February 3, 2023

This pandemic has brought out a lot of interests, hobbies, and diversions. People have turned to cooking, baking, even evolving into plantitos and plantitas.

Johnnies come lately are the aquamen.My take on people’s spiraling interest in aquariums, fishes, and underwater or aquatic plants. They may also be called aquarists, fish keepers or fish enthusiasts.

Daebak. This is how Korean’s express their amazement in telenovelas. Awesome on how a four-sided glass filled with water, aquatic plants, a variety of fishes and multi colored lights can transform into a showroom.  You can be transfixed for hours on end, just admiring the colors and the movement inside the tank.

I remember how completely ecstatic my one-year-old apo Eli Dominic was then in their hotel room at Hotel H2O in Lunetafour years ago. “There they go,” Eli said. “Mommy, I want to touch,” he added.

The hotel is an aquarium-themed hotel overlooking the beautiful Manila Bay. It is part of the waterfront Manila Ocean Park complex and a kilometer away from the Manila Cathedral. I would be thrilled too. Wouldn’t you?

According to research, the term “aquarium was coined by English naturalist Philip Henry Gosse, which combined the Latin root aqua, meaning water, with the suffix-arium, meaning a place for relating to. Further, the aquarium principle was fully developed in 1850 by the chemist Robert Warington, who explained that plants added to water in a container would give off enough oxygen to support the animals.”

Aquarium sizes can vary from 10 to 180 gallons depending on the specifications and needs of the aquarist or fish keeper. According to the research “having an aquarium has many health benefits.  It reduces stress, blood pressure, and improves heart rate, better quality of sleep, reduces anxiety and pain and is therapeutic for excited children. It can also help in Alzheimer’s therapy and improve productivity.”

If you are a first time aquarium hobbyist in Baguio, here are some of  the places to go to and visit to get your aquatic fishes and other needs: Dat’s Petshop at  Shagem Street (beside Security Bank at Abanao  Street ),  7-11 at Zandueta Street (beside the C and Triple A Supermart), Fins, Tails and Feathers at Center Mall, Baguio Pet Habitat at SM department store,  Quadro’s Pet Center at Imelda, Marcos Highway, Baguio Pet Dynasty at  Don Bosco St., Trancoville, Pet Palace Petshop at Naguilian Road, and the Aquarist Pet Center  at Rimando Road.

Jon Estolas, in not new to aquatic plants and fishes. He has been in this field for the past two years.  He started this hobby with a guppy group known as the Baguio Fish Hobbyists, now known as the Baguio Aquatic Online Shop under Vher de Dios.

His enthusiasm has now included propagating different types of water or aquatic-plants like bucephalandra, anubias, cryptocorine, dwarf hair grass, stem plants, and mosses. 

Ralph Ame, on the other hand, is an aquascape artist and aquarium glass maker.  Together, they make beautiful creations.

Pete Siapno is a new hobbyist. In a span of less than a month his aquarium has grown from one to two and he painstakingly attends to his fishes and plants. He even installed a play of lights and now the fishes look luminous and simply beautiful!

My husband Ed has been an aquarist for the past 20 years. He has experienced breeding fishes from 20 to hundreds and losing them as well and starting all over. He has done many experiments on fishes that can live in harmony with each other, fish food and cleaning cycles, fungi control, plant habitat, either plastic or real and different equipment to use,  like magnetic glass cleaners, pumps, siphon and lava and all kinds of small rocks.

When asked what feelings were elicited by aquariums, Siapno has this to say, “It’s more satisfying than gardening.  Here you’re dealing with living creatures that swim and move around in a body of water all in their splendor of beautiful pastel colors. So relaxing. And once they’re accustomed to see you feeding them, once you approach the aquarium, they’ll all come to the spot where you are, ogling at you, and waiting for their goodies. Truly amazing.”

So, there you are future aquamen. It would probably be good to have a show of this kind in the future. Cheers!