What is a Wild Aquarium?
Manifesto by Ivan Mikolji / 2018
Wild Aquarium is a movement within the fish-keeping hobby which involves visiting an aquatic habitat such as a lake, river or stream and setting up a temporal aquarium in situ with the aim of mimicking the habitats seen on the spot. For the creation of a Wild Aquarium, only materials and animals collected from the specific habitat are used and are then returned to their original setting once complete (Source: Fish Essentials).
The Importance of Wild Aquariums
A Wild Aquarium has huge potential as an educational tool and its value lies in that it is built from what is found in the exact habitat within which it hopes to highlight some conservation requirements. Building a Wild Aquarium allows local people to know what species live in their local rivers and the creation of these aquariums also helps to inform people around the world what is in a particular river and how all of the organisms coexist.
Wild Aquariums are also the first equivalent to the fishing “catch and release” concept, but applied to the aquarium hobby. This way a historical conservancy proposal is presented where the fishkeeping or aquarium hobby is not necessarily restricted to keeping fish at all. Wild Aquariums break the stigma that has been the essential corner stone of the fishkeeping hobby history.
The History of Wild Aquariums
The first Wild Aquarium was created in Amazonas state, Venezuela by the Venezuelan photographer and audio/visual artist Ivan Mikolji in 2011. The creation of this aquarium was filmed and then uploaded to YouTube under the name of “Wild Aquarium 1” and has over six million views. This video features wild specimens of Apistogramma hongsloi and Nannostomus anduzei.
Ivan Mikolji has now posted 6 Wild Aquarium videos on his YouTube channel, you can watch them here. Subsequently, more Wild Aquariums were then recreated by inspired fish-keepers such as Giorgi Khizanishvili, based on the Mejuda River in Gori City, Central Georgia in 2016. Other hobbyists around the world have since followed suit, including Enrico Guida (Italy), Paweł Vogelsinger (Poland) and Elena Mazurek (Russia).