volume VIII number 8
Greater City Aquarium Society - New York
Vol. VIII, No. 8
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A New Generation of Betta enisae
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Microworms for Micromouths
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Second Sight (reprint column) B re e d e'r '
FAASinations (FAAS Delegate's Report)
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"Breeding Your First Mouthbrooders" . . .
The Frugal Aquarist - Part II
Fin Fun (Puzzle Page)
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Articles submitted for consideration in MODERN AQUARIUM must be received no later than the 1 Oth day of the month, three months prior to the month of publication. Copyright 2001 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: Joe Ferdenzi (718)767-2691. You can also leave us a message at our Internet Home Page at: http: //ourworId. CompuServe. com/homepages/greatercity
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by ALEXANDER A. PRIEST
t is impossible for an aquarium society that meets, and has many members who live and work, in New York City to be unaffected by the tragic and horrible events of September 11, 2001, and their aftermath. I want to thank all the members of this society who called or emailed me, asking if I was alright and whether I knew if other GCAS members who work in Manhattan were O.K. On behalf of myself, my wife, and the entire Editorial Staff of Modern Aquarium, I want to extend a message of sympathy to all of our members whose family and/or friends were harmed in any way by the terrorist attacks on our country, here in New York City, in Washington, D.C., or in Pennsylvania. If this were not a "family publication," I would echo on these pages the headline of the September 18 issue of the Village Voice: "THE B*ST*RDS!" Of course, we have to push on with our lives, and that includes our hobbies. So, let's look at events in our society. Our May 2002 Show and Auction is still on-track. It's a bit premature to announce a full schedule of events, but we do know that there is a multi-class, all-fish-species show on Saturday, with a giant hardware and livestock/plant auction on Sunday. The show awards will be given out before Sunday's auction. It's not too soon to start picking out fish and plants to enter in our show. Once you decide which fish and plants are your best, isolate them, and give them extra care and attention. It's amazing how much difference a few months of extra pampering (more frequent water changes, more frequent feeding, live foods where appropriate, etc.) will accomplish. Since we're on the subject of our show, and in keeping with the theme I've been working on for the past few months of providing you with a series of questions which, if you write out even
brief answers to each, will result in an article, I'm now going to focus on a "Show Article." Here are some questions that you, as a prospective author of a "Show Article," should ask yourself, and provide written answers: o Briefly describe your experience with shows and auctions. Do you go to a lot of them, only go to those sponsored by your own society, are a "first timer," etc.? o Who sponsored this Show (the society or organization). Where was it held? o Was there an admission fee and/or a "bidder's fee?" If so, was it worth it? o Was it a "Show" (i.e., aquatic life was judged, and awards given), an auction, or both? If it was a Show or both, what were the Show awards (cash, certificates, trophies, medals, or some combination)? o If this was a "Show," did you enter? If so, what, if anything, did you win? o Were there speakers, displays, events, vendor tables, "family" activities, etc? If so, briefly describe them. o Was it well attended (did it have good participation)? Briefly explain the reason for your answer. o Briefly describe anything in the physical layout and accommodations (the location, the room or rooms, etc.) that you felt was especially good, or that you felt could have been improved upon. o If there was an auction, was there a wide selection of items, or just a lot of bags of the same species? How were the prices and selection? What did you bid on, and what, if anything, did you take home? o If this same event were held again next year, would you attend, and why? o How friendly and/or helpful were the organizers of this event? Did you get the feeling that they welcomed you, or did they seem mostly interested in your money? Briefly explain your answer. o Was there anything you had not seen in previous shows? If so, briefly provide your opinion and reasons as to why these things were a good or poor innovation. If you answered these questions, you wrote a Show Article! Give me your answers and you'll see your article in Modern Aquarium. In future columns, I'll discuss a related topic: "Judging" articles, as well as "Collecting" articles, "How-To" articles, and "Humorous" articles.
Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)
Get ready! Get your fish ready! Get your whole family ready! For the Greater City Aquarium Society Birthday Blast that's been 80 years in the making!
The Greater City 80th Anniversary Show and Auction k A A A A IA A c^
*s •X ** *x
Queens County Farm Museum 73-50 Little Neck Parkway Floral Park, NY October 2001
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A New Generation of Betta enisae: or: Breeding the "Metamorphosis Fish" by SUSAN PRIEST
etamorphosis: A striking change of appearance, character, form, etc. - a transformation. In nature, the classic example of metamorphosis is, of course, a butterfly. It starts its life as a caterpillar. Slowly, silently, and out of sight of the world, each caterpillar cell differentiates into an antennae, a thorax, or a wing that has been decorated by the paint brush of an angel. Something no less dramatic than that happened right under my nose. This extraordinary story begins, as is most often the case, with some very ordinary circumstances. For the past two years there has been a two and one half gallon aquarium unobtrusively holding the end spot in a row of similarly sized tanks along the top shelf of the hutch in my kitchen. It has been the home of a pair of Betta enisae:, a mouthbrooding anabantoid native to Borneo. These fish were drab and unremarkable. For a very long time I didn't even realize there were two fish in this tank. It mi was a rare event to see even one of them. They liked to wedge themselves behind and/or under the triangularshaped sponge filter in the rear left hand corner. Many an observer saw nothing but an empty tank. Three Questions Before I plunge into my story I want to answer some questions that you may be asking yourselves. First, "what is an anabantoid?" An anabantoid is a fish which has adapted to its oxygen-poor environment by developing a labyrinth organ. This organ is an auxiliary to the gills. It allows the fish to extract oxygen from the air as well as the water. Second, "what is a mouthbrooder?" A mouthbrooder is a fish which lays eggs (as opposed to a livebearer which gives birth to viable fry). What sets it apart from other egg-laying Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)
fishes is that after the eggs are laid, one of the parents (in the case of Betta enisae, it is the male), "carries" or "holds" the fertilized eggs within its mouth, usually for several days. This provides the eggs with an extraordinarily protective environment, and also makes for small families (at least by fish standards). After the eggs hatch, the fry emerge, curious and even hungrier than their dad, who hasn't eaten the entire time he has been brooding them. This behavior is not unique to anabantoids. Other species, notably some of the cichlids, are also mouthbrooders. Among fish who mouthbrood, it is more common for the female to perform the chore of brooding the eggs. Third and last, "where in the world is Borneo?" Borneo is part of the Greater Sunda Islands of Indonesia. It is neighbored on the south by Java, on the west by Sumatra, on the northwest by Vietnam, on the northeast by the Philippine Islands, and on the east by Sulawesi. NOW-back to our adventure! Here's LookiiT At Ya The Betta enisae are regularly fed adult brine shrimp. One day, at feeding time, Al saw a "brine shrimp" with eyes looking out at him. You guessed it! Either it took these fish two years to reach sexual maturity, or they had been waiting for the heat wave of 2001. This was a Sunday. Small Fry We moved the parents to another two and one half gallon tank in the same row, with a Java Fern, a columnar-shape sponge filter, and something they hadn't had before - a cave! (It looks kind of like a water-logged hollow tree that was abandoned by the Keebler Elves!) This cave was very much to their liking, and they immediately moved in. They didn't seem to know or care that we could now look in on them.
