__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1


President's Message by JOSEPH FERDENZI he aquarium hobby is more than just keeping fish in a glass container. It should involve an interest in all things aquatic. That is what makes it a dynamic and "relevant" hobby. Apparently, judging from a sample of recent newspaper articles in the New York Times, the world shares the aquarist's interest in our watery realm. For example, the New York Times, on August 26, 1999, featured an article in its "House and Home" section on saltwater aquariums as status symbols ("At Home, Constant Reruns of Jaws"). This article went on to describe Park Avenue aquariums that cost their owners $30,000 (!) and up. This sensationalism aside, the article did point out some of the benefits of even modestly priced aquariums — they can be seen as a form of "living art," "home theater," and "educational classroom." On March 23, 2000, the newspaper had an interesting piece in its computer section, entitled "Robotic Pets: Building a Better Jellyfish." It was all about a new Japanese toy, a mechanical jellyfish, that was part of a new line of aquatic robots dubbed "aquaroids." These virtual pets are powered by solar cells, actually move about in water, and will sell for about $140. What can I say? They're a perfect match for plastic plants. The "Science Times" section of March 28, 2000, featured an aquatic subject of a more sublime nature. It revealed the work of Dr. Nancy Hopkins of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who uses the common zebra danio (Brachydanio rerio) in her research. She developed a technique for creating mutant fish from which she can clone mutant genes that will eventually (hopefully) lead to a deeper understanding of human development and the genetic basis of certain human diseases. Her laboratory houses thousands of normal and mutated zebra danios. The article notes that space for the laboratory is always a concern for Dr. Hopkins because "fish tanks take up room." (Dr. Hopkins, I know, my wife has the same problem.)

T

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

Another article in the "Science Times," this one from April 4, 2000, discusses the ecological threat to New York's Hudson River fishery from the invasion of the exotic zebra mussel. Apparently, not only are they consuming too much phytoplankton, an essential component of the aquatic food chain, but they are depleting inordinate amounts of oxygen from the water. There is a lesson here for aquarists: aquatic habitats, even those as large as the Hudson River, are fragile; never dump your exotic organisms into local waters. This warning extends to plants. The article also discusses a second invader that is depleting oxygen resources in some parts of the river, the floating plant known as water chestnut (Trapa natans). This plant is well known as a fish pond plant, and is widely available from commercial sources. So you see, never introduce anything from your tanks and ponds to natural habitats — no matter how benign you assume them to be. The front page of the Times' May 1, 2000 edition featured an article on genetically altered salmon. These salmon have an artificially introduced growth gene that makes them grow twice as fast as normal salmon. Obviously, this has vast potential for the food industry. But, every time I see an article like this, I wonder how soon will we see genetically altered ornamental fish. What would happen if you put a growth gene in a Neon Tetra? Would we get Neons the size of goldfish? What if you took the red gene from the Siamese Fighting Fish and put it in an Angelfish — would we get a bloody red Angel? Hey, how about putting a "freshwater" gene in a marine fish — would we need sea salt any more? This stuff is too scary for me. Lastly, on May 30, 2000, the Times had a more calming article on an exhibit at the Long Beach Aquarium in California ("A Weedy Sea Dragon Plays A Starring Role As 'Mr. Mom'"). This article is about a "pregnant" seadragon, a close relative of the seahorse (in which the male also carries the eggs from his female mate in his protective pouch until they hatch). If this seadragon gives "birth," it would apparently be an aquarium first. You see, we can all learn from the aquatic world around us. I think I'll do the dishes one night this month. This will free my wife up to take out the garbage. Hey, a little role reversal never hurt anyone.

November 2000


News From:

The Northeast Council Of Aquarium Societies by CLAUDIA DICKINSON hew! With all of the shows and auctions hosted by our sister NEC clubs and societies this fall, we've really been on the go! I'm sure we all need just a moment to catch our breath and take a close look at the wonderful new fish we've been able to add to our collections. I've been so fortunate to bring home several new varieties of apistos, some of which have already spawned since coming home, and have free swimming fry. I see a few beautiful new West African Cichlids in my tanks that are flaring and showing off their striking colors. Naturally, I could never resist bidding on the extraordinary catfish that always turn up at the auctions, and I actually found room for a few more of my "Big Guy Cichlids" that I so adore. But that's it, I tell myself firmly. Oh but wait, there's Boston Aquarium Society's Annual event right around the corner ~ this coming Sunday in fact! Maybe I'll be good next week The NEC Logo Contest has captivated a lot of our Greater City Aquarium Society's artist's attentions and the sketchpads have been busy at work. Hawaiian is the theme, and the winning design will proudly be displayed on the NEC 26th Annual Convention T-shirts, publicity and programs. You still have time if you've been dreaming up those fabulous creations of a Hawaiian fish luau. I can see it now, fish with leis and grass skirts, dancing in the balmy waters under the flickering shadows of the moonlight streaming through the whispering palm trees...whoops, there I go again...did I say draw it or write about it! How about ~ if you draw it, I'll write about it later! Please remember that a black and white version is needed, as well as a four-color version. Two copies of your entry are to be submitted, one signed and one unsigned, to: Janine Banks, 315 US Route 2, Grande Isle, VT 05458. Your entries need to be at Janine's at the end of November, as the committee deadline is December 1, 2000. I can't wait to see what you have created. The Greater City Aquarium Society will be so proud to have your artwork as the winner! Please feel free to contact me, as always, with any questions that you may have. Let's take a brief look back at all of those shows that you have been taking your prize fish to this season. In September you went to the Tropical Fish Society of Rhode Island's show, then right on their heels, the NEC had their Tropical Fish Showcase. You've just returned home from the extraordinary affair hosted by the North Jersey Aquarium Society and the Jersey Shore Aquarium Society. Did you know that for every class you have entered a fish in, you are eligible for points in the NEC Exhibitor Competition? This competition is based on a calendar year, and points are earned by exhibitors for winning Best of Show or Reserve of Show and a first, second, or third place ribbon. Points are also earned for entering any classes, and if you participated in all of the NEC shows in the calendar year, you will receive a 100-point bonus. Show results are submitted by the member society holding the show to the NEC Competition Committee, who tabulates them. After all of the fun you've had and the efforts you've made this year, you could be a winner! With more events still to come, let's take a look at the NEC Calendar of Events: • November 5th: Boston Aquarium Society Annual Event. • December 3rd: NEC General Meeting. • March 3rd ~ 4th: Tropical Fish Society of Rhode Island Buck-A-Bag Auction/Open House. • March 23rd~25th: NEC 26th Annual Convention. • April 23rd ~ 25th: Tropical Fish Club of Burlington Show & Auction. • April 29th: Monadnock Region Aquarium Club Auction. • May 18th ~ 20th: Aqua-Land Aquarium Society Show & Auction. Take Care and Have Fun! Claudia

