Aquarium World vol 66 issue 2 2021

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Volume 66 Issue 2 2021



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Volume 66 Issue 2 2021

EDITOR Darren Stevens ASSISTANT EDITOR Mark Paterson COPY EDITOR Caryl Simpson ARTISTIC DIRECTOR Diane Wilkie Aquarium World Magazine is published biannually by the Federation of New Zealand Aquatic Societies Incorporated (FNZAS) ISSN 1173-8375 Copyright © FNZAS, no part of this publication may be reproduced, or transmitted in any form, or by means electronic, mechanical or otherwise without written permission FRONT COVER

90 day old flash pleco Panaqolus albivermis (L204) Photo: Darren Stevens

5 EDITORIAL 7 CONTRIBUTORS 8 That's a bit Flash - Keeping and breeding flash plecos,

Panaqolus albivermis (L204)

by Darren Stevens

16 REPTILES and AMPHIBIANS - Blue tongue skinks

by Mark Paterson

22 A see-through catfish - Kryptopterus vitrelous 24 MARINE FISH PROFILE - Rockfishes

by Darren Stevens & Mark Paterson

16 REPTILES and AMPHIBIANS - incubating reptile eggs

by Mark Paterson

32 HABITAT - Malaysian Biotope

by Melanie Newfield

34 HOW TO - Cultivate Crickets

by Mark Paterson

37 MINI FISH PROFILE - Blue tetra 38 COLDWATER - Clearing Oxygen Weed from a Neglected Pond

by Caryl Simpson


by the Editorial Team



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Welcome to a new issue of Aquarium World. In 2006 I purchased my first ‘fancy’ pleco, a flash pleco, Panaqolus albivermis. Shortly afterwards I bought a few more with the naïve belief I would soon breed them. Success eluded me for 15 years, but it was the start of an addiction that continues today. In this issue I share my challenging but ultimately rewarding road to success. New Zealand has very few species of exotic reptiles that can be kept as pets. In this issue we finish our series with the aptly named blue tongue skink. These large docile lizards are easy to care for, but they do require a large enclosure. Rockfishes are remarkable intertidal fish and a great choice for a dedicated local marine aquarium. In this issue we profile the olive rockfish (Acanthoclinus fuscus), a particularly hardy species that are often found under rocks with only enough water to keep them damp. All but one species of oxygen weed is declared noxious in New Zealand and for good reason. In this issue Caryl Simpson shares her mission getting rid of one of the less desirable species from her pond. And finally, Melanie Newfield continues her great biotope series. This time with a mini-imitation of Tasik Bera (Lake Bera), a large shallow Malaysian lake with almost 100 fish species. I hope you all have a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas break.


Darren Stevens FNZAS Editor

90 day old flash plecos Panaqolus albivermis (L204) Photo: Darren Stevens Aquarium World



NOW OPEN OPEN 7 DAYS 9:30AM - 5:30PM 6 ∙ Aquarium World

CONTRIBUTORS Melanie Newfield Melanie returned to fish keeping last year after a 25 year break. She originally studied botany and is as keen on plants as well as fish. Her tanks are mainly planted, aquascaped community tanks. She also has a lifelong interest in invasive species, especially invasive plants.

Caryl Simpson Caryl has held various offices in the Marlborough Aquarium Club over 24 years. She was involved with the FNZAS as editor for 16 years, and archivist for 8, and is a founding member and global moderator in the FNZAS Fishroom forum. She currently has one tropical community 4ft tank and a pond.

Darren Stevens Darren is a marine biologist who has worked for NIWA for about 20 years. He regularly participates in research surveys and has been around much of New Zealand as well as Oman, UAE, and the Ross Sea, Antarctica. In his spare time he enjoys fishing, and is a particularly passionate pleco keeper. Darren is an active participant in his local clubs and FNZAS Editor.

Mark Paterson Mark began fish keeping when he was a child, keeping live bearers and Siamese fighters. He has worked for circus and zoo parks in NZ and overseas. For the last 28 years he has kept many species of aquatic life but NZ local marine is his keenest interest. Mark loves to share this passion & knowledge with fellow hobbyists and is currently running the marine systems at a local university. ADVERTISING Advertising for the Aquarium World magazine and the Aquarium World website is managed by the FNZAS and can be arranged by emailing: Sales: Mark Paterson Accounts: Michael Jones BACK ISSUES Caryl Simpson Aquarium World


That’s a bit Flash!

Keeping and breeding flash plecos, Panaqolus albivermis (L204)

by Darren Stevens

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Flash plecos are a striking dark brown pleco covered with thin white to yellowish stripes. They were introduced into the hobby by Bernd Schmitt in 1994 and in 1996 they were given the L-number 204 (Evers and Seidel 2005, Ekström 2007). However, it wasn’t until 2013 that they were given the scientific name Panaqolus albivermis, Aquarium World


from the Latin ‘albus’ meaning white and ‘vermis’ meaning worm, in reference to their variable white to yellow patterning (Lujan et al. 2013). They originate from the Rio San Alejandro and other tributaries of the Rio Ucayali on the Andean slopes of Peru (Seidel 2008). Flash plecos are commonly found in wood piles in areas with swifter current (Evers and Seidel 2005). The water in the Rio San Alejandro in September was quite alkaline (pH 8.4), with a conductivity of 190µS/cm and a temperature of 30°C (Evers and Seidel 2005). Panaqolus species (e.g. ‘tiger’ plecos L002, gold stripe Panaques L169, clown plecos L448) including flash plecos, and a few other types of plecos (Panaque and Cochliodon species) are specialised wood grazers which consume large quantities of wood in the wild. They have robust spoon-shaped teeth to gouge wood, and they eat wood particles, but these particles pass quickly through their digestive tract (less than 4 hours), and there is little evidence that they digest significant amounts of wood (cellulose and hemicellulose) instead they appear to digest microbes (detritus, fungi and bacteria) that are embedded in the wood (German 2009, Lujan et al. 2011, McCauley et al. 2020). Ingesting wood to obtain microbes, as opposed to digesting wood, does appear to be an important component in the diet of these species in the wild and wood should be provided in aquaria. Wood also provides great natural cover and places to hide. Flash plecos are a relatively small (to about 14 cm total length, TL) 10 ∙ Aquarium World

