— Chris Aylen

Aquariums

Our African Malawi cichlid aquarium

One of the best things about working from home is that I get some quality time to enjoy our big tropical aquarium. Now, that’s the sort of thing old people say, but I don’t care: I am old. I’ve had fish tanks at various stages throughout my life (coldwater from ages 8-12, then again at 16-18, then a tropical freshwater puffer set-up and now a tropical cichlid habitat) and they’re a good way to switch off after sitting in front of a computer all day. I just don’t get that same satisfaction from watching the TV.

We started with about 10 different fish (cichlids, a few bristlenose catfish, some plecos), but the yellow Labs (Labidochromis Caeruleus) decided to multiply and we’ve had about three or four broods a year so far, bringing the total to over 50 fish. As a result, we’ve had to give a few to Jamie over at our friendly local aquatics store, Aquazoo in Croydon. If you pass by their shop in the Whitgift Centre, you’ll see some of them in their display tank.

Gavin - a Psuedotropheus Demasoni

We’ve got a few nice catfish that hide in the tank until it gets cleaned out every four weeks. There’s Barry (a snowball plec, who’s covered in white polka dots) and Catty and Catford, the two leopard-print multipunctatus that hang out together once the lights go off at night. There’s something wrong with spending £50 on a fish that only ever comes out at night, but they’re hard to resist.

Barry - a snowball pleco

Catty and Catford - the multipunctatus catfish

We’ve just invested in a very small coldwater tank for our kitchen area, which Alanna is going to maintain. It’s very easy to care for, but that doesn’t mean the fish aren’t exciting: I’ve never kept White Cloud Mountain Minnows before – or Peppered corydoras – but they’re nice little things. No heating required, just a little plug-in filter and a light on a timer. I’d recommend them if you want to start small.

Coldwater tank

White Cloud Mountain Minnows