W

November 2000

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


Seahorses by BERNARD HARRIGAN

he beautifully colored seahorse (genus: hippocampus) belongs to a most curious and remarkable group of fish, and has enchanted people for thousands of years. The name was given because of the resemblance of the head to that of a horse. Fishermen in ancient Rome believed that Neptune, the god of the ocean, charged through the water in a horse-drawn chariot. Seahorses, they figured, must be the babies of Neptune's horses! The seahorse, and many other small fishes, are of the same family as the pipefish and seadragon. There are almost 40 known species of seahorses spread throughout the world, but only a small spectrum of this variety is frequently imported for aquarist purposes. While the smallest species, the dwarf seahorse, is just an inch and a half in length, others achieve a body length of up to 14 inches (the giant seahorse). Actually, a seahorse is a quite normal fish that comes in very special packaging. It has long, tubular jaws much like a snout. The body is compressed, with an elongated tail. However, unlike most other fishes, seahorses Seahorse and their relatives don't have scales. They have bony plates under their skin, like a suit of armor. The plates provide protection from predators. For some species these plates make the body semi-rigid, with a series of spines and projections along the lines of juncture. These spines, together with the divided, streamer-like fins of some species, give them a strong resemblance to the seaweeds among which they live. Because of their rigidity, seahorses and then- relatives don't move their bodies in a wavelike fashion. Instead, they glide gracefully by fanning their delicate fins faster than the eye can see. The dorsal fin moves the fish forward and backwards, while the

T

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

pectoral fins control turning and steering. The seahorse has spiny projections forming a crown on top of its head called a "coronet." The coronet is nearly as distinctive as a human thumbprint. The eyes move independently from one another. The majestic and graceful way a seahorse swims is as charming as its appearance. The optical attraction of these creatures is increased by the contrast of their colors to the green of the eelgrasses and seaweeds in which most seahorses live. Seahorses live in seagrass beds, or among corals in shallow inshore waters. The species are found in various warm and temperate seas. All of them keep near the shore, and often develop in brackish water. The feeding of s e a h o r s e s is of paramount importance. They have been described as voracious eaters. A single seahorse can consume up to 3,000 brine shrimp each day. In the wild, these seahorses eat a variety of small crustaceans and l a r v a e . Immediately after aspirating the prey food, it remains in the form of a breath-fine drawing by B. Harrigan nebula doud on the sides of the seahorse's head making it seem as if its head were steaming. Before a seahorse catches its food, however, it studies its prey quite closely. Even at just a few days old, babies look specifically at each piece of plankton or brine shrimp before they suck it in. If the potential prey tries to escape, the otherwise leisurely seahorse suddenly transforms into a fast and agile predator, chasing its meal until it is caught. Seahorses suck in food and swallow it whole because they do not have teeth. They should be fed with a varied diet of live food such as brine shrimp, mysis shrimp and guppy fry.

November 2000


Male and female seahorses kept in a tank together will soon start courting. In the morning and evening, the couple does a round through the tank holding each other with the ends of their tales. Their bodies are in the form of a "V" as they swim through the tank, examining their neighborhood in every detail. Besides this behavior, they often "dance" by circling each other for a few seconds to several minutes. While these rituals seem to be of absolute priority for male seahorses, female seahorses can be easily distracted by other attractions (especially food). In such cases, a kind of punishment of the female occasionally takes place, as the male snaps at her head, which is probably rather painful. The same aggressive reaction can be seen if the female seahorse approaches another male. Before the actual mating, the male seahorse offers its water-filled breeding bag to the female again and again over several hours. It opens the pouch extremely wide by a special movement. The female seahorse then "docks" with the mid-part of its body to the opening of the male's pouch, and fills it with orange colored eggs. Subsequently, the male seahorse sways its body in order to distribute the eggs in the pouch. In seahorses, "pregnancy" happens to the male animals. Within two or three weeks of fertilization, between 50 and 1,500 seahorse babies, called ponies, develop inside the male's pouch, until they hatch and leave. Frequently, not all of the babies will leave the pouch at one