adaptable species. Provided they have an appropriate diet (mainly algal wafers and veggies) and plenty of cover, including wood, they will do well in many community aquaria with pH’s of 6.0–8.0 and temperatures of 25–30oC. They are one of the more difficult plecos to breed but this has been achieved a few times overseas (e.g. Ekström 2007; Laid 2012; Heijmen Bennett-Leaver 2017). In 2006 I purchased a flash pleco, my first ‘fancy’ pleco. That flash pleco was part of a Peru shipment imported by Phill Collis and what started off as one flash pleco soon became four. They were all large adults and the following year I added 6 smaller fish – the addiction had begun. They were housed in a large fish tank (648 litres – 1800Lx600Hx600W) with plenty of bogwood, including a

Some of the large original L204s on arrival Photo: Darren Stevens

hollowed-out log, several large Amazon swords (Echinodorus grisebachii formerly E. amazonicus), and a few bamboo and ceramic caves. Over the next four years I tried many approaches to try and encourage my flash plecos to breed: raising and lowering the water temperature, adjusting the pH, large water changes (Reverse osmosis (RO), rainwater, and tapwater), adding powerheads, reducing and increasing filtration, and even leaving the tank for long periods with no water changes. Unfortunately, nothing worked but I did seem to get close. Several times I had females waiting alongside the dominant

male’s cave (a hollow log), but he never let them in. It seems their difficult to breed reputation was well deserved. Then disaster struck! During a winter cold snap, I was installing a new steel tank rack in the fish room and temporarily I moved the flash plecos to a 400-litre tank in a non-heated part of the garage. After a week the heater stopped working and I lost most of the colony. I kept the two survivors for a few more years and then Geoff Haglund offered me his group of large adult flash plecos. Three years later I had a short but nasty brush with velvet disease. I had naively introduced a female Rio Ucalayi bristlenose into the flash pleco tank and she was carrying velvet but showed no symptoms of it. I now have a quarantine tank! On both occasions I considered getting out of the hobby, but I had plenty of other plecos that were doing well and except for flash plecos I rarely loose fish. I still have some of my original fancy plecos with 15-year old king tigers (L066), 13-year old tiger plecos (L002), and 13year old leopard cactus plecos (L114). I did, however, take a break from keeping flash plecos for a while. In 2019 flash plecos were back on the importers’ lists. They are still one of my favourite plecos and I felt it was time to get some more. Over the course of a year I purchased 10 in what I thought was a deluded attempt to breed them. They were initially kept with young gold stripe Panaques (Panaqolus sp. L169) but after about a year the largest ones Aquarium World

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The breeding male (90 mm TL) above and likely breeding female (91 mm TL) below Photo: Darren Stevens

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were showing signs of maturity, so I transferred them to their own 270 litre (900Lx600Wx500H) tank. The tank had a thick bed of fine gravel (Daltons™ Propagation Sand No.2) and it was furnished with a selection of D-shaped ceramic caves, topped by a slate tile, and surrounded by large river rocks and plenty of bogwood. The tank was initially filtered by two Eheim classic 2217’s (2000 l/hr), kept at a temperature of 26–27°C, and lit for 10 hours a day by a single T8 fluorescent tube. Every two weeks I gave the tank a 25–35% water change with tap water (pH 7.2, c. 60 TDS) and once a month a good gravel vac. They were fed each evening on mainly JBL NovoFect or JBL NovoPleco with small amounts of JBL NovoTab, NLS Thera A+, or Repashy Community plus. After three months I removed one of the Eheim 2217’s to reduce the current and filtration to try and stimulate some activity. I was also about to go away for work for a month, so I gave the tank a good clean removing the furnishings and giving the gravel a vacuum. There were now two obvious spiked up males (one with a really nice spotted pattern) and three obvious females. I set the tank back up again and topped it up with rainwater (pH 5.9, c. 60 TDS, about 40% of the tank volume) followed by a similar rainwater change the next day. I hoped the rainwater would drop the pH and reduce the dissolved solids. When I left, the tank had a pH of 6.5 but after I got back the pH had dropped to 6 and the water looked crystal clear, so I decided to leave them alone for another month to see if a long period of no disturbance and stable water parameters made a difference. It

may have made a difference for Farid Laid in his 2012 Amazonas magazine breeding report. This could surprisingly be due to flash plecos breeding during the dry season in the wild. Evers and Seidel (2005) found juvenile flash plecos were common in the Rio San Alejandro during September and suggested that they either breed year-round or only during the dry season. After two months I stripped the tank down for a good clean and when I upended one of the ceramic caves into a bowl with tank water, to my delight 24 roughly 2-day old young out fell out. I was lucky, if I had stripped the tank down earlier I would have had to raise eggs, which I find more difficult. After some coaxing, the male came out of his cave and he was the attractive heavily spotted one. I only hope some of the young have similar patterning. It looked like breeding had been a rough event as the only female with a slender belly had her fins and tail chewed halfway back to the base. She has since made a quick recovery. Interestingly, while there were two larger females in the group, the male and likely breeding female were almost the same size (90 and 91 mm total length, TL). I transferred the young to a homemade floating ‘Gerdbox’ (see Aquarium World 60:3) to which I had added a thin layer of very fine black gravel and several small pieces of bogwood. I floated the GerdBox in the parent’s tank and placed a piece of black Corflute over the cover glass above it to block most of the light until they were feeding (12 days old). I cleaned the Gerdbox out daily. I lost one young early on but otherwise Aquarium World

