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When Two Are Three And Gold Is Blue BY ALEXANDER PRIEST

he "Three Spot" Gourami (Trichogaster trichopterus) is one of the four species of Gourami in the genus Trichogaster. (The other species in this genus being Trichogaster leeri, or the "Pearl" or "Mosaic" Gourami, Trichogaster microlepsis, or the "Moonlight" Gourami, and Trichogaster pectoralis, or the "Snake Skinned" Gourami.) The scientific name for the genus Trichogaster comes from the Greek words for "hairy" (trichias) and "stomach" (gaster), referring to the threadlike pelvic fins common to each of the species in this genus. The scientific name for the Three Spot Gourami, Trichogaster trichopterus, comes from the Greek word for "hairy" (trichias), and "wing" (pterori). This is another reference to the hair-like (or threadlike) pelvic fins that are used by this fish as "feelers" to explore the environment, and to search for food. These fish come from Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, etc.). In their native lands, they are found in ponds, rice fields, lakes, drainage canals, and rivers. They are extremely hardy fish, and can tolerate a very wide range of water parameters. They will survive in water with a hardness anywhere from 5° to 35° dGH, a pH anywhere between 6.0 to 8.8, and a temperature ranging from 70 to 88 degrees F. They have even been reported to tolerate brackish water. However, they do best in (especially for breeding purposes) soft, slightly acidic water. You may be wondering about the somewhat cryptic "riddle" that is the title of this article. Well, when Trichogaster trichopterus has spots on its body, there are only two — one in the center of the body, and a second at the caudal peduncle (the base of the tail, or caudal fin). The third "spot" in the name "Three Spot Gourami" is actually the fish's eye! Some references in the literature refer to this fish as the "Two Spot Gourami" (see Labyrinth Fish by Horst Linke), further confusing the issue. Also, this is a fish with a considerable number of popular color morphs. The Three Spot Gourami is called the "Blue" Gourami when the body spots are not visible. (The Blue Gourami is regarded by some as a subspecies, Trichogaster trichopterus sumatranus.) It is called the "Gold"

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Gourami when this fish displays a golden orange coloration (often fading to white below the lateral line), usually with pronounced black stripes, an absent (or barely noticeable) central body spot, and a less pronounced spot on the caudal peduncle. So, for Trichogaster trichopterus, two (body spots) is three (the "Three Spot" Gourami) and "Gold" is just another color morph of the Blue variety. In addition, this same fish is called the "Opaline" Gourami when the spots are expanded, forming a mottled black pattern toward the rear of the fish. When the "Blue" and "Gold" forms of this species are crossed, the result is a "Lavender" Gourami, a brown fish with lavender highlights. The Lavender form normally has very pronounced black stripes, two body spots, and fins with both blue and orange coloration. A variety attributed to an American breeder named Cosby has thick transverse bands and spots on a blue background. As the fish matures, the spots are replaced by a dark marbled pattern. For this reason, the "Cosby" Gourami is also known as the "Marbled" Gourami. I have read of (but never encountered myself) a "Platinum" form of this species which supposedly occurs in about 1% of the spawns of a pair of the Lavender variety. The Platinum form of this gourami is reported to be nearly albino, with few spots, and with light colored stripes, instead of black. A Silver form has also been reported. Three Spot Gouramis are Anabantoids, meaning that they are among those fish with a labyrinth organ, which allows the fish to breathe air directly. These are very hardy fish. With the possible exception of Paradise Fish, they are among the easiest of the Anabantoids to breed in the home aquarium. The Opaline, Three Spot, and Gold varieties are fairly common in stores, and are relatively inexpensive. They are omnivorous, and will accept nearly any live, frozen, or commercial dry food. (To condition them for breeding, live foods are highly recommended. I have had especially good luck with black worms and adult brine shrimp pretreated with liquid vitamins.) Normally, these factors together would combine to make this a good choice for a beginner. However, they should not be considered a "beginner's" fish, nor should they be considered as suitable inhabitants for a community tank.

October 2002

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


For one thing, the Three Spot Gourami (and, whatever I say about the "Three Spot" variety applies equally to all of its color morphs) can get quite large. While pet store stock rarely exceed two and a half inches, the Three Spot Gourami can reach five inches or more; and with increased size comes increased aggressiveness. The males become very territorial, even when they are not defending their nests. (A "nesting" male will attack, and often kill, any fish that approaches its nest, including females of its own species, as well as other fish that are considerably larger in size than himself.) While a sufficiently long and heavily planted tank might be able to contain more than one adult male Three Spot Gourami, it is safer to keep one male with several females. Females are usually slightly larger and wider than males of the same age. The dorsal fin of the male is longer and more pointed, as compared to that of the female. Probably the best indicator of sex is that females which are ready to spawn will have a swelling in the breast area. Both sexes generally display much deeper coloration during ^ breeding periods. These fish are bubblenest builders, with the males making a nest of bubbles on the surface of the water. However, the Three ^ l Spot Gourami's nests tend to be ;ip|i:ll^ quite small. In fact, spawning of the !|!!f|i^ Three Spot Gourami has been reported in the absence of a visible bubblenest. Since the eggs of the Three Spot Gourami naturally float to the surface of the water (as do the newly hatched fry), the absence of a bubblenest in which to "fasten" the eggs until they hatch is not a serious problem. As I mentioned previously, the Three Spot Gourami spawns easily in the home aquarium. The spawning behavior (and spawning tank setup) is similar to that of the Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens), in that the male embraces the female to expel the eggs, fertilizes the eggs, and guards the eggs. (When the male has constructed a bubblenest, the eggs are placed within it and the male guards and tends the nest.) As with B. splendens, the female must be removed after spawning is complete, or the male will attack her in his defense of the eggs. There are, however, a few differences in tank setup for spawning Three Spot Gouramis, as