Some time on Thursday, we discovered a clutch of "small fry," that is, a second spawning. These fish were clearly smaller than the first bunch.
Statistically Speaking Let me backtrack a little, and give you some statistics on the original environment of the adults. You already know that the tank had a volume of two and one half gallons, and a Second Sunday triangular-shaped sponge filter. This is the filter of We were spending a lot of time observing choice for these fish because the water remains and tending both "families" when the relatively calm. It had a bare bottom, and there metamorphosis of the title occurred. Both adults were several Java Ferns (Microsorium pteropus) were swimming out in the open, and displaying floating freely. There was no heater in the tank. their brilliant spawning colors. They were Even in the winter, it would stay as warm as 84째F. astonishing not only for their beauty, but because It received indirect lighting from the room and a we had never seen both of them swimming nearby window. The pH measured in at 6.8 together without a trace of timidity. They were (slightly acidic). Both the GH (general hardness) proud to show their true colors. The fact that we and CH (carbonate hardness) tested to be were close by, and so was our camera, did not extremely soft, with less than one degree of hardness. spook them at all. Au contraire\y weren't exactly showing off, but they were doing what This tank was TIGHTLY COVERED. If comes naturally, and didn't care who was they can fit through a crevice, they will. Even watching. This was the feeding time is a second Sunday. What Scientific Name: Betta enisae jumping hazard." followed were several Common Name . Blue Band Mouthbrooder Dried foods were not hours of one of the Native Country Borneo readily accepted, and most f a s c i n a t i n g First Described 1995 (Kottelat, M.) their regular feedings experiences in my ten pH 5.8-6.5 consisted of live foods; years offish keeping. Hardness Soft, below 10째 GH adult brine shrimp and More Feeding Carnivore blackworms. Say "Ahhh" often than not, the brine Breeding Paternal Mouthbrooder shrimp were doused in The p a i r Appearance Sexually diamorphic liquid vitamins. circled around and Temperament Peaceful We gave the around each other. As Swimming Level Low ("floor fish") tank a 50% water the circle closed into an Lighting Almost dark change every two embrace, and the Temperature 80째-84째F. weeks. The only female was squeezed Adult Length, Male 2.5 inches* ever so gently in just Adult Length, Female 2.75 inches* special treatment this the right spot, an egg or Special Treatment . . . Black water extract tank received was the addition of black water two could be seen extract to our Bronx tap cradled in the slightly *Standard Length (does not include tail) water (which is neutral cupped anal fin of the and soft). Black water extract helps to simulate the male, where it was surely being fertilized. It was soft, acidic water in areas where rainwater is rapidly picked up in the mouth of the female. combined with decaying plant material. Remember, it is the male who carries the eggs. The female would spit an egg out, and Comparatively Speaking then grab it back - or, so I thought. The male's In the past, Al and I have observed the repeated attempts to retrieve an egg during this spawning behavior of the Siamese Fighting Fish game of catch always appeared to go unrewarded. (Betta splendens), and two aspects of the behavior I watched this many dozens of times, and I would of the Betta enisae stand out in contrast. When the have said that the female was so fast that the male Siamese Fighters are spawning, there are torn fins, never caught a single egg. Well, his mouth was missing scales, bloody lips, and a female, although quicker than my eye. After a while, it became badly battered, which will predate her own eggs, clear that his buccal cavity (that is, the upper throat eating them right out of the bubblenest. area) was expanding, and that he had, indeed, Betta enisae are most notable for the succeeded in grabbing an egg here and there until peaceful nature of their relationship. They are he was holding virtually all of them. Eventually, gentle, almost tender, in their encounters. Neither both fish retired to the cave, where a different kind are wounded. There is, of course, no way to tell if of metamorphosis took place. they eat some of the eggs during their exchanges,
Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)
but we observed no predation of the fry. A possible exception could be that they may eat any weak or deformed offspring, as there was absolutely no culling for us to do. Fast Food When your fish spawn three times in eight days, you suddenly find yourself with a lot of hungry mouths to feed. Where to begin? We fed the following foods to the fry, hoping that there was something for every size of mouth: 1) Liquifry for egg layers, 2) newly hatched brine shrimp and 3) microworms. Actually, the fry that have grown the fastest are the few that remain in the tank with the parents. We have seen them nibbling on the large blackworms that we feed to the adults. Cheek To Cheek This pair offish exhibit a behavior which can safely be described as rare, and quite possibly borders on unique. As they co-habit their hollow log, they spend many hours at a time in physical contact with each other. Their bodies are touching! This is not part of the posturing, embracing, or manipulating of eggs that takes place during spawning. This is how they spend much, if not most, of their time. This was probably taking place behind and/or under the sponge filter in the other tank, but we had not observed it. 21st Century Photography We took between 450 and 500 photographs of the events of "Second Sunday." We used a digital camera, which captures images, not on film, but on "SmartMedia." These are very small "disks" which measure one and one half inches by one and three quarter inches. The photos can be read directly by a computer where they can be sized, cropped, e-mailed, and, yes, even printed! The length of a battery charge on the camera would not exceed an hour of continuous use. Our photo session lasted several hours. It just so happened that this aquarium was within cord length of a power strip, so we had the camera plugged in the entire time. We used a "bipod" to stabilize the camera. This was nothing more hi-tech than a tripod with only two of its feet standing on the bottom ledge of the hutch, approximately one inch above the floor. As I snapped photo after photo and filled each disk, Al "emptied" it onto a Zip disk (another media for computer data storage), returning the clean ones to me. We were working at the highest 8
resolution our camera supported. This means that we were getting the fewest number of shots per disk, with the highest amount of detail. Then came the "culling" process. We scanned through the photos, deleting the ones that were not up to Modern Aquarium standards. I was afraid there wouldn't be much left when we got done, but after the first cut, we still had 50 photos to work with. The results of this marathon photo session can be seen on page 7, as well as on the cover of this magazine. Tales of Transformation If a butterfly was a mouthbrooder, it would open its mouth and a swarm of tiny butterfly fry would come fluttering out. If a caterpillar was a fish, it would emerge from its cocoon as a Betta enisael Sometimes change is subtle and silent, and sometimes it is bold and blaring. Sometimes we are the transformers, and sometimes we are the transformed. Always, we must be open to the adventure of metamorphosis.
