Growing up, my parents were surprisingly accepting of me and my sister's innate desire to keep and care for animals.
Dogs, cats, rats, hamsters, lizards, turtles ... heck, even sea monkeys. We tried—and often failed—being responsible pet owners. Of course, 6-year-olds are not generally recognized as models of responsibility.
In fact, quite the opposite.
I remember back in first grade I brought Godzilla, my lizard (he was a golden skink, if memory serves), to school for show-and-tell. My classmates were most impressed by his bug-eating abilities, as I demonstrated feeding by putting a couple of live crickets in his habitat (formally my hamster's terrarium).
My peers convinced me (although I'm sure it wasn't too hard) to stick some other bugs in his home that we found at recess, including 3 ants and a centipede.
The next morning I woke up to find Godzilla dead, stiff from rigor mortis. The worst part: his eyes were missing.
After that, I set my eyes on a different type of pet: fish. We had a 40-gallon freshwater tank already—the family tank, as it were—that teemed with life. Boring life, as far as I was concerned.
So I convinced my parents to buy me my own 10-gallon tank. Maintenance, in retrospect, was easy ... and I kept an interesting array of fish, crabs, frogs and newts.
When I joined Marine Depot earlier this year and got into the saltwater hobby, I all but abandoned the idea of having a freshwater tank. Saltwater seemed superior to me in terms of sheer beauty. That is, until I started reading about planted tanks on sites like aquatic-eden.com (also in our blog roll).
The author of the site recently posted a blurb about the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest, and included a small photo of a stunning tank that lured me into learning more.
I don't know what the ratio of saltwater to freshwater aquariums is in our hobby, but I can tell you this: after viewing these photos, I'm now considering a freshwater tank for the house, leaving the saltwater aquarium for the office.
That way, I have the best of both worlds.
Practical Fishkeeping has posted pics of the the world's top 27 nature aquariums, so I encourage you to check them out because they are truly spectacular. If you like what you see, there are larger photos of the winners available at PlantedTank.net.
Oh, and just because the name of our company is "Marine" Depot, that doesn't mean we don't know a thing or two (or three) about freshwater tanks and ponds.
Our "pond guy," Matt, from customer service just started a freshwater tank here in the office a few weeks ago and it's already got me "green" with envy (check out the photo up and to your left ... the cool rock-like wall was created using Rockin Waterfall Foam).
I'm going to have to start working overtime to support this aquarium addiction.