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

to spawning B. splendens. First, allowances should be made for the fact that an adult spawning pair of Three Spot Gouramis will almost certainly be larger than B. splendens. (Three Spot Gouramis are generally sexually mature at about three inches.) For that reason, a tank no smaller than five gallons should be used, although I would recommend a ten or even fifteen gallon tank. Gravel is not recommended for the spawning tank of B. splendens, mostly owing to the fact that the eggs drop down and need to be retrieved by the male, who would have a harder time picking up eggs from between pieces of gravel. However, as mentioned earlier, the eggs of the Three Spot Gourami float upward, so that gravel can be used, if desired. (Nonetheless, I have had considerably more success with breeding Anabantoids in bare bottom tanks, and would recommend a bare bottom tank for these fish, as well.). As with B. splendens, a sponge filter in the spawning tank is recommended, as are floating plants, or a half of a StyrofoamŽ cup (cut lengthwise and allowed to float "dome-like" on the surface). The sponge filter should be barely bubbling, to avoid disturbing the water surface and any bubblenest. (Floating plants will further reduce any turbulence caused by the bubbles.) Having a sponge filter running prior to spawning results in a "mature" sponge hosting microorganisms, such as infusoria, upon which newly hatched fry can feed. Even though these are surface bubblenesting fish, I would recommend including a few hollow tubes or open ended caves to provide the female with a place in which to hide from an overly aggressive male. Again, as with the spawning of B. splendens, put the male into the spawning tank first. Start with some aged water from an established tank, and start the sponge filter. Use a heater, if necessary, to raise the tank temperature to between 80° and 85° F. Allow the male to remain in the spawning tank by himself for about three days. During this time, he may build a bubblenest; but for these fish the lack of a bubblenest does not necessarily equate to an unwillingness to breed. The water should be slightly acidic, with a pH between 6.0 - 6.5. Regular feedings should be

October 2002


maintained, along with removal of any visible Most of the fry will be free swimming detritus. (swimming horizontally, that is) by the third day After three days, put the female into the after hatching. At this point, remove the male (he spawning tank. The male should begin his will no longer guard the fry and will provide no courtship displays almost immediately. His body parental care), and lower the temperature in the fry colors should intensify and darken, and he will tank to between 72° and 75° F. The newly hatched flare his fins. During this time, the female may fry are too small to eat even newly hatched brine also be the occasional target of physical attacks shrimp. If you had that sponge filter going, they (thus, the reason for providing places for her to will graze on the microorganisms naturally hide). occurring on the surface of the sponge. The fry I have never known these fish to begin can also be fed "green water," or a commercially spawning at any time other than very early prepared liquid fry food for egglayers. In about morning. So, if spawning has not occurred by the two weeks, they should be large enough to eat end of the day, feel free to shut off any light over microworms or newly hatched brine shrimp. the tank. The actual spawning involves the male Adult Three Spot Gouramis can be used embracing the female in such a way that her eggs to rid a tank of hydra. Hydra are small aquatic are squeezed from her body to rise to the surface, invertebrates that can be deadly to small fry in the with the male fertilizing them before they reach the aquarium. Aquarists who feed live brine shrimp bubblenest or surface of the water. nauplii run the risk of hydra infecting their tanks. Since these fish like to spawn before I get Hydra can kill fry as large as a half inch. Fry that up in the morning, I must rely on an account of are too large for the hydra to kill outright still must their unique spawning behavior by an apparently compete with the hydra for food, reducing the food early riser, Dr. Jorg Vierke: "The male exhibits, available to the fry, and adversely affecting their just as the other Trichogaster species 'directional' growth and health. The Three Spot Gourami can swimming with widely spread fins and the raised also help in reducing an overpopulation of snails, tail ('hollow or small of the back'). The female without harming plants. initiates mating by biting precisely midway An aquarist willing to devote a tank to any between both points. Other Trichogaster males of the color morphs of Trichogaster trichopterus begin immediately with the embrace, but will be rewarded with a very attractive fish, which T. trichopterus reacts peculiarly — the male lays exhibits complex and interesting behavior patterns. back his dorsal fin, sinks down somewhat until the They are easy to keep, easy to feed, easy to find female is directly above him, and swims back and commercially, inexpensive, very tolerant of a wide forth repeatedly as he rubs his back up against the range of water conditions, do not disturb plants, belly of the female. This behavior can last a and are easy to spawn. In the home aquarium, they minute or longer; the subsequent embrace can last can be expected to live between four and five about 35 to 55 seconds." The embrace is repeated years, and are generally very hardy. In fact, of the many times over a period of several hours. The four species in the genus Trichogaster (which are number of resulting eggs can be in the hundreds. all hardy fish), Trichogaster trichopterus is The eggs float to the top and are put into the nest probably the hardiest and most adaptable to the by the male. If the male has not yet built a widest range of water conditions. bubblenest, he may start doing so now. Whether it's called "Three Spot" (or even Once you know that spawning has taken "Two Spot"), "Marble," "Lavender," "Cosby," place, remove the female. The male Three Spot "Opaline," "Blue," or "Gold," this is a fish any Gourami can be extremely aggressive in his serious aquarist should consider. defense of the eggs, to the point that he will attack any fish in the near vicinity, including the female. Even when the male does not attack the female, References these fish will sometimes turn out to be continuous spawners, filling the tank with thousands of eggs. Pinter, Helmut. Labyrinth Fish (Barrens Depending on the temperature, the eggs Educational Series, 1986) should hatch within 24 to 36 hours. The male should be allowed to tend the eggs for about three Linke, Horst. Labyrinth Fish, The Bubble Nest days after they hatch. As aggressive as this fish Builders (Tetra-Press, 1991) can get, the male is generally an excellent guardian of the newly hatched fry. As with B. splendens, the Vierke, Dr. J5rg. Bettas, Gouramis and other male will pick up any fry that fall to the bottom and Anabantoids (T.F.H. Publications, 1988) spit them back into the nest.

