Modern Aquarium April 2012

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April 2012 volume XIX number 2

Series III ON THE COVER This month's cover photo subject is Betta rubra, a rarely seen little treasure from Indonesia. To learn more about this small anabantid that had vanished from the hobby for over a hundred years, see Al Priest's article, "One Fish – Many Tales," on page 11. Photo by Alexander A. Priest GREATER CITY AQUARIUM SOCIETY Board Members

President Vice-President Treasurer Corresponding Secretary Recording Secretary

Dan Radebaugh Edward Vukich Jules Birnbaum Mario Bengcion Tommy Chang

Members At Large

Claudia Dickinson Al Grusell Emma Haus Leonard Ramroop

Pete D’Orio Ben Haus Jason Kerner

Committee Chairs

A.C.A. Delegate Bowl Show Breeder Award Early Arrivals F.A.A.S. Delegate Membership Programs N.E.C. Delegate Technology Coordinator

Claudia Dickinson Leonard Ramroop Warren Feuer Mark Soberman Al Grusell Alexander A. Priest Marsha Radebaugh Claudia Dickinson Claudia Dickinson Warren Feuer

MODERN AQUARIUM Editor in Chief Copy Editors Exchange Editors Advertising Mgr.

Dan Radebaugh Sharon Barnett Susan Priest Alexander A. Priest Stephen Sica Donna Sosna Sica Mark Soberman

Vol. XIX, No. 2 April, 2012

In This Issue From the Editor To the Editor G.C.A.S. 2011 Program Schedule President’s Message Last Month's Caption Contest Winner Cartoon Caption Contest Our Guest Speaker: Felicia McCaulley Member Classifieds Betta rubra: One Fish – Many Tales by Alexander A. Priest

Livebearers Lacking a Thingy by Allen Wood

Our Generous Sponsors & Advertisers Pictures from our Last Meeting by Susan Priest

Tropical Fish to the Rescue! by Jules Birnbaum

Our Generous Members Ten Fishes I Have Loved by Susan Priest

Bowl Show Rules Wet Leaves by Susan Priest

Back on the Road To Key Largo by Stephen Sica

G.C.A.S. Happenings The Undergravel Reporter Take Me Out to the Aquarium

Fin Fun (Puzzle Page) Bettas: You Betcha!

2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 14 17 18 20 21 22 24 25 27 30 31 32

From the Editor by Dan Radebaugh


ne of the responses we received concerning last month’s issue was from Alan Mark Fletcher. Alan is a long-time friend to Greater City, and has been a guest speaker here, and at our AFISH convention. He has also contributed a couple of recent articles to Modern Aquarium. As many of you know, Alan came up through the ranks at The Aquarium magazine, from Assistant to the Editor all the way to Publisher and eventually co-owner. Seeing Steve Hinshaw’s article about Exotic Aquarium Fishes in our March issue, Alan wrote in with some illuminating observations. We’re always glad to hear from Alan. Be sure and see his letter, which begins on the facing page. Elsewhere in the issue, fishes mostly prevail, led off by Al Priest’s article about the history and husbandry of Betta rubra, a small Indonesian betta that had literally not been seen in the hobby for over a hundred years until after the huge earthquake and tsunami back in December of 2004. Moving from anabantids to livebearers, Allen Wood, a past Chairman of the American Livebearer Association, has contributed an article about Goodeids, a group of North American livebearers which (the author states) as a family are probably the most endangered on the earth. Staying with the rare livebearer theme, Jules Birnbaum contributes a story about a fishkeeper whose passion for these fish helped provide a livelihood for him during the recent and still current economic sag that we’re all way too familiar with. Rather than extol the virtues of one species, or a complex, or even a family of fishes, Sue Priest gives us a rundown of ten (well, almost ten) of the fishes that have been especially meaningful to her. While one of them isn’t really a fish, I have to admit that I would also probably include the non-fish in question if I were forced to assemble a


similar list. Sue also continues this year’s conservation themed book reviews by telling us about the State of the Wild, which appears from her review to be both thorough and fascinating. Steve Sica provides a photographic treat to the eyes with another in his series of travelogue articles, “Back on the Road to Key Largo.” Spectacular photos! The Undergravel Reporter notes that, as the baseball season starts this week, it’s bringing the aquarium hobby along with it. Be sure and see “Take Me Out to the Aquarium.” We end, as always, with our puzzle, Fin Fun. Don’t bet against it! * * *

