Babis Tsokas - Fishy Images
Introduction: I met Babis some time ago and I found out really quickly that he was a very nice person, a serious aquarist and a computer expert. I also knew that he kept (mainly) discus, which meant that he was willing to go that extra mile and keep fish which require a very different chemistry as compared to the water that comes out of the tap in Athens. Quite recently I met him with his family in the Attica Zoological Park which I visit regularly to take pictures for my own pleasure. I noticed that he was carrying a digital camera so I asked him if he is really involved in photography. It is rather obvious that his answer was "yes". We exchanged some photos and then I saw some of the pictures you see below. Needless to say, I asked him if he wanted to create a portfolio with his photos for our website. He hesitated initially but I am happy to say that he was eventually persuaded. I am really happy he did and I hope you will enjoy his page. You can click on any of the photos below to see a high resolution picture.
20x20x20cm, total: 8lt, net: ~6lt
40x25x20cm, total: 20lt, net: <16lt
50 x 40 x 30 cm, total: 60lt, net: <50 lt
An afternoon - a few years ago - as I returned home from work, I saw a fishbowl with a goldfish in it on the kitchen table. Although the fish seemed a bit different compared to the goldfish I had seen till then it was not different enough for me to care about it. My first thought about it was, “look what my wife spends money on…”, but I decided to let it go this time.
The next few months, whenever my eyes accidentally fell on the goldfish, it looked to me as interesting as the fishbowl around it. It goes without saying that I never cared enough to feed it, or change its water, things that I seriously doubt I knew that had to be done at that time.
After some time we had to leave on vacation so we decided to leave the goldfish under my wife’s sister attention, to take care of it as long as we were away. When we returned we found the goldfish in a jar of jam (thank god with water inside it and not jam), because the fishbowl had broken. We replaced that jar with a bigger one, and that was the goldfish’s “tank” for the next couple of months. We stopped changing its water every day and we started to change it whenever it got milky enough so that the fish was hardly visible in the jar, and generally its living conditions started declining.
Suddenly, on a nice morning and without having shown any interest on the poor creature till then, I decided to go to the local pet shop and purchase a bigger tank and whatever else the owner told me to buy. I ended up with a 9-liter plastic container ( the ones they put the turtles in, but I didn’t know that at the time…), colored gravel, some plastic plants and an air pump that when plugged it made an awful train-like noise.
Having set up the “aquarium” according to my taste, I put the goldfish in the tank (things such as acclimatization were like science-fiction to me), and I could not believe my eyes.
The previously motionless and colorless little creature, had a shining orange color, was very energetic exploring its tank and liked playing with the bubbles from the pump. I was astounded…It was ‘alive’…Not only had it understood the change in its environment but it responded to it in such a cute and lovable manner that was breathtaking to me.
Some time afterwards I decided to get my fish a “roommate” so I got another Goldfish (black moor). But a few months later as the regular attention started becoming less and less regular there started to be some problems. My ignorance combined with the totally wrong advices from the local pet shop made an “explosive” combination with my two fish as its victims. (At that time information such as “biological filter”, “water parameters” and fish diseases were not only out of my field of knowledge but I readily doubted their existence).
Without having realized it the “aquarium disease” had stated knocking on my door….
Despite the first failure my wife and I decided to try again, visiting this time a “big” pet shop, which sold the whole range from fishes to snorkeling equipment, to be on the safe side. I was thinking about purchasing an aquarium a little bigger than the one we already had, but my wife finally convinced me to buy a 60-liter aquarium (this was the last time that she insisted on buying a bigger aquarium than the one I suggested). I still remember that she thought that if we bought that "huge" aquarium we would never have to buy another one (if she only knew what was waiting on the shelf for her…..)
This aquarium was also set up in the wrong way from the very beginning. In it were two goldfish which suffered a lot due to our ignorance and the wrong information we were given from the pet shop keeper until they left this world a few months after we purchased them.
The weird thing is that despite all these incidents, my need for beautiful and healthy aquariums was increasing. And when, my wife again, accidentally discovered a specialized (on fish) pet shop, we went there and finally we got our first correct information on how to set up an aquarium correctly, and what were the things we really needed to buy and not the things that were going to leave the biggest profit to the shop. We were lucky enough to have walked into Hydrocosmos.
From that point on, and after we started enjoying our first correctly set up and healthy aquarium, everything came normally….
A second 60-liter aquarium a few months after the first one, many smaller for various uses, a bigger 500-liter aquarium, lots of DIY constructions, much more reading (books and web), lots of whining that our house was too small for all these aquariums (guess who?), a rack with three 125-liter aquariums a year after, meeting many hobbyists and lots of interesting conversations, more reading etc…
After this adventurous beginning, my relationship with the hobby continues…smoothly. I enjoy the company of my Symphysodon Discus in most of my aquariums, along with some species that are compatible with them (Corydoras sterbai, Sturisoma aureum, Hemigramus bleheri, Ancistrus sp.). I also have an 8-liter aquarium that is devoted to my beloved Betta Splenders Crown Tail.
I was searching for one or two of the most important characteristics of the hobby that make it so important to me to close this small description . Unfortunately, it is evident that there are more than one or two. There are loads of things that the hobby has offered me all these years, and I am sure that they will offer me much more throughout the years that are about to come. I will just mention some things off the top of my head. The observation of the aquatic life, of the attitude of all the different species, and the care I provide them so I can make their life in a limited space such as an aquarium as good as I can. The knowledge I have gained concerning the protection of the threatened by our activities environment. The study and the design of the new “microenvironment” I am about to create. The search for suitable sources of correct information. The construction of equipment (as much as my hands and my skills can do). Meeting people that are willing to share their love and knowledge for this hobby. Photographing the aquariums and their inhabitants*. The observation of life through the “screen” of the aquarium in the night with all the lights in the room closed.
The time of disappointments and big losses seems like a distant memory, which has been followed by the satisfaction and the constant struggle to offer the best possible conditions to my hosted friends.
* Fish keeping also "reactivated" my interest in photography, my other neglected hobby. During those years, tanks were setup and broke down while the combinations of fish kept in them changed and I wanted to keep some informal notes about all those things. What would be better than some nice photos ? Moreover, this was far easier than setting up tanks to me, since I have been a photographer for more than 20 years. Most of the pictures shown in this page are shot on film (Fujocolor Superia Reala) using a Nikon F4 and Nikkor lenses (Nikkor AF 105mm f/2.8 Macro, Nikkor AF 180mm f/2.8 ED) and a Speedlight SB24 flash unit.
Επιστρέφοντας ένα απόγευμα στο σπίτι μου απο την δουλειά πριν λίγα χρόνια, βλέπω πάνω στο τραπέζι της κουζίνας μια στρογγυλή γυάλα με ένα χρυσόψαρο. Λίγο διαφορετικό απο αυτά που γνώριζα μέχρι τότε (Carrassius auratus - Οranda), αλλά εξίσου... αδιάφορο με όλα τ' άλλα. Η πρώτη σκέψη μου ήταν, που πάει η γυναίκα μου και ξοδεύει λεφτά... Αλλά είπα να το αφήσω ασχολίαστο εκείνη την φορά.
Text and photos by Babis Tsokas. Translation in English by John G. Reclos