October 2002

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


The Dawn of a New Day for the

CICHLIDS OF MADAGASCAR by CLAUDIA DICKINSON

s I scurried down the convention hallway, the sounds of jovial laughter and congenial fish talk filled the air, trailing behind me as I came upon the massive lecture room door. Pulling open the huge structure, I slipped over the threshold into a world of darkness whose hush from within was in sharp contrast to the world from whence I had come. In spite of its stillness, one could feel the air was charged with eager attentiveness and expectation. My eyes were caught by the breathtaking image on the screen that filled the room with its radiant beauty. The brilliant hues of rose, orchid, teal and peach of the rising sunset over the shores of the Madagascar coastline pierced through the darkness, arresting the room in spellbound enhancement. The distinctive and knowledgeable voice of Dr. Paul Loiselle authoritatively held the attention of his audience as our journey began through the ichthyofauna of this enchanted land. The exquisite beauty of the Paretroplus menarambo, or "pinstripe damba" was extraordinary, glowing with its rich tones of blues and steel grays, the fins and emarginate tail perfectly outlined in a brilliant red. A teal iridescence shone across the face as well as dorsal, caudal and anal fins, while tiny black dots formed horizontal rows across the entire body of this fish that once inhabited Lake Sarodrano. When the following slide showed a pair of P. menarambo spawning in an aquarium, I wryly admitted to our good fortune, as this grande prodigy of Madagascar's fauna is now extinct in its native land, never again to be found in nature. We traveled onward through northwest Madagascar, where Lake Ravelobe is presently home to the exquisite Paretroplus maculatus, whose future is extremely questionable. This magnificent creature radiates lavish tones of bronzy golds and greens, while reaching an adult total length of 12 inches. A substantial dark lateral blotch is apparent, as well as a red edging of the dorsal and caudal fins. If one is new to the keeping of Madagascar cichlids and is able to resist the immediate desire to locate captive bred specimens of'Paretroplus maculatus, Dr. Loiselle's counsel is to begin with another desirable, smaller Paretroplus

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

from the same Lake Ravelobe, the Pe. kieneri. He then proceeded to introduce us to other exceptionally lovely Paretroplus species such as Pe. damii, Pe. maromandia, the stunning Pe. nourissati and Pe. tsimoly. The next stop on our journey, the lush and inviting Nosivolo River, is home to the perfect candidate for an aquarium resident from the genus Ptychochromoides. Pd. katria is a very captivating species, with golds and blacks throughout the body, reaching a relatively manageable total length of 8 inches. Another Ptychochromoides, the Pd. vondrozo, shares the distinction of being beautiful as well as critically endangered. From a conservation aspect, the situation for the genus Ptychochromis is alarming as well, as the critically endangered list grows. Dr. Loiselle showed us the beauty of the Ptychochromis sp. nov./Joba mena which is a most appealing fish of various blues, a deep lyrate tail and sporting a broad red border on the dorsal, caudal and anal fins. He highly recommends this fish for its attractiveness, and points out that these, along with Ptychochromis sp. nov./Saro, have been bred in Europe, and F2 fry are available. A galaxy of iridescent jewels, glowing with teal, blue and rose tones, magnificently shimmering from a deep black velvet body, fills the screen. Endangered as well, the Paratilapia "small spot" is fortunate to have become a popular aquarium resident that is relatively prolific in hobbyist's tanks. In sharp contrast to rivers such as the resplendent Mahanara, the west coast rivers of Betsiboka, Tsiribihina, Mangoky and Onilahy are red with silt that has washed down from massive deforestation by the "slash and burn" agricultural method that is used in the area. It is a shocking sight, and it is difficult to imagine that there are any fish left in these waters. The mesmerized audience sits, eyes riveted to the screen, as the sun begins to set, throwing a bittersweet glow across the land. A chill runs up my spine for this intriguing land that is under an ongoing struggle for survival, balanced precariously amongst a fragile ecosystem that is so rich and unique in nature.

October 2002


My Bermuda Adventure By MARK SOBERMAN

hen Craig Morfltt, the President of the to drive for business. Only doctors are allowed to have two cars. Bermuda Fry-Angle Aquarium Society, invited me to speak on Cory dor as catfish The flight to Bermuda is short — only about one and half-hours in the air. Since neither in Bermuda, I jumped at the chance. I have been fortunate enough to give my program to the clubs my wife nor myself like flying, that was welcome. When approaching the island, you are immediately in the tri-state area, but never in such an exotic struck by the beautiful turquoise water. When we locale. My wife, Robin, accompanied me on the trip. I guess going to Bermuda was enough of an landed at the airport, Craig was there to greet us. incentive for her to suffer through my program. We went to his house, which is high on a hilltop and has great views of the surrounding area. Craig This was the first time either Robin or myself had showed us his collection of antiquarian aquarium been to Bermuda. Let me tell you a little bit about books and other the island. aquarium artifacts. Bermuda is Robin and I went an island located in food shopping with the Atlantic Ocean Craig, and were approximately 673 amazed at the prices. miles from New York. Everything is double Bermuda is about 21 the cost of products miles in length and 1 here in the States. mile in width. Being When we got back to located above the his house, Craig equator, Bermuda is a prepared a great steak sub-tropical island. barbecue. Robin and As such, Bermuda has I were tired from our seasons and the day of traveling, and temperature is not we relaxed before I constant all year. would give my From April to presentation that September, it is the evening. warmest: 80-90 BFAAS President, Craig Morfltt (left) and the author My program degrees. The winter was held at a facility used by the police department temperature is in the mid 60s. The population of for social events, complete with a bar. (I am sure Bermuda is 63,000. It is an ethnically diverse our membership would like that.) Before the island consisting of British, American, West meeting started, Robin and I met many of the club Indian, Portuguese, African, Canadian, European, members. Like Greater City, the membership of and others. Getting around the island is easy. You BFAAS is diverse. Klaus is from Germany, Eric is can rent a moped; however you have to take it slow. Many of the roads are narrow and winding. from Cleveland, Craig from England, and there are members who were born on the island. Everyone Craig told me that tourists are injured each year was warm, gracious, and enthusiastic about the from reckless riding of these mopeds (speeding, aquarium hobby. Craig started the meeting by driving on the wring side of the road, etc.). You going over club business and discussing future can also travel by bus or taxi. You need the exact change for the bus, but they seem to make events. The club's August meeting, complete with dinner, was held on a yacht. I spoke for an hour exceptions for tourists. You are not able to rent a and fifteen minutes, followed by questions. car. In fact, residents of the island can own only I was able to bring a number of fish for one car per family. This does not include commercial vehicles, which you are only allowed their auction: catfish, cichlids, and killifish. Being