References New Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus of the English Language, Lexicon Publications, Inc., 1992 Aqualog: All Labyrinths by Frank Schafer, Verlag A. C. S., 1997 Baensch Aquarium Atlas, Volume 1 by Dr. Rudiger Riehl and Hans A. Baensch, Terra Press, 1991.
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E LUCKY PLANT by CHARLEY SABATINO
hile waiting for take-out in my favorite local Chinese restaurant, I spied a vase on the front windowsill holding some strange looking plants. Upon closer investigation, these "plants" looked like some kind of bamboo, with light green stems and lance-shaped leaves sprouting from their sides. The plants were half-immersed in water and the bottom of each stem was covered with roots. It was clear that these plants were not just on display, they were growing. I asked the restaurant manager about them and he told me they were called "Lucky Plants." He said that they have been growing like crazy with nothing more than topping off the water. Naturally, my mind started putting the facts together: semiaquatic, easy to grow, handsome above the water, lots of roots below the water... I had to try these plants in one of my tanks. I then remembered seeing them for sale in the small convenience store across the street from the Chinese restaurant. While my food was being prepared, I ran over and purchased two six inch long Lucky Plants for $1.00 each. The Latin name of the Lucky Plant, also called a Ribbon Plant, is Dracaena sanderiana. Determining its origin posed somewhat of a dilemma. Every website selling D. sanderiana stated that it was imported from South East Asia. However, research into the horticultural literature yielded its origin to be Cameroon (W. Africa). Finally, after a discussion with the staff at the American Horticultural Society, it was concluded that D. sanderiana was indeed from Cameroon, but now cultivated in South East Asia. There is much spirituality associated with the Lucky Plant and it is said to be able to bring luck and prosperity, reduce stress, and instill a sense of comfort and safety to its owner. It is traditionally given as a gift to celebrate a business grand opening, new house purchase or to just bring good luck. Care for D. sanderiana is quite minimal. It is said to be very hardy and can do quite well in moderate to low light, provided its vase or other vessel is given fresh water every few days. Based on this information, I felt it should do quite well partially immersed in an aquarium.
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I prepared my Lucky Plants by rinsing them in tap water and fitting them with a small Styrofoam "float." This was just a piece of Styrofoam box lid about two inches square with a hole in the middle just big enough to hold the stem 3/4 out of the water. The Lucky Plants were placed in two adjoining tanks in close proximity to my fishroom's overhead fluorescent light. Within a week, it was clear that they were happy, the roots began to increase in density, and the leaves began to show signs of growth. It has now been about a month and growth is steady. Lucky Plants are easy to find and can be purchased in many different places. I have seen them in local convenience/candy/newspaper stores (primarily those that are Asian-owned), street fairs, on-line, and occasionally in pet stores. Lucky Plants are also available in many different sizes, shapes and color varietiesâ€”some have been trained to twist like a corkscrew. They can also be purchased in beautiful arrangements, some quite elaborate. Lucky plants are handsome, easy to keep, and inexpensive. They can be grown and enjoyed both in and out of the aquarium and do well in any size tank, bowl, or vase and are as easy to find as your daily newspaper.
References The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants Christofer Brickell, Judith D. Zuk ed-in-chief Pg. 378-9.
Personal communcation, Ms. Marianne Polito, Manager of Gardening Information Service, American Horticultural Society.
Photos and captions of our September 2001 meeting by Claudia Dickinson Our distinguished guest speaker, Dr. Paul Loiselle, and GCAS President Joe Ferdenzi.
Horst Gerber shares tales of his Pet Rock to the delight of "Wet Leaves" columnist, Sue Priest!
Plants were abundant in the evening's auction, and Joe Graffagnino found a beauty!
Bill Amely gave an informative update on coming events of the Brooklyn Aquarium Society.
Mark Chen with his brother and our newest Board Member, Steve, discover some new greenery to bring home for their aquariums.
Steve and Donna Sica have become most welcome "regulars" to the GCAS meetings, with Steve joining right in as a Modern Aquarium author.
Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)
Forever the best of fishy friends -Tom Bohme and Claudia Dickinson!
Down to some real serious fish talk with Pat Coushaine, Tom Miglio, Pete D'Orio, Tom Bohme, and Jason Kerner.
Dr. Paul Loiselle, author of The Cichlid Aquarium, signs a special copy for door prize winner, Roderick Mosley.
Pete D'Orio makes the best cup of coffee in the house and always with a smile!
Speaker Chairperson Claudia Dickinson with mentor and champion of Malagasy Conservation, Dr. Paul Loiselle.
