For a long time, I used a plastic soda straw
or a straightened paper clip to “motivate”
uncooperative fish out of the back of the
tank and toward the front of the glass. This
evolved to a more manageable solution
with a moving wall that I have stuck with
now for years. Using the piece of glass
that was cut for the interior, I insert it and
position it toward the front third of the
tank, minimizing the amount of space in
which the fish can roam. The glass is held
upright in the tank by the two suction cups
on either side.
I have several photo tanks of assorted
sizes. I used to either paint the back or cut
a piece of white or black vinyl for the back
of the tank. I now leave it clear, cut some
additional glass inserts—one painted black
and one white—and swap out the colors
based on what I am trying to achieve.
Use the same zone-focusing technique
described above. Because you are dealing
with a very limited space in the tank, it will
work exceptionally well in maintaining
focus. You can look through the viewfinder
and manually take the photo. Other times,
and specifically when there is a small
group of fish in the tank, I will sit back
and just wait until I see something that
might be of interest happening and use my
File sizes coming out of modern cameras
Experiment and Adapt
are pretty large, so if you see one fish in the
image that looks better, crop the photo to
suit. More often than I can remember, my
best photos were something I pulled out of
a group shot.
Remember that you don’t need a
complicated setup to get great photos.
Understand your tools. Take the time to
go through your camera’s user manual. I
guarantee you will find features that you
weren’t aware existed.
Take control of the lighting. If you haven’t
already, learn how to use an external flash.
Break the rules. A wise man once said,
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break
them like an artist.” Keep experimenting
with your camera. The more photos you
take, and the more mistakes you make, the
more you will learn and grow as an aquatic
But most important, have fun and enjoy
the hobby! D
A photo tank with movable wall is especially
handy when photographing some of the smaller
species, like this yellow lyretail guppy.
The cardinal tetra, like many other fast schooling fish, can be very difficult to capture
in an image. The ability to swap out the background quickly gives the best options for
determining which works best to make the fish stand out.