Remember, as always, we need articles! Modern Aquarium is produced by and for the members of Greater City Aquarium Society. Our members are our authors, and with ten issues per year, we always, always need more articles. I know several of you are keeping and/or breeding fish that I would like to know more about, and I’m certain other members would be interested as well. Share your experience with us. Write about it! If you’re a little unsure about the state of your writing technique, don’t worry – that’s why there are editors. If you have an article, photo, or drawing that you’d like to submit for inclusion in Modern Aquarium, it’s easy to do! You may fax it to me at (877) 299-0522, email it to gcas@earthlink. net, or just hand it to me at a meeting. However you get it to me, I’ll be delighted to receive it!

April 2012

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

...And To the Editor Hi Dan. Thanks so much for sending me the copy of the March issue of “Modern Aquarium”. I had intended to write to you and Steve Hinshaw jointly, but I cannot locate his e-mail address. Perhaps you would be good enough to forward this to him. As usual, you have done an outstanding job of presenting Steve’s article about “Exotic”. GCAS is fortunate to have you, with your experience and willingness to share it with the club. Steve has done a remarkable job of sorting out the editions of Exotic, and I think it is an important contribution to the lore of our hobby. I wish there was some way the article could be posted on the AHHS site. I know many of the members would like to have it. A few comments, for the record, if I may. Just in the order in which they appear in the article. It is important to recognize that Innes and Sons Printers and Innes Publishing Co. were separate entities. Innes and Sons (WM. T. was one of the two sons) had long been among Philadelphia’s premier printing firms - in a city known for its quality printers. In a way, Innes Pub. Co. was a client of Innes and Sons. They were all in the same office, however, and both firms continued to exist until John Anderson and I purchased Innes Publ. Co., after which the printing presses were sold, and Innes and Sons ceased to exist. The R. heteromorpha color frontispiece was undoubtedly discontinued in the last versions because of the cost. That plate was “tipped” in – glued in by hand – a very expensive operation. Innes’s grandson, William Innes Homer, had a severe stroke about a year ago, and when I heard from his wife last Christmas, he was alive, but paralyzed, and he was barely able to speak, although his mind seems to be normal. He is receiving intensive physical therapy, but it is unlikely that he will ever recover enough to interact with us again. We were indeed fortunate that he wrote the “Aquarium Fish” article when he did. I have a framed copy of that Innes Anniversary issue (Feb 1954), and on it Innes had written: To my esteemed co-worker Alan Fletcher -- Wm. T. Innes. That item will undoubtedly come on the market some day. The photo was taken by me, and is so credited under the photo. The different directions of the spine wording is very interesting. I had never seen that pointed out before. I believe Steve is right in believing that any bottom-up copies were printed for the European market. I know that subject never came up during my 8 yrs. there. Under the old copyright law a work could be copyrighted for 25 yrs., and renewed once before it became public domain. Every edition of Exotic had a new copyright. As I recall, the first Exotic printed by T.F.H. was an older edition that Innes had failed to renew. I don’t know how Herb (Axelrod—Ed.) found that out. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

