View Full Version : The Toy Fish - A History of the Aquarium Hobby in America - The first one hundred years by Albert J. Klee

28th August 2008, 00:47
Did you ever wonder how they obtained and kept fish and salamanders 100 years ago without air pumps, filters, etc.? This book has lots of pictures and drawings of old aquariums and apparatus. It traces the history of fish keeping in the U.S. Interestingly enough it is similar to the history in Europe but does not mirror it. This 200 plus page book is worth getting just for the pictures. Key people in aquarium keeping and trends are traced through history. Much of the information is helpful in understanding how to successfully set up an aquarium today.

The book is pretty light on newts and salamanders but does mention them. This authoritative book on the history of the aquarium hobby is an easy and entertaining read.

28th August 2008, 15:47
Hi Michael!

It's not available on Amazon. Where did you get your copy? How much was it?
I've been thinking about how interesting this book looked since I flipped through it during my visit, and I'd like to get my own copy.


28th August 2008, 15:55
Hi Michael!

It's not available on Amazon. Where did you get your copy? How much was it?

It looks like it's only available through Finleyaquaticbooks.com 35.00

8th December 2008, 15:15
Well, it took me long enough. I acquire books faster than I read them and at this point I have a pile of about 200 unread books. Anyway, last night at work I finished this book. I really enjoyed it a lot. First the whole idea that someone would write a history as esoteric as the history of the aquarium hobby in the US, and secondly be so obviously enthusiastic about it.
It's divided into about 24 short chapters, and I read one chapter a night at work before I got to the business of whatever novel I happened to be working on.

It was illuminating to read about the aquarium hobby in the days before airpumps and electricity to the modern hobby. The book alternates between history (admittedly sometimes a little dry) and amusing anecdotes about the hobby, the pioneers of the hobby and stories about them, excerpts from old aquarium magazines, and is also well-illustrated. I also liked looking at old price lists.

I have scanned the front and back cover into this review because, look at those awesome tanks (not to mention, outfits!) (Actually, maybe it's the same tank, different views). This book made me want something I have neither the room nor the money for: an antique victorian fish tank. There are examples on the covers. If you google them (victorian, antique, fish tank, aquarium, or some combination of these terms) or look them up on eBay, you can see tanks up to $85,000 for you to drop your extra cash on.

To sum up: this was a cool book. Thanks, Michael!

23rd September 2012, 01:06
Antique aquarium and aquarium stands in my living room.

23rd September 2012, 01:33
I always thought it would be cool to have a slate bottom aquarium with an old filter and have a paradise fish or another fish such as angelfish that really made the fish keeping hobby what it is today:happy:

23rd September 2012, 12:51
I broke my last slate bottom aquarium several years ago a 35 gallon meta frame, I still have some old pumps n stuff, but nothing is antique not even the slate bottoms. I do still have a Mateo aqua am undersea aquarium in the box (the box is cooler than the aquarium, basically a fancy critter keeper with paper background). The America's family pet expo used to have a traveling museum of antique pet products including Victorian aquariums and aquarium products made by sears including dry ants and brine shrimp eggs. As far as I know Zoomed is home to the largest collection of aquarium and pet antiques in the country, they even still use some of the aquariums and feature them on their aquatics catalog. I love looking at the antique stuff.

21st October 2012, 18:55
I talked to my local Zoomed salesman yesterday. He told me that the big boss owns the antique aquariums not the company. The sales representatives have instructions to be on the look out for items for his collection. I'm interested in the really old stuff. I remember selling slate bottoms and double piston pumps at the local pet store when I was a kid. I was in the hobby when all glass tanks were a new thing.

Coastal Groovin
22nd October 2012, 13:41
Has anyone ever thought of replacing a glass bottom with a piece of Slate. Can this conversion even work?

22nd October 2012, 14:05
Has anyone ever thought of replacing a glass bottom with a piece of Slate. Can this conversion even work?

Actually I had an old 2.5 gallon tank I bought at a garage sale with a metal frame and a slate bottom. It was a neat aquarium until it got knocked off a shelf :(