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they proved easy to rear. At 12 days old they were almost 2 cm and starting to eat NovoFect. At 1 month old they were 2.4 cm and looked like mini adults and at two months old they were almost 3 cm (2.8 cm) TL. While my history of keeping flash plecos has been difficult they still remain one of my favourite plecos. Breeding them has been challenging but extremely rewarding and a personal highlight of 15 years of keeping fancy plecos. When they are large enough, most of these young will be passed on to another breeder. Hopefully we can both get them to breed again. Thanks to Geoff Haglund for his comments and improvements on an earlier version of the article. Darren Stevens 14 ∙ Aquarium World

Flash pleco young at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 days old Photo: Darren Stevens


Ekström J (2007). Spawning Panaque sp, L204. PlanetCatfish. php?article_id=354 Evers H-G, Seidel I (2005). Baensch Catfish Atlas Volume 1: South American catfishes of the Families Loricariidae, Cetopsidae, Nematogenyidae and Trichomycteridae. Mergus press, Malaysia. 943 p. German DP (2009). Inside the guts of wood-eating catfishes: can they digest wood? Journal of Comparative Physiology B 179: 1011–1023. https://10.1007/s00360-009-0381-1 Heijmen Bennett-Leaver J (2017). Breeding Panaqolus albivermis (L204), the flash pleco (Siluriformes: Loricariidae). Journal of the Catfish Study Group 18 (1): March 2017. 10–13. Laid F (2012). Breeding Panaqolus sp. L204. Amazonas JAN/ FEB 2012: 44–49. Lujan NK, German DP, Winemiller KO (2011). Do woodgrazing fishes partition their niche?: Morphological and isotopic evidence for trophic segregation in Neotropical Loricariidae. Functional Ecology 25 (6): 1327–1338. https://10.1111/j.1365-2435.2011.01883.x Lujan NK, Steele S, Velasquez M (2013). A new distinctively banded species of Panaqolus (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) from

the western Amazon Basin in Peru. Zootaxa 3691 (1): 192– 198. McCauley M, German DP, Lujan NK, Jackson CR (2020). Gut microbiomes of sympatric Amazonian wood-eating catfishes (Loricariidae) reflect host identity and little role in wood digestion. Ecology and Evolution 10 (14): 7117–7128. https:// Seidel I (2008). Back to Nature Guide to L-Catfishes. Fohrman Aquaristik AB. Sweden. 208 p.

Flash pleco young at 14 (1.7 cm TL), 25 (2.2 cm TL), 35 (2.4 cm TL), and 44 (2.6 cm TL) days old Photo: Darren Stevens

Flash pleco young at 66 days old (29 mm TL) Photo: Darren Stevens

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Blue Tongue Skinks

Tiliqua scincoides

Blue tongue skinks are native to Australia and make great pets! They are docile, tame, friendly and don’t cause allergies like some household pets. They are also easy to setup and maintain. Blue tongues are large terrestrial lizards measuring up to 60 centimetres long and over 700 grams in weight. They have a long stout banded body and short legs, giving them a snake-like appearance. Their name comes from the cobalt blue tongue they stick out if threatened, or to taste their environment. They are diurnal (active during the day), ovoviviparous (the eggs hatching inside the female's body) having as many as 16 live young per litter, and they can live for over 30 years if housed correctly. Because they are fairly large they need a big enclosure with one adult in a 1200 x 600 x 600 mm space. Blue tongue skinks can have a wide range of substrate and what you choose depends whether you are going to be feeding your skink in its enclosure or out of it. Aspen, bark, and coir coconut fibre are good substrates that will satisfy their like of burrowing, while artificial grass is easy to clean and won’t get mixed up

article by

Mark Paterson

"The blue tongue of the Blue-tongue lizard, which of course is a skink." Photo and caption: Doug Beckers Aquarium World

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with their food. With an artifical grass carpet ensure the edges have no loose fibres they can ingest (I usually use a lighter to melt it). Fake plants, rocks and logs look nice in your blue tongue skink’s vivarium and can add enrichment. A cave can supply a nice area to get away from prying eyes but make sure whatever you put in there can’t fall on your skink. As blue tongue skinks are diurnal they must have UVB/UVA lighting to mimic the sun. Being a forest dweller a 5.0 UVB bulb or a 6% T5 fluorescent tube is probably best and bulbs will need to be replaced 18 ∙ Aquarium World

Skinks on artificial grass Photo: Mark Paterson

once a year. The enclosure also needs a temperature gradient from around 29°C to the basking spot temperature of 35°C. This will allow them to regulate their own temperature. For heat sources you can buy special heat lamps from pet stores. Remember they get really hot so they must have a ceramic fitting and ensure your reptile won’t be burnt by it. Clean water should always be accessible in an appropriate water dish, bluetongued skinks are not good swimmers and must be able to easily exit the water

bowl or be able to tip the bowl over. As they are from semi-dry areas and require low humidity with adequate ventilation, too much moisture can create health problems. Humidity levels should range between 25 and 40 percent. Use a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels. A blue tongue’s general diet should consist of 50% veggies, 40% protein (meats and insects) and 10% fruit. For veggies and fruits, you can use pūhā, water cress, broccoli, tomatoes, zucchini, peas, mustard greens, grated butternut squash, dandelions (should be mixed with other veggies), apples,

Blue tongue basking beside a heat lamp Photo: Mark Paterson

strawberries, bananas, pear, figs, melon, plums, kiwifruit and raisins. Avoid citrus, avocado, and eggplant. Protein can come in the form of good quality dog food, crickets, locusts, snails (no need to take the shell off same applies for crickets and locusts), mealworms, earthworms, tiger worms, cockroaches and raw or boiled egg. The food can be dusted with an occasional Calcium supplement with vitamin D3 but DO NOT OVERDOSE AS IT COULD BE FATAL! Aquarium World

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and their own tastes and what they like and dislike. Unless you have a really large enclosure they should not be kept with other reptiles as feeding habits and enclosure requirements can make them incompatible. This can also apply to housing them together as in the wild they are solitary, usually only coming together to breed, thus they can be unfriendly to each other and two males put together can create territorial problems and they will fight.

