital to the health of aquaria. In addition to removing various chemicals, and debris in the aquarium, they are important for keeping the pH of the aquarium from changing rapidly. They are also necessary to add trace minerals, which though only available in small amounts, are necessary to the health of an aquarium.

Yet another job of the aquarist is that of a landscaper. Making an aquarium beautiful is no small task, simple as it may seem. For one, placement of rocks, plants, statuettes, etc., is very important as to how an aquarium turns out, whether you have a box filled with wet junk, or chest of aquatic wonders. Rocks must be placed in order of size, the largest towards the back of the aquarium, smallest in front. The same applies to plants. It is also important to use important spacing, in order that the rocks aren’t all sitting together in one group, and yet there aren’t gaping holes in the scenery. Not to say a gaping hole is a bad thing, however, considering that it could be used to bring attention to something like a special decoration, such as a castle or bubble-driven ornament.

Sometimes, fish fall ill for one reason or another. It is the duty of an aquarist to now serve as a doctor. There are various diseases that afflict fish, the most common being finrot, a bacterial infection of a fishes fins. This can be brought on by poor water quality, stress, and crowded conditions. The best treatment is to first eliminate the problem by caring for the water quality, and the finrot will usually clear itself. But, if that doesn’t happen, or if the disease is at an advanced stage, the aquarist will use medications made specifically for the purpose of healing finrot.

Yet, in what seems to be much work comes a very large reward: a beautiful aquarium, full of vibrant, healthy fish, and sometimes invertebrates, such as shrimp, clams, and others. An aquarist watches his fish as they go about their lives, socializing, and feeding, mating and fighting, they watch as they rear their young to maturity, the way the small fish interact with one another. Yes, it seems to be extremely laborious, yet what is offered is quite an unparalleled delight.

Aquarists are also responsible for scientific progress as well. Because they spend much time with their fish, they understand many of their complex behaviors in ways that are beneficial to science, and the understanding of just how important certain species are to us, as humankind!
Next time you see an aquarium, remember what went into it. Remember that an aquarist was responsible.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Set of Xylon's photos

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

New Betta!

A few weeks ago, I got a beautiful new female betta. At first, she didn't seem like much because of the stress she was under, and her left pectoral fin was half gone! However, now that she is properly acclimated, she is doing very well. She is a shiny, metallic blue veiltail (VT), and I named her Allison. I'll have pictures soon!
I also started a brand new website,
My new website is for my aquarium care and setup, i.e., I come to your home/office in order to help you set up and maintain the aquarium of your dreams.

NOTICE: I CANNOT setup the aquarium of MY dreams, simply because it would be full of evil zebra danios and massive freshwater jellyfish.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bad news...

Quite unfortunately, on May 2nd, 2009, Xylon, the African Leaf Fish (Polycentropsis abbreviata) passed away.
In his memory I have created an album of photos of him.
Please enjoy.


Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Responsibilities of an Aquarist

The responsibilities of an Aquarist
By Jourdan E. Cameron

When most people think of responsibility and aquariums, usually they think of remembering to feed the goldfish, or cleaning out their aquarium. This, of course, is the primary responsibility of an aquarist. However, there is yet another job which lies before everyone with or without aquaria: it is a responsibility to their local ecosystem. It is their job to protect it from harm. For an aquarist, however, this also includes keeping your fish where they belong- in your aquarium! by releasing your fish because your aquarium was perhaps too small, you are doing a disservice to:

A. Your fish, because they may not survive, but if they do,

B. Your local ecosystem, because if the fish survive, they are capable of wreaking havoc, and

C. Aquarists worldwide, because by letting your fish go, aquarists who are responsible end up taking the blame, and sometimes suffer the consequence of never being able to keep that fish as a result of it's being banned.

