A & P meets the
faces behind the names and lets them tell you of their own
individual aquatic interests
This Month: Andy Horton
Q1. - How long have you been in fishkeeping and what started you off?
A1 - My interest goes
back a long time to my first schooldays , aged 9.
I walked to school, like all the kids, and with just a slight detour the walk
would take me to the streams and ditches at the foot of the downs. We did
not have a pond or a tank so the sticklebacks, whirligig beetles etc.
brought home in a jam jar, went in a neighbour's pond.
Q2. - Can you remember your first aquarium and what you kept in it?
A2 - I came home from the
Fair with two goldfish in a plastic bag. A bowl
was hastily set up. One of the goldfish was called Cassavooboo after an
African President. The goldfish outlived him.
When I left home, I had a mental
note that one of the first things I would
do would be to have a pond in the garden. It did not work out like that as
I moved on to a boat on the tidal reaches of the River Adur at Shoreham-by-Sea. Twice a day the tide would come in and bring the fishes to me; including large fish like the Grey Mullet and the Bass, and numerous fry in the surface waters.
Q3. - What are your special interests (favourite fish,
A3 - My specialist interest
is the coldwater marine life around the
British Isles. The main problem is to keep the water cool in the summer. An
adapted 'beer cooler' is used, but they have a tendency to break down.
Q4. - Are you into breeding?
A4 - I am fascinated by the
reproductive habits of the British sea
anemones. When the sea anemones begin to multiply and take over the tank, the surplus specimens are taken back to where the originals were collected.
Q5. - Do you belong to any Aquatic Society.
A5 - In 1990 I founded the British
Marine Life Study Society (BMLSS) to
share information amongst marine life enthusiasts that live all around the
United Kingdom, Ireland and Norway.
Q6. - What do you think about Fish Shows?
A6 - The idea of the aquarium side
of the native marine hobby is to study
the fish, crabs and other animals in a permanent aquarium mimicking their
natural environment. Marine fish are not very good travellers and
therefore not really conducive to being put on show. The BMLSS present
Exhibitions, with aquaria, but these temporary aquaria are not satisfactory
because the fish take time to settle, and will hide.
Q7. - If money was no object what aspect of the hobby
would you like to
A7 - I would like to run a
water life educational project with a Public
Aquarium and computer resources linked together.
Q8. - What fish would you never keep and why?
A8 - It should be possible
to keep almost any fish up to a certain size
(excluding the large sharks, swordfish, tuna etc.) if you have enough
knowledge and sufficient resources. However, when it comes to the
Coelacanth, do we really know enough about the fish to keep it
successfully? I would regard it as unethical to take certain rare species
from the wild. However, aquarium study also has many advantages, which
could result in the rescue of species threatened by the destruction of
their native streams.
Q9. - What’s your favourite aquarium book?
A9 - The is still no useful
book on keeping British marine life in
aquaria. However, there are plenty of books on the seashore, of which the
New Naturalist "The Seashore" by C.M. Yonge, first published in 1949, was the most influential.
I recommend newcomers to marine fishkeeping the Salamander Encylopedias of the Marine Aquarium by Dick Mills and Nick Dakin. For advanced study, my favourite author is Stephen Spotte.
Q10. - How do you think fishkeeping is keeping up with
other modern day
A10 - Marine fishkeeping will always
be a small specialised niche.
Otherwise, it would seem that fishkeeping is holding its position compared
to other attractions. This is really a guess. This not the attitude I take
when deciding to keep a particular fish. I will always research the needs
of the fish, especially its water temperature amplitude.
Q11. - What do you get from fishkeeping that keeps you interested?
A11 - Rockpooling, going down to
the shore to discover what has been left
in the pools or under rocks, still holds its fascination. In the aquarium
itself, there are the observations of the behaviour of the fish and
invertebrates, how they swim and bury themselves etc., that still appeals.
There always seems to be something new if I look hard enough.
Q12. - What’s next in your fishkeeping plans?
A12 - The tendency is for me to
stock tanks with individual species at low
densities for special study. I might start on the book, although producing
the journal Glaucus and the Shorewatch newsletter and other publications
for the British Marine Life Study Society occupy most of my time.
Then there is always the pond for the garden.