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

October 2002


How To Kick "Fishoholism" by BERNARD HARRIGAN

y name is Bernard, and I'm a Fishoholic. That wasn't an easy thing to admit to, or even realize, for many years. Others noticed it before I did, but they didn't realize just how out of control I had become. It seemed like a normal hobby to me, not the obsession it was. I became preoccupied with tropical fish. They haunted my mind to the point that I was no longer able to function as a normal human being. I couldn't go a week without cleaning my tanks. I wouldn't go away on vacation because I would have to be away from my fish (maybe someone should invent a suitcase that you can pack your fish in so you can take them with you. . . ahh, never mind!). I would get a huge high when I would spawn a new fish. I even went to Sea World on my honeymoon! It all started off innocently enough. I was a young child at Coney Island playing the "Pop The Balloon Race," and I won. I won a goldfish in a bowl. It was a plain comet; the type they use to lure young children and get them hooked on this obsession. From there I went to fancy goldfish in a tank. Then I moved up to guppies in another tank that just happened to fit so nicely on the wrought iron stand below the first tank. I went on to other livebearers, then tetras, gouramis, catfish, and cichlids. At its worst, I had over thirty tanks in my basement, six at my store (no, not a pet shop), and I was President of the Brooklyn Aquarium Society. Now don't take this the wrong way. The aquarium hobby has been a positive force in my life. I meet a lot of good people and made a few great friends. It's just that when you take anything to the excess it can be very harmful. If you let it get out of control, it will wreck your marriage, cause you to lose your livelihood, and possibly ruin your life. Here are some testimonials from a couple of guys who have been there and are working their way back. "Hi, my name is Sam." (Hello Sam) "I had my own business in a very busy shopping area. I set my own hours, was well known in the neighborhood and was a well respected merchant. Then I went over the edge. I started spending more time at the aquarium store down the block than in my own store. The customers in that store knew me better than my own customers did. Needless to say, I lost the business and ended up taking a job as a bag boy in another pet shop, just to support my habit."

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

Here's another sad tale. "Hi, my name is Jim." (Hello Jim) "I had a very well paying job in a large corporation. I have two kids and a beautiful wife who made almost as much money as I did, just by doing freelance work. Then I lost my job through downsizing. I drowned myself in my fish room, spending countless hours there. I started writing for my fish club's magazine. People liked what I wrote, so I started writing more and more. My wife noticed that I spent more time writing articles than I did looking for work. My wife would have divorced me if I hadn't started taking work wallpapering." Don't think it is hopeless. There are things you can do to fight fishoholism. The first step is to admit that you have a problem. Here are the top ten signs that you (or someone you love) is a fishoholic:

October 2002

10. More than 70% of the tee shirts you own have fish on them. 9. You keep getting fish-related gifts: fish-shaped pillows, fish sculptures, even tropical fish shower curtains. 8. You consider Dr. Paul Loiselle, Joe Ferdenzi, or Ray Kingfish Lucas one of your heroes. 7. You have been to a tropical fish wholesaler, importer, or fish farm (the more you say yes, the worse your condition). 6. Your social life revolves around Fish Club meetings and tropical fish shows. 5. "That Fish Place" phone number is on your speed dialer. 4. You know most of your fish by their Latin names, but you can't recall the names of you sister Mary's children. 3. You make your own fish food from frozen beef heart, but you'd have trouble making spaghetti and meatballs for yourself if it didn't come in a can. 2. More than 40% of the bookmarks on your web browser are fish related. And the # 1 sign that you are a fishoholic: 1. You end up with fish gunk in your mouth from the siphon hose, but you wouldn't even think about changing a diaper.

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After you have admitted you're a fishoholic, there are some simple steps you can take to regain control of your life: Write one article a year for your Aquarium Society's publication. This is like methadone for fishoholics. It releases some of the pressure and withdrawals so you won't binge on tropical fish. It will also take some of the pressure off the editor of the publication, and your fellow hobbyists, who do most of the writing out of necessity. Cultivate other interests. Go out to movies that are not fish-related. Stay away from anything like "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," "The Little Mermaid," "A Fish Called Wanda," or "Jaws." Listen to music, but stay away from the "Petshop Boys." Concentrate on the melody — not just the scales. Reacquaint yourself with your girl/boyfriend, husband/wife, or just someone of the opposite sex. (If you choose the latter, make sure your significant other doesn't find out!) Taper off the number of fish you keep. Donate some fish to the club's next auction. This will help you along with helping the club. If a fish dies, or a tank leaks, don't replace it. Attrition is a great way to cut back. Stop breeding your fish. You won't need fry tanks. You could get rid of the

female guppies (the males are prettier anyway). And, if you have plecos, you'll find they feast on roe as well as algae. There may not be a cure for fishoholism, but it can be controlled. Right now I have only two tanks. I enjoy the hobby more because it's not so much work, and I have more time to spend with the greatest friends in the world. (Okay... I lost my wife and kids -— but you can't win them all.) If you, or someone you love, is a fishoholic and you would like to help, please donate all you can to me. Make checks out to Bernard Harrigan. Or, CASH is even better (and as much of it as possible). Every large amount helps. You too can make a difference in the fight against this scourge that is ravaging our hobby! Editor's Note: The views expressed here may not be that of the Editor, this publication, its staff or GCAS as a whole. Although I would like to see more people write articles so I wouldn 't have to use ones like this. We do not recommend donating any money to fishoholics, and, if you do, it is at your own risk. The testimonials are from fictional characters. Any resemblance to anyone either living or dead is just an unfortunate coincidence. jL^

