I got into the hobby when I was a teenager and it was really quite unintentional. An elderly friend of our family didn’t want his 15-gallon aquarium filled with fish and plants and so he gave it to me. I enjoyed it, but I now realize how little I knew back then about fishkeeping when I took over as steward of that tank filled with God’s creation.
It was probably overstocked when I got it, but the day I decided to add one more fish, life in that aquarium quickly crashed until the only fish left was the one fish I had bought. Either he was the cause of the demise or was just a true survivor. This tank eventually disappeared as other parts of my life took over.
Over the years I’ve stepped back into the hobby on a few occasions largely because I enjoy the challenge of setting up aquariums and providing an environment that supports life. However, since fishkeeping was never a high priority in my life, it quickly got pushed out by other issues. In the past year though, I decided to get back into fishkeeping since I now have the time and resources.
So why do I keep fish? There are probably a number of reasons. First, it can be quite relaxing to just sit and watch them. Second, it teaches me about God’s creation and how we need to care for it. Third, it allows me to continue to learn and grow in an area that I’m not normally involved with, that being biology and science. Fourth, it brings out the creative side in me as try to aquascape the tank. Finally, I’m hoping that it will provide a bridge by which I can get to know some other fishkeepers where I live and through these relationships to bear witness to the God who has not only created us and these small creatures but Who loved this world so much that He gave His only Son for our salvation.
At times, I’ve thought that hobbies such as this one are a waste of money when these resources could be used to bless people who are in need or even protect the environment where many of these fish live naturally. These hobbies are in many ways the privilege of those of us with wealth. This is true and yet, watching nature in whatever form it may come in or wherever it may be found, has a positive effect on both rich and poor alike.
This may sound crazy but I thought that perhaps some of our church buildings that are so underused could be enhanced with walls of aquariums. Just look at the picture at the top of this post. People love to come into fish shops just to see the fish and yet most people today will not come into your church building for its primary focus: God. Perhaps we need a bridge, like walls of aquariums, whereby people can cross over and meet us in the place where God’s people meet. Perhaps this would allow us to get to know one another and from this relationship, the real fishing could be done (Matthew 28:19-20).