One month old blue tongue skink Photo: Mark Paterson

Unlike many reptiles, blue-tongued skinks are very personable and often seem to enjoy being handled and scratched on the head or chin seeming to love the attention. Blue tongue skinks are active during the day but tend to sit in their caves a lot. They each have their own personalities 20 ∙ Aquarium World

Brumation is a state of hibernation that worries most reptile keepers. Some reptiles brumate when food supplies dwindle in the wild. At the onset of autumn or winter your lizard may refuse to eat for long periods of time, or become increasingly inactive and lethargic. How and where they brumate can be varied for different individual reptiles within a species. Brumation can last anything from one week to four or more months. During this period their metabolism slows right down and some may wake, have a drink, and go back to sleep again. Don’t try to force water or food on the reptile during this period and try to minimise disturbing it, though a quick check to ensure it is alright is okay. Let your animal decide what it wants and needs. Youngsters often do not brumate the first year, but adults do. Once they wake up they may take a couple of days to get back to their normal behaviour and eating. Mark Paterson

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The bizarre, transparent glass catfish Kryptopterus vitrelous (often incorrectly identified as K. bicirrhis and K. minor) was only given a scientific name in 2013. They are native to slow-moving coastal river basins in Peninsular Thailand, are rarely bred in captivity, and are collected in large numbers from the wild. Glass catfish are a peaceful schooling species and a great addition to an established, well planted, tank with small tank mates such as eyespot rasboras, harlequin rasboras, and kuhli loaches. They grow to 6.5 cm and are suited to temperatures of 20 to 26°C and pH’s of 4 to 7 Photo: Lucian lucianpls

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a see-through catfish


Rockfishes Rockfishes (Acanthoclinus species) are small elongate reef fishes that are found only in New Zealand. There are six species, four of which can be found in rockpools but they are cryptically coloured and secretive so they are rarely seen. The inshore ‘rockpool’ species are mainly olive green, brown, or dark grey while the two deeper water species: the splendid rockfish, A. matti, and the orange rockfish, an undescribed species, have larger eyes and are more colourful (Roberts et al. 2015). Most rockfish species are relatively small (about 12 to 20 cm) but 24 ∙ Aquarium World

Above: Olive rockfish Acanthoclinus fuscus Photo: Ian Skipworth

one species, the olive rockfish or taumaka, Acanthoclinus fuscus can grow to about 30 cm (Paulin and Roberts, 1992). Olive rockfish are relatively common in the intertidal zone around mainland NZ, and would be a great choice for a dedicated local marine aquarium. Olive rockfish are found on rocky shores around mainland New Zealand from the upper tide level to about 10 metres depth. They are olive green to grey, mottled with cream and darker blotches, and

Above: Splendid rockfish, Acanthoclinus matti Below: orange rockfish, Acanthoclinus. sp Photo: © Peter Marriott, NIWA, Ocean Survey 20/20

have a distinctive cream to white band on the forehead (Roberts et al. 2015). Unlike the other rockfish species, the olive rockfish is relatively well studied. They are adaptable and can cope with a wide range of temperature,

oxygen, and salinity including stagnant and freshwater (Paulin and Roberts, 1992). Their skin is covered with a thick protective mucus which helps them to resist drying out and males are often found under rocks at low tide with only enough water to keep them damp (Roberts et al. Aquarium World

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2015). They are the only rockfish species that can be found in estuarine areas (Paulin and Roberts, 1992).

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Above: Olive rockfish Acanthoclinus fuscus Photo: Simon Nicholas Below: Olive rockfish Acanthoclinus fuscus Photo: Jon Sullivan

Olive rockfish generally mature at two years of age and 90 to 100 mm in length and can live for at least 9 years (Jillet 1968a, Paulin and Roberts, 1992). They spawn from July to January and about 10,000 eggs (8200–17500) are laid beneath a rock in a dense gelatinous egg mass (Jillet 1968b). The male seals the entrance to the nest with small stones and mud and guards the eggs until they hatch (Paulin and Roberts, 1992). They eat a wide range of prey, in particular small crustaceans such as blue half-crabs (Petrolisthes elongatus), but also molluscs, and the occasional small fish (Jillet 1968a). Prey is stalked cautiously with only the pectoral fins used for movement while they use their whole body for regular swimming and swim in an eel-like manner (Paulin and Roberts, 1992).

established aquarium that is at least 200 litres. They are active predators and will eat smaller fish so tankmates should be chosen with care. They will eat most meaty foods but are particularly fond of crustaceans (Paterson 2013). It is not unusual, once one has been put in your aquarium, for it not to be seen again for many months leading people to think it has died then, one day, they will reappear three times the original size. Darren Stevens and Mark Paterson References: Jillet, J.B. (1968a). The biology of Acanthoclinus quadridactylus (Bloch and Schneider) (Teleostei-Blennioidea). I Age and, growth, and food. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 19: 1–8. Jillet, J.B. (1968b). The biology of Acanthoclinus quadridactylus (Bloch and Schneider) (Teleostei-Blennioidea). II Breeding and development. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 19: 9–18. Paterson, M. (2013). NEW ZEALAND Local Marine Aquarium Set Up Guide. 76p. https:// local_marine_life

Above: Blue half crab Petrolisthes elongatus Photo: Graham Bould

Olive rockfish are great aquarium fishes, but they do grow quite large and so should be kept in an

Paulin, C.; Roberts, C. (1992). The rockpool fishes of New Zealand. Te ika aaria o Aotearoa. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. 177 p. Roberts, C.D.; Stewart, A.L.; Struthers, C.D. (Eds). (2015). The fishes of New Zealand. In 4 volumes. Te Papa Press, Wellington. 2008 p. [Vol. 1: S1–S256; Vol. 2: 1–576; Vol. 3:577– 1152; Vol. 4: 1153–1748]. Aquarium World

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Incubating reptile eggs

Bearded dragons, water dragons and leopard geckos are the most commonly kept exotic pet reptiles in New Zealand. They’re fairly easy to care for and, in the right conditions, can breed in the home terrarium but remember if successful, you will need to find responsible homes for the offspring. Before incubating the eggs, you will need to be able to provide enough live food to feed the growing juveniles. I will outline the process I go through to achieve a successful hatch.

