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Series III

Vol. VII, No. 4

April, 2000

FEATURES Editor's Babblenest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Disappointments A Simple and Fast Method For Repairing Slate-Bottomed Tanks



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Fun Fish - The Guppy


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Second Sight (Exchange reprint column) . . .


NEC Report


1999 NEC Publication Award Winners . . . . .


Wet Leaves (Book Review Column)


The Member Who's Just "Not There" . . . . .



G.C.A.S. Happenings



Fin Fun (Puzzle Page)

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Printing By Postal Press

Articles submitted for consideration in MODERN AQUARIUM must be received no later than the 10th day of the month, three months prior to the month of publication. Copyright 2000 by the Greater City Aquarium Society Inc., a not-for-profit New York State corporation. All rights reserved. Not-for-profit aquarium societies are hereby granted permission to reproduce articles and illustrations from this publication, unless the article indicates that the copyrights have been retained by the author, and provided reprints indicate source and two copies of the publication are sent to the Exchange Editor of this magazine. Any other reproduction or commercial use of the material in this publication is prohibited without express written prior permission. The Greater City Aquarium Society meets every month, except during July and August. Meetings are the first Wednesday of the month and begin at 8:00 P.M. Meetings are held at the Queens Botanical Gardens. For more information, contact: Jeff George (718)428-7190. You can also leave us a message at our Internet Home Page at: http : //ourworld. CompuServe. com/homepages/greater city




ell, while I don't want to spoil the surprise, I have to let you know that, for the fifth consecutive year in a row, Modern Aquarium won the coveted honor of "Best Newsletter" of the North East Council (NEC) of Aquarium Societies. The NEC currently consists of 17 aquarium societies from Maine to New Jersey, along the north east coast of the United States. To have been selected "The Best" (no second, or third place and no honorable mention awards are given for this category) from among our neighboring sister societies, many of whom are much larger and have more resources than we do, is a singular honor. There were even more publication awards given to articles and columns in our magazine, but I'll let you read about those. When you do, consider that several of the people who write articles for NEC member societies are also regularly featured in the commercial aquarium magazines. Even against that level of competition, Modern Aquarium made a fairly respectable showing, especially considering that the number of awards given out is significantly less than in the Federation of American Aquarium Societies (FAAS) publication award program. So, congratulations to all of the NEC winners and, especially, to those who won awards writing for Modern Aquarium. When you write an article for Modern Aquarium, it not only shows your support of your society, it also makes you eligible to win awards in two publication award contests (NEC and FAAS), as well as giving you a chance at a year-end raffle (limited to Modern Aquarium contributors), and Author Award Program points and certificates. The raffle prize for articles written this year will be Australian Native Fishes


for Aquariums by Ray Leggett and John R. Merrick. This book was published in Australia and, to my knowledge, is only available there. (I obtained it via airmail directly from the author.) It contains some stunning pictures of Australian rainbowfish and "blue eyes," and would make a special and unique contribution to any aquarist's library. Our 78th Anniversary Show is almost here. Have you selected which of your fish you are going to enter into our show next month? It almost always happens that you'll see a fish that won an award at a show (sometimes even First Place in its class), and you're certain that the fish you have at home of the same species looks better than the winner. If you don't enter your fish, it has no chance to win. Believe me when I tell you that I'm no highly skilled and experienced aquarist. I don't have a "fish room." I don't have a single Breeders Award Program point to my name. I don't keep many rare, exotic (and expensive) species. With rare exceptions, I can't remember the scientific name of the fish I keep, and I undoubtedly mispronounce those I do remember (Betta splendens probably being the sole exception). However, I have a love of the fishkeeping hobby; keeping a few tanks in this room, and a few more in that room, etc. Having said that, I've managed to get two or more trophies at every Greater City show I've ever entered (so far); and I fully intend to enter our show next month. There are some "secrets" to winning that I'm going to share with you. The first is that you have to start with a fish that is a "contender," and the first rule for being a contender is to have been entered into competition in the first place. (In other words, "You gotta be in it to win it!") The second is that it only takes a healthy fish in good condition. If the fish has no outward signs of disease or infirmity, no deformities, no holes or tears in its fins, and is behaving in a manner expected for its species, it is a contender (if entered). The third and final secret is that any contender can win. It all depends on how good your fish (and the fish entered against it) look at the precise moment the judges appear on the scene. Hopefully, you'll enter our show and win something. Even if you don't win, your experience (and knowledge about your fish) can be the basis of an article which, itself, could bring you, if not fame and fortune, another chance at prizes and awards.