April 2012


Moving back a bit, I missed commenting on the annual reprintings of Exotic. Elsewhere I have written about it, but here is a capsule summary. Exotic was the backbone of the entire Innes operation. As Exotic went, so went the brothers’ income. During the 8 years I was there, each year, Wm. T. and E. K. got together and decided how much money they wanted to have for the next year. That determined how many copies (reprints or eds.) would be printed for that year. As a result, rather than filling market needs, often there were several months in a year when no Exotics were available anywhere. That was very painful for Anderson and me, because we were modestly paid, and we would have liked to have participated more in the wealth. Fully meeting the market needs would have made that possible. Finally, beginning with the 19th ed. there were collecting photos taken by me, and I am so credited. (I also took a few of the fish photos, but Innes would not let me have credit for them!) I have always been pleased that later versions of Exotic have continued to credit me for them. If that is still being done, someone please let me know. On another subject, Dan, your index of 2011 indicates that the photographer of the cover photo of the DC-3 being repaired is unknown. I took it, and I failed to mention it to you at the time. Dan, you and Steven have made a contribution to the Innes lore. Soon we will all be gone, and then who knows what the “history” will become. But maybe it doesn’t make any difference. Alan Mark Fletcher “Only a life lived for others is the life worthwhile.” -- Albert Einstein

Dear Fishy Friends, Sorry I have not been around. My mother-in-law passed away February 5th. I had been watching over her for a few months, so it's been hard to get out anywhere. Due to the lack of interest in discus around the USA at this time, I sold Nassau Discus, so if you see Ted Hines' name popping up, Ted has been buying all my fish tanks. Please make him as welcome in the hobby as you did me. I don't have much in the way of tanks left here, BUT I do have all kinds of Aquarium supplies to unload. All my Fluval filters are available at $50.00 each, all my heaters (EBO Jagers) are $12.00 each, plus many parts and stuff. I also have a Gast air blower—top of the line—good for 100 tanks, for $350.00 (about $700 new). If anyone is interested feel free to give me a call at (516) 939-0267, or email at Once things settle down more, I'll try to get back to meetings. Mark Rubanow


April 2012

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

GCAS Programs



t is our great fortune to have another admirable cast of speakers who have so graciously accepted our invitation to join us throughout the coming season, bringing us their extensive knowledge and experiences. You certainly won’t wish to miss a moment of our prominent guests, not to mention the friends, fish, warmth, and camaraderie that accompanies each meeting. I know I can barely wait to see you here! Enjoy! Claudia March 7

Meet the Experts of the GCAS

April 4

Felicia McCaulley Tips and Tricks to Aquarium Photography on a Budget

May 2

Jeff Michels Dwarf Cichlids

June 6

Rich Levy Virtual Fishroom Tours: Joe Ferdenzi and Jules Birnbaum

July 11


August 1

Silent Auction

September 5

Felicia McCaulley Seahorses

October 3

Rachel O'Leary Freshwater Invertebrates

November 7

Joe Ferdenzi GCAS 90th!

December 5

Holiday Party!

Articles submitted for consideration in Modern Aquarium (ISSN 2150-0940) must be received no later than the 10th day of the month prior to the month of publication. Please fax to (877) 299-0522, or email to gcas@earthlink. net. Copyright 2012 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 January and February. Members receive notice of meetings in the mail. For more information, contact: Dan Radebaugh (718) 458-8437. Find out more, or leave us a message, at our Internet Home Page at: or Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

April 2012


President’s Message by Dan Radebaugh


irst of all, thanks so much to our Greater City Panel of Experts for their presentation at last month’s meeting. One of the best parts of being in a club like this is to learn from one another, and these in-house panels have been a great way to share the wealth of knowledge that we have in our midst. This year’s calendar looks like another great mix of visiting and “endemic” experts. Thanks as always are due Claudia Dickinson for her great work in putting our speaker schedule together! We have a couple of positions on our Board that we need to fill. One is a Greater City delegate to the NEC (the Northeast Council of Aquarium Societies). While making the regular trip up to Hartford has historically been a bit of a deterrent for filling this position, I understand that at least some of their regular meetings are now handled by conference call. This seems to me to be a great idea, especially in light of current gasoline prices. The other Board position to become vacant at the end of this year is that of Treasurer. Following Jack Traub’s retirement, Jules Birnbaum graciously took up the financial reins, and has been a diligent and hard-working Treasurer. After three years though, Jules is ready to pass on the baton and cash drawer, and get back to enjoying meetings. He deserves our thanks for a job well done! This is a very important (and demanding) post. If you feel you’d be interested in taking it on, speak to me, to Jules, or any of our other Board members. See the contents page in your copy of Modern Aquarium for a listing of our current Board members.