The GCAS proudly honors Dr. Paul Loiselle with a generous donation to the ACA Paul Loiselle Conservation Fund, presented by President Joe Ferdenzi. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)
Microworms for Micromouths A Nearly Perfect Food For Betta (And Other) Fry by ALEXANDER PRIEST
quarists like to take credit for "spawning" fish. Of course, the truth is that, in most cases, the fish are only doing what comes naturally. To the extent the aquarist can take any credit, it is only in keeping the fish alive long enough for them to spawn. I know some of you will try to counter with the argument that it was the exceptional care by, and ideal conditions created by, the aquarist that resulted in spawning. Sometimes that is true, other times it is just as true that a fish will spawn when it is very stressed as an instinctive reaction to propagate before it dies. What an aquarist can take credit for is the successful raising of the fry to adulthood. In order to do this, one of the key elements is feeding. While some fry will immediately take to finely powdered flake food, many will not instinctively recognize as food anything that is not moving on its own. There are many different live foods suitable for fry, and one of the least expensive and easiest to grow at home are microworms. A quick search of the popular Internet search engine Google for the term "microworms" gave me 1,930 "hits" (that is, 1,930 internet sites referencing microworms). While many of these are duplicates of each other, the fact is that this is a very popular fry food, and there is a great deal of information on microworms to be had. Unfortunately, a lot of that information is contradictory. Depending on which website you refer to, microworms live for up to eight hours in a tank, or up to 12 hours, or up to one day, or up to three days. You either need to add yeast to a new culture, or you do not. Microworms reproduce either by self-fertilizing hermaphrodites, with an occasional male, or they reproduce sexually, with males just being less numerous than females. You either need to use mature tank water, deionized or reverse osmosis water, dechlorinated tap water, or can use just plain untreated tap water. To harvest microworms, you use a cotton swab, or an eyedropper, or your fingers, or a wooden stick, or a brush, or you use a plastic scraper together with a glass of aged water, a tall pilsner beer glass, and a turkey baster. Whew! In this article, I'm going to share with you my personal experiences with this live food. I'm not going to say that mine is the only way. I'm not even going to assert that my way is the best way. I can only tell you that I know my way works.
Microworms: What They Are Microworms (Panagrellus redivivus) are endemic to the leaf litter of the forest floor. They belong to the phylum Aschelminthes and the class Nematoda (roundworms). Mention "roundwoms" and some people think of the pork tapeworm, hookworms, pinworms and similar parasites. However, microworms only feed on microscopic organisms, such as yeast, and pose no threat to fish or humans. Microworms are an excellent first food for cichlids, bettas, and killifish fry. They are also popular with many small adult fish, including tetras, guppies, and corys (which especially seem to appreciate the fact that they stay on the bottom of the tank, waiting to be gobbled up). The size of a microworm at its earliest stage after being hatched is 0.25 - 0.35 mm (that's 0.00984 - 0.01378 inches, even less than a newly hatched brine shrimp). What You Need to "Grow Your Own" To grow microworms at home using my method, you will need: • A "starter" culture of microworms • At least two plastic containers, with lids • A "starchy" culture (food) media • Yeast • Water You can get a starter culture from another aquarist (one of the benefits of belonging to an aquarium society), or from commercial sources. Microworm starter cultures can even be found on Internet auction sites, such as eBay. The plastic containers can be anything from a washed out margarine container, to a shoebox. The container only has to be waterproof and have a tight-fitting lid (both to prevent the worms from crawling out over the sides, and to keep the culture medium from drying up). I recommend a dark colored container, because you will be harvesting the worms as they crawl on the inner sides of the container, and since the worms themselves are white, it is easier to see them against a dark background. However, a clear, or translucent container is also quite acceptable. To prepare the containers, punch several small holes in the lid. The holes should not be too large. (While I have never encountered this, many writers have indicated that holes that are too large
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attract fruit flies.) When punching the holes, I recommend that they be closer to the middle of the lid, rather than the edge. In addition, I recommend using either a serrated knife, or coarse sandpaper, to "scratch" the sides of the container. I have not seen this mentioned in any of the articles I came across (admittedly, I did not read all 1,930 of them), but the reason I do it is that I have found this makes it easier for the microworms to crawl up the side of the container. You will need at least two containers (I recommend three), because once your initial culture is started, you should start a second culture (more on that, later). The media I use is Beech-Nut oatmeal for babies. Among the many articles on this subject, recommendations for media included instant mashed potato mix; regular flour; breakfast cereal without fruit, cooked porridge; a mix of cornmeal and whole-wheat flour, white bread, bread soaked in beer, and yellow corn meal. The yeast I use is Fleischmann's速 "Active Dry" yeast. Similar products might work just as well, but I know this product works for me.
Preparing and Culturing the Media Mix enough baby oatmeal with ordinary, untreated, warm tap water to form a moist paste, about three quarters of an inch deep in your container. Sprinkle enough active dry yeast to lightly cover the surface, moisten and mix gently. The end mix should be moist (you may need to add a bit more water, as oatmeal tends to soak up moisture), but not "soupy." If you added too much water, add a little more cereal. Using a moistened finger or paper towel, clean the sides of the container from any media. (This will save you a lot of work later, because you will be able to harvest worms from the side of the container and use them immediately, without having to first put them into water and syphon them out to avoid contaminating your tank with yeast and cereal.) Add your live culture, spreading it over the prepared cereal/yeast mix. Cover and keep the mixture at room temperature. (If you are going away for a while, you can refrigerate a batch they won't grow much, but if kept moist, they should last much longer.) You should see the surface of the media "shimmer" with the activity of the worms within two days, and be ready to harvest your first worms in three to four days.
