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GaryE

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There is an overall change in the economy. My grandparents lived in a working class, lower middle class community close to the centre of a largeish city, of 3 million now. I used to walk to school when I stayed with them, a distance of maybe 3 km. In the first kilometre I was on a major street. There were two hobby craft stores, one saltwater reef shop and 3 aquarium stores on my route. All could make their owners a decent living, and all stayed open until those owners died or retired.

One of the 3 was "cutting edge", offering a lot of cool fish you'd have to look very hard to find now.

Most other neighbourhoods had similar resources. Until the 1990s, I never lived in a neighbourhood without several aquarium stores that I could walk to. Now, just the rent would make those stores impossible. Rent, and the lack of walk in traffic - people had more free time then to enjoy hobbies, even if they were technically poorer. As we've seen the Great Wealth Shift of the past 30 years, a lot of people work longer hours for about the same standard of living.

For years, stores made their money from equipment sales, and fish weren't big sellers. I see a trend where stores run by young aquarists don't even try to compete with online equipment sellers. I'm told the money is now in fish sales again, which is curious to me. Prices have gone up a lot, as costs have, but if fish become the heart of the business again, it could get interesting. I've been in two lone wolf, under 30 year old owner stores in the past month, and the better one didn't even sell food. It was all interesting fish. It's no use being nostalgic. We have to make things work here and now.
 
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Yep. A whole different world now and all the heartfelt nostalgia in the world ain't gonna bring back Mom & Pop and their quaint , homey little store . The Great Wealth Shift. Never heard that term before but I know what you're talking about. Old time western artist Charley Russell lamented the passing of the open range for what we were familiar with 50 years ago. Now it's our turn to mourn the rise of the monstrously wealthy.
 

GaryE

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Can't be too nostalgic. When I was around 12, I liked making model aircraft and sailing ships. But the kid next door kept stealing airplane glue from the shop and sniffing it - he died young as a total wreck. The first time I ever did first-aid on an overdose was back then.
All my tanks eventually leaked because the linseed oil tar didn't seal for long, and my Dad would mix up more bad smelling black tar stuff and line my tanks every couple of years.
That meant a 20 gallon was a huge tank.
All heaters were clip on, and if you knocked them they could fall in and zap you.
Incandescent light bulbs heated the tank up when they were on, and were often in shiny stainless steel hoods that could burn you on contact. They got hot.
There was a lot of Beatles music played, even in fish shops. I can't stand that band.
 

WhistlingBadger

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Can't be too nostalgic. When I was around 12, I liked making model aircraft and sailing ships. But the kid next door kept stealing airplane glue from the shop and sniffing it - he died young as a total wreck. The first time I ever did first-aid on an overdose was back then.
All my tanks eventually leaked because the linseed oil tar didn't seal for long, and my Dad would mix up more bad smelling black tar stuff and line my tanks every couple of years.
That meant a 20 gallon was a huge tank.
All heaters were clip on, and if you knocked them they could fall in and zap you.
Incandescent light bulbs heated the tank up when they were on, and were often in shiny stainless steel hoods that could burn you on contact. They got hot.
There was a lot of Beatles music played, even in fish shops. I can't stand that band.
I remember when 20g was a huge tank, although we had silicone (we always called it RTV--I think that was a brand name) back then. When I was a kid, putting a goldfish in a 20g and actually using dechlorinator made you a far above average fish keeper. ha ha
 
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That One Guy
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I liked the old stainless steel hoods. They had a hefty durable look and feel that plastic doesn't . A friend re-worked mine for fluorescent and wouldn't take my money . The clip on heaters were easier to adjust but the water level had to be right or the thermostat wouldn't work. I remember the first twenty gallon I saw and it did seem big. I remember the old black sealant too. I never had a problem . If you handle your tanks right they will never leak. Never move a tank with anything in it. Take everything out right down to the last drop of water and the last grain of sand. Do that and you'll never have a leak.
 

GaryE

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I still have one steel frame 10 gallon in use. I guess it must be 50 years old - I got it in a garage sale, and siliconed it. I think a lot of the problem before silicone was the home recipes used. It's a wonder fish weren't poisoned more with the mixes people made.

I reworked one silicone hood for CF bulbs, but got rid of it when I went to LEDs. The one I regret getting rid of was a slate bottomed tank I had - a 2 gallon made so you could heat it with a candle or oil lamp under the stone bottom. 1940s. I have no idea why I didn't keep it - lost in a move, I guess.

I used to know a man who collected old aquariums as a side hobby. He had some beautifully ornate metal work frames and stands - really something. Huge craftsmanship to hold tiny little tanks.
 
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That One Guy
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The thing I miss the most about the old timers shops was the big specimen fish they had on display and the oddballs. I haven't seen a big Red Tail catfish or an Arowana in years or even Oscars for that matter. Did see a couple small emaciated Discus last summer though. Big whoop !
 

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