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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

March's Caption Winner:

Cartoon by Elliott Oshins

Bill Amely

My aim is so much better since I've started imagining the bullseye is my boss!

Kingfish (

Good for the Hobby – Organizations – Industry Ray “Kingfish” Lucas Celebrating 23 years in the business (1989-2012) of participating at your events. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

April 2012


The Modern Aquarium Cartoon Caption Contest April, 2012 Modern Aquarium has featured cartoons before. This time though, you, the members of Greater City get to choose the caption! Just think of a good caption, then mail, email, or phone the Editor with your caption (phone: 347-866-1107, fax: 877-299-0522, email: gcas@ Your caption needs to reach the Editor by the third Wednesday of this month. We'll also hand out copies of this page at the meeting, which you can turn in to Marsha before leaving. Winning captions will earn ten points in our Author Awards program, qualifying you for participation in our special "Authors Only" raffle at our Holiday Party and Banquet. Put on your thinking caps!

Cartoon by Elliott Oshins

Your Caption:

Your Name:


April 2012

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

The G.C.A.S.

Proudly extends a most Warm Welcome to

Our Guest Speaker Felicia McCaulley

Speaking On Tips and Tricks for Aquarium Photography On A Budget!


elicia is a lifelong aquarium enthusiast who worked in's call center tech support, and as the Diver's Den photographer/marine life identifier for five years. She has also worked for The Hidden Reef in Philadelphia. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for MASNA and NCPARS, as well as the Review Board for the Marine Breeding Initiative. Felicia will be discussing some tips and tricks unique to aquarium photography, and how to get great photos on a budget, so I hope you've brought your cameras!

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

April 2012


Member Classifieds I have a 55 gallon tank and stand that for the last 4 years housed an Iguana [R.I.P.], that needs to go ASAP. As with any tank that has been ''dry," it needs to be resealed,but both tank and stand are in ''good''[used] condition. Pick it up and it is yours,FREE. I am in the Long Island City/Astoria area,2 blocks from Northern Blvd and Pathmark. 718 361 0575. Walter Gallo -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I have 4 tarpon (each approx 15 inches) and 1 pacu (approx 2 feet). I have had them in a 265 gal tank for the last 2 yrs. They are in perfect shape, and I am looking for a good home for them and don’t want to give them to a pet store. I want to change the tank over and get African Tropheus. The Tarpon are from the Phillipines. I can send pictures. Pls let me know if you have any interest or can point towards someone who might. Charles I. Miller, Esq Telephone: (860)656-6454 Cell: (860)881-3550 Fax: (860)656-6179 Email: 10

