Carl Bethell - What have you been up to?

A while ago, we interviewed one of our members and found out all about the rare South American cichlids he was keeping and the plans he had for his hobby. Today we meet back up with Carl to see just how his plans have come to fruition.

So Carl, You have been busy since our last interview. Tell us what you have been up to?

Yeah I’ve been really busy. The fish room is now up and running, still making a rack for the back wall but I have a few tanks running. The biggest being an 8x2x2 that I bought recently. The fish room came around at the right time really, as a few of my pairs have been breeding for me lately and I needed the space.

Step by step build of carls fish house
I enjoyed watching you build the fishhouse and it looks like you have put a lot of thought into it all. Did you plan the layout based on your existing livestock or did you have plans to try something new ?

Planiloricaria cryptodon have to be
one of the strangest catfish
I knew I wanted one large tank and some smaller tanks for breeding. I built it to the size I was allowed really. I wouldn’t plan around my stock because I’m always buying fish lol

8x2x2 is a decent size. you must have build a fairly big fish house to fit a mammoth tanks like that in there?

The layout was really planned around how much much room I was allowed. It’s roughly 12 feet long by 8 feet front to back. I planned it around the space I had. I wouldn’t plan around my stock because I’m always buying new fish ha ha.
The 8x2x2 is a great size tank. I learned a lot from getting a big tank. Plumbing in a sump and learning how it all works was a challenge.

I’ll bet. So how many tanks have you managed to squeeze in there?

Only 5 at the moment. Once I’ve finished building The rack I’ll be adding more.
It must be great to have all your fish in one place?
I still have a 6 foot tank in the living room. That tank has leopoldi and manacapuru angelfish, a pair of discus, iguana tetra, penguin tetra and a group of Planiloricaria cryptodon.
Geophagus pellegrini “atrato red”
I also have a 5 foot tank in my dining room. That has a pair of rare severums called Heros sp curare. It also has a trio of Geophagus pellegrini “atrato red” and a group of diamond tetra. 

Apart from those two tanks the rest are in the fish room.

Wow, they are some brilliant fish you have. I guess the big question is what have you put in the 8ft tank?

It’s only partially stocked at the moment. I’m still looking for something special. It currently has a group of Krobia xinguensis, Guianacara geayi, Crenicichla geayi and a single male Uaru amphiacanthoides. I also have a pair of L14 Scobiancistrus aureatus in there. Then there’s two Ctenolucius hujeta that I’m growing out in one of the smaller tanks that I’ll add in the future.

So are you going for a river style setup?

Uaru amphiacanthoides
I try and create as close to nature as possible for my set ups. My 6 foot has discus and angels. In this set up I have low flow, hanging rootwood and dim lighting. 
The 5 foot Geophagus and Heros tank has rocks, wood and faster flow as these fish are found in more open waters. 
The 8 foot has a medium flow, and large rootwood pieces. My scapes are often quite simple. It’s also worth noting that finding the appropriate looking pieces of wood for large tanks can be quite difficult

I remember your setups from our previous interview. simple but exactly what suits the fish in each tank. 

Having such a long swimming area must give your fish plenty space to let loose. do you notice any different behaviour with having this extra length that you might not have seen in the smaller tanks?

Yeah it’s definitely different having more space. The fish seem a lot more chilled in a larger tank. My Krobia would occasionally squabble and chase each other. Since moving to the 8 foot they seem to stick together for security.

A more relaxed fish means better everything all round.

Krobia xinguensis are right at home in
Carls 8ft setup
what about breeding?

I’ve had quite a lot since our last chat. Gymnogeophagus terrapurpura, Gymnogeophagus balzanii, Guianacara geayi and Krobia xinguensis have all bred for me. I just bought a pair of Heros sp curare that I’m hoping to breed as well

Well done! What’s been your biggest acheivement so far out of the above then? I definetly like the Krobia .

Yeah the Krobia are one of my favourite species so I’d say they were my biggest achievement so far. Hopefully I’ll get some luck with my Heros soon, that would be amazing

There can’t be many people with these in the Uk let alone breeding so it will be great to get success...

Your fish are not your average fish Carl, what’s the attraction?

I love different. It’s always nice to find something that isn’t common in the hobby. I’ve made some good friends that import or own great shops so it’s great to have the opportunity to keep rare fish

L14 Scobiancistrus aureatus 
The fishkeeping hobby is vey much a network . It’s what keeps it going I think.

Aside from building your fish house, what else is new for you?

Maybe need diving and seen more peacock bass or any other scuba trips?

Haven’t dived in a while now. I really need to sort out a trip to do some diving. I’d love to go to South America, do some diving and maybe do some fish collecting while I’m there.

A dream come true for many a Fishkeeper.

Borneo was where your previous dive was. Don’t you fancy a return trip?

I’d love to go back. I made some great friends out there at the research centre and at the dive centre. They are always looking for extra hands to help with their work, it’s just finding the time these days. I’m very busy with my children right now but would love to go back in the future

Your lucky to have those memories. 

What would you say had been your most memorable moment when it comes to fishkeeping ?

Having my Krobia xinguensis breed for me was a big achievement for me. They are one of my favourite species and it’s an added bonus for me that the group started the babies look really cute. But I’ve been quite lucky as far as memorable moments are concerned. Finishing the fish room and getting the 8 foot set up was a big moment for me, also took a lot of work. Moving a 35 stone tank definitely wasn’t easy and something I’ll never forget. I’ve also been lucky enough to find some rare fish over the last few years. So I have lots of great memories from the hobby, hopefully lots more to come
I’m sure you will. And lots to do with your new fish house too.

In the time you have been keeping fish, what changes have you seen? Peoples approaches, atritudes or trends?

I think there will always be two types of fish keepers. There will be those who just buy a tank and throw some fish in without a lot of thought. Then there are those that take the hobby seriously and really get swept away by it. 
As far as fish are concerned there’s a lot more variety these days. A lot more fish being introduced to the hobby and that’s great. Unfortunately there’s also this trend of hybridisation and manipulating fish that I really don’t approve of. Dying, selective breeding for special traits like short bodies, enlarged fins etc. It’s very pointless if you ask me. There’s a lot of natural beauty to be explored yet some still choose to manipulate natural species. For me the best aquariums are attempts at creating a natural environment for the species you keep. For me every tank I set up I try and give the fish a little piece of the amazon. I think a natural looking aquarium with wood, sand, leaf litter and natural occurring fish looks magnificent.

Couldn’t agree more. 

There is a big campaign right now supporting the natural biotope aquarium. An example of the hobby and industry working together for the greater good.

If you could make a difference in the hobby or industry, what would you like to achieve? A lasting legacy so to speak?

I try my best to educate others. I have my own group called Cichlid Central that offers advice to others in the hobby. I’m always doing my best to help others. Through my breeding projects I hope to introduce new rare species into my local area. I have several groups of wild caught fish that are breeding for me, hopefully this will encourage others in my area to be more adventurous when it comes to fish keeping.

Well Carl, Thanks again for sharing your fish with us. Good luck with all your upcoming projects and remember and share some photos with us over on facebook.

keep an eye out for more photos of Carls fish being uploaded in our Facebook group.

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