April 2000

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)


et's face it, disappointments are a part of life. Didn't get that promotion that you worked so hard for and felt you deserved? What do you do about it? You could find another job. You could work harder, and hope you get that promotion next time. You can get fed up, surrender, and just go through the motions each day. It's up to you. How about that (you fill in the blank) you wanted, but could not afford? You could try to make/save more money, you could accept an alternative, or you could do without. Again, it's up to you. Since disappointments are a part of life, why shouldn't they be a part of our hobby? In this article, I'd like to share some of my disappointments with you, and tell you what choice I made as a result. Perhaps my longest running disappointment has been my attempt to keep and raise Discus. Since I first began keeping fish seriously about 12 years ago, I have been fascinated with Discus. I have tried time and again to keep them, either in a community tank set up, or in a species tank. Each time the result has been the same—disaster and disappointment. You would think that after one or two failures I would give up and keep other fish. Discus have the reputation of being difficult fish to keep, very demanding in terms of water quality, water temperature, and food requirements. Personally, I don't think Discus are that difficult to keep. I think you have to practice the usual regimen of water changes, quality food and attention to water conditions. Other than that, I don't feel there are really any special tricks to keeping them (but hey, what do I know, I'm the one writing about my failure to keep them right?). They are not a beginner's fish, but not necessarily a fish only "expert, experienced" aquarists can keep. With this in mind, I am once again endeavoring to keep Discus. Several months ago, I picked up four "Red Dragon" Discus. This is a relatively newer type of Discus, totally created in the tanks of Discus breeders. They have gotten a reputation for being somewhat hardier than other Discus, certainly more than the wild caught ones. I placed them in my 29 gallon planted community tank, which is populated by schools of small, peaceful terras such as Rosy Tetras. A Fluval 203 filters the tank. The


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

temperature in the tank is 80 degrees (Farenheit). I refuse to make special adjustments and raise the temperature to the mid 80s as is often reported Discus need to survive. In addition, I am feeding them pellet and flake food. They eat just fine, thank you. No special pampering or feeding of only live food for these fish. So far they seem to be doing okay. Of course, being cichlids, there are dominant and subordinate fish within the foursome. However, since there are four of them, the aggression is distributed somewhat, and no one fish has really been harassed or injured. Several years ago, on one of our famous "road trips," the gang visited an importer/breeder/seller of African cichlids. I really did not have any space for additional fish, but went with an open mind and a few dollars. I was immediately taken with a tank full of Altolamprologus calvus "black," but the fish had just arrived, and were not in for-sale condition. There were no calvus fry available. It looked like I was going to manage to walk away without any new fish, when I spotted a tank of interesting looking fish. I was told they were Enantiopus melanogenys, and shown a picture of what they would grow up to look like. The fish, shown as adults, were magnificent. In view of the fact that the price was quite reasonable (well under $10 each), and that they were reported to be peaceful and undemanding, I decided to purchase four of them. Oh well, what good is a road trip, if you come home empty-handed, anyway? Following my usual practice of acclimating new fish slowly, I introduced the fish into a 30-gallon Lake Tanganyika community tank I have. Within a half-hour, one fish had gone into shock and died. The other three seemed to be doing okay. Over the next several weeks, the fish seemed to be fitting in, eating and swimming about with the rest of the inhabitants of the tank. One day, there were only two of the fish in the tank. I never found the body of the deceased Enantiopus. I have found over the years that sometimes a fish will disappear, and no trace of that fish can be found. Most of the time, when a fish dies, it chooses the most inaccessible spot to do so, and is half decomposed by the time I get to it. Now I was down to two fish. Several years passed, and the fish remained rather jumpy and nervous. They would rush to the surface for food, and, just as quickly, grab the food and head

April 2000

back to a hiding spot in the tank. They never developed the beautiful colors I had seen in pictures, and never seemed to be at ease in the tank. Since I had bought them, I felt a sense of responsibility to keep them alive, and doing as well as possible. I kept feeding them and making sure they were okay. One day I came home and found one of the fish on the floor, all dried up. It had obviously jumped out of the tank. Now I had only one left. It was about this time that the "daffodils" in the tank started spawning on a regular basis. Although they never harmed the Enantiopus, they definitely would chase the fish away any time it came near fry. A 30-gallon tank is not that large, and contact was inevitable. None of its actions made me suspect the Enantiopus of being a fry predator, but just to be sure, I wanted to find a new home for the fish. A fellow fish keeper had mentioned that he always wanted to keep the fish. He graciously offered to take my remaining fish. Since then, I have been a little more wary of buying fish that look beautiful in pictures, but that I know very little about. One type of fish that I enjoy keeping more than almost any other are the shell dwelling dwarf cichlids of Lake Tanganyika. Because of the space limitations that I have, I find that I can keep a breeding colony (sometimes even with fry) in a 10 gallon tank, and all they require are shells to dwell/breed in, a heater, hard alkaline water, and food. They are not picky about food, and will eat just about everything put in their tank. After some success with several other species, I had my mind set on keeping Neolamprologus ocellatus "gold." I find this to be an endearing little fish, with an engaging personality that fits its looks. Once again, the gang was off on a road trip that was looking rather bleak for yours truly. I was not able to find any ocellatus "gold" at the large store we were visiting that day. My usual strategy is to purchase about 5 or 6 young fish and let them select mates amongst themselves. I find the offer of a "mated pair" often leads to one dead fish, and one lonely fish taking up an entire tank by itself. Natural selection is, in my opinion, the best method for success. On this occasion, however, I had to go to alternate plan B. There were ocellatus, however, they were not "gold," but listed as "yellow dorsal," probably just a location/color variant. In addition, they were not young fish, but almost full-grown adults. The fish were too expensive to purchase 5 or 6, so I had to try and find a pair.