What steps can you take to prevent this? The first is to educate yourself on a species you intend to keep, for example, something as a goldfish. Most people know that they can be purchased for cheap, however, few people actually understand their requirements, such as a relatively large aquarium. By learning about what is necessary for your fish, you are taking the right path, and by following through with their needs, your fish will, as a result, thrive. However, by purchasing fish without understanding their needs, you harm the fish, because they end up unhealthy from something missing, you harm your wallet, because you may soon require a larger aquarium, and if you do something such as letting your fish go, you hurt the environment.
Another way to uphold your duties is that while you are already being responsible care for your fish, you don't accidentally release something from your aquarium For example, during water changes, people have been known to find that they nearly "threw out the baby with the bathwater" when they discovered that their fish had young, and that they were in the bucket of water they were about to throw away. To stop this from happening, after changing your water, let the debris settle in the bucket you are using, this way, you can see if anything is darting around in the bucket, and use the water for your plants, since it is full of valuable nutrients you wouldn't want to throw down the drain (not unless, of course, you have a marine aquarium) and be wary of letting snails go! Though they might not seem as if they will affect the environment, they may. I, the author, once introduced the small, brown snails into my aquarium, and they quickly multiplied. Later, though, I introduced larger grey mystery snails, which where just as docile as the other snails, but because of their size, were able to obtain food much more quickly, and soon, the smaller snails almost vanished. Your introducing a species may have untold effects, and though the species may not harm native species directly, it most certainly might be capable of eliminating important sources of food!
A third way of responsibility falls on another type of aquarist. This aquarist, however, holds one of the largest responsibilities of all: it is the pet shop owner. The person who owns a store that sells fish is the bearer of quite a load: this person must ensure that his or her livestock is going to receive proper care, and also must make a point of educating the consumer. If such is not done, why, the owner of the store may be held accountable for the trouble caused by the fish he or she sold!
This is a massive responsibility.
Really, in the end, being responsible falls upon various shoulders. Can it be done? Yes. Will it be done? That is up to you.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

An update and a poem.

OK, I've gotten new fish, are you ready? Drumroll please: Rosey red minnows! At a wonderful price of 15 cents each. I'll add photos when I get the chance.

Now, here is a poem I wrote:

The Civilized Children

By Jourdan E. Cameron

Their fight is drained, and their happiness is dissipated, and in its place, animosity is generated, hatred and fear grow as their sad expressions longingly show, lack of vigor, lack of vim, lack of natural childish whim. Their eyes are blank, they have cold hands, they are no longer willing to hold a courageous stand, what should be there is missing, what shouldn’t be there is, as it’s a nightmare that shouldn’t exist, not just a dream gone amiss but a scary collision of trains of thought into a deep, dank abyss. There lie scattered cries of Who Am I? Am I this, or that? Is something missing, is everything on pat? Did I commit some awful sin to deserve this fate, or was I simply born with this problem, this nuisance, this hate? Is this something innate, something I said, or was it something I ate?

The Civilized ones look down upon me, down upon us, down upon we. To them our life, our hopes and dreams nothing means. To them we are dirt, we are nothing, we are dust, the coating of dew, the sprinkling of rust, the shell on the egg, the grit in the shoe of the foot of the man. We don’t have a chance to truly romance our hopes and our dreams, what we truly desire, which, by the civilized ones, are simply stupid old dreams that ought be thrown into mire, silly old things that they shouldn’t desire, foolish little things, like the peas touching the potatoes, silly little things that ought be in their death throes. These stupid desires of the uncivilized beast are simply manifestations of an untamed mind, the unbridled thoughts, the unabridged brain and ought be deleted. They will die, they will perish, they will go down the drain, they must disappear, forever to be trapped and contained.

Lost are the Civilized ones, with little chance of escape! To drown in unnatural confinement, to expire in a heap, no longer able to stand on their own two feet. The feet with the shoes. The shoes with the grit with the dream with the unbridled, unabridged, uncensored, unadulterated, unharmed, indestructible, unavoidable, inevitable, unrestrained, irrepressible, raw, unexpurgated, truth, that comes irresistibly beaming forth! Yes, the truly cultured, truly civilized, truly intricate ones come forth, with knowledge, and wisdom, once held down, held back, damaged, now beaming forth brilliantly, solid as a diamond, powerful as a bolt of lightning, and rescuing the Civilized ones! The Civilized release their old ways of hatred and domination, shining forth the new creation into ratification! Realizing the errors of their past, now seeing what is the future, and embracing it with open arms, no long causing the ones they treated poorly any harms, putting them back in their proper place, kissing the once slapped face.

The Civilized ones are now civil, and are no longer divided, but a whole, there are now the Civilized and the Civilized, no difference between the two, money means nothing, class means nothing, skin color means nothing, your residence means nothing. What does anything mean? It is who you are, not where you originate or what you have, for if you are truly kind and without any evil, you are kind and not bitten by rabies of hatred, you are now civilized, one of a kind, no longer a pain. Not a pain, but a joy, a happiness, a success, you have made it, oh, boy! Don’t get me started, I could go on for days, my breath could start to form a thick haze, I would be blue in the face, the king, the jack and of spades, the ace, on the tip of the top of the pinnacle of the mountain of the happy, simply overly joyous, ever so snappy! Now please, take my words with you, stay civil, stay happy, don’t hate, you can only berate, simply remain kind and without prejudice, and than you will no longer be amiss!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Another couple Xylon Photos

Some Xylon Photos

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Xylon is my South American leaf fish, Monocirrhus polyacanthus (, and his name comes from the Greek for wood.
Here's some pictures of him, I have some better quality pictures I'll add later.