time, but rather in several phases over some minutes or hours, and in extreme cases even one or two days. Many males die a few days after the birth of the ponies because remaining dead babies in the pouch result in putrefaction and bacterial infection. Pregnancies can occur consecutively, causing the duration of pregnancy to be 2 to 5 weeks (with an average of 2 to 3 weeks). In addition, it seems that there are months-long infertile periods. Seahorses are monogamous in the wild, with partnerships lasting as long as their lives. One male and one female form a pair bond and mate repeatedly and exclusively during the mating season. Seahorses in captivity are not as strict as those in the wild. Keeping one male and several females in a tank, will result in the male changing partners again and again (in extreme cases almost daily). If there are several couples in a tank, one can observe stable linkages over a long time. After the death of one partner, the surviving seahorse usually chooses a new partner, but sometimes it also dies within a few days. Strangely, if no suitable partner of the same species is available, the seahorse will often look around for a seahorse of another species. Seahorses are both strangely unique and beautifully graceful, and have captured man's heart and imagination throughout the ages. A seahorse tank would be a centerpiece in anyone's fish room. Given the proper care they can bring enjoyment for generations.

The Federation of American Aquarium Societies by ALEXANDER A. PRIEST here was no October issue of "FR" (The Federation Report). The "September" issue was probably really the "Sept/Oct" issue. So, there is not much new information to report. I can say there's still no word of rule changes for the 2000 Publication Awards. I reported last month that, in his first FAAS President's Message, Jerry Montgomery asked for volunteers to fill three committee chair vacancies, and for delegates to provide feedback. That feedback process is now an on-line Internet discussion group, called the Delegates' Council. Since I firmly believe that certain decisions by FAAS would have been made differently had the

T

opinions of the society delegates been considered, I decided to join the The current Council Delegates' Council. discussion topic is the fees and membership structure of FAAS. I have already submitted my comments on those topics. While Greater City did very well in the most recent FAAS Publication Awards program under its current rules, I believe those rules need review. This issue is not currently on the table, but I hope it will be in the future.

November 2000

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


Fish Tanks in the Kitchen by VINCENT SILEO

y introduction to the hobby began when I was ten years old and visited a friend's house. His father had what must have been a 30-45 gallon tank with large cichlids (I don't remember what type, South or Central American, I think), and large catfish which we longed to see, but which remained hidden. My friend also had a tank of his own. A ten gallon tank with the most remarkable fish, "Kissing" Gouramies, and they were actually "kissing"!! I now realize that they were merely determining superiority in a crowded environment. But, at the time, I was enthralled with the various fish and their mysterious ways. Later that year my parents gave me the ten gallon starter kit that many of us began with. I can't say that I was thrilled. By that time, my interests had turned to my friend's garter snakes, but my parents insisted "No Snakes!" To pique my interest, we took a trip to the local pet shop to select some fish. Looking at all of the varieties of fish, I soon forgot about the kissing gouramies, as they were replaced by tiger barbs, angelfish, neons, and, finally, bright red swordtails. Wow, these fish were hot! The color just shot right out of the tank at you. Not only that, but even a beginner like myself could tell the boys from the girls by the impressive long tail the boys had. (Having four younger sisters and no brothers I really took to the idea that males in the animal world are usually more attractive than the females.) Yes, red swords would be the fish for my tank. Just wait until my friends see what I found! My Mom knew a little about fish and insisted that I get catfish to clean up any waste. The salesman agreed, but advised that they would only eat food that had reached the floor of the tank and not any fecal matter from the fish. He suggested green corys. They were cute, but would not distract from the stars of my aquarium, so I agreed to take them as well.

M

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

This was when we were informed that these are tropical fish which require a constant temperature of 75-78 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately, he had aquarium heaters available for just this purpose. Of course, I could keep goldfish if we couldn't afford the heater. But I wasn't having any of that! Goldfish were for bowls, for little kids, not for an aspiring aquarist! So we purchased the heater and went home to set up the tank. We decided to set it up on an old kitchen counter in the basement, right next to the sink—stable, away from direct sunlight, and close to a drain and faucet. It seemed to be the perfect place. I was very proud of my fish in their bare bottomed tank. Not as decorative as my friend's, but he didn't have bright red swords! The next day I was heartbroken as I found my prized male red sword had jumped out of the tank and could not be found. (His vanishing act remains a mystery till this day, but I've heard that it's been repeated numerous times.) So back to the pet store we went to purchase a lighted hood. Of course we went with the incandescent model, since it was much less expensive and we didn't know of any benefits of the fluorescent aquarium light. Later we learned that the incandescent light generated a good amount of heat, which affected the water temperature; and, when it burned out, I didn't replace it. Gradually, I lost interest in the aquarium, feeding only occasionally, never doing any water changes and only adding water when it was almost empty. It wasn't long before the only fish I had left were the two corydoras. One day while filling the tank I noticed that there were THREE corydoras. How did that happen? My first breeding experience and it happened under the worst conditions and with terrible odds (only two fish and they happen to be opposite sexes!). My renewed interest didn't last and, when the corys went, I took the tank down. I