Norwalk Aquarium Society 36th ANNUAL TROPICAL FISH SHOW sponsored by Earthplace the Nature Discovery Center 10 Woodside Lane in Westport, CT Saturday, October 5,2002 (Noon to 4:00 p.m.) Sunday, October 6,2002 (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) AUCTION on Sunday, October 6,2002 at Noon From Merrit Parkway: (Wilbur Cross): Exit 41. If coming from New Haven, turn right at exit (if coming from New York, turn left at exit). Onto Route 33. At first traffic light turn right onto Kings Highway. At 6th street, turn right onto Woodside Ave. Woodside Ave. ends at the Nature Center. From New England Thruway (1-95) From either direction take exit 17 and turn left onto Riverside Avenue (Route 33). Go straight approximately Imile to Sylvan Road South (on left - gas station at corner). Turn left onto Sylvan. Turn right at light (Post Road, Route 1) take first left onto Kings Highway, take left at Woodside Lane - proceed to end of street. From Norwalk or Westport Via Route 1. Follow Route 1 to Kings Highway. Take left onto Woodside Lane - proceed to end of street. 12

October 2002

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


Our scheduled speaker this month:

Ron Nielson Speaking on: A Hobbyist's Perspective on Obtaining, Maintaining, and Breeding Endangered Fish Ronald and Charlotte Nielson are both on Nielson: importer, conservationist, active-duty Army, working in military intelligence. businessman, "spook," and dad. Ron is a Ron is an Army First Sergeant (also known as a ember of the American Zoological and Master Sergeant), while Charlotte is a Sergeant Aquarium Association (http://www.aza.org/). First Class. Ron would have been able to retire Founded in 1924, the American Association of this year, but the military is suspending many Zoological Parks and Aquariums, now known as retirements now because of the war on terrorism. the American Zoo and Aquarium Association Although Ron has kept fish since he was ("AZA"), is a nonprofit organization dedicated to about eight years old, he was never able to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the maintain more than a few areas of conservation, small tanks between moves. education, science, and Two years ago, he was able recreation. AZA's vision is to settle down and start to work cooperatively to raising fish. He graduated save and protect the wonders quickly from trading fish he of the living natural world. had raised, to selling them to Ron is a member of fish stores in quantities that the American Cichlid made it imperative to A s s o c i a t i o n incorporate. (http://www.cichlid.org/), Ron is currently and spoke at the American forming an informal Cichlid Association's 2002 conservation effort for Convention on the topic Malagasy and other cichlids "Establishment of the in accordance with the Conservation Study Group." American Zoological and In addition, Ron is Aquarium Association a member of the Potomac guidelines. Ron is active in Valley Aquarium Society the Victoria Species Survival (http://www.pvas.com/index.htm) Program. Ron also gives of Virginia, and a charter frequent talks to clubs about member of the Capital Lakes Tanganyika, Malawi, Cichlid Association and Victoria, Madagascar, (http://www.amidchaos.co and the general conservation m/cca/), which meets in Maryland. offish. Ronald and Explaining how he Charlotte Nielson live just a became an an importer and stone's throw from wholesale distributor of With Lady Liberty in the background, Baltimore Airport in Severn, African and South American Ron and his son, Tim. Maryland. They are Cichlids, Ron says, "I kept breaking ground on a 500 gallon tank hatchery reading about fish I couldn't get, and I was bored building. Although it's not even built yet, it's with what I could get. I also don't like getting fish already half full — the Nielsen's share their home of questionable lineage, so I started importing them myself." Most of the livestock listed for sale on with two little boys, one 5 years, and one 4 months; and, oh yeah, with 300 fish tanks! his web site (http://www.fishpost.com) are African Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

October 2002

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and South American Cichlids and scavengers, with some Central American and Australian species. His wholesale customers are scientific researchers, zoos, distributors, retail stores, and some fish associations and clubs. In addition to displaying some of his products, Ron's website also provides useful information to help inform customers about fish they may decide to purchase. To learn and share more about rare fish, Ron started the Cichlid Conservation Working Group, which is easily accessed from a link on his web site. As a web-based working group, "we are getting involved with people from all over the world, ranging from serious hobbyists to scientists. We don't talk about everyday fish, though ..."

The Cichlid Conservation Working Group is trying to recruit hobbyists to help with conservation efforts already underway, and to set up programs with individual hobbyists willing to help preserve and bring to the hobby rare and endangered fish. If you would like to join them, you can sign on to their email group at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/clchlidconservation/join. They are also trying to organize the conservation efforts of hobbyists that will enhance current institutional efforts and programs, as well as lead their own programs to help preserve some of these wonderful fish. We are very happy to welcome Ron Nielson to Greater City this evening.

North Jersey Aquarium Society presents its annual

NJ Tropical Fish Weekend November 2-3, 2002 Meadowlands Environmental Center Lyndhurst, NJ (for directions — http://www.hmdc.state.nj.us/)

Diverse Q&A Weekend Workshop featuring Famous Guest Speakers and Huge Tropical Fish Auction! Doors open Sat 12 noon & Sun. 10am Auction starts Sun. 1pm Website www.njas.net Hotline 732.541.1392

$2.00 Bidder Fee 14

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


econd Reprints deserving a second look The following reprint is from the website of our guest speaker this month, Ron Nielson. Ron graciously gave his permission for Modern Aquarium to reprint this article from his website at http://www.fishpost.com