Bearded dragon eggs set in substrate for incubation Photo: Mark Paterson

Firstly, you need to provide your female reptile with a container in which she can safely lay her eggs. The container should be large enough that she can enter and comfortably turn around in. Add at least 15cm of a moistened soil/sand mix to the container for her to dig and lay her eggs in (the substrate should be damp not wet). Once the eggs are laid, they need to be carefully transferred to a container which will fit in the incubator. I use Sistema® plastic containers with tightfitting lids because they are strong and clear and enable me to check the eggs quickly at a glance. I create a few small holes in the lid Egg laying container Photo: Mark Paterson

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(the size a hot needle would make) for air movement. To each container I add about 5cm of substrate media. I use either a 50:50 soil, sand mix or Vermiculite. The soil needs to be moistened lightly with a little water whereas 100gms of dry vermiculite mixed with 100gms of water seems a perfect ratio. Again, the substrate should be moist, but not wet. If you squeeze the substrate you shouldn’t get any water out of it. I then gently place each egg into the media so it’s halfway buried on its side. Space the eggs at least 2 cm apart to allow for growth of the developing embryos. Make a light dent with a fingertip to hold the egg in place. Don’t rotate the eggs. Some keepers make a pencil mark on the top side of the egg to ensure it

Incubation container with lid on and ventilation holes Photo: Mark Paterson

is always the same way up. If there are more than a few water drops on the underside of the container lid, I wipe them away with a paper towel. I then place the container in an incubator. There are many brands of incubator on the market. Some are specifically designed for

Bearded dragon hatching Photo: Mark Paterson

reptile eggs but so long as they will maintain a steady set temperature for 2 to 3 months they will do the job but they may require more attention to detail and humidity. It is worth having a separate thermometer inside the incubator to monitor the temperature. In many reptiles, the temperature the eggs are incubated at determines the sex of the offspring (Temperature-dependant sex determination, TSD). This is the case for leopard gecko eggs. If their eggs are incubated at an average of 26.5° C degrees, then 100 percent of the hatchlings will be female. At temperatures around 30.5° C degrees you basically get an equal number of male and female leopard geckos. At 36.6° C degrees 98 percent of the hatchlings will be male. Temperature conditions below 24° C degrees can be fatal. Leopard gecko eggs take 35 - 89 days to hatch, depending on the incubation temperature. Egg incubation temperature does not have much of a role in determining the sex of bearded dragons and water dragons. If you Aquarium World

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healthy leopard gecko or dragon will hatch without any interference from you and if any still have a small yolk sac attached this will absorb naturally over the next few days. It is best to leave newly hatched reptiles in the tray as they will help stimulate the rest of the eggs to hatch.

Above: Bearded dragon young and live food Below: Newly hatched bearded dragon Photos: Mark Paterson

Bearded dragon hatchlings still in incubation container Photo: Mark Paterson

incubate their eggs at 29°C (84°F), they will take around 60 days to hatch and you will get a mix of males and females. Check the incubator daily and make sure the temperature is remaining constant. Remove any eggs that appear mouldy. If the eggs start to pucker, or sink in, they are too dry. Use a spray bottle of warm water to rehydrate them with a light mist. Wipe away any condensation forming on the underside of the lid as you do not want it to drip on the eggs. At the end of the incubation period for the species you are incubating, you may notice movement or tearing of the egg casing, then little heads starting to emerge. Try to leave them alone and not disturb the hatchings. A 30 ∙ Aquarium World

And of course, while you are waiting for the eggs to hatch, you have been busy breeding live food to be ready for hungry juveniles that are coming - fingers crossed. Mark Paterson

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Malaysian Biotope My motivation for my Malaysian biotope tank was spotting a fish I’d never seen before at my local pet shop. It was a small, silvery fish with a vivid blue eye, labelled as an “emerald eye rasbora”. A quick Google search, while I was standing in front of its tank, told me that the scientific name was Brevibora dorsiocellata, and that it was native to parts of Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. I was already looking to create a tank for my pearl gouramis, and I wondered whether this delightful rasbora could go with them. Both species were reported to occur in lowland swamp habitats, which suggested 32 ∙ Aquarium World

by Melanie Newfield

that the two species could be found together. But I was aiming for a more specific type of biotope than just species that came from the same type of habitat in the same country. I was hoping to create a biotope based on a specific location, such as a stretch of river or a lake.

The Seriously Fish website (www. gave a number of specific localities for emerald eye rasbora, so I started with those. Very quickly, I had a lucky find. Tasek Bera (Bera Lake) was one of the localities listed by Seriously Fish. And I found a paper, available free online, with the

title “Ichthyofaunal diversity of Tasek Bera Ramsar Site” (Fahmi-Ahmad et al., 2015) - in other words, a list of the fish species found at Tasek Bera. “Ramsar” is a reference to the Convention on Wetlands, signed at a meeting in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971 and a “Ramsar site” is a wetland that is designated to be of international importance under the criteria agreed at Ramsar.

The Tasek Bera species list confirmed that Brevibora dorsiocellata was found there and also listed Trichopodus leerii, the pearl gourami. My plan to create a biotope for the two species was off to a great start. I spotted something else that I recognised on that species list too - Pangio semicincta. This is one of the species known by the common name “kuhli loach” and the one most commonly available for sale. I adore kuhli loaches and decided that these would be a good addition to a biotope with pearl gouramis and emerald eye rasboras because they would occupy a different part of the tank.

