Not really a factual, in-depth discussion of the history of ornamental fishkeeping, which most likely began in ancient China, though fishkeeping as a form of husbandry has certainly existed for as long as civilization has, but a short overview of my personal fishkeeping experiences.
I have only been an aquarist for a little over a year now but my experiences go much further back. As a kid we always had two fish tanks in the home. One was a 29 gallon community tank in the dining room and the other was a 55 gallon cichlid tank in the living room. Both of these tanks were my dad's but he favored the larger tank. He always kept tiger oscars in it (Astronotus ocellatus), though occasionally there would be a green terror (Andinoacara rivulatus) and once, I was allowed to purchase a fish for tank, a royal clown knifefish (Chitala chitala) but, sadly, it was killed within hours of its introduction by the green terror. This is the tank that started my obsession with large, predatory cichlids. As a child I loved the days when my dad would bring home a bag of feeder goldfish, dump them into the tank, and the Oscars would swallow four or five of them at a time, swimming about with the tails of goldfish protruding from their gills.
It's at this time that I should mention that my dad has a very hands off approach to fish keeping. He would maybe preform a 50% water change once every other month, I never once saw him clean the canister filters on either tank and the large cichlids were fed Hikari Cichlid Gold pellets or they got live feeders and nothing else. So, two or three years would pass and the 16"+ Oscars and other large cichlids in that overstocked 55g tank would get severe head and lateral line erosion (HLLE or Hole-in-Head disease) and eventually die. No one knows for sure what causes HLLE in large fish but most likely its brought on by poor diet (feeder fish in particular) and poor water parameters; both conditions that existed in that tank.
My dad no longer has the 55g; my mom chipped the corner with a chair one day and dad got paranoid that the glass would completely shatter. He doesn't have the 29g either. There was a long period in that house when there were no fish until a time when a clients of dad's paid him with a 30g cube tank. At the moment, it has a single harlequin rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha) and dad refuses to restock the tank until it dies so he has stopped turning on the lights and stopped feeding it but that was a few months ago and it's still alive; who knows maybe he'll restock it or perhaps, starting caring for that little fish again.
So here we are at the present time. I got really bored last summer (no school and job while my fiance worked two jobs) so I started researching fishkeeping just for fun. Soon just for fun became for practical purposes and before I knew it I had a used 29g tank and stand. As I gained some success with keeping fish, Multiple Tank Syndrome set in and I got a 16g bowfront tank to house my fiance's blue crayfish who had lost an arm to inhabitants of the 29g. The 29g began leaking back in January and I bought a 55g. Then I bought a 35g Hexagonal tank for angelfish and a 40g breeder tank to start my first saltwater reef. The 35g and the 40g are not running yet so I will be posting about the progress of those two projects shortly.
Thanks for hanging in with me, I know history lessons can be dry but I thought I should record some of my experiences. I will get into some of the fun stuff now!