Snails, Fish, Aquarium

Posted 2009.07.24 21.06 in Aquaria, Hobbies by Stephanie

Some of my friends and family have expressed surprise that I am getting so much enjoyment from my aquarium, and specifically from a couple snails and some fish. Without over-analyzing things, I figured I’d put a bit of thought into how to explain why I find them to be a compelling passtime.


Panoramic view of my 23 gallon aquarium.

For one thing, I’ve always found moving water to be relaxing. Just the sound of it, the sense of it in the air. I read somewhere that moving water ionizes the air, which is why it feels so fresh after it rains, and why it feels so good around a waterfall.

Then there’s the enjoyment of just watching cute little critters go about their cute little business. Whether it’s zebrafish playing chase or riding the bubbles, or the snails going parasnailing or kicking a decoration around, or the cory cats just scrunging about with their cute little whiskers… cute critters doing cute things. It’s joyful and innocent.

Mind you, an aquarium isn’t all fun and relaxation – there are chores and responsibilities. Essentially it’s a tiny little enclosed ecosystem — and enclosed ecosystems are doomed to fail. So I have to ‘intervene’ regularily to set things right: regular water changes, gravel vacuuming, water testing. Yet, each of these tasks also has its own reward.

When I vacuum the gravel and change out part of the water each week, not only am I keeping things clear and healthy in the fish tank, but the nitrates and particulate that I remove can then be poured right into the garden to fertilize and nourish the plants. And testing the water – well who doesn’t like playing with chemicals and test tubes, right?

And then there’s a huge opportunity for learning, too. The different species of fish each need to be learned about separately – first, to know how to care for them, but then also to learn their history, origin, and all the other details that can be gleaned. The snails too, are another wide category to read-up on. Then there’s aquarium plants, and more-generalized aquarium topics. So if I’m not sitting and watching the fishies and snailies, if I’m not feeding them, cleaning up after them, caring for them, then I can be studying and learning about them.

There’s also some technological fun to be had with an aquarium: The filter, the lights, the bubbler, heater, plus optional accessories… you’ve got mechanical (pumps), electrical (lights, heater), tubing / plumbing (air hoses, filter components), and that’s just the necessities. There’s almost endless fun to be had and knowledge to be learned, in mastering / tinkering with all these things. The filter alone covers mechanical pumping, water flow, plus an entire subject on biological and chemical filtration. You can wire up different lighting situations with timers, use different light sources to provide different wavelengths to keep the plants and critters happy and healthy, and/or offer the right visual effect for your own enjoyment. It goes on, and on!

Another aspect that has proved surprising to me, and mysterious to friends and family, is that the snails in particular, have unique, individual personalities. It is especially surprising when you consider where we tend to ‘rank’ them, on the overall chart of the animal kingdom. They aren’t just squidgy brainless little meatballs tucked into a twisty shell — they’re squidgy brainless little meatballs in a twisty shell, who exhibit curiosity and appear to experience fun / enjoyment, in their own personal ways.

Over and over again I have been amazed by my largest snail, Speed Racer, as he literally plays and does things which serve no discernable purpose other than to be fun.

I could continue, but I think I’ve summed up the various reasons why I’m enjoying my aquarium so much, without belabouring the point. It’s great fun, more entertaining than the TV that it replaced, and I’m happy to have it.



  1. Lezley says:

    I think it’s funny how I think you’re peeing when you’re sitting next to the aquarium talking to me on the phone.

  2. Stephanie says:

    The “tinkling” sound of the filter is refreshing, yes? 🙂 I suppose other kinds of “tinkling” are also refreshing. It all works out.

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