With some assistance from several of my fellow travelers, we selected two fish. I brought them home, acclimated them to their new environs, and let them settle in. In the time I kept them, they never showed any evidence of being a pair, or of being the least bit interested in spawning. After about a year, I was pretty much convinced that I did not have a pair interested in spawning, and I wasn't even sure they were of opposite sexes. Fortunately, a pet store I frequented (of course, a Modern Aquarium advertiser!) had just gotten a bunch of N. meleagris, sometimes called the pearly ocellatus. This was a fish I had wanted to keep for a while. I traded the ocellatus for some young meleagris, and was able to successfully spawn the meleagris. My ocellatus tale does not end yet. Fast forward to January 2000, and a rare weekday off from work (lately, a weekend day off from work seems rare, but that's another story). What better to do on such a day, but take another road trip? Are you beginning to see a pattern here? This trip started off with an awe inspiring and humbling visit to Rosario LaCorte. Awe inspiring because it is an opportunity to see some of the most magnificent fish possible in an aquarist's house, or for that matter, anywhere. Humbling, because you realize that you could never, ever, no matter how much time and money you had, accomplish what Rosario has. It is also a treat to visit Rosario because his wife, Jeanne is one of the most gracious, sweet and charming women alive. You can never go into that house without being offered an exceptional treat. Jeanne has a way of making even a bagel and cream cheese a singular experience. I truly treasure every moment I spend in Rosario's presence; he is a true giant of our hobby. After a too short time spent ogling Rosario's fish, we were on our way to Tom Cassidy's shop, A, C & H Tropical Fish, Inc. Tom, who was our featured speaker at the November 1999 GCAS meeting had opened up his place for visits to GCAS. And we took Tom up on his offer. I have to tell you that Tom was a wonderful host and tour guide as he led us through the contents of his place. There were fabulous fish of all types to be seen: cichlids, catfish, goldfish, all in prime condition. There were breeding pairs of fish that Tom is working with, there were fry, and there were healthy, vibrant fish for sale everywhere. After a couple of passes through the tanks, I began to hone in on some selections. Somehow, during my passes, I had missed two tanks of Neolamprologus ocellatus "gold." Once I noticed them, they were

April 2000

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

just too tempting. Tom's price was very reasonable, and I bought six fairly young fish. My intent is to let the fish pair bond on their own. Having arrived safely home with the fish several hours later (Tom and his crew packed the fish as if we were returning them to their freedom in Lake Tanganyika!), I now had to figure out where to put them. I knew which tank they would eventually go in, but some 15 N. brevis fry that I was growing out occupied that tank. Putting the occelatus with them would mean a certain death for the brevis fry. So I hauled out one of my tank dividers and put the occelatus in with my Altolamprologus calvus (separated, of course). An interesting aside to this story is the effect the presence of the ocellatus has had on the calvus. I have found the calvus to be nervous, secretive fish, rarely out and never near the top of the tank—not even for food. Rather, they wait until the food has sunk down to the bottom, and then pick it off the substrate. That all changed once the occelatus appeared on the other side of the divider. Suddenly, the calvus are out all the time and come right to the surface for food. I guess the old saying that competition brings out the best in us is true. Over the years, I have learned not to give in to the urge to make impulse purchases. Those "just saw, gotta have fish" that, once bought, are immediately a problem because you really don't have tank space for them, or weren't researched enough to fully account for the impact of their purchase on the tank they will go into. The fish can be too big, too small, too aggressive, too timid, a difficult aquarium occupant, whatever. Any way you look at it, the fish will not fit in where it has been placed. I had managed successfully for over a year to resist my urge to pick up a Green Terror, Aequidens rivulatus. I knew that the fish was a bit too aggressive to fit in the community tank I had planned to add it to. Still, I kept admiring it and wishing I could find a home for one. On a visit to Cameo Pet Shop I saw a young, but near show quality, male Green Terror. He was slightly over 4 inches long with a magnificent orange dorsal fin trailer and matching trim around his caudal fin. I had to have this fish. Several days later, my opportunity arose. One of my tanks, a 30 gallon, suddenly became available. The few remaining inhabitants of the tank, several Congo Tetras were moved into another tank, and voila!, instant empty tank. All that remained in the tank was a Synodontis angelicus, who had peacefully resided in the tank Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

