Whether you want to get your hands wet, or whether you just like to look, keeping an aquarium has value. I have identified nine areas of "value" which are listed below.
- a living piece of furniture
An aquarium is more than just a piece of furniture - it is living beauty under glass. Its display of life adds character to a room in a way that inanimate furniture cannot. A well-designed aquarium draws more attention than a fireplace, a piano, or an expensive piece of art. What guest will not gravitate toward the aquarium? It will elicit long periods of quiet fascination as well as numerous conversations. Everyone loves an aquarium.
- indoor gardening
Don't just dream of gardening during the indoor seasons - try raising freshwater aquatic plants as a year-round activity. If you want to garden casually, choose the slower growing, easy maintenance plants. If you prefer to tend to an aquatic garden daily, the hobby offers the technology and fast-growing plants that will yield an ever-changing aquascape. Developing a wet thumb can be as rewarding as having a green one.
- landscaping in a box
Do you enjoy browsing landscape books and dreaming of ideas for your yard? Are you frustrated because of the cost of landscaping, because your yard is mostly developed, or maybe because you don't have a yard? Relax. You can always add a glass box to your home and practice landscaping - actually "aquascaping" - in as quest for that visual masterpiece. Your palate includes rocks, driftwood, plants, and substrates of various sizes, shapes, colors, and textures. The cost fits anyone's budget. If you are itching more after you finish your masterpiece, you can easily tear down to start over. Better yet, just buy more glass boxes.
- change of pace
Whether you are puttering around with one aquarium or maintaining a battery of them, the "wet hands" activity is a change of pace from most people's jobs. Those who work at a computer or push paper come home to a hands-on activity. Those who cater to demanding people all day will find a release as they become the controller of aquatic worlds. The serene and casual life within an aquarium contrasts a day filled with noise and frenzy. If your job lacks challenge, try spawning fish. If it lacks creativity, try aquascaping. Remember, the most rewarding hobby is one that contrasts from one's daily routine.
An aquarium is about maintaining and displaying life. For the industrious, it extends to breeding fish and propagating plants. An aquarium starts with a glass box and the aquarium keeper creates from there - choosing not only the selection of fish, but also the substrate, the driftwood, the rocks, the plants, the backing, and the arrangement of it all. Putting it together is a creative process. The whole idea of maintaining life is a pro-creative effort. And in today's world, we all need a little more of that.
- escape to reality
Once people were in touch with nature and the world around us. Now our society is distracted in the artificial worlds of TV, movies, video games, and cyberspace. Wouldn't you rather have your son or daughter care for his aquarium instead of killing characters in a fantasy game? Isn't living beauty under glass more reality than reality TV? Rediscover life. Escape back to reality.
- witnessing the circle of life
Many species of tropical fishes available from the pet stores will readily reproduce in the home aquarium. Some of the most fascinating aquatic scenes are a female guppy birthing live fish or a pair of angelfish guarding first their eggs and then the newly hatched fry. In a matter of weeks young slivers of life grow into recognizable fish, and in a matter of months these fish mature so that they, too, spawn. One father told me how he used the aging and death of aquarium fish to candidly discuss with his children the realities of life and death. The circle of life turns within the aquarium. Witness it.
- more informed, more concerned
Most people buy their first aquarium for the beauty of aquatic life. Often, after just a few weeks of watching their fish, these budding aquarists grow inquisitive and seek out more information. Where do these fish come from? What is their life like in their native streams? How long do they live? How do they reproduce? What are the modern threats to these fish, plants, and their habitats? Eventually, this quest for knowledge leads one to be more globally conscious and ecologically concerned. Most aquarium keepers ponder and care about the effects upon wildlife that stem from natural disasters and man-made interferences. The aquarium hobby fosters concern for nature and discourages destruction.
- for our kids
Forget the goldfish in a bowl that Mom takes care of anyway. I'm talking about nudging our kids into taking ownership of an aquarium and the responsibility of maintaining it. It doesn't have to be big or pretty - just a bare-bones 10- or 20-gallon aquarium. The kid's aquarium offers a positive alternative to what is captivating the attention of most kids these days. We've already discussed pro-creativity, the escape to reality, and witnessing the circle of life - each positive values to bestow on our kids. Add to those responsibility and discipline which grows from ownership. Come to think of it, these are a good reason for adults to own an aquarium, too!