Many kids ask for a pet, but the care for the animal usually ends up becoming the parent’s responsibility.

Not so for Max Bercovitz, the precocious 10 year old who is being mentored by Dave Carlson, the Vancouver Aquarium’s Fish Lab coordinator. They recently met at a fish auction put on by the Vancouver Aquatic Hobbyist Society.

Max has been coming to the Aquarium since he was six. Since then, he has had many other marine learning experiences at the Ucluelet Aquarium and on the beaches of Tofino. Within the last year, he started keeping his own fish at home, first starting with a 250 litre tank and quickly accumulating more, including a 600 litre tropical freshwater tank.

This 400 litre tropical freshwater tank is one of four that Max maintains.

This 400 litre tropical freshwater tank is one of four that Max maintains.

Max’s hobby is nurtured by his mom, Jenny Marsden, who says with a chuckle that she “didn’t expect it to quite happen like this.” Even though she also kept fish as a child, Jenny says, “Max looks at fish differently than I did as a kid.”

Her son says he’s learned a lot by trial and error and he works through any challenges by thinking, “Wait a minute, what do the fish need?” With this in mind, he designs the tanks to look “as natural as possible. I replicate the habitat with natural rocks and real wood.”

Having the chance to explore the behind-the-scenes areas with Dave and other Aquarium biologists has really opened his eyes. Max says, “You really appreciate the Aquarium more when you have your own tank and know how much work it is.”

Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.

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