ROADTRIP

Road­trip­ping in Not­ting­ham sees us visit three rather dif­fer­ent stores – an aquatic su­per­store, a Koi spe­cial­ist and a chain store. Not­ting­ham isn’t strug­gling for di­ver­sity…

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Contents -

The PFK team visit three very dif­fer­ent aquat­ics stores in Not­ting­ham.

Steve Says: i’m al­ways ex­cited about driv­ing up to visit Wharf. i used to live nearby and pop in reg­u­larly, nowa­days it’s a day trip two or three times a year (sadly).

The thing with Wharf is, i know it will have fish there that i covet, i know it has a sta­ble team of ex­pe­ri­enced and en­thu­si­as­tic fish­keep­ers that love to talk about their spe­cial­ist fishy in­ter­ests, and i’m pretty much guar­an­teed i’ll see at least one fish there that i’ve never seen in the flesh be­fore (af­ter 21 years im­mersed in the hobby). in my eyes, those three things make it a worth­while jour­ney, even if i’m not in­tend­ing to buy live­stock.

This visit didn’t dis­ap­point at all. i had count­less de­bates in my head about mov­ing fish around at home to make room for some spe­cial Syn­odon­tis cats, knife­fish, barbs, Co­ry­do­ras or West African, South Amer­i­can and Tan­ganyikan cich­lids. i spoke to staff mem­ber Gra­ham Evans about his breed­ing of To­mo­ci­chla as­fraci, the young of which have been shipped all over the world to breed­ers to in­crease its avail­abil­ity in the hobby, and i saw sev­eral fish species in the flesh for the very first time. it was a good trip by those stan­dards. The one in­gre­di­ent that tainted an oth­er­wise tasty meal was the tank­busters. now, i’ve let Wharf off the hook much more than other shops for years be­cause it’s been known for deal­ing with large spe­cial­ist fish, has a rep­u­ta­tion for do­ing so re­spon­si­bly, it pro­duces its own mas­sive tanks for cus­tomers of big fish, and it doesn’t stock cheap tank­busters – there’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween sell­ing small Pan­ga­sius cat­fish for £3 and sell­ing a 30cm Ho­plias wolf fish for £650. So i’m still not wor­ried about most, but there were two fish i can’t let pass this time – nile perch, and a Goonch or Gi­ant Devil cat­fish (a man-eat­ing, mi­gra­tory, 2m-long cat­fish). no mat­ter how much you vet a cus­tomer, i can’t see any­one in this coun­try be­ing able to main­tain th­ese fish to ma­tu­rity.

now that’s off my chest, what can you ex­pect from a trip to Wharf?

There are plenty of fish sales tanks here and they are used very well – so well that i can’t imag­ine who wouldn’t find this place won­der­ful. Maybe Dis­cus fans and those few peo­ple in the coun­try who only keep Lake Vic­to­rian cich­lids? it’s not that they don’t stock them, just that they don’t spe­cialise in them the way they do with odd­balls, cat­fish, fancy Bet­tas, shrimp, Malawi cich­lids, Tan­ganyikan cich­lids, Characins, Pi­ran­has and plecs.

i wouldn’t say they spe­cialise in barbs by any means, but that doesn’t stop them stock­ing all the ones you’d find in most shops, plus hav­ing two types i’ve not seen be­fore and now want to keep (indigo barbs, £4.50 and Red line scar­let barbs, £5.25). The se­lec­tion of live­bear­ers is vast – mostly com­mon va­ri­eties, but they of­fer so many colour and pat­tern vari­a­tions you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Marines are amaz­ing too, with com­mon and ob­scure reef fish, non-reef fish and in­verts.

The cold­wa­ter room holds some nice pond fish. The stocks are low­ish now due to the time of year, but they

I’m pretty much guar­an­teed I’ll see at least one fish I’ve never seen in the flesh

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