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Harvesting and Using Microworms These worms are very accommodating. They crawl out of the food media, to cover the sides of the container. You can put sticks in the middle of the media and they will crawl onto the sticks also. If you followed my recommendation to clean the sides of the container of any food, you can use your finger to scoop the worms and then just swirl your finger around in the tank to release them. Even if you are "squeamish" about worms, you probably can handle this. These worms are so small, that the only thing your naked eye can see is something resembling white foam. While a worm culture that has gone bad has a bad odor, a healthy culture gives off a faint aroma of yeast or beer. This is where the second (and I use a third, myself) container comes in. Within a week of your first "harvest," prepare a second container in the same manner as the first. Take some of the worm culture from your first container, and "seed" your second mixture with it. You should get two to three weeks of harvesting from a given batch. Once a week, slightly stir the mixture and if it gets too soupy, add a little more cereal. If the growth slows, dissolve some yeast and pour it on the surface of the mix. If the batch starts smelling really bad, throw it out. A fresh healthy culture can often be harvested more than once a day, and requires no additional feeding or aeration. (However, the addition of extra yeast can often revive a culture.) About Yeast Some articles say that it is not necessary to use yeast in every mixture. The authors of those articles say that if you take some of the worm/food/yeast mixture from an active container, there will be enough yeast to start a second culture. (Microworms feed on the yeast, not on the cereal - the cereal is there to feed the yeast.) As nn experiment, I mixed two identical batches of cereal and water (measuring the amount of each) and put them into two identically sized and shaped containers. I added the same amount of culture media, from the same source, to each. The only difference is that I added yeast to one batch, but not to the other. After four days, the batch with yeast added was producing enough worms to harvest. After a week, the other batch barely showed any activity. To that second batch, I added some dissolved yeast, covering half of the media with it. Within less than a day, the side of the container next to the half covered with the dissolved yeast was filled with microworms, while the other half barely showed any activity. The conclusion I draw from this is that the yeast is an absolutely essential ingredient in every batch.
On the website of the International Killifish Association (http://killifish.vrx.net/ feeding/live/cultured/worms/micro/) I read the one and only actual warning I encountered on the use of yeast. In a copyrighted article by Richard J. Sexton, the following statement was made: "Some people add a pinch of yeast to the media which prevents it from fouling as quickly. I've personally had problems with yeast anywhere near aquarium water - it seems to form long sticky white threads and gets in the fishes gills causing distress and death. Apparently this is not universal as some people have success, but forewarned is forearmed." If you harvest from the sides of a container that has no yeast or food on it, I doubt that the dangers described will be a problem. When and Why Use Microworms? • They are the ideal size for even very small fry. • They are 76% water and 24% dry matter; 40% of the dry matter is protein and 20% is fat. • The wiggling of the worms attracts fry. • Microworms do not swim away.
• Microworms live longer in fresh water than baby brine shrimp. • Microworms do not cloud water. • Microworms do not need any setup to hatch. Airstones, filters, heat and light are not required. • Microworms are inexpensive, as compared to hatching baby brine shrimp. • Microworms can be cultured continuously. You must keep buying (high priced) brine shrimp eggs. • Except for a culture allowed to go bad, microworms do not smell as strong as many other live foods (grindal worms, for example). • An article by R.W. Rottmann of the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Program (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FA022) states that "A starter culture can be stored for over six months at slightly above 32°F." Cheap, easy, long-lasting, clean, and well accepted - what more could you ask for in a fish food? It's too bad that the longest they get is only a millimeter in length, or they'd be great for adults, as well.
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econd Reprints deserving a second look Selected by ALEXANDER A. PRIEST
his month's selected reprint is of interest for several reasons. First, it ties in with this month's lead article by Susan Priest about the spawning of Betta enisae, a mouthbrooding betta. (Susan had not read the article below until after her article was written.) And, although they are only mentioned briefly in the article below, this article does mention microworms, the subject of an article by yours truly, also in this month's issue of Modern Aquarium. Second, the article below is not from the publication of the usual amateur hobby group. This article originally appeared in Labyrinth, the journal of the Anabantoid Association of Great Britain (AAGB). It came to my attention when it was reprinted in the October 2000 issue of OSPHRONEMID, the journal of the International Anabantoid Association (IAA), whose editor, Marleen Janson, graciously granted me the right to reprint it for you in Modern Aquarium.
BREEDING YOUR FIRST MOUTHBROODERS Andrew Smith I am often asked about the best fish for this and best fish for that and the most popular question relates to breeding anabantoids. As many of us know in the AAGB, you can basically split the anabantoids into three groups when referring to breeding them. This is aimed at everyone, beginners and experienced, so for completeness I will list them here: The free spawners. These fish include the large Ctenopomas and Kissing Gourami. This group spawns often at night by frantically embracing for a few seconds and expelling many hundred floating eggs. The eggs are left at the water surface and prone to be eaten. None of the free spawners display any parental care The bubblenesters. These are species that construct a nest of mucus-coated bubbles, spawn and place the eggs in the nest where the fry hatch out and free swim in a few days. These are usually patriarchal carers, but sometimes the female plays a part in the defense of the nest, eggs and young. It is difficult to sum up in a few sentences and generalizing can be counter-productive. The mouthbrooders. Finally this group of fish takes the spawn into their mouths and incubates it there for a period of time (variable from species to
Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)
species) and release free swimming young. Many species si Betta do this (patriarchal) as well as the chocolate gouramis of the genus Sphaerichthys (in this group some are matriarchal and other are patriarchal), and the Chameleon Gourami, Ctenops nobilis (those that know me are aware that I have no experience of this!). As more and more species of anabantoids become increasingly available in the hobby, both here and abroad, if you have some, there may be an occasion where looking into the tank would surprise you, if a male was skulking in the plants with his mouth fully distended. In a community tank, the male may well hang onto his eggs and release fry, some of them may even survive, but this article is aimed at helping get the best results out of any spawning. The mouthbrooding bettas For the purposes of this piece I shall focus mainly on the Betta species that mouthbrood rather than include the chocolate gouramis or chameleon Gourami, as the former are the species that one is most likely to encounter and have success with. Most initial reactions to the word Betta is to think of the Siamese fighting fish and its nest of sparkling bubbles, ballet-like courtship and
spawning embrace, and the defense of the nest by the male. Consider now if the male was in an environment where his nest would not stay together because the water flowed. This would seem the reason why the fish took the eggs into the mouth and incubated them there.
Mouthbrooding is a more advanced method of breeding so Jess eggs are laid, producing less fry, but those that are produced are more robust.
The incubation period varies from species to species, but is usually between 12-24 days. The fry are then released, and have a head start on bubblenester fry. The bubblenester fry are basically helpless for the first couple of weeks. Firstly they hang tail downward in the froth of the nest for 2-5 days, then free swim. At this time they are reliant on finding copious amounts of tiny living food for their first nutrition. Mouthbrooding species are released when they are already 'street wise.' Looking at the fry when they are released you would see that they are already small fish, with finnage, although small. Upon their release they immediately look for cover, and from there hunt for food. They have no need for such a small diet and can start to hunt for much coarser foods.
