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I have an idea. If you can do a geographically accurate biotope aquarium, why can't you do a historically accurate aquarium. Sort of a historotope if I'm allowed one neologism here.

At an estate sale a while back, I acquired a 1930s era aquarium with a metal frame and a slate bottom. This is not one of those stainless steel MetaFrame aquariums everyone (including me) had back in the 1960s and the 1970s. It is clearly something much older.

Everything about the aquarium was in good shape when I got it, and it was watertight. Last year when I was using it to grow mosquito larva outside I forgot to bring it in when it got cold. When ice formed in the tank the expanding ice blew out one of the glass sides.

So, what might the rules be for a historotope?

Rules:

  1. You are only allowed to use equipment available during your chosen time period.
  2. You are only allowed to keep fishes that were available during your chosen time period.
  3. You must use historically accurate foods.
  4. You must use historically accurate plants.
  5. You must use historically accurate substrate and decorations.
  6. You must use historically accurate maintenance methods.

Since I have the aquarium (once I get it repaired), my chosen time period will be the mid-1930s in the United States. My first step is to get the tank water tight again. I will post more later as this experiment progresses and your thoughts and suggestions come in.

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I have an idea. If you can do a geographically accurate biotope aquarium, why can't you do a historically accurate aquarium. Sort of a historotope if I'm allowed one neologism here. At an estate

That is a great question! Aquarium keeping in the 1930s seems pretty similar to what we do now, with pretty similar results. I won't do anything that isn't good for the fish. I might have to work

Here is the old aquarium: I think the slate on the bottom is almost an inch thick! Late this afternoon I delivered the tank to the Imagination Station Science Center in Wilson NC.

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1 hour ago, Brandy said:

I am looking forward to watching this ... but you lost me at historically accurate food and maintenance methods. That sounds like WORK. 🤣

We are about to find out, I think I once heard @Cory say he thought people fed their fish table scraps back in the 1930s. I’ve got a lot of research to do.

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Sorry about thinking ths in a negative way, but is this ethical? Would you do the same with any other aspect of life in 1930? Medicine? Health care? Child care? Am I correct in assuming that aquariums in 1930 were a worse place for fish/plants than they are today?

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5 hours ago, Daniel said:

I have an idea. If you can do a geographically accurate biotope aquarium, why can't you do a historically accurate aquarium. Sort of a historotope if I'm allowed one neologism here.

At an estate sale a while back, I acquired a 1930s era aquarium with a metal frame and a slate bottom. This is not one of those stainless steel MetaFrame aquariums everyone (including me) had back in the 1960s and the 1970s. It is clearly something much older.

Everything about the aquarium was in good shape when I got it, and it was watertight. Last year when I was using it to grow mosquito larva outside I forgot to bring it in when it got cold. When ice formed in the tank the expanding ice blew out one of the glass sides.

So, what might the rules be for a historotope?

Rules:

  1. You are only allowed to use equipment available during your chosen time period.
  2. You are only allowed to keep fishes that were available during your chosen time period.
  3. You must use historically accurate foods.
  4. You must use historically accurate plants.
  5. You must use historically accurate substrate and decorations.
  6. You must use historically accurate maintenance methods.

Since I have the aquarium (once I get it repaired), my chosen time period will be the mid-1930s in the United States. My first step is to get the tank water tight again. I will post more later as this experiment progresses and your thoughts and suggestions come in.

Daniel,

That is quite an interesting concept.  Personally, I would go for it, as long as, water parameters can be maintained properly and the fish food is acceptable.

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3 hours ago, Diego said:

Sorry about thinking ths in a negative way, but is this ethical? Would you do the same with any other aspect of life in 1930? Medicine? Health care? Child care? Am I correct in assuming that aquariums in 1930 were a worse place for fish/plants than they are today?

That is a great question!

