If you’ve always loved fish and aquariums, and you have a knack for keeping fish alive, especially in saltwater aquariums, you might consider a career as an aquarist.
An aquarist helps to design and maintain aquariums of all shapes and sizes. There are few things more soothing than watching colorful fish swim around in a beautifully designed aquarium, and more and more people are adding these aquatic habitats to their homes and offices.
Someone has to design and care for these expensive aquariums, and the fish and other creatures that inhabit them, on an ongoing basis. While some aquarium owners are quite knowledgeable and capable of doing their own tank design and maintenance, more and more of them are turning to professional aquarists to handle this job for them.
As you may know, tropical fish and other sea creatures can be quite expensive, and the last thing most aquarium owners want is to have to replace them due to improper tank conditions that lead to disease or premature death. Aquarists are experts at setting up healthy aquarium environments, especially salt water aquariums, which require the most work to maintain. Some aquarists also specialize in outdoor fishponds, and others do both indoor and outdoor maintenance.
The majority of aquarists are self-employed individuals who work alone, or with an assistant, in their own business. A smaller number of aquarists are employed by small to medium-sized aquarium companies who provide maintenance and design services for aquariums in private homes and businesses.
Would you like working as a professional aquarist? There are many benefits and rewarding aspects to this job, including the fact that you’ll be working around fish and other aquatic life on a daily basis. This job also give you the chance to work in a variety of commercial and home environments, meet interesting new people, and own and operate a business of your own.
About the job
The day-to-day duties of a professional aquarist are many, and typically include:
What the job is really like
If you’re interested in working as an aquarist, be aware that you’ll be spending a great deal of your time traveling from client to client, usually in a truck or van that’s equipped with all the tools you’ll need to perform maintenance on aquariums.
This means you’ll be out driving in all types of weather, in heavy traffic at times. If you’re self-employed, you’ll also be responsible for fuel costs, vehicle maintenance and repairs, and the resulting wear-and-tear on the vehicle as well. If you’re an employee of an aquarium services company, than of course those costs will be handled by your employer.
Working on aquariums can also be physically demanding at times, as large aquariums are heavy and awkward to move around. The job demands a considerable amount of stooping and bending, carrying tanks and equipment, working and re-modeling interior walls, and other activities. So you’ll need to be in good physical health to perform this job on a daily basis.
For those aquarists who are self-employed, there’s also a considerable amount of time spend promoting and marketing their business. This is especially true in the first year of business, when new clients can be hard to come by and the business isn’t yet established. In time, the bulk of work for aquarists comes from a base of regular clientele, but there will still be some marketing involved due to the need to replace clients that drop off over time.
Training and Certification
By and large, the majority of professional aquarists learned their profession on their own, by owning their own aquariums, keeping their own fish alive and healthy. Most also began as avid aquarium hobbyists, and attended fish shows, seminars, watched informational DVDs on the topic, read books and magazines, and otherwise learned as much as they could about the subject before going to work in this field.
There is no formal licensing requirements for aquarists, but many start out by working for an established aquarium maintenance company for a few years before going into business for themselves. The Marine Aquarium Society of North America is an organization that provides education and support to amateur and professional saltwater aquarists, and has regional chapters around the country.
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