Cichlid Conservation Working Group and the Species Survival Program by RON NIELSON he Species Survival Program's original intent, for the most part, was to establish the protocols necessary to preserve mammals. This effort was mostly led by zoos in the United States and abroad. With the intent to preserve such animals as tigers, lions, primates, and other large species, it is really no wonder that the protocols established do not fit into the breeding of cichlids. This doesn't mean it won't provide the foundation of a program to preserve fish from the same fate as the mammals of the world. There has been some change to the original methodology used to accomplish this goal, but the preservation of fish has not been brought far enough along to make it an easily understood or entered program for hobbyists. Honestly, there just isn't enough information or sufficient opportunities for the hobbyist to become involved. We are going to find ways to change just that. Why? Well, the zoos are probably never going to have enough tank space to save 100s of species of fish in the same manner that they may save 10s of mammals and sincere/professional hobbyists can help in that goal. The keeping of a single male and a single female per breeding selection is, in part, the foundation of the Species Survival Program. This helps maintain records and keep genetic lines identified and trackable. Similarly, if done in cichlid preservation, single males will as likely kill the mate if only one female is present in the aquarium. Additionally, this same practice in the wild is believed to have generated the diversity of related species in the lakes already. Many variations of cichlids owe their beginnings to new

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

territory claimed by the lakes' expansion. As the water level continues to rise, two fish swim into a new habitat and develop their own small community offish. Over time, if these two fish and their young are left in a secluded state, they and their off-spring develop into a new strain/color variant offish. It would not be wise to recreate this process in the aquariums of the United States. So, there are many challenges and concerns in developing a viable program to save the fish in as pure a way as possible. This obvious difficulty is probably the main reason hobbyists and the Species Survival Program have not gotten together. Therefore, we must bridge the gap. First, we must establish standards of not only breeding the fish but, record keeping, raising, distribution, and genetic diversity to show a dedication and professionalism needed for the scientific community. Furthermore, we have to understand the scientific community's concern, and overcome it with a professional, well documented, methodology to assuage them. Understanding some of the differences between mammal and fish breeding practices will help mature the preservation program to enable the protection of cichlids as well. Failing this would be an unacceptable outcome. That said, we will need the help of serious hobbyists and commercial endeavors. We hope to be a focal point for this effort. We have begun discussion with members of the SSP and are generating these pages to start that process. We feel very strongly about the preservation of African Cichlids and are going to

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do what we can to help. There is a strange wonder at being able to help save a species from extinction. This is probably one of the most rewarding experiences that we have from keeping these fish. This is also a very tedious and possibly demanding effort. Records about the water conditions, the fish themselves, the broods that are spawned, all must be kept to help with understanding more about them. We will attempt to provide information and a venue to discuss these specimens to those interested in their preservation. Many of the African cichlids included in the endangered species listings are from either Lake Victoria and its surrounding lakes, West African Regions, or Madagascar. What was once thought to be the definitive end to cichlids in Lake Victoria, the Nile Perch, is now thought to have been a terrible introduction, but not the end all for all species in the Lake. The Madagascar cichlids however are seeing a much deeper problem in the loss of habitat. This may be the hardest thing for a species to adapt to, lack of habitat is not an adaptable situation.

So, now you have an overview of the problem and an idea that is forming in our heads. We are attempting to bring together cichlid hobbyists to help with the preservation of the most endangered species. We have had discussions with Paul Loiselle (New York Aquarium) and Chuck Rambo (ACA Conservation Chair) about doing something to help. We have also contacted some exporters/wholesalers of these same species and we are now going to try to get the fish to the hobbyists to breed and hopefully they will prosper. The future of this program will depend upon the support of hobbyists and the success of breeding them. There will have to be restrictions for anyone interested in taking part in this program. If you are unwilling to dedicate the time, tank space, and ensure the purity of each species in question, you should not take part in any action to preserve the species. Otherwise, it would be a great project for you to put some time into.

News From:

The Northeast Council Of Aquarium Societies he next Annual NEC Convention will be March 28-30, 2003. Convention Chair, Janine Banks, mentioned that there would be no convention committee this year. Instead, setup will be by section heads. She needs approximately 25 people to help out. She also needs volunteers for the Sunday auction, advertising, manufacturer donations, begging letters, receiving and disbursing, door prizes, thank you letters, T-shirt sales, computer entries, registration desk, and staffing the fish room that weekend. Delegates are asked to canvas their clubs for volunteers. If you are interested in helping out, contact the GCAS NEC delegate, Claudia Dickinson. Convention speakers lined up to date are: Pam Chin (California) on Lake Tanganyikan Cichlids, Randy Kerry (Minnesota) on Rasboras and Barbs, Scott Michaels on Saltwater Fish, and Dr. Gene Lucas on Bettas. Mike Schadle will be the Banquet MC. The theme for this year will be an "American Theme" (Red, White and Blue). The T-shirt logo should have no more than four colors, and must be an original drawing or artwork. All entries in the T-Shirt Design Contest must be turned in before the December 8th NEC General Meeting.

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Between the October Greater City meeting and our November meeting, the following NEC societies will be having events (see also the bottom of page 10 in this issue): Norwalk Aquarium Society: 36th Annual Tropical Fish Show: October 5-6, 2002 Brooklyn Aquarium Society: 16th Annual Giant Fish Auction October 11, 2002 New Hampshire Aquarium Society: 10th Annual Auction October 20, 2002 North Jersey Aquarium Society: Annual Show and Auction November 2-3, 2002 Boston Aquarium Society: Annual Auction November 3, 2002