November 2000


moved it into my bedroom and used it to hold small lizards such as anoles and house geckos. No more fish tanks in the kitchen. As I got older I kept just about every type of animal I could in my bedroom including tropical fish, wild squirrels I hand raised and yes, even snakes! At one point my room was more like a petting zoo with a bed in it. My apartment would be that way today if it were not for allergies and asthma which have severely restricted my choices. The only pets which didn't affect my physical condition were the tropical fish, amphibians and reptiles. I still keep a tank of fire belly toads, (they are toads, NOT frogs: toads have rough skin caused by glandular tubercules, frogs are smooth.) But my main interest turned to aquariums. It wasn't long before I had aquariums all over my apartment. The living room, bedroom, hallways—everywhere you looked, their was an aquarium. It was so bad that my wife complained of nightmares in which there was an aquarium in every closet and even the bathroom. (/ liked the bathroom idea, but haven 't been able to make it work!) Of course I set one up in the kitchen as well, but a small galley kitchen has no spare room, and the aquarium was really in the way. So this was the first to go. Again, no more fish tanks in the kitchen. My prized aquarium contained a community of South American varieties including angelfish. I was very happy when two pairs of angels found the aquarium comfortable enough to breed in. I can't really take any credit for breeding them. I really didn't have much to do with it. But I was particularly happy that the two

gold angels paired up, and so did the two blacks. At first I waited to see if any would survive in the community tank but after the second spawning, realized that I must intervene. I sought advice from my friends in and out of the Greater City Aquarium Society. Everyone was more than happy to tell me their way of hatching and raising baby angels. The one thing they all had in common was newly hatched baby brine shrimp as their first food. So I went to work setting up two "Soda Bottle" brine shrimp hatcheries, as I had seen demonstrated by Joe Ferdenzi at a GCAS meeting. Where else would you do this other than the kitchen? So the little counter space we had in the kitchen was made smaller by the hatchery. The angels grew quickly and had to be moved to larger quarters. So a ten gallon aquarium was once again in the kitchen until I had found homes for all of our offspring. The largest offensive taken on the kitchen was when I really let loose and brought in a LARGE shipment of aquatic plants for one of the North East Council of Aquarium Societies (NEC) Conventions. I had to set up three ten gallon aquariums on the counter, and put another one on top of the stove! Luckily, they only had to be set up for two weeks. Over the years the kitchen aquarium has been temporarily set up as a holding tank, and as a hospital tank, but never remained for long. I even have it set up as a quarantine tank as I'm writing this article. So the battle continues, is the kitchen for preparing food, or keeping aquariums? If I only had a bigger kitchen, it could be for both.

Coming Events at Greater City: 12/6/2000 - Kevin Johnson (Marineland) "The Best Filtration Suitable for Your Aquarium" 1/3/2001 - Holiday Party! (No Speaker, No Bowl Show) 2/7/2001 - To Be Announced 3/7/2001 - Craig Morfitt (President, Bermuda Fry-Angle Aquarium Society) "Delving Deeper into Lake Malawi" 4/4/2001 - Silent Auction (No Speaker, No Bowl Show) 5/2/2001 - Karen Randall (Boston Aquarium Society) "The Planted Aquarium" 6/6/2001 - Sal Silvestri (Norwalk Aquarium Society) "Apistogramma: The Diminutive Fish Filled With Beauty And Charm' September 5, 2001 - Horst Gerber (Greater City Aquarium Society) "The Decorated Aquarium" 8

November 2000

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


econd Reprints deserving a second look Selected by ALEXANDER A. PRIEST he classification of cichlids has always been confusing to me, probably compounded by the fact that I am an "anabantoidolic," rather than a "cichlidiot." While this article, reprinted from the September 2000 issue of the North Jersey Aquarium Society's Reporter, will probably not turn anyone into an expert, it should clear up many, if not most, of the classification questions the average hobbyist will encounter related to Central American cichlids.

T

Sorting Out The Grey Dogs A Decidedly Unscientific Approach to Central American Cichlid Identification. Rick Bolger, NJAS

What's in a name? As a fishkeeper, you've seen it time after time: A bunch of guys at a society meeting, arguing over a white plastic pail... "It's Her'os," says one. "I believe Conkel calls it Nandopsis," replies another. "They're working on the whole family...! think they put that one in Parapetenia," chimes a third. After a while the breeder's award honcho steps in, and authoritatively cuts through the clutter with, "we'll just list it as Cichlasoma." Finally, you know what they're talking about: Central American cichlids. The bucket brigaders all shrug their shoulders and acquiesce Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

to the tried and true Cichlasoma. Big, ugly, greyish, conspiratorial monsters that go about their plant eating and gravel moving with a deliberate, deranged tenacity...or, highly evolved creatures with tremendous parental tendencies of which the finest specimens always seem to draw the most attention at fish shows. Which is it? Will the real Cichlasoma please step forward? Actually, all of it is true, except the Cichlasoma part. Central American cichlids tend to be greyish, but they also dress in a rainbow of colorful spangles. They often pester and kill their own kind, but they are also fiercely devoted parents. They are a little of everything, except the one thing everybody was certain about: they aren't "cichlasoma."

November 2000


Indeed, they are "cichlasomines," but not of the genus Cichlasoma. After what was probably very dreary research through some moldy volumes, it has been determined that Cichlasoma was originally used to describe some of the South American fishes popularly known as Acaras. (But not all Acaras. The best known example is probably the "port-hole cichlid," or Cichlasoma taenia, not to be confused with the more colorful "port cichlid.") Thus the Central Americans were cast adrift, with no popular name to anchor to. The scientists, for their part, are redesigning the whole spectrum of Central American names. The problem is that just when they think they hove everything sewed up in neat little scientific packages, some hobbyist trudges through a swamp in one of the banana republics and pulls out a new ugly grey dog that doesn't quite fit. Eventually, all the notes will match and we'll have a lengthy list of highly accurate names. In the meantime, the following descriptions are an easy-to-remember and occasionally accurate way to classify the Central Americans. Perfect for the bucket brigade, and usually garners a grunt of approval from the scientific types. Better still, you can easily memorize these classifications with the help of an acronym. (Be forewarned that the acronym memorization method is unlikely to garner any approval whatsoever from the scientific types.) The Acronyms: NATHAT & PHANG NATHAT represents the six types often mislabeled "cichlasoma." PHANG represents the oddballs, the cichlids that defy being lumped into the main six. Again, these six are currently being reclassified into a host of more exacting genera, but if you can learn them at this simplified level you are on your way to a better understanding of Central American cichlids! The order is approximately by size, largest to smallest, with the exception of the five oddballs that follow. The acronym NATHAT stands for Nandopsis, Amphilophus, Theraps, Herichthys, Archocentrus, Thorichthys. The size ranking is generally that the largest Nandopsis is bigger than the largest Amphilophus, and so on down the line. There are of course a few Herichthys larger than many Nandopsis, but for the sake of sanity we'll do it the easy way and stick with NATHAT. Be warned that the Latin is not exact — fenestratus, fenestratum? Sorry, I don't speak Italian.