with the Congo tetras. I was a little worried that the Green Terror might attack the angelicus, but I promised myself that I would keep an eye on the tank. At first all went swimmingly (pardon the pun). Both fish seemed to be respecting each other's space, and there was no sign of quarrelling: no ripped fins, no cowering or huddling, and no wounds on either fish. In addition, both fish continued to eat with hearty appetites. However, little by little, I noticed the Green Terror becoming more and more withdrawn. It still ate, and ate well, but I noticed that it seemed more jumpy and nervous. It would try to hide whenever I came near the tank, unlike most of my fish (especially the cichlids), who come immediately to the surface, associating my presence with food. Even my Discus stop what they are doing and come near the open tank cover, anticipating a meal. There were, however, still no signs of aggression — no ripped fins, which would have been quite evident on the Green Terror. I often observed the tank closely, with tank lights on and off. Never did I see any aggression displayed. I figured that my Green Terror was just a nervous fish. One Saturday afternoon, I came home from some place or other, and there was the Terror, ripped and bleeding, lying on the tank bottom, quite near death. I had no choice but to take it out and euthanize the fish. I would like to think that the angelicus did not attack the Terror until after it became too sick to defend itself, but I really couldn't say for sure. I was not overly surprised by the fish's death, based upon its behavior in the last few weeks before it died, but I certainly was disappointed. I had looked forward to keeping a Green Terror, and had found a prime specimen, and now it was dead. Back to the drawing board. The tank is still empty. I guess I am hoping to find another Green Terror and try one more time. Then I will know for sure if it was beauty (the angelicus) that killed the beast (in this case, terror). So there you have it. My sad tale of pain and anguish. Fortunately, I am only talking about fish, and I was even able to save some of them. Don't think, that by reading this, all of my experiences have been disappointments. On the contrary, if that were the case, would I still be keeping fish after 12 plus years? Probably not. In a future article, I promise to share some of my successes with fish. But let's save that for another time.

April 2000

A Simple and Fast Method For

Repairing Slate-Bottomed Tanks by JOSEPH FERDENZI his article will present a fast and easy crevices. Hold the tank upside down and knock way to repair those old slate-bottomed out the accumulated debris, or use a vacuum tanks that now leak. I once observed a cleaner hose, especially if it is a larger tank. demonstration of the method as performed by one Once you have "prepped" the tank and of the hobby's master aquarists, Rosario LaCorte. the tar has thoroughly melted (do not stir it), you But, before I describe his technique, let's go over are ready to effectuate the repairs. Do not turn the list of materials needed to effectuate the the hot-plate off, as you will need to keep the tar repairs (see insert this page). The amount of tar hot while you do the repairs. needed will, of course, depend on the size and Don a pair of gloves and pick up your number of tanks to be repaired. In the metal container. Using your free hand, tip your demonstration I witnessed, approximately one aquarium so that the inside seam you are about to pound of tar was used to repair a 2!4 gallon tank, repair is facing you at an angle (roughly a 45 but there was plenty of tar left over. (The left degree angle). Place newspaper under the tank in over tar can be kept in the metal container to be case you spill some drops of tar. I recommend melted again in the future.) that you first repair the four corner vertical seams The process begins by placing the tar in (glass to glass) and then repair the four horizontal the metal container. If you are using a coffee can, seams (glass to slate). Gently pour a small stream crimp one edge to form of tar into the seam. a spout before heating Place the metal container the tar. Do not use an back on the hot-plate (I open flame, such as a suggest you have it ^flfllllll gas burner, to heat the within reach, unless tar because it may set someone is helping you, the tar on fire. Use a because you must keep ^^ portable electric the tank on an angle hot-plate. This has while the tar is in a several advantages. It liquid state). Once the allows you to heat the tar has been poured into tar outdoors, where the the seam, slowly rock the tank back and forth so that the tar flows odor of the tar will easily dissipate, and, furthermore, it will not arouse the ire of any evenly along the entire length of the seam. This process takes only about a minute. Once the tar spouse who thinks your home's electric stove should be used for "regular" cooking only. has set, repeat the process for each seam. While the tar is "cooking," you should be After you have sealed all the seams in this manner, the tank is ready for immediate use. preparing the tank for the repair. This requires You may wish to help the hardening process by that you remove all or most of the old sealant sloshing some cool water over the inside seams from the inside part of the tank (leave the outside but that is optional. Any spills on the glass alone). This removal is accomplished by means of beyond the seams can be removed easily with a a sharp knife point or an awl. After you have razor blade. scraped away the old The tank material, use a repaired by Rosario forced-air device to was filled with water get rid of additional as it rested on the small particles newspaper. No leak trapped in the was observed (and crevices. Rosario the newspaper would demonstrated the use have readily revealed of a short length any). Once the tar is (about 16 inches) of melted, a repair of a air-line tubing small tank can be through which he completed inside of blew into the


