Photo from ralphcabage.com.
When I started this blog, I intended it to be informative to both the novice and expert aquarist. However, I didn’t want the information found here to come from me exclusively. To that end, I planned to interview various cichlid and aquarium experts that I know. Here’s the first.
Let me introduce Ralph Cabage. Ralph is founder and owner of Aquarium Life Support Systems. He is a well-respected businessman in the aquarium industry and is an expert on both fresh and saltwater aquariums as well as freshwater ponds.
The Cichlid Stage: How long have you been involved in the aquarium industry?
TCS: What impelled you to get started?
My father, who took me to aquarium stores when I was a child.
TCS: What is Aquarium Life Support Systems?
Founded in 1986 as a manufacturer of filtration systems, ALSS has become a national distributor. Over the years, we have added many great product lines to what we sell, including the AquaLife brand as well as brands like Sicce, Kessil, etc.
TCS: If you could give beginning aquarists three pieces of advice as they enter the hobby, what would they be?
I’m going to give you four.
1) Go slow
2) Spend more on filtration and always go larger than what any manufacturer states on the package. Trickle filters are still ten times better than any filter for freshwater.
3) Variety in the fish diet is crucial. Do not feed only one type of food. A balance between frozen, pellet, flake and freeze-dried is best but leave out live food. Not all food types are created equal. Resist the urge to buy your fish food from mass retailers. Your fish will live but they won’t thrive, just like you short-change your dog or cat when you buy them the mass produced foods only sold at the big chains.
4) Do not depend on the Internet for accurate information.
TCS: What should every aquarist know about filtration?
I mentioned one thing above. Trickle filters are best for fresh water.
Live Plants help any type of system.
Aeration is often overlooked when someone uses canister filters – always add an air pump when using this type of filtration unless you are doing an aquascaped planted tank. Also consider creating current in the water using a powerhead or pump such as the Sicce Voyager Nano. It helps keep debris moving, which facilitates its removal by the filter.
TCS: What do you consider some of the biggest misconceptions about the hobby?
That it is growing. I see the hobby caught between a generation of people who enjoy understanding biology/nature and a generation that prefers to live in a fantasy world of games instead of experiencing nature directly.
TCS: What can all aquarists do to best contribute to the conservation of aquarium fishes?
Just get involved and get others involved. We need a new, younger generation of aquarium keepers.
TCS: What’s your favorite species of aquarium fish, fresh and salt? Why?
That is a hard one. For saltwater, it would be an Imperator Angel. I had one for 8 years that would grind his jaw, making a noise when he wanted food or attention.
For freshwater, I enjoy any of the Corydora species. Something about them makes me calm. I can see myself swimming around the bottom, in and out of things. Perhaps I am a bottom feeder. LOL.