10

Nandopsis If you know what a "managuense" or jaguar cichlid looks like, you'll have a pretty good concept of what the Nandopsis are all about. These tend to be submarine-shaped predators, with a concave forehead, upturned mouth, and highly protractile jaw. Known as the guapotes, these fish are built to pursue smaller fish and eat them. Dovii and umbriferum get size honors, while salvinii is regarded as the smallest. If you think only in terms of their silhouette, all of the aforementioned fish are essentially the same. Other well-known Nandopsis include the motaguense, loisellei, grammodes, minckleyi, and the preeminent nasty grey dog, the "red terror" or Nandopsis urophthalmus. According to some, the prettier red terror, N. festae, is also in this group. Nandopsis species have the widest territorial range of the Central Americans: north and west through Mexico, south to where the festaes and umbies range into Colombia, and east to the Dominican Republic where the haitiensis is found. Amphilophus Picture the shape of a red devil, and you've got the Amphilophus. If you've done your homework, you might be wondering which red devil, labiatum or citrinellus? Either one; both are Amphilophus. Some tend to be slender, with long snouts like A. labiatus; others tend to be taller, with pointy snouts like A. citrinellus. (Citrinellus — or is it citrinellum — is also known as the midas cichlid.) All tend to have concave foreheads, and most display seven wide vertical bars when young. Many Amphilophus make their living by sucking crustaceans and other chum out of gravel and crevices in lakes, so you can frequently identify this genera as the fishes with the big lips. Some of the betterknown Amphilophus include robertsoni, altifrons, lyonsi, and alfari. Another fish that typifies the Amphilophus is the trimaculatum, but some consider this a Nandopsis. As time goes on and you learn more about the different types, you'll come to your own conclusion. Theraps This is the broadest, most discussed, and most disagreed about genera of the big six. Ever seen a black belt cichlid, T. maculicaudal Take away the coloring, and you've got the basic outline of the Theraps. These fish have convex

November 2000

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


Thorichthys note dorsal fins-curve

note tail shape Black blotch ringed with irridescent color foreheads prior to the onset of the nuchal hump (if any), and often show a broad, dark black lateral swath from the pectoral fin through the caudal peduncle. Some are long and slender, exemplified by the popular T. nicaraguense and the seldom seen T. irregulare, while others have a much taller profile. A lot of Theraps resemble the popular bifasciatum, such as the zonatum, fenestratum, breidohri, regani, godmanni, etc., and are known as vieja to the locals. Theraps tend to have large eyes, and smaller, terminal or even subterminal mouths. The large eyes, combined with the convex forehead, gives these fish an intelligent look (as fish go) and they are often attributed with "personality." The largest, Theraps, is probably either the black belt or argentea, which can attain over a foot in length. The smallest is the colorful panamense. Other popular species include guttulatum, hartwegi, and irregulare. Herichthys Probably the oldest and least-disputed classification, Herlchthys is best exemplified by our own Texas cichlid, or Rio Grande perch, H. cyanoguttatus. Now, if you can get the experts to agree on which fish exactly this is, you'd be in good shape; some say the golden brown Herichthys is the cyanoguttatus, while others offer up a blue-green species, and still others say they are the same fish. In any case, all of the various cyanoguttatus are distinctly different from the carpintus, which is another Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

common Herichthys. This genera, regardless of species, tends to be rather box-like when viewed from the side, with a decidedly shorter snout than most of the other groups. These fish also have steeply sloped foreheads, and have a high degree of pearl-like spangling. Another noteworthy fact is that this group tends to have the northernmost range of all neotropical cichlids. The largest Herichthys is the pearsei; an extended list of this genus includes the labridens and a host of undescribed fish, most of which sport the spangled look of the Texas cichlid. Archocentrus This might be the easiest one to identify, as it claims the ubiquitous convict among its membership. Identifiable by an oval shape, terminal mouth, small eyes, and generally drab coloring, they don't excite a lot of people. Archocentrus fans, however, will argue that this group provides a lot of bang for the buck. They are quite hardy, eat anything, and breed readily. Males are recognizable by larger size, and long, thread-like fin extensions. In the case of a fullgrown male convict, the entire caudal fin takes on these wisp-like characteristics; noted aquarist Mike Sheridan likens it to the appearance of the veiltall angelfish. Females, on the other hand, can be recognized by darker or more colorful abdomens, and a prominent black spot ringed with color on the middle of the dorsal fin. Archocentrus are small, popular fish, and do include the smallest Central American