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

April 2000

15 minutes. Best of all, the tank is then ready for immediate use! Tar is not toxic to fish. When I commented to Rosario that I had always assumed it was, he astonished me by telling me that, when he was a child, it was common to chew tar in lieu of gum! Our mutual friend, Bill Jacobs, was present at the demonstration, and he confirmed this practice of chewing tar. Bill said it doesn't taste that bad and doesn't stick to your teeth. It can hardly be said that this is dangerous to your health — Bill was a spritely 94J/2 at the time! However, I am only recommending it for repairing tanks! This tar method for repairing slate-bottomed tanks has many advantages over other techniques I have seen. Most other methods involve using 100% silicone. There are several problems with silicone. It is more expensive, takes longer to set, and, most importantly, it does not adhere well to slate. Even slate that has been

prepped by sanding and cleaning with alcohol will, eventually, separate from silicone. It will happen all the more quickly with larger tanks because of the increased water pressure. Some hobbyists repair slate-bottomed tanks by placing a snug-fitting sheet of glass over the slate so that they can, in effect, silicone glass to glass. Of course, once you do this, you really no longer have a slate-bottomed tank. Slate bottomed tanks do not have the reflection problem of glass, which is disliked by some fish, thereby necessitating the use of gravel for them to feel comfortable. In any event, I think using the tar method is much simpler and faster, and it preserves the look and uses of bare slate-bottoms. Once again, I am grateful to veteran hobbyists like Rosario, who display great patience and generosity. Thanks to hobbyists like him, perhaps we can pass along some of yesteryear's knowledge before it is lost.

THE An advertisement from Aquatic Lire




QUALITY FILTER COAL REFILLS AND FILTER GLASS WOOL A crystal clear tank may be obtained only when your filter is operating at one hundred percent efficiency , * . and your filter is no better than the filtering agents you employ. While it has Jong been favored by aquarists, activated charcoal has now been recognized by cigarette manufacturers as the finest filtering material obtainable. Combined with silky soft, filter glass wool, activated bone filter coals help your filter produce the type of environment in which your tropicals will thrive and breed. To maintain capacity operation, filter coals and glass wool should be washed every 10 days. Coals should be replaced every 4 months, glass wool when it can no longer be cleaned. As always, when shopping for the best in aquarium accesories, be sure to ask for Aqua-Stock, the name you can buy with confidence.

FILTER GLASS WOOL Effectively snares most dirt particles when placed over filter coal. Can be cleaned for repeated usage. Silky soft, no glass barbs to injure For fast, easy and effective cleaning of all fingers. 25c a portion, $1.00 for filter stems, get a complete set of 3 filter five portions. stem brushes. Specially priced at $1.00. PEBBLE-SIZE DOUBLE ACTIVATED BONE FILTER COAL A fast-action charcoal cleaner and purifier prepared from burnt animal bone.

April 2000

Finest quality available. Non-float* ing. 7Sc per refill. PEA-SIZE BONE FILTER COAL An economical high absorption filter coal that will not float Finest quality available. 85c per refill FILTER CRYSTALS. NeutraJizes the pH balance of the water during filtering; use as bottom layer under filter coal. 30c one pound refill.

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)



GUPPY he first tropical fish I ever kept was a guppy, Poecilia reticulata. (My very first fish were a pair of goldfish I won at a Coney Island arcade.) I was in heaven. Guppies are beautiful, easy to breed, can easily be kept in a two and a half gallon tank, and are not finicky about their environment. At one point I had over 35 tanks in my basement; about 25 of them were devoted to this fabulous little fish. Native to the West Indies, guppies can live in any water that affords them the slightest chance for survival. Noted for devouring mosquito larvae, they were transplanted to many parts of the world as a means of mosquito control. At one time they were called the "million fish" for their astounding proliferation. This "multiplicity" of theirs has Guppy (Poecilia reticulata) made them a favorite for study by biologists and geneticists. Much valuable genetic data has been gathered by studying the guppies' frequent mutations. Numerous varieties of form and color have been achieved through selective breeding, but the basic description of the fish is simple. Male guppies are small and slender, with bodies that are slightly compressed laterally. Female guppies are rounded in the front part of their bodies and a little compressed towards the tail. Fins on a guppy can vary considerably in shape, length and color. Males grow up to 1 1/4 inches in length and females grow up to 2 1/4 inches long. The pH of their water should be somewhere in the range of 6.8 to 7.6 (with a pH


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

between 7.0 and 7.2 preferable). They can live in temperatures from 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Basically, if the water is wet and tolerable, they can survive in it. Feeding this fish is a snap too. Flakes, freeze dried, small pellets, as well as live food, are all readily taken. I find they need some vegetable matter in their diet. Other than that, if the fish food fits in their mouth, they will eat it. New-born guppies should be fed newly hatched brine shrimp once or twice a day. A variety of crushed flake food should be fed as well. There is a trick to breeding guppies. Have a tank with water and a male and female of the species. (It's so simple, that a certain reef keeper I know could do it!) It's amazing to watch the male guppy trying to mate. He swims backwards, drawing by B. Harrigan forwards, even sideways. Guppies multiply at such a rate that a decently kept aquarium with a few pairs of guppies could easily supply fry to all of your friends and fellow club members in no time. Pregnancies last four to six weeks, with between 10 and 80 fry born live at a time. While I could go into how to set up racks of tanks for breeding "show quality" guppies, I'll let Jeff George write that article. You would be hard pressed to find an aquarist who hasn't kept guppies. As active, colorful, easy to keep, and easy to breed fish, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the guppy to the beginner for fun, or to the advanced hobbyist to perfect a strain. This gem has something for everybody; and remember, fun fishkeeping!

