Hobby or Profession?
That’s a great question! According to Miriam-Webster, an aquarist “keeps or maintains an aquarium.” By that incredibly generous definition, even an eight-year-old keeping a few guppies in a small home tank could technically be called an However, there is a distinction between being an aquarium hobbyist, and an aquarium professional. Hobbyists often learn as they go and enjoy aquascaping in their spare time. Professional aquarists are expected to have pre-existing knowledge and training on a variety of subjects including aquarium equipment and maintenance, various fish species, health, and husbandry.
A Bit About the Aquarist Profession
In terms of professional aquarists, the title embraces a lot of job variety. By definition, the profession deals with marine life in captivity. The job is all about creating and maintaining suitable “living quarters” for the inhabitants of tanks, aquariums and ponds.
People often think of aquariums in terms of the garden variety home tank–glass rectangles bubbling away, full of pretty fish and very relaxing to watch. But fish and marine life are kept by hobbyists with aquariums that hold hundreds of gallons of water; zoos and aquarium parks like SeaWorld have to maintain enormous tanks. Still other businesses, such as hatcheries, don’t worry so much about how pretty a tank looks just as long as fish can be bred efficiently and safely. All can rely on the services of an aquarist.
Some of the different types of facilities that hire aquarists include:
- private homes
- marine theme parks
- fish hatcheries
- pond installation and maintenance companies
- specialty fish stores
- retail pet stores
- wildlife sanctuaries
What Should an Aquarist Know?
The knowledge and skills required to be an aquarist center largely on maintaining a healthy environment. An aquarist should be familiar with biology as it relates to fish and other types of marine life. They need to learn about breeding, what species need freshwater and which need saltwater, how large fish will grow, what breeds can co-exist in the same habitat, and more. Learning about how to maintain water quality is imperative, so a little chemistry is necessary. Aquarists must have the physical ability to clean tanks and set up equipment. Finally, they must be able to maintain aquarium equipment such as pumps, filtration systems, heaters, lights, and more.
How to Become a Professional Aquarist
Different aquarist jobs require varying degrees of education and training. Some positions require applicants to hold a four-year college degree in biology or some other relevant science. Some places require aquarists to be certified scuba divers. Other jobs can be performed by aquarists holding an aquarium maintenance certification.
Why Not Turn a Favorite Hobby into a Career?
If you love maintaining fish and marine life as a hobby, you might be interested to know that in as little as eight months you could turn your passion into a career. That’s how long it takes to become an Animal Behavior College Certified Aquarium Maintenance Professional (ABCAMP) through our online program! Earning your certification is great preparation for a career as an aquarist, and it also offers the ideal opportunity for starting your own business. In fact, ABC’s program even includes a stage on business building.
To learn more about the Animal Behavior College Certified Aquarium Maintenance Professional (ABCAMP) Program, call 800-795-3294 to speak to an admissions counselor. Enroll today!