Aquarium keeping in the 1930s seems pretty similar to what we do now, with pretty similar results. I won't do anything that isn't good for the fish. I might have to work harder though if I am trying to find live foods for example. And it's possible I won't have to work as hard as there will be fewer gadgets to maintain. From my initial reading of the literature, 1930s aquariums do not seem like they were worse for the fish/plants than now, just managed differently, certainly fewer fish per gallon than we tend to keep now. The living conditions of many economically important animals generally haven't improved since the 1930s. Ask yourself, if you were a chicken or a pig or a cow, for the short time you were alive on the Earth, would you have preferred to have been on a 1930s farm or in a 2020 Industrial production facility? I know it is not that good of an analogy but the point I would like to make is that while many, many things have improved in the last 100 years, some things are remarkably similar, and few things were possibly better a 100 years ago.

I am prepared to end the experiment if I have to make compromises that would cause the fish to suffer, but let's find out together what it was like to keep a planted tropical fish tank in the early years of the Great Depression.

And this vintage magazine just came in the mail today. Here is the cover for the August 1934 issue of Home and Gardens magazine. I think this will give me something to shoot for as I set up the tank.

BetterHomes.png.3de9650dd721316f5a4698d1f2afaf1e.png

 

Edited by Daniel
am prepared
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Ebay for $12. Seems like a pretty good value. The stories inside the magazine are mind bending. A whole, whole lot has changed socially since the 1930s for the better. But those fish! Healthy angels, beautiful red swordtails, and what a nice little school of zebra danios with vallisneria growing in the background! 

I looked up the artist for that cover art in the above post. His name Arthur C. Bade. After Better Homes and Gardens, he was a staff artist for Science and Mechnics. I blame him for me thinking I would have a flying car by now!

tomorrowland.PNG.b38352b2f8c1fddee63f09b191fd8577.PNG

Edited by Daniel
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1 hour ago, Daniel said:

Ebay for $12. Seems like a pretty good value. The stories inside the magazine are mind bending. A whole, whole lot has changed socially since the 1930s for the better. But those fish! Healthy angels, beautiful red swordtails, and what a nice little school of zebra danios with vallisneria growing in the background! 

I looked up the artist for that cover art in the above post. His name Arthur C. Bade. After Better Homes and Gardens, he was a staff artist for Science and Mechnics. I blame him for me thinking I would have flying car by now!

tomorrowland.PNG.b38352b2f8c1fddee63f09b191fd8577.PNG

"Technology", in general, can only move as fast as the human minds that create it.  

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Here is the old aquarium:

20200727_2689.JPG.92f0bb68141b730aebe0a445caada7bf.JPG

I think the slate on the bottom is almost an inch thick!

20200727_2693.JPG.a8378e70df7d59497a6f7414a1c20e79.JPG

Late this afternoon I delivered the tank to the Imagination Station Science Center in Wilson NC. They have a restoration person on staff that specialized in restoring old windows and glass.

20200727_2698.JPG.90f2a8c904d2c0e91fe3625e7a51722e.JPG

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So now that I have restricted myself to 'historically accurate' for the 1930s, I need to define what that will mean.

For this project the guide to 'historically accurate' will be the text of "The Complete Aquarium Handbook" which is available to download (it is in the public domain now). I will also use "The Aquarium" magazine issues from the early to mid 1930s as both magazine and the book were published by William T. Innes who was sort of the @Cory of his day. The neon tetra is named after Innes, Paracheirodon innesi. Think of this book as the Innes website and the magazine as the Innes YouTube channel (only it is 1936)!

Cover of 1936 edition of "The Complete Aquarium Book"

920940173_BookCover.jpg.5bfd9344903e108a84047d8f85f509e0.jpg

May 1945 issue of "The Aquarium" magazine (with loads of references to Hitler in the advertisements)

Magazine.jpg.1cfc6ce23024845fffccb83326f001d8.jpg

If I don't follow the rules, you can hold me to account as the link to the book download above will get you the entire 1936 edition of the book, color plates and all.