November 2000

11


cichlids, such as the sajica (t-bar cichlid) and the septemfasciatum (also known as cutter's cichlid, but not to be confused with Ar. cutteri, which Is also known as Ar. spilurus). Arguably, the most colorful of the group is the recently identified Archocentrus nanoluteus, which sports a bright blue and green coloring and is one of the few where the male outshines the female. Archocentrus centrarchus, the flier cichlid, claims size honors...or does it? Some studies place the Jack Dempsey in this genus, while others say it's a Nandopsis. Wayne Liebel, champion and defender of all cichlids neotropical, once said "wellll...it looks like a Nandopsis...I think it's a Nandopsis...what do you think?" One of the most compelling arguments for Archocentrus octofasciatum is that the Dempsey readily interbreeds with most of this group, and has given rise to a proliferation of "dempseycons," a hideous grey fish with disposition to match. Thorichthys Of the six NATHATs, these are generally the easiest to identify: the firemouths. Now, they aren't all "firemouths" exactly, but when compared in black and white photos, the similarities are undeniable. Like the meeki, all Thorichthys have a long, sloping snout, with large eyes set far back on the head. Also like the meeki, they have a striking, ringed-black blotch at the edge of the operculum, and tails with a noticeably straight edge. The top of the dorsal fin is generally in the shape of an elegant, sweeping s-curve. Almost all have some degree of orange to red coloring on the throat and belly, and a prominent dark area mid body. As a group, Thorichthys are probably the gentlest of the NATHATs; the famous firemouth gill flaring is more a reflection of a good publicity agent than any real capability. For this reason, many novice aquarists try to keep firemouths with the other bread and butter cichlids. When all the neighbors are young and small, the bluff and bravado allows the Thorichthys to dominate and bully tankmates; as time goes by, the firemouths will be steadily killed off. In addition to the meeki, popular Thorichthys include the ellioti, helleri, and aureum, the smallest of the crew.

12

The Oddballs After the main NATHAT six, the remaining Central American cichlids are comprised of different genera, each with a single (known) species. These can be remembered by the acronym PHANG. Petenia splendida — the Red Bay snook, a big reddish, brown, or pink fish that looks like a Nandopsis with a funny-looking mouth built to inhale food. Biggest of all Central American cichlids. Herotilapia multispinosa ~ the rainbow cichlid. A popular fish, easy to breed, but with an overly romanticized common name. Aequidens coeruleopunctatus — an acara type. Resembles the green terror of this genus, of which all but this representative hail from Soutn America. Neetroplus nematopus — the poor man's tropheus, also known as the little lake cichlid, or neets. Usually a black, oval-shaped fish with a prominent light vertical bar midship. Sometimes a light fish with a dark bar. Geophagus crassilabris — the only Central American version of this common South American genus. This species resembles the red-hump, G. steindachneri. Hopefully the main theme that came through this brief overview and exercise is the fact that a lot of work remains to be done in Central American cichlidae. Each of the big six with the possible exception of Thoricthys - will eventually be comprised of a number of more precise genera. Even the oddball list is likely to swell, as new fish are discovered and the nonconformists (such as the Dempsey) are studied and get new, one-of-a-kind first names. As work continues, our understanding of these fish will expand, and a lot of the current thinking will fall by the wayside. Until then, NATHAT and PHANG are surely the easiest way to remember the main genera. With any luck, the day may come when the bucket brigade peers down into the pail and says "nice Amphilophus" in unison, and you'll know exactly what they are talking about. Reprinted from the September 2000 issue of the North Jersey Aquarium Society Reporter. This publication, as well as the publications of other societies with which we exchange publications, is available for loan by any member upon request. See me at any meeting, or call or send me e-mail with your request. Al Priest, Exchange Editor

November 2000

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


f

by BERNARD HARRIGAN

MOLLIES ollies, from the genus Poecilia, include Poecilia velifera and Poecilia sphenops and are the subject of much misunderstanding. Mollies are found in the wild along the Central American coast. Some mollies are true salt water fish. Since they live along the coast, and are frequently caught in tide pools which are filled with fresh water in a heavy rain, they have developed the ability to live in both fresh and salt water. As I said before, some mollies are saltwater fish, brackish water at best. If p r o p e r l y acclimatized, they can be placed in any degree of salinity up to and including a full marine tank. This is Mollies not to say you must become a saltwater aquarist to raise good mollies. The bottom line is they need salt in their tank. I put 2-3 tablespoons of salt per gallon of water. If you use marine salt, your mollies will do better, because it will not only have the right saline mixture, but your water will contain the correct mineral content. Top off water that has evaporated with pure fresh water. Mollies prefer a pH of around 8 with a temperature range from 74-82째F. (They do great at 80째F.) They are omnivorous, but need a good amount of vegetable matter in their diet. A good spirulina flake food, and some cooked spinach, would help provide this vegetable matter.

M

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

Mollies are lively schooling fish. They are larger compared with their close relatives. Some can grow as large as 4 1/2 inches. They are relatively slender, laterally compressed, elongated, but have an evenly high body build. The females have a little fatter, fuller body. The males also have a sexual organ called a gonopodium, which is movable. Their coloration ranges anywhere from jet black to green with red to orange highlights. Man has even come up with a gold variety, but I found it to be smaller and less hardy than its wild relatives. Mollies are livebearers and some large females are very prolific, producing broods of over a drawing by B. Harrigan hundred fry. It's best to have two females to every one male. I feed babies blanched zucchini cut into cubes. Mollies have also gained the reputation of being weak, relatively short lived, susceptible to the shimmies, thin bodied, and very prone to ick. Although the accusations are true, they are not to be blamed on the breed, but rather on the hobbyist for not meeting the needs of the fish. Given that the aquarist has the right knowledge, I wouldn't hesitate recommending mollies to either the beginner or experienced hobbyist alike; and remember, fun fish keeping!

