Evidenced through ancient paintings, drawings, song and literature, we know that people have favored fish as pets and kept them in aquariums since the time of the Sumerians in ancient Mesopotatmia. Of course they didn’t have the aquariums that we have today. Instead, they kept their pick of fish in man-made ponds. In fact, almost every major ancient society built an aquarium of some sort, and that includes historic Egyptians, Romans, and Asians.
Interestingly, earlier aquariums not only provided entertainment, they provided food! Ancient aquariums were also used as breeding grounds but the Chinese built smaller aquariums to accommodate the smaller fish that they commercially bred – in particular, the goldfish.
In the 1700s, biologist Abraham Trembley created a sort of ‘make-shift’ aquarium so that he could study hydra, but it wasn’t until the 1800s however that aquariums started to look and operate similar to what we have today. And that’s because people were finally beginning to understand the science of ecology. British scientist Philip Gosse was the first to coin the term ” aquarium” and in 1853, Regent Park displayed the very first public aquarium. Almost a century later, public aquariums began to surface all over the wold.
Although fish in the past were the main inhabitants of aquariums, we use aquariums today to house all sorts of creatures, ranging from snails, turtles, hermit crabs, small lizards, and plants. And we’re collecting more than just cute goldfish or guppies. Saltwater aquarium enthusiasts are experimenting with deep-sea creatures like shrimp, clams, and anemones (even tiny sharks!). But because saltwater aquariums are high maintenance, fresh water aquariums remain the most popular.
A lot of technological advancements have afforded us opportunities to not only enjoy such exotic pets, but also to give them an environment that simulates their own. For example, we now have aquariums that provide for constant fresh water flow, aquariums that renew existing water, and aquariums that flush away wastes with the addition of new water.
We also have special equipment like special lighting and heaters that just weren’t available in the past. We even have safe chemicals designed to condition the water inside of these aquariums and make it healthier for its inhabitants.
Technological advancements have also made aquatic life quite enjoyable in places where it couldn’t otherwise be accessed without travel. It’s estimated that there are about sixty million aquarium enthusiasts and as you can probably imagine – that’s a lot of eagerly anticipated airfreight delivery!