Edited by Daniel
Update links to Innes' Wiki page, and the neon tetra page which is named for Innes
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4 minutes ago, Daniel said:

So now that I have restricted myself to 'historically accurate' for the 1930s, I need to define what that will mean.

For this project the guide to 'historically accurate' will be the text of "The Complete Aquarium Handbook" which is available to download (it is in the public domain now). I will also use "The Aquarium" magazine issues from the early to mid 1930s as both magazine and the book were publish by William T. Innes who was sort of the @Cory of his day. Think of this book as the Innes website and the magazine as the Innes YouTube channel (only it is 1936)!

Cover of 1936 edition of "The Complete Aquarium Book"

920940173_BookCover.jpg.5bfd9344903e108a84047d8f85f509e0.jpg

May 1945 issue of "The Aquarium" magazine (with loads of references to Hitler in the advertisements)

Magazine.jpg.1cfc6ce23024845fffccb83326f001d8.jpg

If I don't follow the rules, you can hold me to account as the link to the book download above will get you the entire 1936 edition of the book, color plates and all.

Looks like a good read.  Old books are a lot of fun.  📖

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57 minutes ago, DaveSamsell said:

Looks like a good read.  Old books are a lot of fun.  📖

It's pretty funny too. Innes gets the same questions that @Cory gets, like 'how many of fish X will fit in my tank', or 'Can White Clouds be bred year round, and how about tank size', or even 'what is the best temperature to hatch brine shrimp'? And his answers are pretty much the same as Cory's. @DaveSamsell did the PDF download of the book work for you?

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4 minutes ago, Daniel said:

It's pretty funny too. Innes gets the same questions that @Cory gets, like 'how many of fish X will fit in my tank', or 'Can White Clouds be bred year round, and how about tank size', or even 'what is the best temperature to hatch brine shrimp'? And his answers are pretty much the same as Cory's. @DaveSamsell did the PDF download of the book work for you?

Daniel,

Yes, it downloaded just fine.  Thanks.  😊

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Will you be purchasing an icebox or no frozen food?
Lighting should be interesting. what are your thoughts there? I’m In the NE and that’s tough thinking about heating and lighting. 
Side note.... my son’s school has the 3rd oldest electric fridge and it still works. The mansion is great but was a ton of work to turn into a school. 

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6 hours ago, Tre said:

Will you be purchasing an icebox or no frozen food?
Lighting should be interesting. what are your thoughts there?

I hadn't thought about frozen food. Partly because I don't feed any frozen foods now. I do however keep my blackworms in the refrigerator, and I was planning to feed blackworms. There is another method of keeping blackworms in a sink under a drippy faucet that I will have to try.

I had thought about lighting. My plan is to put the tank near a north facing window. In the book starting on page 13, Innes says:

'Light. As above stated, aquatic plants in order to thrive and help purify the water must have good light. When in the sun many of them can be seen releasing a steady stream of fine bubbles. These are almost pure oxygen.

Strong diffused light, with an hour or two of direct sun is approximately ideal. Ordinary artificial light is worthless so far as any effect on the plants is concerned.

Direct sun in the summer months is dangerous to small aquaria, as it is liable to raise the temperature too high for the fishes.'

Here is a picture from "The Aquarium" magazine that I think illustrates indirect light.

2045555872_MacyAquarium.png.033b3af36a80fa011340135ff4eddfc3.png

He doesn't call it 'pearling' but it clearly he appreciates the plants 'releasing a steady stream of fine bubbles. These are almost pure oxygen.' Cool, even in 1936 pearling was a thing.

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Historically accurate spousal bargaining

The deal so far has been something like it's okay to put trash cans out in the yard full of mosquitoes, and keep worms in the refrigerator, but all the fish tanks must be confined to my room (the science room).

That creates a problem for my 1930s style aquarium. I need a window to solve the lighting problem. I started dropping hints about this yesterday. This morning she offered me a deal.