So now I knew the combination of fish I wanted and I had a 400 litre tank I planned to use. Next, I read about the water conditions at Tasek Bera - being a Ramsar site, it was well-researched with lots of relevant publications available. Unfortunately, though, I quickly realised that I’d have to make some compromise. There was no way that I was going to be able to have a tank with acidic water when mine came out of the tap at 8.2 and all my tanks were consistently at 7.8, no matter what I did with them. I could, temporarily, nudge the pH down by adding driftwood, leaf litter and peat, but after a few water changes it always ended up back at 7.8. On a more positive note, I also found a species list for the plants at Tasek Bera (Abdul Rahman et al. 2010). The list included

all the trees and shrubs in the surrounding forest as well as aquatics - 807 species in total. Most of them I knew nothing about, but I did find a few familiar names on the list, including Limnophila (commonly known as ambulia), Ceratopteris thalictroides (narrow-leaved Indian fern), Barclaya and Cryptocoryne. The species of Cryptocoryne at Tasek Bera, C. purpurea, is not available in New Zealand to my knowledge, but I decided that if I had the right genus I would be happy. Having done the research, I was finally ready to set up the tank. Since I was going to have some rooted plants, I used Dalton’s aquatic mix capped with sand, plenty of driftwood and then leaf litter collected at various locations. I was able to find leaves of some trees that were the same genus as trees growing at Tasek Bera, such as the native hīnau (Elaeocarpus dentatus) and taraire (Beilschmedia taraire). I mostly used leaf litter from native forest, and I was careful to avoid anything toxic. The first residents in the tank were my pair of pearl gouramis – and they hated it. They were obviously stressed at being moved from the tank they had been in and spent most of their time hiding. However, once I added a group of the emerald eye rasboras they became much more confident. The emerald eye rasboras were obviously at home right from the start and within a few weeks I observed spawning behaviour from them. References:

Melanie Newfield

Abdul Rahman, R.; Chew, M.Y.; Abdul Rahman, U.N.; Kamarudin, S. (2010). The flora of Tasik Bera, Pahang, Malaysia. Malayan Nature Journal 62. 249–306. Fahmi-Ahmad, M.; Rizal, S.A.; Amirrudin, B.A (2015). Ichthyofaunal diversity of Tasek Bera Ramsar Site, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia. Journal of Wildlife and Parks 30: 27–43.

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Cultivate Crickets by Mark Paterson The humble black field cricket (Teleogryllus commodus) makes a great food source for many animals, reptiles and fish and can be relatively easily bred in your home. They do have an odour about them but good maintenance and hygiene can suppress this greatly and provide a nutritious source for your pets. Black field crickets are native to Australia, but they have been introduced to New Zealand where they can become pests. They are dark brown with large heads, very long antennae, strong back legs adapted for jumping, and can grow to 3 cm. Their life cycle consists of egg, 9-10 nymph stages (look like adults but don’t have wings) then adult. The nymphs look very similar to the much smaller native crickets (Bobilla species) which only grow to about 1 cm, but black field crickets have a white band around their abdomen. 34 ∙ Aquarium World

Black Field Cricket, adult female Photo: Ghouston

In the wild, black field crickets are mostly nocturnal and feed on a range of plants. During the day they cluster together in cracks Black Field Cricket, nymph male Photo: Phil Bendle

in the ground away from the sun. Mature males produce loud, chirping, mating calls by rubbing their short forewings together so are best kept in the garage and not the bedroom. Female crickets have fully developed wings Black Field Cricket, adult female Photo: Lek

Black Field Cricket, male Photo: Arthur Chapman

and three long extensions on their behind (males have two extensions), the long main one (ovipositor) is used to deposit the eggs in the ground. To culture black field crickets, start with at least 50 as this should give you enough to feed out and breed. Use more males than females if possible. I run mine in those clear plastic storage containers as the smooth sides help prevent any escapes. Ensure the container is large enough to contain the number of crickets you want to keep or once breeding starts you may need several containers to keep them in. When crickets breed in a very confined space, they will eat each other. A container of at least 52 litres should hold up to 500. Aquarium World

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52litre container with ventilation cutouts Photo: Mark Paterson

To allow airflow in the container it is best to cut one or two, at least, 15cm holes in the container lid which can then have metal insect screen fixed on them with a hot glue gun. Crickets can chew through plastic or fibreglass insect screen mesh. I layer about 3 - 6 cm of vermiculite or perlite on the floor of the bin to help keep the container dry and lessen the chance of odours and bacteria build up from their waste (Frass). This will need replacing on a regular basis if you are housing a lot. I then place cardboard or egg crates on top for them to climb on. Once you have mature crickets for egg laying, I use plastic takeaway containers filled with damp sandy topsoil. Make sure it is fertilizer and pesticide free if you are purchasing it. I 36 ∙ Aquarium World

Cardboard egg crates over vermiculite base layer Photo: Mark Paterson

put a screen of insect mesh on the top of the container as this allows the female to deposit her eggs using her ovipositor but prevents others from eating them. To help keep the substrate cleaner, feed your crickets on crushed premium dry cat or dog food placed in a container. Slices of fruit, potatoes, cucumber and other vegetable matter can be added to supplement their diet but make sure to remove unfinished fresh foods before they rot. Remember what you are feeding to the crickets is gut loading for your reptiles or other pets. Crickets need a fairly constant supply of water to thrive. You can mist the container, use a small dish with a sponge in it to prevent drowning, or get some water storage crystals/gel from your garden centre.