Small: B. picta, B. enisae, B. edithae
This is of great advantage to us. If the process of getting young, small fry up to a size where they can take coarse foods is eliminated, then so much the better. It does away with the need for infusoria in most cases. Saying that, some of us feed shrimp as a first food in any event. It is worth noting at this point, that the young are released from the parent and then left alone. Unlike many Cichlids, (I'm told) the parents do not take the young back into their mouth, only as food, so be aware of this later. Species to look for. An easy fish to spawn may well exist, and indeed many of the mouthbrooding bettas will readily spawn given the correct conditions. There are many hurdles to overcome before you can consider a breeding project a success though. Even then, a species may be easy for you to spawn, but for the next person it remains a problem. So I don't think that there is a really easy mouthbrooder to breed, until the first brood is released there is likely to be more frustration than elation, in the early going. So, as with the bubblenesters, you would like a fish that will spawn quite readily, and that will not produce more young than you can handle comfortably. Another advantage with mouthbrooders is the fact that the fish do not need to lay hundreds of eggs, producing hundreds of fry to give a few a select chance of survival. 16
Medium: B. dimidiata, B. pugnax (group), B. pulchra Large: B.akarensis (group), B. waseri (group), Betta unimaculata
These are just a few of the many species of mouthbrooders. The species above are often for sale in numbers at AAGB auctions, and you can learn a lot from talking to the breeders to ascertain the best conditions for keeping them (and propagating them). In addition to the above there is a group of very colorful species, which cannot really be described as suitable for anyone starting out with mouthbrooders for the first time. For instance, there are members of the Betta foerschi group, which have different requirements to the above, much more acidic and soft water for example. Water composition and quality Many of the species of bubblenesters, especially the small wine red species of the Betta coccina group, need soft, very acidic water conditions in which to thrive. This isn't the case of many of the mouthbrooders. Once again this would be a relief for those of us, like me, who live in a hard tap water area similar to Northeast Essex. It is much easier to maintain water quality if you need not rely totally on rainfall. There is a correlation between water quality and welfare, and water quality and successful breeding. Many of the species will live relatively long lives in softer acidic water, (and some wild caught fish are actually found there) but do not seem so keen to spawn unless the pH is higher and the water a little harder. This was the case with the Betta unimaculata I had some time ago, no sign of spawning until I raised the pH. So to keep a happy medium, my recipe is two-thirds rainwater, to one-third tap water. This comes out at roughly pH 6.5-7, and somewhere in the region of 10DGH. This may seem a little vague, but in the past I've found it not to be as critical as with some fish.
Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)
Water temperature, is another aspect that varies in the fish's natural habitat. Consider the fluctuating temperatures of a stream with its source on higher ground. Also flowing water would be naturally cooler. Your tank should reflect this also. Keeping the temperature at 70-74F is fine for general maintenance, higher values are unnecessary. Once again, different to the bubblenesters, a steady flow is also beneficial to them. You can use a power filter, internal or external, but the air operated sponge filters are ideal for the breeding tank Choosing breeders and conditioning In my own experiences, once I have decided what species I would like to breed, I then try to get four to six young fish and grow them on. Again this is easiest and often most economical at AAGB functions. Again based on personal experience, most (and I stress most) of the mouthbrooders are not as aggressive or as territorial as are bubblesnesters. This way I watch the fish grow and decide their potential for breeding from there. Be aware that some of these species will live in excess of ten years, size may not be the key to success, but age may well come into play. The best way to find an obvious compatible pair is to let them sort it out for themselves. Two fish will eventually pair off, flare, circle and generally their behavioral pattern alters. Sexing the fish in adults is usually quite easy, the males have larger, more powerful heads and jaws (yes the males have got bigger mouths!), and the females are fuller in the belly which in many species is a more creamy color. Finnage in some species such as B dimidiata, size as in Betta pugnax types and coloration like in some strains of Betta unimaculata, are other clues. Females in many species show a broad creamy stripe in between two darker brown stripes running longitudinally along both sides of the body when in spawning dress. Some males display iridescence as well. These fish will eat just about anything and usually lots of it, flake food, dry, freeze-dried or frozen food and live stuff as well. You can feed medium to large Bettas on earthworms dug up from the garden or from a fishing tackle shop. It is interesting to watch Betta unimaculata feeding. If you have three B. unimaculata in a tank and throw ten worms in, I guarantee that they will all squabble over the same one. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)
Spawning tanks and spawning As with most breeding projects, the spawning tank need not be an aesthetic masterpiece, mine aren't. All you need is one large enough for the species you are going to spawn, and also adequate for the resultant fry. Decor need only consist of a couple of flowerpots or caves made of slate and bogwood and I like to put a large tangle of Java Moss hi for the fry. Traditionally species that spawn near or on the base of the tank like to spawn on a smooth surface, so if you are one for gravel in your tanks than place a couple of slate pieces in the gravel. They are in my experience unlikely to view the tank base as a suitable site unless some kind of decor offers a little cover. The female initiates spawning most of the time. She swims across the back of the male, and to and fro in front of him. He responds usually like he is uninterested, but soon both fish make their way into the spawning cave or onto the spawning site. In Betta pugnax species the female almost shoves the male into the pre-determined site she has in mind. Unlike the bubblenesters, it is the female who does any defense of the territory. Several spawning embraces take place before any eggs are laid, call this what you will dry run, feeling out process or trial run. The male form a 'U' shape into which the female fits The spawning proper commences when the fish's embrace is more purposeful, and the male wraps himself completely around the female, forming an 'O' shape. Some species spawn exclusively on the base of the tank/slate, others rise in the water, it varies. Betta edithae for example spawns in caves, whereas (my) Betta akarensis species choose the water surface. Mouthbrooder eggs are not released all over the place and allowed to drop loosely. The male's anal fin forms a type of trough where they are kept until the embrace is broken. The male stays still while the female picks out the eggs with her mouth. You will be able to see the red inside her gills as she is not built to take so many eggs (exceptions like B. unimaculata where the male turns over and picks the eggs up himself). She and the male then exchange the eggs, but not immediately. She spits them out and tries to grab them before the male can. The reason for this rather bizarre ritual is not clear, but the spawning phase will not recommence until she has given all of the eggs to the male.