20200729_2771.JPG.7778eb55cf70026150afb559d6b509c3.JPG

If I were to get all of my junk out of the spare bedroom so that it was clean and she could use it as her room (the exercise room), then I could use the window in the breakfast nook to set up my 1930s style aquarium.

20200729_2773.JPG.4e2d41a4b043e126a8c61e9bb98b155d.JPG

I took the deal.

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On 7/28/2020 at 8:27 AM, Daniel said:

So now that I have restricted myself to 'historically accurate' for the 1930s, I need to define what that will mean.

For this project the guide to 'historically accurate' will be the text of "The Complete Aquarium Handbook" which is available to download (it is in the public domain now). I will also use "The Aquarium" magazine issues from the early to mid 1930s as both magazine and the book were published by William T. Innes who was sort of the @Cory of his day. The neon tetra is named after Innes, Paracheirodon innesi. Think of this book as the Innes website and the magazine as the Innes YouTube channel (only it is 1936)!

Cover of 1936 edition of "The Complete Aquarium Book"

920940173_BookCover.jpg.5bfd9344903e108a84047d8f85f509e0.jpg

May 1945 issue of "The Aquarium" magazine (with loads of references to Hitler in the advertisements)

Magazine.jpg.1cfc6ce23024845fffccb83326f001d8.jpg

If I don't follow the rules, you can hold me to account as the link to the book download above will get you the entire 1936 edition of the book, color plates and all.

This is really interesting! I love the look of old aquarium handbooks and magazines, would be nice to get some for the bookshelf or just to flip through! Did you get most of the hard copies from eBay? 

On 7/27/2020 at 1:46 PM, Cory said:

I know at one point to add calcium they added milk to the aquarium. 

This blows my mind, I would really like to know more about this. Especially if there are other weird methods that were commonly accepted back then but would turn heads today! Lol

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Byte said:

Did you get most of the hard copies from eBay? 

 

Yes, mostly from eBay, some from ABE Books, but the first old magazines I ever acquired were like 25 cents a piece at a club auction. And as you read through the book, you will see that mostly the methods aren't weird. Plants need light, fish need healthy water and good food. You had to be a little more resourceful back in the day, but what it took to keep happy fish is the same as now.

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@Daniel

I have 2x 1936 Aquarium magazines and 1x 1934 Aquarium magazine I am more than happy to scan to you if you would like. One is the 1936 Tetra issue in which it talks about how Neon Tetras are an amazing new discovery and is sure to become a huge hit in the hobby. They even discuss how hard they are to breed and how they will likely hold their value at $150.00 a pair, imported. LOL! Oh, how times have changed. 🙂

I have the 1931 edition of Innes' book. Not too much changed from 1917 (the original) to my version. Have you noticed any interesting new fish additions between the public domain original and your version yet?

Edited by J. Mantooth
can't math late at night
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That is so cool that you have the 1936 Tetra issue! And yes, I would very much like to see what is in that issue. If you are willing please upload to here.

Does Innes mention how the first neons were originally imported in to the United States from Germany on the airship Hindenburg?

Apistogramma, Corydoras, and Elassoma (pygmy sunfish) are mentioned in the 1936 book that I uploaded, but no mention of discus. I haven't seen earlier versions of the book so I don't know what is new for 1936.

Is your 1931 version the book 'Goldfish Varieties and Tropical Aquarium Fishes' or the 'The Complete Aquarium Book'?

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On 7/27/2020 at 1:55 PM, Diego said:

Sorry about thinking ths in a negative way, but is this ethical? Would you do the same with any other aspect of life in 1930? Medicine? Health care? Child care? Am I correct in assuming that aquariums in 1930 were a worse place for fish/plants than they are today?

I have been thinking about what are the limits (for example, my home is heated and cooled, is this historically accurate) and I have found a line I am not willing to cross. 

WardleyBurger.PNG.110334bf84aa165f5f0ea2babddea346.PNG

You can still buy this at Eric Bodrock's AllOddballAquatics website.

 

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