If all conditions are right, and your crickets mature, it should take two weeks for them to lay eggs about 2 cm down in the soil. Remember to keep the soil moist or the eggs will dry out and be useless to you. After a few days you can move the soil containers to another heated (29–32 °C) plastic container where it should take another 2 weeks for hundreds of tiny pinhead crickets to hatch. I feed the pinheads in this container and they are very quick growing. Egg laying container with damp sandy topsoil Photo: Mark Paterson

Warmth is needed for breeding and incubation of the eggs. You should aim for 27–32 °C and this can be achieved with a heat pad or a light bulb. Males only chirp between 13–38 °C so won’t attract the ladies if you can’t achieve that.

It is now just a matter of keeping on top of maintenance, food and water and repeating the process to create a food supply for your other pets.

Mark Paterson References:

Blue tetra


The blue tetra (Knodus borki) is an attractive small (to 5 cm) tetra native to Colombia and Brazil. It has been misidentified in the hobby for 40 years as Cochu’s blue tetra (Boehlkea fredcochui), a species occasionally seen overseas where it is sold as Boehlkea sp. Sky Blue. Blue tetras are a schooling species that is best kept in a well planted tank with a pH of 5.5–7.0 and a temperature of 22–26°C. They may nip the fins of other species and should not be kept with peaceful or slow-moving tankmates. Photo Robert Beke Aquarium World

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Clearing Oxygen Weed from a Neglected Pond There are 4 plants commonly called oxygen weed in NZ and 3 of them are Class B noxious weeds. The only permitted one for aquaria and ponds is Elodea canadensis. You may possess Class B noxious weeds but you may not sell, or pass them on to others. This article refers to one of the noxious varieties and I have it in my pond because it is rampant throughout the local waterways and I collected it for free from a local park before I realised it was a noxious weed. My pond is approximately 3m x 8m and has been running for 15 years. A step-bystep article of the build, with photos, was in the May 2006 Aquarium World with an update added in the next issue. The main plants in it are lilies and oxygen weed with a 38 ∙ Aquarium World

article & photos by Caryl Simpson

large umbrella palm at one end and a lot of peppermint (or spearmint) at the other. Note how any area not covered by lilies or mint, is choked with oxygen weed. Last year the oxygen weed flowered profusely for the first time I can remember. Before that, I was unaware it flowered at all! It made a beautiful show across the water surface. In 2016, Kaikoura was devastated by a massive earthquake. Damage was also done up and down the east coast, including Marlborough, where I live. Our concrete pond started leaking after this event and we wondered what was best to do about it. Empty it and repair the leak? Empty it and line it? Empty it then fill it in? Decisions,

decisions. Another problem was the pump that powered the filtration and waterfall died and was not repairable. We finally decided we would like to raise the sides to make the pond more formal and to provide seating all the way around. To do this we needed to destroy the rocky waterfall, which explains the pile of rocks on the deck at the far end of the pond in one of the photos. While thinking about how to go about changing the pond, it was left to its own devices with no filtration. Years passed (5 to be exact) with the pond untouched, apart from the dismantled waterfall, as we couldn’t find anyone willing, or able, to do the work we wanted. Due to ill health, my husband and I are unable to do it ourselves. All that happened was the pond got topped up whenever the water level dropped too low.

This week we have had to cut down a 42-year-old Japanese silk tree, Albizia julibrissin, as it would be shading the solar panels being installed on the roof. It also overhung the pond and made an awful mess each winter as it dropped leaves and branches into the water, forming a thick, matted, mass on the bottom. They say you shouldn’t site a pond under a tree but it did look beautiful and provided summer shade so green water was never a problem. You can see the trunk of this tree in the full pond photo near the end of this article. It is on the right-hand side at the far end. As the tree was being cut down, I looked at the pond for the first time in ages and realised the oxygen weed had got out of hand. It is called ‘invasive’ for a reason! The whole surface, that wasn’t covered in lilies, was a thick mat of oxygen weed. It was

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wrapped around the lilies as well and there was very little surface area for the fish to come up and sun themselves.

but didn’t want to do too much at once in case the sudden clear water surface created an algae bloom.

How to get rid of the weed? As it is Class B, you are not allowed to throw it back into the waterway from which it came. It can’t go to a recycling facility for garden waste either. We decided to haul it out, let it dry in the sun, then dig it into the garden. This involved wading into water that was just a little higher than the top of gumboots, so I wore jandals, and pulling the weed up by hand. For every small handful, about three times more came up from under the surface. It was entangled in the other plants and meshed with all the debris which had fallen from the silk tree. The photo shows just one of the piles of weed pulled from the pond – and that was only after clearing half of it! There were two more piles elsewhere and I still have to clear the other half of the pond

So remember - watch what sort of oxygen weed you add to your pond and make sure you don’t let it get out of hand, which it does quickly and easily. A reasonable amount is good for the water but left to multiply, it will choke other plants and form a thick mat over the water surface and form even more of a mat under the surface, where you can’t see, making it hard for the fish to swim freely. Within hours of clearing one end of the pond, I saw fish sunning themselves on the surface. I wasn’t even sure if there were still any fish in there, it had been so long since I had seen any. Hopefully we will find someone to fix the pond for us and make the required changes, or we might just fill it in. Caryl Simpson

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Black ruby barb Photo: Robert Beke

Despite the impact of Covid-19 on international freight, the importers continue to offer an impressive selection of aquarium fish. For nano tank fans there are dwarf rasbora (Boraras maculatus), emerald dwarf rasbora (Celestichthys erythromicron), Beckford’s pencilfish, Norman’s lampeye, pygmy corys, and HaraHara cats. And if you have a small coldwater tank it’s hard to go past white cloud mountain minnows (available as standard and gold).

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Pygmy cory Photo: Robert Beke

On the tetra front there are 29 species of small tetras available, including the popular species like neon, black neons, and glowlights, through to black widows, blue emperors, glass bloodfins, rummynose, and wild caught bleeding heart tetras. For barb fans there’s a good selection with black ruby, checker, cherry (including longfins), golden, Odessa, rosy, and tiger barbs in standard, golden, green, platinum green and albino (gold ghost).