This whole process lasts several hours and at all times the female is guarding the site and the male against other fish and intruders. Once the spawning is over, she still guards him. He will look, basically, dreadful. His mouth and buccal cavity will be seriously distended, and he will make several chewing motions to roll the eggs around. Air is taken at the water surface in one large gulp. For the next days he will incubate the eggs and not take any food. He usually hides amongst the Java Moss or in the caves with his fins clamped and takes on a very drab coloration. The female eventually loses interest and drifts off. She takes food again, and once in the old routine, will be ready to spawn again within a week or so. Potential problems The fact that the female is ready to spawn again is a problem for you and the male. He may only be halfway through incubating the eggs and she is round him again ready to spawn. There are many ways to combat this, but all have disadvantages. There is a method that is preferred by some by having two males in the tank with one female. The only problem I have encountered is that the non-spawning fish is a pest and keeps disturbing the spawning pair. So what can we do? Remove her. This is fraught with stress on both her and the male and he might eat the eggs. Remove him. See above. Put a divider in the tank. See above. In fact just about every outcome could result in the male eating the eggs. Even walking around the tank on eggshells, covering half of it with a towel, not looking in it, looking in
it, banging your elbow on it, not lighting it, lighting and so on could see him consuming his charge. A small pygmy light, on 24hrs a day, seems to reduce the likelihood of the male eating the eggs but this is by no means foolproof - for a case history see my article 'The importance of being honest' (Labyrinth 106). This is where the frustration outweighs the elation. I have had a pair of fish spawn regularly for four years, and only recently did I get the first release of young, which died within 36 hours. I did eventually get a hatch that was grown on but patience is definitely part of what you need, as much as nice conditions. You will know when the fry are ready to be released. The male has been missing for a while but now he is quite prominent. He swims repeatedly back and forth, making sneezing motions. The fry are released a few at a time and shoot away into the moss. Once all of the fry are released, the male stays still again. He could have carried anything from 10 to a few hundred eggs and fry for a period of weeks without food. He does not take food immediately, and when he does, he will not ordinarily eat the young. Don't put him back with the female, for reasons given earlier. Wait for at least a week when he has got his strength back again. Feed the young on brine shrimp, microworm or powdered fry food for the first few days, then grindal worm. One sure way to get them to grow quickly is to put a ball of live Tubifex in the tank and leave it. The young tear off bits as they can, and combining this with changing the water regularly will really see them grow quickly.
FAASinations â€” News From:
The Federation of American Aquarium Societies by ALEXANDER A. PRIEST
he year 2000 FAAS Aquatic Photo Awards were announced. There were over 90 total entries from five societies. There were 15 entries in Level I (Color Photo), 3 entries in Level 2 (Black and White Photo), 4 entries in Level 3 (Slides), and 72 entries in Level 4 (Digital Image), which is a fairly clear indication that hobbyists are making increasing use of digital cameras. The good news is that Greater City took 10 first place, 7 second place, 7 third place and 2 honorable mention awards. The bad news is that I was the only GCAS member who entered.
Let's try for more participation when I announce the 2001 Aquatic Photo Awards submission period. The FAAS Delegates' Council started tackling some "meaty" issues dealing with the publication awards, but we were first sidetracked by some internal bickering, and then by the tragic events of September 11. I hope to get back on track soon.
Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)
The Brooklyn Aquarium society is proud to present its 15th Annual GIANT FISH AUCTION
Friday, October 19, 2001 This is the big one! The main event fish auction. It's so big we moved it from the NY Aquarium Education Hall to the Golden Gate Motor Inn, located in nearby Sheepshead Bay, just off the Belt Parkway. Get your tanks ready and come prepared for a spectacular selection of some of the best fish, plants and dry goods available in the Northeast. No guest speaker. No bowl show, just bags and bags of top quality fish and plants, many of them tank raised and hard to find rare species. Viewing of fish starts at 7:30 PM Auction starts at 8:30 PM Golden Gate Motor Inn 3867 Shore Parkway & Knapp Street Brooklyn, NY Directions By Car: Take the Belt Parkway to (Exit 9) Knapp Street - Get on service Road and go to light. Make a left at the light. The Golden Gate Motor Inn will be on your left. Make a left and a quick right into the parking lot. Enter the lobby and follow signs to the event. Free Admission • Free Parking • Free Refreshments • Free Fish Food Samples http://www.brooklynaquariumsociety.org Calendar of events hotline: (718)837-4455
New Jersey Aquarium Show! Oct 27-28,11am - 5pm Trailside Nature Center, Mountainside, NJ. 4 Want to see all the aquarium hobby has to offer? 4 Want to view some of the most beautiful tropical fish in the world? 4 Then bring the whole family. Saturday Oct 27: A multi-class fish show Workshops on breeding and collecting fish, low-maintenance tanks, and live plants. Sunday, Oct 28: Auction of rare and captive-bred aquarium fish, (most of which are not available retail), all at great prices! While you're there, rejuvenate your mind and body with a stroll through the natural history museum, children's discovery room, or on one of the many nature hikes through the Watchung Reservation. Open to the public ($1 donation per adult requested). Go to www.njas.net or call our Hotline at (732) 541-1392 for info on the event or how to enter your fish in one of the show classes. Sponsored by the famous, original North Jersey Aquarium Society.
Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)
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The Frugal Aquarist Part II A series by "The Under grovel Reporter"
^ ;^ |S]$ynion$^^ ||f jgat e r | G \ y A q
n last month's column, I discussed some of the things that you might find in your local "Buck Or Less" type store, that you can use in the aquarium hobby. I am now continuing that theme with even more things that the "frugal aquarist" can use. Almost all "Buck Or Less" stores have an area for automobile supplies. Among the tissue holders, notepad holders, and fuses you will usually find windshield squeegees. These make excellent glass (and plastic) cleaners for both inside and outside your tanks. If the algae inside some of your tanks is so thick that the squeegee is not enough to remove it, pick up a plastic ice scraper (also in the automotive supply area of the store). These plastic scrapers will clean either glass or (if you are careful) plastic, without scratching. If your algae can withstand a plastic ice scraper, then buy a new tank, and also buy a calendar to mark off tank cleaning days monthly, because you're obviously going far too long between cleanings. Over at the kitchen accessories area, you will find that numerous bottle brushes can be used in and around the aquarium. A brush whose bristles are attached to a wire frame is especially useful in that it can be bent to accommodate the curved sides of a flat sided gallon drum container, or the inside lip of a standard tank. While I would not want to brush my own teeth with some of the toothbrushes for sale in the usual "Buck Or Less" store (they usually tend to range from "hard" to "really, really hard" bristles, or they have cutesy animals and flowers on them), these brushes are excellent for cleaning out grooves, edges, and corners in tanks. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)
In the gardening area, you can usually pick up plant misters, which are excellent for keeping various live food cultures moist. These misters can also serve as humidifiers for a vivarium, or can be used in connection with the squeegee you bought for exterior glass cleaning. Unpainted plastic flowerpots and planters can be used both to house plants (just add aquarium gravel to the top, with "Buck Or Less" store potting soil under), or as spawning/hiding caves. (If used as spawning/hiding caves, some of these may need to be weighted down.) Instead of painting the back of your tanks, or taping an ugly garbage bag to them, check out the "Buck Or Less" store's plastic place mats, either with scenes printed on them, or plain colored. I've also used these mats as a temporary covers for tanks up to five and one-half gallons in size. You can also use, either by themselves or along with solid color placemats, artificial plants. Because these artificial plants were not intended for aquarium use, I would only use them externally (on the back of the tank), where they not only provide a nice background, but add a feeling of "depth" to the casual viewer. Plastic tablecloths and shower curtains can also be cut up and used for tank backgrounds. Anyone who has a canister filter knows that to maintain their efficiency, periodic maintenance is required that goes beyond just replacement of filter media. One job that is often neglected is cleaning out the well housing the impeller with cotton swabs. These swabs can be purchased in most "Buck Or Less" stores., and can also be used to collect and culture various live foods and for fish medical care. And, speaking of medical care items, eyedroppers, tweezers, magnifying glasses, and baby nasal syringes are also often found in a "Buck Or Less" store, and can have numerous uses around the aquarium. While there is no reason why, once they are properly washed, home eating utensils such as knives, forks, and spoons cannot be used for your family's supper, some unreasonable spouses may object if they know that the spoon they are using measured out methylene blue earlier in the day, or that their fork was just used to scoop up some blackworms, or perhaps that their steak knife was used to chop tubifex worms. The cheap and easy solution (a LOT cheaper than a divorce lawyer or marriage counselor) is to buy "fish only" utensils from the "Buck or Less" store. While you're at it, pick up sets of funnels, measuring cups, and measuring spoons that you can also dedicate to "fish only" use. Your fish and marriage will both benefit.
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G.C.A.S. HAPPENINGS Welcome, New Members: William Amely, Steven Gee, James Kennedy, Laurie Flynn-Redmond Welcome Back Renewing Members: Bill Adams, Frank Bonnici, P. Bristulf, Joseph Brotherson, Ken Brust, Steve Chen, Pat Coushaine, Carlotti De Jager, Les Deutsch, Claudia & Brad Dickinson, Pete D'Orio, Harry Faustmann, Joe & Anita Ferdenzi, Frank Gannon, Joseph Graffagnino, Kin Tung Ha, Richard Levy, Tom Miglio, Steve Miller, Elliott Oshins, Charley Sabatino, Stephen & Donna Sica, Vince,.&;:::K:osie Bowl Show winneplSs! meeting:x.::;:;: 1) Wi]J||ni /Pffy -;^|stel :B;ptta Sp%dens 2) Pete D'Orio -J&d SL Wbjtf-RyiSlui GoldffSf:i: l)^ou||iur|ij|i ^|f|::G6fe§jyordtail Guppy. JO?
September JiDOl ^iiJulie ,;f %f 1) Williani:::Amely (5 pts.);
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Season unofficial totals to date: 2) Pete D'Orio (3 pts.);
3) Freshwater Fish
October's 'BSi&pPrize: The Complete Aquarium jfflere are nixing times and locations GREATER CITY AQUARIUM
iyliiie Metropolitan New i*i$¥k'area:
Aquarium Society12 (rescheduled from
Fishroom" Hall, N.Y. A St., Brooklyn, NY •il&|iill|-Si§;|-''Events Hotline 837-4455 ,,
Nexffeeting November 7 , 0 ,_ _ -,.-., ^*r * ' ::::-. x:::: Sgegkgr: Mike Helweg .. . TSf IgP "Characins" ^^^^ Sprn: Queens Botanical Garden^^ > '' ASvSiviw.
e-mail: G8|gi:ferCity®Mnpuserve. com :, http: il||pwiirea% iei|y. org
:|$||||lso page"":l^xifor their ::||5ctg||p:,aujQ]!;jon)
Association :i|ttip!|l. - llti|ursday of each Botanic en Gene (5)345-6399 Long IsllM
Meets: 8:00 P. ||::;:3rd Friday ofeaE month at Buckley Rd. Holtsville, Contact: Mr. Vinny Kreyling Telephone: (516) 938-4066
"Uliets:" 8:00 P.M. ~AJjjj$t Tuesday of each month ^.Ibgx^llipi1^. Grouse Post 3211
North Jersey Aquarium Society
Norwalk Aquarium Society
Meets: 8PM - 3rd Thursday of the month at the American Legion Hall, Nutley, NJ (exit 151 Garden State Pkwy., near Rt. 3) Contact: NJAS Hotline at (201) 332-4415 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meets: 8:00 P.M. - 3rd Thursday of each month at the Nature Center for Environmental Activities, Westport, CT
Contact: Mr. Ken Smith Telephone: (516) 589-0913
October 18: Juan Migel Artigas Azas "Cichlidroom Companion" (Also see page 17 for New Jersey Show ad) Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)
Contact: Mrs. Anne Stone Broadmeyer Telephone: (203) 834-2253 (Visit the website at: http://norwalkas.org/ for information on their October 7 show.)
October 2001 volume VIII number 8