and the craze is just catching on like the love for plasma screens and home
theatres. For those who have had them for years, it is their beauty that caught their attention â€“ the magnificent view of peaceful angelfish and the shiny gold fish swimming up and down the transparent glass container, filled with water and bubbles. It is such an awesome spectacle, writes Jude Katende.
Seeing the vast range of the aquariums at Pets Alley (PA) at Garden City in Kampala for the first time can drive you into impulse buying.
Sande Mukasa, the director Sande Glass Mart (SGM) in Bukoto has been making aquariums for the last 10 years. He uses a thick gauge glass for the aquariums. Mukasa acquired the experience from an Indian he worked for in Katwe and can make any size of aquarium depending on the customerâ€™s preference. He makes aquariums from one and half feet to four feet (16 inches - 48 inches).
Cost and accessories:
SGMâ€™s aquariums range from sh170,000 to sh800,000. A sh170,000 set comes with two fish. A medium-size aquarium fully-fitted with a lamp and some fish costs sh250,000. The big size aquarium, which is twice the medium one, goes for sh400,000 with all accessories including four fish. An empty shell without accessories goes for between sh200,000 and sh300,000 depending on the size.
Aquariums come in any shape though many come in rectangular or square shapes. One can opt for a pentagon or hexagon shape. Sande says he can build aquariums within a clientâ€™s house or perimeter wall.
At PA, aquariums with special stands cost between sh280,000 and sh1.8m with all accessories inclusive of some goldfish. Some aquarium stands can accommodate DVDs, libraries, TVs, decoders or a flower vase for a good reflection in the background. A fish bowl with two small fish costs sh65,000. Plastic imported (hexagonal) aquariums cost sh120,000. An air stone that makes the bubbles costs sh3,000.
â€œWe do offer after-sales services. We give you the first service free and the next one we charge sh15,000. The aquariums with air pumps are serviced regularly (after two months),â€ says Prossy a sales lady at PA. The head or water pump aquariums are serviced after seven to eight months, but are more expensive though. A big aquarium uses two filters. A filter sieves out dirt by absorbing it and pushing it down the stones. Filters range from sh20,000 to sh37,000 at PA. Gravel (stones) is measured in kilogrammes. One kilogramme costs sh1,500 at PA.
Pumps, which provide oxygen, are available in different sizes and one that can last for up to six years can be got from sh5,000 to sh300,000 at SGM. At PA, pumps cost between sh23,000 and sh50,000.
Bogwoods and plastic plants are decorations used to accentuate the beauty of the aquariums. Bogwoods cost sh10,000 and above. But Prossy advised that one should not to just pick any piece of wood because some wood has fungus, which can kill the fish. Plastic plants start from sh5,000. The energy-saver lamp costs sh10,000 though when you buy a set, it is provided free.
Aerating tablets are handy dur-
ing power interruptions. A sachet of 12 tablets costs sh3,500 at PA. Each tablet provides oxygen for 24 hours. But even the fish can survive, even without power, by breathing from the top of the water level.
Sande rears the fish from a special aquarium. He only rears indigenous fish because they are cheaper. He can get any fish except tilapia. He buys the foreign breeds in bulk from Nairobi. At SGM the indigenous fish breeds got from lake shores cost between sh2,000 and sh15,000.
Fish is of any size and lasts up to six years or more and goes for between sh25,000 and sh30,000.
Sande says a six-year-old fish needs a bigger aquarium of say, four feet, but even 20 fish can be stocked in one aquarium.
â€œIndigenous fish need not be mixed with the foreign breed. The indigenous ones are strong and can bite and kill the foreign breeds,â€ Sande advises.
â€œOur fish include codora catfish, aronda, coy cups, oscars, pigeon tetraus and American fighters. Angelfish is on high demand because it is so beautiful, peaceful and has a unique shape. It demands an air of elegance when swimming,â€ says Prossy. Each angel fish costs sh20,000 (small size) and sh35,000 for the medium-sized one.
It contains a well-balanced mixture of ingredients specially adapted to the feeding habits of ornamental fish. Feed a little food a few times a day, sufficient to be eaten in a few minutes. The food will not cloud water unless when the fish are excessively overfed.
Sande says they feed the fish in the morning at 8:00am and 6:00pm, but the feeding time can be adjusted to suit oneâ€™s schedule. Food is got from Nairobi, but can also be got from PA and at near Nakasero mosque in Kampala.
Changing the water:
After one or two months, water may need changing, but even the food can stain the water within a short time. To replace the water, reduce the amount of water with a hosepipe and scoop out the fish. Put the fish in a container and change the water.
Sande advises that in case one was to use tap water during installation of the aquarium, a special chemical called dechlorinator, which costs sh15,000, can last up to nine months if used.
Some symptoms include red colourings on the fins and gills. Swollen and cloudy eyes, erosion around the head and mouth, gill movement more rapid than normal, patches of cloudy white or grew slime, cotton wool like growths, holes and ulcers, swimming upside down.
Other warning signs of sickness include: clamped fins, not swimming at all, but laying on gravel, loss of appetite, disc or worm-like attachments, fish colour change, distended or hollow stomach. The sooner you detect the sickness of the fish, the better or else they may die.
Aquariums: a splendid sight for your home