Odessa barb Photo: Robert Beke

Royal farlowella Photo: Robert Beke

If you are after something different, why not a try whiptail, four types of these bizarre looking catfish are available: the royal farlowella (Sturiosoma species), twig whiptail, long-nosed farlowella, and panda whiptails (likely an aquarium strain of Loricaria simillima). While they are not everyone’s flavour, hybrid parrot cichlids (thought to be a cross between midas and severum cichlids) are available in a range of colours including

Silver dollars Photo: Nasser Halaweh

red, red and white, red and white pandas, and yellow. Blue tiger parrots, thought to be a hybrid of parrot and convict cichlids, are also on the importers’ lists. And if you have a very large tank why not try a school of silver dollars, spotted silver dollars, (Metynnis maculatus) silver sharks, a black shark, clown knife, or black or silver arowana. The editorial team

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Pg Source 17

Blue tongue skink Tiliqua scincoides ©Doug Beckers (CC BY-SA 2.0), tongue.jpg


Olive rockfish Acanthoclinus fuscus by Ian Skipworth (public domain), jpg


Olive Rockfish Acanthoclinus fuscus ©Simon Nicholas, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC) photos/11887649


Olive Rockfish Acanthoclinus fuscus ©Jon Sullivan, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC 2.0) jon/14443654527


New Zealand half crab Petrolisthes elongatus by Graham Bould (public domain) File:Petrolisthes_elongatus_(New_Zealand_half_crab).JPG


Black Field Cricket, adult female, probably Teleogryllus commodus by Ghouston (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication, https://


Black Field Cricket Teleogryllus commodus ©Arthur Chapman (CC BY-NC 2.0)


Black Field Cricket Teleogryllus commodus ©Phil Bendle, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), observations/9755548


Black Field Cricket Teleogryllus commodus ©Lek (CC BY-SA 4.0),


Silver Dollar Metynnis argenteus ©Nasser Halaweh (CC BY-SA 4.0), Metynnis_argenteus_2.jpg

44 ∙ Aquarium World


The Federation of New Zealand Aquatic Societies is a group of aquarists dedicated to supporting and promoting fishkeeping as a hobby, both in our local communities and globally with regard to conservation of aquatic species and their environments. The organisation is dedicated to the improvement of the aquarium and fishkeeping hobby and it has a 60 year history of representing aquarium societies in New Zealand. There are currently 12 affiliated aquarium clubs around New Zealand: AUCKLAND FISHKEEPERS ASSOCIATION

Contact: Alex Fleming


Contact: James Butler


CONTACT: Nic Smith


Contact: Chris Drake


Contact: Caryl Simpson



Contact: Mitch Minchington & Debbie McKenzie, 21 Maire St. Inglewood 4330


Contact: Glen George


Contact: Maxine Lynch


Contact: Danielle Wall


Contact via:


Contact via: Aquarium World

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FNZAS DISCOUNT The following businesses offer discounts to our members, remember to ask politely, this is a privilege not a right. You must show your current FNZAS Membersip card at the time of purchase.

AUCKLAND Hollywood Fish Farm - 10% discount on selected non-sale items

36 Frost Rd. Mt. Roskill Ph 09 620 5249 10/2 Tawa Drive, Albany Ph 09 415 4157

The Bird Barn - 10% discount on fish and accessories

158 Lincoln Rd. Henderson. Ph 09 838 8748.

New Pupuke Aquarium Centre - 10% Discount

1 Lydia Ave, Birkenhead Ph 09 480 6846

GISBORNE Eastland Aquariums - 10% discount as well as great in-store specials.

Grey St, Gisborne Ph/Fax 06 868 6760

HAMILTON Pure Aquatics - 10% discount on everything.

966 Heaphy Tce. Hamilton. Ph: 07 855 2176

HAWERA Wholesale & Industrial Supplies - trade price, equating between 15 - 40% off retail prices

49 Glover Rd, Hawera Ph 06 278 7525

MORRINSVILLE Demitry Pet Supplies - 10% Discount

15 Thames Street, Morrinsville. Ph 07 8897789 Mobile 027 5526955

NAPIER Carevets N Pets - 10% discount on fish & fish related products

120 Taradale Rd, Onekawa, Napier Phone 06 842 2033

NELSON The Fishroom Email:

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ROTORUA Wonderworld Aquarium and Pet Centre - 10% discount

82 - 84 Clayton Road, Rotorua Ph: 07 348 0328 Email:

TAURANGA KiwiPetz - 10% discount

Shop T30, Fraser Cove Shopping Centre, Tauranga Ph 07 578 8623 email

Carine Garden Centre & Water World - 10% discount on fish, fish related products & aquatic plants

Cnr SH2 & Te Karaka Drive, Te Puna Ph. 07 552 4949

WELLINGTON (and Greater Wellington area) CareVets@Johnsonville Pet Centre - 10% discount

31 Johnsonville Rd. Johnsonville Ph 04 478 3709

CareVets ‘N’ Pets - 10% discount

Porirua Mega Centre, 2 - 10 Semple St. Porirua Ph 04 237 9600

Paws and Claws - 10% discount on all fish & fish keeping items

Logan Plaza, 207 Main St. Upper Hutt. (opp. McDonalds) Ph 04 528 5548

The Pet Centre - 10% discount on all fish and aquatic products

Lower Hutt - 28 Rutherford Street, Lower Hutt 5010, 04 569 8861 Upper Hutt - 82 Queen Street, Upper Hutt 5018, 04 9745473 Lyall Bay - 117 Tirangi Road, Rongotai 6022, 04 282 1242 Online @ Free shipping with orders over $30 + fish club discount still applie

The Pet House - 10% discount

Coastlands Mall, Paraparaumu Ph 04 296 1131

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