November 2000

13


run An advertisement; from

Tke Aquarium

Magazine.

October 1969

IT IS a Wonderful World of Water to this ynungstnr and to millions of children and adults who are fascinated with aquarium life anri concerned with the care and we}} being of their aquariums. Because they care thny feed their tropical and marine fish the best... and the best is Wardiey's New Wundcrbar Imparted Flnke Fcod. Made In West Germany, tc Wardiey's exacting specifications, New Wunderfcar Hake Food contains all of t!?2 essential nutrients to give your fish the weH balanced diet they need and deserve. 17*3 EASILY DIGESTIBLE, SO LIGHT IT RGATS and for the well being of your aquarium, IT WON'T CLOUD AQUAHiUM WATER. You'll find Wardiey's New Wunderbar Flake Food wherever tropical and marine fish are sold, and in THREE DIFFERENT SIZES... a one ounce canister, two ounce canister and the large eight ounce can. A Wunderte exclusive — sets of colorful tropical fish stamps are attached to every canister af Wunderbar Imported Flake Food. There are 12 different sets that you can collect and paste in Wardiey's Wonderful Warld of Water Tropical Fish Album. *See offer below. In addition, each largn eight ounce can of Wunderbar contains a set of colorful measuring spoons that can hs utilized for many various aquarium tasks; measured feeding, dispensing nf remedies, etc. So see your aquarium dealer, today, and ask for Wardfey's New Wunderbar Imported Flake Food. You'll find IT IS A Wonderful World Cf Water too... WRITE for NEW WONDERFUL WORLD OF WATER TROPICAL FISH ALBUM (Series A; plus 36 page, colorful booklet !f IN FACTS." Just enc'lose 25{ ;fi coir- or postage to cover handling. In addition -wsrll send you free tropical Jish stamp!- to start your r.o!!sr.ticn. Offer good i» U.S.A. only!! WARDIEY'S FISH ALSUM OFf&R 44-01-11th Street, long island City, M.Y. 11101

November 2000

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


WET LEAVES A Series On Books For The Hobbyist by SUSAN PRIEST s I prepare to review this book, I realize that I was attracted to it by its color (red), its size (fits neatly into the palm), and yes, even its title! The subject of this book is of interest to all fishkeepers. "The aim of the book is to help aquarists recognize the signs of illness, to identify the problem, and then to take the appropriate remedial action." Section I is dedicated to health and husbandry. It is made up of nine chapters, including: "The Welfare of Fish," "Signs of a Healthy Fish," "Nutrition," and "Breeding." "Imagine the outcry if animal welfare groups discovered that someone had bought a kitten or puppy, treated it so badly that it dies within a day, gone back for another—and then another after that, and yet another. That is exactly what happens to fish on a regular basis." The chapter on "The Welfare of Fish" reminds us of our responsibility to provide a stable and healthy environment. In the chapter on "Signs of a Healthy Fish," an attempt is made to "establish the norm." We are given numerous general guidelines, and again reminded that it is our responsibility to learn what is normal for each of our charges. The chapter on nutrition was an eye-opener for me. When you learn that a fish is an herbivore or a carnivore, it is not because they like the taste, or even because of what foods are most readily available, but this is determined by the digestive system of the fish. An herbivore has a long intestine for slow digestion of vegetable matter, and a piscivore has a large stomach to accommodate a whole fish. Fish which are offered inappropriate foods will either a) not eat it, or b) be unable to derive any nutrition from it. In either case, the fish will slowly starve to death. I would like to quote a couple of sentences from a subheading in the chapter on Breeding called "Precocious Breeding": "In

A

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

nature female fish probably breed as soon as they are capable of doing so. This is not necessarily desirable in the aquarium...it should be borne in mind that each episode of egg/fry production in a young female is likely to cause a check in (her) growth." "In the wild it is highly unlikely that young males will have an opportunity to breed because of competition from larger, stronger, fully grown males. In captivity infertility of first clutches from young females may be a problem where the male is also young." The authors consider Section I to be the most important. However, I felt a strong pull to the more reader-friendly A-Z format of both sections II and III. Section II, Signs of Disease and Health Problems and Section III Treatment of Disease and Health Problems, are both alphabetized, and are extensively crossreferenced. (The hypertext format reminds me of an internet website where blue underlined text is a sign of greater detail available.) These two sections work together to provide a very comprehensive reference. I particularly liked the format used in Section III; each entry is subdivided into "signs," "causes," and "prevention & treatment." This compartmentalization is very easy to use. Here are some excerpts from an entry in Section III: Aflatoxin poisoning — toxins produced by certain types of mould. Signs: poor growth, anemia, liver tumors. Cause: improper storage of dried foods — warm, damp conditions. Prevention and treatment: store dried foods in cool, dry conditions. In this instance, the words poison, anemia, and tumors are cross referenced. There is no index, but in this case I didn't miss it. This book serves as its own glossary. The photos were useful, but there were too few of them. A particular peeve was the diagram offish anatomy with the nostril the same color as the brain, the gonads the same color as the gills, etc. The color coding should imply some sort of connection. I found this annoying and misleading. In spite of its flaws, this book does many things well. The thing it does best is lure us to the aquarium with a keener and more observing eye.