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


we by SUSAN PRIEST

W

ell, if I procrastinate any longer, I may as well set up a web-cam and point it at my kitchen counter. Then anyone on the planet can learn why they don't want to be a backsplash aquarist! OR, I can roll up my sleeves and take control of the situation. An aquarist's kitchen presents a few cleaning chores that most other homemakers don't face. First, I need to assemble the correct tools. I'll need a bucket, atoothbrush, some paper towels, a spray bottle full of water, and a Swiffer™. Rule #1 - nothing that touches fish, or fish water, touches soap. Rule #2 -see Rule #1. I'll start by unplugging the air pump and moving the brine shrimp jug out of the way. Everything within splashing distance of this jug is coated with a thick crust of dried-on brine. (That's salt water to those of you whose hobbies are golfing or channel surfing!) The towel which is folded up under the jug is stiffer than a saltine! Ditto for the toaster oven cover. Before I can put them in the washing machine with the sheets or towels, I'll have to rinse them in this bucket a couple of times. You know those rectangular clear plastic containers that hang on the edge of the tanks in aquarium stores; the ones they put the fish into after you pick out what you want, before they bag them? They must actually sell these things for some purpose, because there is one of them hanging onto (or off of) my backsplash. The container itself, along with its assorted contents (algae scrubber, brine shrimp net, toothbrushes, baster, sponge, chop sticks, strainer, etc.), all need a soaking in some water. Remember Rule #1! Well, I can put them into this bucket, which already has some salt dissolved into it. That will do the job. (Are we still supposed to be conserving water?) Now I'm ready for the toothbrush. The best thing to use for cleaning DRIED-ON water is WET water! So I spray the backsplash with some water and attack it with the toothbrush. The resulting puddle of liquid is the color, well, not of salt as you might expect. Surprisingly, just the opposite; it resembles soggy pepper! Dog or cat owners who have to clean up pet hair swear by Swiffer, but I am convinced this Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

thing must have been invented by an aquarist! In addition to being misted with brine, not a day goes by when the kitchen floor isn't splashed with water from one fish tank or another. This is not what most people think of as "water spots." Anyway, with a Swiffer you won't need to crawl on your hands and knees, or try to get a broom or a dustbuster under the iron aquarium stands that are only four inches up from the floor. Just swish this thing around and under the furniture, and when you are done you just peel off the soiled surface and throw it in the trash. No mop to clean! What was that crunch? It looks like a dry leaf with a tail. Oh, no! It's a "crispy critter." I wonder which tank it jumped out of? That is something my Gram never had to clean off of her kitchen floor! Then there's the "Fairy Dust." You never know when or where it will show up. Just when you think the counter is clean, or the floor has been properly swiffed , you see it—that glint of glitter. It is also known as baby oatmeal, and it is the main ingredient in a microworm culture. If you know for sure, or even suspect, that your significant other has been in the kitchen, then the fairy dust is sure to be there, too. Oh oh! There's the phone. If I answer it I will never get back to this. I had better keep working, and let the answering machine pick it up. Ring...ring...ring...ring. "We can't take your call right now, so please leave us a message and we will call you back soon. Thank you. Bye." "YooHoo, Sue, it's Gram; pick up if you're there. Well, if you say so! I just finished cleaning my oven. I used a toothbrush and some salt. I hate those chemical fumes! Anyway, I'm on my way over to your house. Put your shoes on, cause I'm taking you out for sushi!" Well, I was almost done, anyway. I still have to clean the air pump, the "counter-saver" (will someone please remind me why I have this thing?), and a few betta bowls. Actually, I thought I had earned myself a glass or two of Carlo Rossi "stresscoat," but that can wait until later. On the way home we can stop and pick up some Jello. I have to get ready for the editors' meeting, but that is a story for another day!

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WET LEAVES A Review Of A Book For The Hobbyist by DORA DONG

I

am a big fan of planted aquariums, and whenever I see a book about the subject, I purchase it as my budget allows. The most recent of my acquisitions is Creating A Natural Aquarium by Peter Hiscock. The author is familiar to me, as I already have another of his books about aquarium plants, and I enjoyed it. One of the most interesting aspects of this book is the format. The author doesn't just randomly describe different biotopes and what to put in them. Instead, he follows the course of a river, and describes the types of habitats along the way. The first chapter after the introduction shows this. It is called "The Path Of A River," and summarizes how the many rivers that first begin in the mountains end up in the sea. In the diagram of a river on pages 14 and 15, Hiscock pretty much gives us the outline of his book. The diagram has descriptions from the beginning of the river in the high mountains, down through the tropical forest, winding past the flat grasslands, and eventually splitting off into a delta and depositing the fresh water into the sea. The picture of the river's progress is accompanied by paragraphs that point out the various spots of interest along the way. The chapters of the book follow each point of interest in the river's progress. The diagram of the river is the only picture that was drawn. Throughout the book there are photographs of rivers, rainforests, lakes, fish, and various decorations to place in the tanks, as well as pictures of the tanks the author created according to his descriptions. I found the pictures of locales of special interest, as I haven't seen them before. They were really quite beautiful, and I wished the book was larger so that I could see more details. (The book is about 6x8 inches.) The other pictures that especially interested me were the ones that demonstrated how to do various things for the tank, such as gluing rocks together. The next chapter is "Making A Biotope Aquarium," where Hiscock reveals his method and philosophy towards such aquariums. He states that his intent is "...to represent (not reproduce) the 20

natural habitat in the aquarium." The reason behind this is to make an aquarium that anyone can do without too much difficulty, and without the need to attend to the most excruciating details of a real environment. Also, some habitats aren't all that attractive; being plain or muddy or littered with detritus. I basically agree with this philosophy as well, since I mix and match my tanks until they're aesthetically pleasing to me. The rest of the chapter is devoted to describing the equipment the author uses to create the tanks shown in the book. The tanks shown are 30-gallon longs, and he states his preference for outside power filters, and summarizes various types of lighting from fluorescent to underwater lighting. The descriptions are relatively brief, as there is a basic assumption that the reader is familiar with setting up a tank on his or her own. In fact, as interesting as the book is, most of the chapters have about 8 pages to them, giving readers a brief overview of what can be done with their tanks. It is up to the reader to do further research into the types offish and plants and decorations that would make up ones aquarium. The next chapter is "Aquascaping," and here Hiscock gives an outline of how the following chapters, each of which describe a certain habitat, is written. This chapter is about the longest in the book, as he has several things to cover. He begins with the substrate, from gravel of different sizes to sand and calcareous substrates, and finally describing how to layer substrates for the most beneficial plant growth. He then outlines which rocks to use, giving a list (in an inset) of rocks that are inert and safe, to rocks that will alter the water chemistry. Then he moves onto bogwood, describing how it's created from rotten wood and the effects it may have on an aquarium's pH. Finally he goes onto describing synthetic decorations that won't affect water chemistry. I get the idea that using fake rocks and woods should be the last resort. The chapter then goes from showing what to use to how to use it. There are pictures of someone gluing rocks with silicone on page 31, and gravel being washed on page 33. There are also several paragraphs on creating backgrounds. The author conveys the best way to set up rocks so that they won't fall, and how to place bogwood so that it looks like natural tree roots that happen to come up out of the substrate. Finally, to round the chapter off, he describes how to plant the aquarium, and the best way to go about it so that the display looks pleasing. This segment goes on

