NAME: Alby Howgate

AGE: 68

LOCATION: Chester-le-street, Co Durham

This weeks #mytankmonday brings us to the epic
Aquariums of Mr Alby Howgate. Alby started his hobby during the early 70's until family commitments took over and he gave the hobby. The year 2000 saw Alby return to the hobby, with no pressing family commitments, and a very supportive wife he has been able to grow his collection of aquariums to what it is now.

Alby has a shed which is joined onto his house with a leanto type building which gives him a total space of 16 feet by 9 feet. Its straight from the house into the tank area, whereas the leanto is spacious with only 5 tanks seating and other comforts the shed is compact with wall to wall tanks, an epic 44  in total. 
Filtration for all Albys tanks is done with sponge filters. Both full Hamburg and stand alone filters which are then fed with a central "Charles Austen" pump connected to a 2 inch ring main with individual spurs. 
Where water is concerned, Alby only uses 100% HMA via automatic feed to 2 holding vats with float valves and heaters. A dump pipe within the shed then feeds outside allowing his tanks to be emptied with ease. Refilling is then done from the vats via another long hose. 
Lighting is all done by LED cool white strips and although the out lay is expensive electric bills are kept to a minimum.  
Keeping the shed comfortable takes a 1000w blow heater and themostat set at 26 degrees. The leanto tanks are heated with individual heaters at 300w each with an oil filled radiator to keep the chill off the building space.

having so many tanks allows Alby to keep and breed quite a variety if fish which all suit his personal taste.  There are some rare, some not so rare but he does proudly enjoy having his own strain of GB rams which he has developed over the last 6/7 years that are still going strong with the introduction of removed males or females from a friend that has had some of his strain previously.
Albys own strain of German Blue Rams

A visit to Alby and your will feast your eyes on many types of tetras, rasboras, fighters, corys, pencils, barbs and of course a stunning  tank full of Altums which have to be pushing the 10-12 inch size. 
Pterophyllum altum - by Alby Howgate

Success has been had in breeding most of the above species (apart from Altums) Alby has also had success with many different egg laying fish species.

When I asked Alby about a wishlist he says he has no immediate thoughts on fish he would like to keep but always knows the right fish when he sees them. This is because no matter what your dream stockist is, the availability is not always there. so he takes the opportunity to get stock when it presents itself on some of his journeys.

Each time success happens with a breeding project,  Alby classes this as an achievement can say with confidence that he has achieved a lot in respect of breeding. Some of the fish currently breeding under Albys care are listed below.

  • Harlequins
  • Rummy nose 
  • Cardinals 
  • Pencils (N Mortenthaleri included ) 
  • HMPK fighters
  • Barbs 
  • Tetras 
  • Corys 
  • Rainbows

Alby agrees that we all have disasters no matter how long we have been in the hobby, and confesses that  He to is no exception. Human error will always result in fish loss, admittedly Alby is guilty of that from time to time. Then there is disease from which has aided fish loss in the past namely Velvet,  which seems to come from nowhere. Thankfully, he has not had an outbreak in some time now.

Alby explains  perfectly why he loves fish keeping...

"Coming in from work and seeing the wonder of nature in its full captive glory, the plants the colour and antics of the fish, the wonder of tanks full of fry growing on and maturing. All in all its hard work to keep everything in tip top condition but its enjoyable hard work that i would not do without as would all serious aquarists"

One thing Alby enjoys just as much as watching his fish, is sharing the moment with a fellow enthusiast. He is forever sharing his passion for aquariums and always shares lots of videos, photos and advice with anyone who wants to know. Infact if you passing through his town, be sure to contact him via his Facebook page and he will happily put the kettle on and welcome you in for a blether!

Below are some more photos from Albys collection. He has asked me to let you all know he will be online tonight and if anyone wishes to find out anything about his setup/breeding projects or anything else, just ask him. 


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