November 2000

15


EO PETS10P TROPICAL FISH AQUARIUM Specializing in Tropical Fish and Aquarium Supplies Large Selection of Aquatic Plants Knowledgeable Staff Same Location Since 1947. 11 5-23 Jamaica Avenue Richmond Hill, NY 11418

(718) 849-6678

Marine Biologist On Staff Custom Tank Builders for the NY Aquarium Manufacturers of Aquarium & Filter Systems Custom Cabinetry & Lighting Largest Selection of Marine & Freshwater Livestock in NY New York's Largest Custom Aquarium Showroom See Working Systems on Display 2015 Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11234 (718)258-0653

Open Saturdays and Sundays Amex, Discover, MasterCard, Visa 2 miles off exit 11N of the Belt Parkway www.WorldClassAquarium.com

16

November 2000

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


SILENCE, Please! A series by "The Undergravel Reporter"

ecently, I tried fiddling with the airlines in a setup I have. I was using one of those "quiet" air pumps (the kind with names like "Silent Puffs" or "PSSST"). It was a powerful pump, with two outlets. It was also not noiseless. This air pump powered seven different sponge or box filters. In addition to driving all these filters, it was also driving me crazy every time I walked by because of the racket it made. Plan A: I figured that the air pump needed an overhaul. So I went to my local aquarium store for a parts kit for my filter. That kit had two rubber diaphragms (they look like bottle caps) and other items to overhaul a poorly performing air pump. Then, I discovered what I had to do to open the air pump case to replace the parts. This involved removing four very tiny screws which were obviously originally inserted with a power drill. Once the case was opened (and after applying bandages on the fingers that I pierced each time the screwdriver slipped), I had to remove even more tiny screws and a few nuts, which were holding down the diaphragms. Unfortunately, the diaphragms were mounted in a way that makes it nearly impossible to just slip the old diaphragm off, and replace it with a new one. I also discovered that it's all too easy to lose some of the tiny screws. My local fish store told me this was a 20 minute job. Four hours later, I was ready to plug the air pump in. To my surprise, it actually started working. Now, it was time to put it to the test. I reconnected the air line tubing, and the result was a noticeable decrease in noise. Success — or so I thought. An hour later, things were still relatively quiet — too quiet in fact. Not only was the air pump not making a racket, it also seemed not to be producing much air. Several of the filters showed no air or water movement.

R

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

Plan B: I started adjusting the air valves on the air line tubing leading to the filter. Some of you may be old enough to remember circus acts (and even television variety shows) where a performer balances a plate on a stick by spinning both plate and stick. The first few plates never seem to be a problem; but as more and more plates are added, an increasing number of plates need to be spun again to keep them balanced. Soon, the performer is spending all his time working on plates in need of an additional spin. This is just about how I felt working on the tangle of air lines feeding seven devices. When I increased the air flow to one to get it going, two stopped working. The good news is that after an hour or so of adjustment, all the filters were again working the way they were before. The bad news is that the noise was also back. On to Plan C: I returned to the store to buy a new top-of-the-line air pump. It was a rounded grey lump, unlike the white "boxy" type I had before. Like my former air pump, it also had two air outlets. And it also went under a name that implied absolutely noiseless operation. One of the air lines leading into my old filter resisted all my efforts to remove it (even though it had slipped on and off just a few hours before). I pulled harder — and broke the plastic air nozzle of the pump. What else could go wrong? I finally managed to push the air lines into the new filter, plugged it in, and heard the same noise as before — not any worse, only not any better, either. Plus, to add additional insult, some of the filters were again not working, which meant I had to spend another hour or so adjusting the air valves (and, because I broke one of the nozzles from my old air pump, reconnecting the old pump was no longer an option). Last resort — Plan D: I went back to the aquarium store for 25 feet of air line and seven of their cheapest air pumps — the kind that come with the so-called "undergravel filters" in those one gallon containers laughingly sold as fish tanks. Then, I went to the hardware store for their cheapest power strip. Back at home, I removed the air line tubing and valves from all the filters, connected each filter to its own air pump, plugged the air pumps into the power strip and, surprise, success at last! The end result is not exactly a "silent whisper," but it's less noisy with seven cheap pumps than one very expensive one. Then, again, maybe it isn't really quieter, maybe I'm just too tired to care any more. While I now have two powerful air pumps I no longer need (I fixed the nozzle on the first), can you guess why I can't bring myself to donate them to our "Silent" Auction?

November 2000


BIRDS, REPTILES SMALL ANIMALS TROPICAL & MARINE FISH

HUGE SELECTION OF LIVE ROCK & CORA ALWAYS IN STOCK MARINE FISH &

THE PET BARMjj FRANKLIN SQUARE'S COMPLETE PET CENTER 212 FRANKLIN AVE FRANKLIN SQUARE, NY 11010 Come see our large Aquarium Plant display and receive jl ONE FREE cultivated plant, just for stopping by! EXOTIC FRESHWATER FISH AFRICAN CICHLIDS IMPORTED GOLDFISH AND KOI

8183

CORAL AQUARIUM 75-05 Roosevelt Ave Jackson Heights, NY 11372 718-429-3934 Open Mon.-Fri. 10AM-8:OOPM Sat. 10AM - 7:OOPM Sun. 12PM -6:OOPM • SALTWATER FISH

LIVE CORALS

LIVE ROCKS

• INVERTEBRATES

TROPICAL FISH

FANCY GOLDFISH

LIVE PLANTS

WET-DRY FILTERS

PROTEIN SKIMMERS

BIRDS

REPTILES

DOG & CAT SUPPLIES

DOG & CAT FOOD

BIRD CAGES

• RABBITS

HAMSTERS

• COMPLETE AQUARIUMS

All Major Credit Cards Accepted

18

November 2000

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


Profile for Dan Radebaugh

Modern Aquarium  

November 2000 volume VII number 9

Modern Aquarium  

November 2000 volume VII number 9

Advertisement