April 2000

econrf Reprints deserving a second look Selected by ALEXANDER A. PRIEST his month's selected exchange society reprint is from The Granite-Fisher, the newsletter of the New Hampshire Aquarium Society. The article attempts to answer the question of when is a child old enough for his or her own aquarium. Even more, this article provides basic beginner help on selecting appropriate hardware, accessories, and livestock.


My Child's First Aquarium by Tom Neal One of the joys that many of us fish keepers really enjoy is passing our hobby on to our children. We all enjoy having our little ones help as when they are young. But many of us ask when will they be old enough to have their own aquarium? In this article I will try to answer some questions we all have about when a child is ready for their first aquarium. How old should a child be before they are given their very own aquarium to take care of? This question has to do with how much time Mom and Dad want to spend helping the new budding aquarist. The thing to always remember is that fish are living animals. They deserve the same respect and forethought that any other pet you bring into the house gets. This first part of this article will deal with parents who have little or no knowledge of keeping fish. I am doing it this way because it is very cruel to animals, including fish, to bring them into a house where there is a lack of knowledge on proper care. Contrary to popular belief, the little gold fish bowl is not a good place to keep fish. They are way too small to keep fish healthy, especially goldfish. Goldfish need higher oxygen levels than tropical fish and this requirement is simply not met in a goldfish bowl. Many people state that "my goldfish did perfectly fine in a bowl. He lived for six months and was very healthy before


he died." First, a six-month old goldfish should be at least five inches long, with normal growth. Secondly, goldfish should live to be ten to fifteen years old. So, when one dies at six months, it was not cared for very well. A minimum size aquarium should be at least ten gallons, if not larger. The larger the aquarium, the more stable the water and the less trouble one has with the fish. The other equipment you will need depends on what fish you keep. Most fishes will require an aquarium heater. Don't skimp money wise here. Buy a completely submersible heater. They are more expensive but are much more reliable and will save you money in the long run by not killing your fish. A heater comes in different wattages for different sized aquariums. The rule to remember is that you should have three to five watts per gallon to keep a steady temperature in the aquarium. The next piece of equipment needed will be a thermometer. There are several types available, most very inexpensive. The only ones I don't like are the ones that adhere to the outside of the glass. It seems to me that the ambient air temperature would play some factor in the reading of this thermometer. This is simply my opinion though, and many aquarists use them with good success. Our next piece of equipment would

April 2000

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

be a filter. The common box filter run by a cheap air pump is fine for under stocked small aquariums. These little box filters sit in the aquarium. They contain filter medium and activated carbon. The filter floss filters out particles of dirt, while the carbon adsorbs chemical pollutants. This filter works by using air to draw water through it, trapping dirt within it. These filters are cheap and easy for a child to understand how to use. Next would be a cover for the aquarium. This keeps our little friends in while keeping out Fluffy and other furry house pets. Make sure the aquarium hood has a fluorescent bulb, and not an incandescent bulb. The reason for this is the incandescent bulb burns very hot, causing the water temperature to rise. Plus, they are very expensive to run. All of the above items can usually be found in kits at aquarium stores. In these kits the only changes I would make would be to take out the heater that comes with it, if it is the clip on the back style, and replace it will the more reliable submersible heater. Ok, now that we have the basics let's get our children involved! A good age to give children the responsibility of their own tank is probably eight to ten years old. At this age they are grown up enough to understand that their pets are living creatures that depend on them for their well being. The first thing to do is take your child to the petshop to see what fish they like. Most often a goldfish is a first choice. This can be an excellent choice even though the fish do grow rather large. A ten-gallon aquarium would be a fine home for one or two pet goldfish. But if these fish are chosen, then in a year or so you will have to get a bigger tank or find them a new home, because they will out-grow it. An excellent benefit of keeping goldfish is that they thrive at room temperature, thus not requiring a heater. This saves on the initial set up, the electric bill down the line and lessens the electrical devices being used in the aquarium. The fewer number of items plugged in to the wall, the safer it is for a child. If the child wants tropical fish then a heater will be necessary. Remember that a ten-gallon tank will only hold four to eight small tropical fish. Also remember, fish grow, so those cute little tropicals may have an adult length of a foot or more, so do some homework on the fishes you want before you take them home. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

