I’ll be honest with you, although I’ve been keeping Cichlids since 1981, I still can’t go into someone’s fish room, look at a group of fish and always know what species they are. Many species are similar in coloration, size, and pattern – I know I don’t have to tell you this. I always wish that people would label their tanks so I know what inside.
I also have a bad memory. I can never remember those cute stories about how I came to have a particular species, where I bought them, and who I got them from, or when.
I have a considerable amount of guests visiting my fish room, some of which are not cichlid fanatics.
They often comment on the pretty yellow fish or that one with the red eyes. Many times they are peering into a tank which seems empty and wondering if there’s any fish inside at all.
For all three of these reasons, I tag every single one of my tanks with some basic information to help keep things straight down there. I’ve tried several different methods, from marking the names on the tanks with marker, crayon, or china marker. This limits the amount of info you can include without obscuring a bunch of your glass. I tried taping cards to the tanks; they got wet and the ink ran. I tried numbering the tanks and using a spread sheet in the computer in my office – a good idea if the computer wasn’t upstairs and the fish room down. And doing data entry in my office after a hard night in the fish room didn’t work out either. Finally, I found a method that’s easy, fast, and of course, cheap.
I use these:
These are little plastic pockets that will hold a business card. They have adhesive on the back.
You get 10 of these for about $5 USD. I simply put one of these on the aquarium stand where it’s easy
to read and I have all the info about the fish I need readily at hand. It also makes it easy for guests to know what’s in a particular tank and it helps those new to cichlids learn about the species present.
Here’s how to do this. Get the card holders at your local office supply store. In my area you have to find an Office Max store because they are the only ones who carry this type of item. I guess you could probably just Google it and find these online too.
Here’s how the cards look inside the package…you get two on a strip:
I organize the pertinent information about the fish and, using Microsoft word, I type the information into a business card format. You will find the template by clicking the Mailings tab, then select labels. Click on options and select Avery template #8163. This will make the labels the perfect size to fit inside these pockets. Next I print this information out on plain printer paper and then cut the labels to the correct size using scissors. You can make this easier by formatting the form to print borders on the business cards. Here’s the information that I have found works best for me:
Species name –make sure you spell this correctly.
Location – where do the fish come from?
Max Size: How big will this fish get?
Qty: How many fish of this species were originally added to the tank?
Source: I include where I bought the fish, who I purchased the fish from, and the date of purchase.
Here’s what a finished label looks like:
I also label empty tanks so I remember which are empty so I don’t dump food in them, and it also keeps novices from staring at an empty tank thinking that the fish are just hiding:
Here’s a pic of the finished label inside the plastic protector. I make sure that I put the pocket on upside down so that if water drips down the front it won’t fill up the pocket and ruin the label. I learned that one from experience. Don’t worry, the labels won’t be heavy enough to slip out…usually:
I put arrows on the label that direct the reader to the appropriate tank to eliminate confusion.
I’ve also found it helpful to back the label with an old business card when putting it in the pocket.
This helps keep it inside the pocket firmly. When anyone resigns at work, I always try to get their old business cards so I have plenty on hand:
Here’s a pic of part of my fry rack. There are nine small tanks in a very small area. You can see that with the labels, you can see at a glance which tanks have fish:
I hope you consider using this technique to help keep your fish room organized. You can use these for species only tanks or use several for a community tank. These tags are a really great thing because they enable me to tell anyone how long I’ve had a fish or who I bought it from originally.
It also helps teach me where these fish originate. Some say the place has a museum or zoo feel to it with all of the animals marked with tags. For me, it’s just another way to make the hobby easier and more enjoyable.