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


for more than two pages, which is considerable since the descriptions and chapters are usually brief. He ends the chapter by advising the reader to "add some randomness" since an authentic environment isn't as perfect as a human would make it. The randomness consists of scattering different-sized rocks, or planting some plants a bit haphazardly. With the basics out of the way, we go onto the majority of the book; different habitats and how to go about creating them. Hiscock has 12 different aquariums described, from "A Mountain Stream" to "A Flooded Forest" to "A Mangrove Swamp." The three biotopes I've rarely encountered and that are described in the book are "An Australian River," "A European River," and "A Darkened Cave." Because I was not familiar with them, they were of special interest to me. He begins the chapters by describing the environment, the synopsis of which is in an inset laid across a picture of that part of the river. For "A Mountain Stream," there is the picture of water rapidly going over rocks, which, if I look hard enough, I can practically hear the roar of. The inset caption reads, "Naturally Pure/ The crystal clear water of a mountain stream tumbles chaotically over bare rock in a form that can only be described as nature at its purest." He then devotes a bit to describing how the wildlife exists there; how they adapted to such

conditions, and what they eat. Then he describes the plant life, if there is any. Finally, he describes how to create such an environment in your tank, starting with the substrate, going onto the rockwork and woodwork, then the plants, and finishing with describing the species of fish one can keep in the aquarium — all in all, a thorough description, if a bit brief. As I have said, there are 8 pages devoted to each environment and the book is rather small, with a total of 140 pages. (Either that, or I'm greedy!) The pictures of the tanks are interesting; many of them don't seem lit well enough to grow plants, which surprised me. They're attractive, though, and interesting to try to emulate. There are several captions pointing to areas of interest in the tank; a particular way a rock formation is set up, or how the equipment is mounted, for example. The most unusual thing about the tanks is that they are devoid of fish. There's just decoration (substrate, rocks, wood, plants, heater, etc.), and one has to imagine the fish swimming in there. In conclusion, this book is an inspiring introduction to natural biotope aquariums, for those who are interested. Its simplicity is geared towards beginners to intermediate hobbyists. It's a fun read, but one must do a lot of research and work on one's own if one wants to really create such an aquarium. A

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

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G.C.A.S. HAPPENINGS Welcome Back Renewing Members: Bill Adams, Ray Albanese, Frank Bonicci, Roger Brewster, Arne Bristulf, Angelo Cavallo, Pete D'Orio, Carlotti DeJager, LesDeutsch, Dora Dong, Harry Faustmann, Steven Gee, Joe Graffagnino, Benny Graham, Bernard Harrigan, Jesus James, Jason Keraerj Frank Laudato, Bob McKeand, Tom Miglio, Michael Nelson, Ronald O'Connor, Matthew O'Farrell, Eliot Oshins; Mark Rubanow, Donna & Stephen Sica, Mark Soberman, Jack Traub, Anton Vukich Welcome New Members: Michael Aronne, Andy Dujat, Denis Jao, Roger Schillizzi, John Sinkus, Raymond Smith, Edward Vukich, Michael Zerit Here are meeting times |rj|l locations of aquarium societies % the MetropBlftan New York area: GREATER CI|* AQUAR(|JM S|CIETY Next Meeting: Nqyepfe 6,1002 Speaker: Risty \%s||l Topic: "Collecting in Mexico" 8pm: (Queens Botanical Garden / 43-5ii||iri St., Flushing, NY Contact: !vtr. Joseph Ferdenzi Telephone: (718) 767-2691

October 11, 200f' J1. . . . jii^. ^: 16th AnnualJBA§ Giai^^sh Auction At th§;§ril|lnpite Moffir ||1 ...... : & Kna|p Itreet -

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ezii|i|pGreaterCity@compu§erve.coin http://www.greatercity.org

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, Parking, Refres^rnents, •:|i|fi;;Fp&d;6amples lii:::: ;' "' ^l^ftf^f fish starts at 7:30 PM :;i|i|||||!arts at 8:30 PM Bl||lj|ts Hotline (718) 837-4455 ,jfm , bi*ggklynaquariumsociety . org

Ea|t Coast Guppy

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P.M. - ls Queens Botanieal Garden Contacts: J^ff Gfdfge / G||itBaudier Telephone: (718^28.7196 / (516)345-6399

Lor|| Jsran^t0t|uarium Society Meets: §:p-;;§M;- Sriplriday of each month

Club ';^m - 3rd Thursday of each Botanical Garden Curtin -0538 "" I

Nassau County Aqtiariurn Society 8:00 PMM^^i^i ^ of eaeli ;.ni;on-t|: at the 4fflftican Le||l|i|i||t 10||f 66

iid Zoo':; October 18: Luis "il||a||s;;;pn JAngelfish" Contact: Mr! ||mny Kre^ling Telephone:

. http ; tfncis-;;vs 1 xom/indpehtml

North Jersey 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: tcoletti@obius.jnj.com October 17: Ron Coleman on "Costa Rican River Cichlids: Life in the Fast Lane"

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

:'8f::;!Mt - 3rd Thursday of each month at Earthplace - the Nature Discovery Center (formerly called the Nature Center for Environmental Activities), Westport, CT Contact: Mrs. Anne Stone Broadmeyer Telephone: (203) 834-2253 http://norwalkas.org/htmy

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Modern Aquarium  

October 2002 volume IX number 8

Modern Aquarium  

October 2002 volume IX number 8

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