THE PLAYGROUND The Adriatic Coastline
..during the High Season..
It is much better in the Winter
It all started when I was a wee kid - fish in huge earthenware jars, fish in wide, shallow cement pools, fish in the streams, fish in glass tanks,red fish in blue plastic buckets, catfish at the markets, dead fish in the kitchen, fish everywhere..
They were, for the most part, pretty guppies (POECILIA RETICULATA ), or red tailed swordfins (XIPHOPHORUS HELLERI ), or cute splotted orange goldfish (CARASSIUS AURATUS ), and brilliant Siamese Fighting Fish (BETTA SPLENDENS ).. with the odd tadpole, here and there! Then, there was also this pair of huge ferocious Oscars (ASTRONOTUS OCELLATUS ) that my Dad kept in his outdoor, algae covered tank, fully adorned with submerged ceramic miniature fishermen, and bubbly divers.. I could never find the courage to clean that tank out.
As I grew older, my aquariums grew along with me, and I was populating them with Angelfish (PTEROPHYLLUM SCALARE ), and the inevitable Neon Tetras (PARACHEIRODON INNESI ), and Tiger Barbs (BARBUS TETRAZONA ), and Zebras (BRACHYDANIO RERIO ), and Kissing Gouramis (HELOSTOMA TEMMINCKII ), and .. there was this time, when Gouramis dropped down from the sky, during a particularly heavy thunderstorm!!! No kidding! ..
When I got to Belfast, for College, I managed to talk (twist the arm of ) my LandLord (Hey, George, I never meant to twist that hard) into getting an aquarium for the flat. But it never ever attained any of the glory my tanks had in Malaysia.. Prices were EXHORBITANT there!! What I could get for free, were costing £1 a go!
In London, whilst at the Royal College of Art, there was no LandLord to bully, so I bought myself a little Crystal jar, filled it with bottled water, and had a couple of Angelfish, some pebbles, and some plastic greenstuff in it.. It was a small piece of home! They were happyish, I was kinda happy, and the Cat was always alert..
It was never until I got transported to Italy, that I actually got involved with Marine fishes. I started off small, yes! But, small is a word which does not stay small with me..
I had always been completely mesmerised by the Common Clown Fish (Amphiphiron ). Ever since I saw a bunch swimming lazily around, during a snorkelling trip. It is their manner of swimming, which is so .. unusual. They bobble up and down! Or waddle! If you have ever seen a Clown fish in action, you know just what I mean.. Also, the fact that they use commensal & beautifully coloredSea Anemones as a home, wriggling in and shuffling about, and .. well, fresh-water fish don't do that sort of thing!
So, it was easy to go onto bigger & bigger tanks, and then, as I found I couldn't fit in anything any more, new plans were made, new drafts were drawn, and I designed my own BIG, BIG, MEGA aquarium! .. Just as well they moved me to a bigger apartment! And gave me a pay-rise.. But, the neighbours downstairs were a little worried. Just a little! They had life rafts ready.
It was a MASSIVE project: Powerhead Pumps, Trickle Filters, 3 of Dupla's® HQI LI Metal-Halides & 2 Duplalux Coral®, with 2 additional CoralLife's® BluLite tube Lighting (on timers), Instant Ocean's® Sea Salt Mix (!!), Hydrometers, Automated Water Top Off Systems, Thiel's® Molecular Absorption Reactors, Reverse Osmosis Water Purification, Nitrate/Nitrite Tests, Phosphate Tests, more Tests, Deionized Water, Nitrifying Bacteria, Tunze® Protein Skimmers, Refridgeration Units, CO2 Cannisters, KH Generators, UV/Ozone Sterilizers, Redox Control .. and I never needed any heaters, even in the dead of Winter .. It's a long story .. One day, I'll build a whole new HomePage for that!! (Never!)
One of my favorites was this Yellow Tang (ZEBRASOMA FLAVESCENS ) , whom I named Donatella.... And a Flame Angel (CENTROPGYE LORICULUS ).. (See Pic above)... The mating pair of sweetheart Clown Anemone fish (AMPHIPHIRON OCELLARIS ).. another pair of Salmon Clownfish (AMPHIPHIRON PERIDERAION ).. a Fairy Basslet (GRAMMA LORETO ).. a very expensive Emperor Tang (ZEBRASOMA XANTHURUM ).. a shoal of 10 Green Chromis (CHROMIS CAERULEA ).. some busy Yellow-tailed Damselfish (CHRYSIPTERA PARASEMA ).. a lovable Bicolor Blenny (ECSENIUS BICOLOR ).. a pair of Mandarins (SYNCHIROPUS SPLENDIDUS )..
But there were a whole lots of other things too. Shrimps (Lysmata amboinensis, debelius, Stenopus hispidus), starfish (Fromia elegans, monilis), brittle stars (Ophiomastix venosa), sea urchins (Echinometra mathaei), sea squirts that grew out from the live rocks, anemones (Heteractis malu, magnifica), giant (well, not so giant) sea clams (Tridacna crocea, maxima), a hermit crab called Sebastion (Pagurus sp), arrow crabs (Stenorhynchus seticornis), colorful featherduster tube worms (Sabellastarte sp), scallops(Lima scabra), mussels (Very tasty), sea lilies (Himerometra robustipinna), colorful sponges (Axinellid sp), sea apples (Pseudocolochirus axiologus), sea fans (Gorgonia flabellum), Pulse Corals (Anthelia glauca, Xenia), Daisy Corals (Goniopora stokesi), Crystal Corals (Galaxea fascicularis), Sun Corals (Tubastrea aurea), Moon Corals (Favites sp), Bladder Corals (Plerogyra sinuosa), Bouquet Corals (Euphyllia divisa, fimbriata), Brain Corals (Trachyphyllia geofroyi), Wonder Corals (Catalaphyllia plicata), Disk Anemones (Actinodiscus sp, Discosoma sp), Encrusting Anemones (Zoanthus sp, Palythoa sp, Parazoanthus sp, Epizoanthus sp), a magnificent Bowl Coral (Turbinaria pelata), Pipe Corals (Tubipora musica, Clavularia viridis, Cornularia sp), Leather Corals (Sarcophyton, Lobophytum, Sinularia), Horny Corals (Acropora), all sorts of corals.. hard and soft.. Caulerpa greens, Rhodophyceae reds, .. All creatures great & small.. All growing, all very mesmerising.. So much life, so many polyps..
Then, I had to let it all go.. I wasn't giving it enough time anymore (blame that on the Catwalk!.. And the Scuba Diving trips), and as the Life-Form was very demanding, and very delicate, there was just no way I could dedicate enough time, what with the Net and all! CITES (The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species) also had, to some point, discouraged my inadvertent participation in some well publicized cruel methods of collecting fish, and invertebrates, from the Wild.
However, the aquarium (210cm X 70cm X 70cm, or 7ft X 2ft 4in X 2ft 4in, which is about 1040 liters, or 270 US Gallons), and its inhabitants, are now at a very good friend's place, highlighting his Aquarium Shop, AMICI MIEI, in Cattolica, on the Riviera.. (Ciao, Pietro & Roberta!)I'm retained as Consultant!
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It was a brilliant spectacle, in my home, and friends used to just stand there and gaze at it all night long.. Especially when the evening lighting system switched itself on, and the corals would glow luminescently.. And the fish would settle in for the night..
. . . . A small piece of the Tropics in Italy . . . .
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