Once your child has decided, well as best as a child can, what they want. It's time to pick out the equipment. A ten-gallon starter kit is fine, but remember to insist on the better heater if tropicals are chosen. When picking out the tank make sure to pick up a book on the specific types of fish you want to keep. There are many good books out there that are written for tropicals or goldfish. Please pick up a book. You and your child can spend some quality time together reading this book. It will also help you immensely when it comes time to care for the fish. Once you have the kit and a book or two in the shopping cart, take a look at the decorations. Decorations for the tank are truly a personal opinion. As a general rule the tank should have one to one and one half pounds of gravel to a gallon of water. This allows enough gravel to bury your plastic plants and gives the fish some needed security. Make sure and buy all items for decoration from the pet store. It is very tempting to put other items into your aquarium that were not made specifically for it. You have no idea of where that item has been or what it is made out of. So play it safe and leave it out of your tank. Now that you have the tank, the kit, decorations and a book or two, it's time to take it all to the register pay for it and head for home. What!!! We didn't get any fish yet! That is true but we have done that intentionally. We don't want to bring any fish home until the tank has been up and running for a couple of days. This would also be a good time to read the book(s) with your child to prepare them for their new pets. Now that we are at home and need a place to set the tank. Place it on a level and very strong stand. Remember that water weighs almost nine pounds per gallon. Don't place the tank near a window or a heating/cooling device. These may cause temperature fluctuations that can stress your fish. Also, placing the tank near the window can cause too much light to reach the tank. This could cause an algae problem down the road. Once you have found a place for the aquarium, now is the time to set it up. The gravel needs to be rinsed before placing it into the tank. This is simply done by putting it into a large bucket and running clean water through it and rinsing it until the water runs clean. Place the gravel into the tank.

April 2000


News From:

The Northeast Council Of Aquarium Societies by CLAUDIA DICKINSON his is it everyone! The Silver Anniversary Awards were handed out in style at the NEC banquet in Hartford! It was a weekend not soon to be forgotten and filled with so many of you wonderful people who came to have a Grande Time. The GCAS is very proud to have had such an admirable representation of fine hobbyists in attendance. Before we give out the awards here, let me first tell you about some of the coming NEC events and updates.


If you think the NEC Judging School couldn't possibly mean you, please think again! Each class will give you the opportunity to work with a well-known speaker and judge who will guide you through what points to look for when observing your own fish. Upon completion of the course, you will have a whole different outlook when you return home to your own aquariums. Now you will know just what deportment is really all about, and what body and fin types are correct. You will be able to spot a flaw or deformity, and know which fish to put time into priming for a show and which ones possibly you may not even want to use for breeding purposes. On top of all of this wonderful new knowledge gained, you will receive a certificate recognizing that you have taken the course. Under the guidelines of the NEC, successful completion will deem you capable of determining the placement of winners at a show. The class is being conducted by noted judge Anne Broadmeyer, and will be held on Sundays just a short distance away in Connecticut. There will be ten classes that will be spread out over the year. I'm very excited about the course and I do hope that some of you will join me in Connecticut ~ I know we'll have a Grande Time! Anne can be reached for signing up at 203-775-0030, or please feel free to call me at 631-668-5409. We also have the Tropical Fish Showcase this fall on September 29th to October 1st in Norwalk, Connecticut. This will be one of the biggest show and auction events of the year for the Northeast, so let's start planning our show entries now! All of those great fish that you are preparing for our own big show in May will be perfect candidates for this fall affair. There are still a few classes left to be sponsored and you may do so by giving me a call or sending an e-mail to Wally Bush at Wbush27@aol.com . You'll find Wally to be more than helpful and accommodating. Let's take a look at what our NEC sister societies have been busy planning to keep us on the go this spring! Coming Events: April 2nd: Worcester Aquarium Society Auction. April 7th~9th: Tropical Fish Club of Burlington Show & Auction. April 14th: Brooklyn Aquarium Society Marine Event & Auction. April 30th: Monadnock Region Aquarium Society Auction. May 5th~7th: Greater City Aquarium Society Show & Auction. May 19th~21st: Aqua-Land Aquarium Society Show and Auction. June 4th: NEC General Meeting & Elections. Now, turn the page for the Silver Anniversary Award Results! Can't wait to see you next month! Take Care!

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

April 2000


Awards from the 25th Anniversary NEC Show 1999 - Best Overall Newsletter

Greater City Aquarium Society - Modern Aquarium 1999 - Best Article - Advanced Class 1st Sal Silvestri - Norwalk Aquarium Society -— "Breeding Apistogramma Nijsseni" 2nd Karen Randall - Boston Aquarium Society — "Care and Planting of Newly Acquired Plants " 3rd

Chuck Davis - Greater City Aquarium Society — "Oddball One - the Banded Loach"

1999 - Best Article - Open Class 1st John Todaro - Brooklyn Aquarium Society — "Why Fish Look That Way" 2nd Joseph Ferdenzi - Greater City Aquarium Society — "The Blue Gularis" 3rd Tony Pinto - Boston Aquarium Society — "Aphyosemion Striatum" 1999 - Best Column 1st James McNulty - Tropical Fish Society of Rhode Island — "Somebody Salt Me" 2nd Michael Rosenthal - Brooklyn Aquarium Society — "Killie Forum " 3rd Susan Priest - Greater City Aquarium Society — "Wet Leaves" 1999 - Best Humor Article 1st Susan Aufieri - Boston A. S. — 'Who Soys You Can't Teach an Old Human New Tricks?" 1999 1st 2nd 3rd Junior

