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A diligent passion for fishing and shooting encouraged Baldner to become a scientist, and he commissioned an artist to paint illustrations of all the common marine animals. In order to observe weather loaches and newts for a longer period of time, Baldner decided to put them in large tanks filled with water and sand. The question of whether these animals could really be kept far away from the sea, river, or ocean for an extended period of time remained unanswered, however.
In spite of the popularity and proliferation of pet fish over the centuries and around the world, it was still nearly impossible to keep a fish alive for very long outside its natural habitat.
In the Englishman Richard Bradley believed that a lack of water movement was the reason that animals could not survive. He suggested designing and creating small ponds that would be fed by tidal water, which would then be kept in motion via two water wheels. Bradley also came up with the idea of building a small dam to section off part of a stream and to salt the water therein. Apparently, he had heard about an ocean turtle that had survived for a long time in this manner.
There is also evidence that in the Scottish biologist Sir John Dalyell started keeping marine animals for observation purposes. Among these creatures was an anemone Actinia equina that he had brought back from North Berwick in He exchanged the water on a daily basis and occasionally fed the creature with small pieces of mussels and. According to Bechstein, fish had a very good sense of hearing and in China every fish bowl was equipped with a small whistle with which the fish could be lured to the surface for feeding.
The scientist regarded the weather loach to be just as talented, and even stated that it could make sounds. It seemed to behave like a living barometer, becoming uneasy when rain or thunder were imminent, swimming to the surface even though it normally liked to keep to the bottom. Provided the weather loach received fresh water and mud at the prescribed intervals, it would be able to survive for many years in a large sugar jar filled to approximately one-third with mud and sand.
During the winter it required a heated room and a place close to a window. Inspired by the work of Sir Dalyell, the French scientist Jeannette Power de Villepreux belonged to a group of scientists that displayed a more explicit connection to later saltwater aquariums. Around , Power carried out research in Messina, Sicily, on argonauts, also known as paper nautilus—profoundly odd creatures possessing a lensless eye that functions like a pinhole camera.
The timid females of the species the males are much smaller in size would swim in the ocean either alone. Power had special wooden boxes constructed in which she kept the animals brought to her by fishermen or which she had caught herself. Applying a specially constructed mechanism, she hauled the boxes and glass containers from the water, making observation easier. Power had set up a laboratory in a house directly by the sea, which contained a wooden box into which salt water was pumped in and out via rubber hoses—a small but very efficient circulation system.
Charles Darwin. Complete Collection of Charles Darwin.
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