Show Competition Thomas Miglio - Brooklyn Aquarium Society Christine Clark - North Jersey Aquarium Society Barbara Day - Aqualand Aquarium Society William Werner - Tropical Fish Club of Burlington

1999 - Betty Mueller Award Aline Finley 1999 - Breeders Participation Program Senior Breeder - Linda & Paul Parciak - Pioneer Valley Aquarium Society

To Exchange Editors and Contributors: Send all mail, including exchange publications, for Modern Aquarium, or for the Greater City Aquarium Society to: Alexander A. Priest % Greater City A.S. 1558 McDonald Street Bronx, NY 10461-2208 To contact us via e-mail, GreaterCity@compuserve.com

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Or, leave us a message on our website at http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/greatercity If you are sending an electronic file (including any article), please save the file as either: (1) .RTF (Rich Text Format); or (2) ASCII (DOS text, or text); or (3) WordPerfect 5.1 for MS-DOS (preferred). Please use an "8 plus 3" file name (that is, use no more than 8 letters or numbers, no spaces, no characters other than letters and numbers, with an (optional) file extension of no more than three letters or numbers). You can send 3.5" (Amiga, Macintosh, MS-DOS/Windows) or 5.25" (MS-DOS) size disks, either high or low density (no "super disks"). If you mail a disk, keep a copy of the file on your hard drive or on another floppy (the Post Office has been known to "cancel" programs on a disk), and include a printed copy, along with information indicating what program you used to create the file.


April 2000

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)



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April 2000

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

The Member Who's Just "Not There" A series by "The Undergrade! Reporter"


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I thought I heard her moan and whine When the meeting did not start on time. Yet, I did not see him sitting down When the meeting's start time came around. I'm told she's very often seen Reading our monthly magazine And making comments about the lack Of articles with useful facts. Yet, not only is he rarely heard But never has he written a word To show us all how it should be done She'd rather sit back and poke some fun. He's never said he'd do a program If asked, she's silent as a clam. Neither has he ever lauded Our speakers, not even applauded.

s I was walking up the stairs I saw a member who wasn't there. He wasn't there - was quite unseen While we prepared our gathering.


The member who's not there is here, She's never there, but always near. Quick to tell you what is his due, She thinks her work done if she renews.

To the Bowl Show she brought no fish; To the meeting donated no dish. Did you see him not raise his hand When members were asked to help our plans?

He really believes that all the rest Are there but to serve him best. For her it's too much of a bother To give back something to another.

I thought I saw her over where The evening's snacks were laid with care. I was wrong, he wasn't detected When auction donations were collected.

If you see her don't give a care For the member who's not really "there," Just regard his lack of words and deeds Bad examples if we're to succeed.

But to be frank, perhaps blunt I'm sure I saw her out in front When free samples were handed out To everyone who was about.

Think of all that you say and do, And ask yourself if it could be true That you are the subject of this ode, And how you can help share the load.

But how could he just disappear At the first call for volunteers To staff tables at our next show, Or bring in members so we can grow?

So write an article or two (You know, the one you said you'd do). And help set up our meeting room Afterwards, get behind a broom.

And did I hear her auction bidding So low I'm sure she was just kidding? If he were really there he'd see The club depends on auction fees.

Sometimes it's little things alone That you do will make you well known. Welcome every face that's new, So they won't be invisible too.

I was wrong, he made not a sound As calls for candidates went around To serve on our governing Board And donate time with scant reward.

Where are you when there's work to be done? Are you there to help, or just have fun? It's hard to find one who's nearer To you than your very own mirror.

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

April 2000




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April 2000

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

Fin Fun cw tkÂŤ The "Red Dragon" Discus mentioned in our lead article this month is a fish that, even if we have never seen it, most of us can visualize. There's something about the color red in a fish that attracts us and makes breeders try to develop red strains (e.g., Red Brick Swordtails, etc.). There are many non-hybrid fish with enough red color (body, fin, eye, etc.) to have earned a "red sounding" common name. See if you can match the scientific name with the common name of the following "reds." Red Devil

Aequidens thayeri

Redhump Geophagus

Etheostoma luteovinctum

Red-eyed Characin

Arnoldichthys spilopterus

Redtailed Catfish

Phractocephalus hemioliopterus

Red-tailed Goodeid

Cichlasoma labiatum

Redear Sunfish

Glossolepis incisus

Red-bellied Piranha

Geophagus steindachneri

Red bellied Flag Cichlid

Xenotoca eiseni

Redband Darter

Serrasalmus nattereri

Red Rainbowfish

Lepomis microphus

Solution to Last Month's Puzzle: Cichlid Souffle Fish

Lake Tanganyika


Geophagus brasiliensis


Neolamprologus multifasciatus


Apistogramma cacatuoides Julidochromis ornatus


Tropheus moori


Heros severus


Cichlasoma festae


Thorichthys meeki


Nannacara anomala


Petrochromis fasciolatus




April 2000

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

Profile for Dan Radebaugh

Modern Aquarium  

April 2000 volume VII number 4

Modern Aquarium  

April 2000 volume VII number 4