April 2012

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Betta rubra One Fish - Many Tales by ALEXANDER A PRIEST - photos by the author f you’re only interested in the care and early part of this century, when an unfortunate maintenance of this wild Betta species, then I natural disaster indirectly led to confirmation of the can save you a lot of reading by giving you the existence of Betta rubra. On the morning of December 26, 2004 a Twitter version (that is, under 140 characters): soft, acid H2O, 72-82 deg. F, low light, many magnitude 9.3 earthquake struck off the northwest caves & hiding places, well-covered tank, coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, causing mostly live foods. That’s it. But, for those of a tsunami that devastated nearby areas and killed you who like a little more information and history, nearly 300,000 people. This massive tragedy did as well as an interesting story or two, read on. This have one positive result—a peace agreement is a fish with both an interesting history, and an between the government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement, interesting story on ending nearly 30 how I got my years of fighting. original two pair. Scientific name: Betta rubra Travel by outsiders First, some Common Names: Red Sumatran Fighter; to the northern history: Betta rubra Toba Betta Sumatra territory of was originally Orgin: Province of Aceh - Sumatra, Indonesia. Aceh had, until described in 1893 Reproduction: Paternal mouthbrooder then, been by the Italian Water parameters: 76°F; pH 5.5 - 6.2 impossible because ichthyologist, Sexual dimorphism: Adult males more colorful, of the armed Albert Perugia. 1 with longer fins conflict. According to Colin Nutrition: Small live foods preferred In 2005, Dunlop, a fish Aquascaping: Caves, roots, and/or driftwood; ichthyologists S.H. breeder and low intensity lighting Tan and Peter K.L. importer in Ng of the National Scotland, “it was to University of be the first and last time for one-hundred and twelve years that the fish Singapore went to the Aceh region and discovered was ever seen. It actually got to a point in the (or was it re-discovered?) Betta rubra..6 Shortly twentieth century where many people argued that it thereafter, sometime in 2007, these fish became They was not in fact a species and depending on whom available in the aquarium hobby.7 you were talking to—some people even thought that immediately became much sought-after among the mystery fish was a regional variation of Betta aquarists who specialize in labyrinth fishes. (Fish in the suborder Anabantoidei are known as picta or B. imbellis.”2 As a matter of fact, my (admittedly somewhat anabantoids or “labyrinth fish.” Betta rubra, like old) copies of the Baensch Aquarium Atlases reflect all Betta species, are “labyrinth fish,” meaning that this. My volume 1 (actually it’s unnumbered they possess a convoluted membrane, or labyrinth because at the time it was published, there was only organ, in the head allowing them to store a gulp of the one volume) indicates that “B. rubra (not air taken from above the water’s surface and PERUGIA)” is a synonym for Betta splendens.3 My extract and use oxygen from it). Before I discuss this interesting fish itself Volume 2 Atlas indicates that Betta rubra is a synonym for Betta picta.4 And my Aquarium Atlas (and, yes, they also have an interesting story), I’d Photo Index 1-5 has a very nice photo of a Betta like to relate a very short personal account of how I acquired my initial pair. Greater City Aquarium imbellis misidentified as Betta rubra.5 To further complicate matters, in his original Society member (now Board member) Tommy 1893 description, Perugia identified Lake Toba in Chang knew of my interest in anabantoids (since I Sumatra as the collecting location for Betta rubra; write so many articles about them, it’s no secret to but subsequent collecting expeditions failed to find any GCAS member who has been reading our any trace of this species in that lake (nonetheless, magazine). one common name attributed to Betta rubra is “Toba Betta”). Naturally, doubts as to the validity of this species cropped up and continued until the


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

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

April 2012

April 2012



Betta rubra Well, last year Tommy won what was essentially a gift certificate from Anubius Design, which is a tropical fish and aquatic plant service run by Mark Denaro. Mark has been a guest speaker at Greater City. He is also a past president of the International Betta Congress, and is currently active in establishing a new organization devoted to labyrinth fish, called the American Labyrinth Fish Association (“ALFA”). Instead of using the gift certificate for his own purposes, Tommy arranged with Mark for two pair of Betta rubra (which, at that time were still relatively rare in the American hobby, and commanding hefty prices) to be given to me. Since aquarists specializing in labyrinth fish are a relatively small group within the aquarium hobby, Mark knew me and agreed. While I’m sure I thanked Tommy for his generosity, I’m taking this opportunity to do so once again publicly— Thanks, Tommy! Now, back to the fish itself. As I mentioned previously, Betta rubra appears to be endemic to the northwesterly province of Aceh on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. It has not been found in Lake Toba, indicating either that the original description was in error or that the fish was endemic to the lake, but has become extinct there. Betta rubra has been found living in both a slow-moving, turbid forest stream with creamy-brown, murky water, as well as more typical blackwater environments. Both habitats appear to be shaded from the sun, with trees and other marginal vegetation growing quite thickly. The



blackwater biotopes are characteristically stained brown with humic acids and other chemicals released by decaying organic material. The dissolved mineral content is almost always negligible, the pH quite low, and the substrate composed predominantly of fallen leaves, branches and submerged tree roots.7 Therefore, as I indicated in the “tweet” that I started this article with, Betta rubra comes from (and ideally should be kept in) an a low-light environment, with soft and acidic water. It is a paternal mouthbrooder, with the male holding the fertilized eggs in his mouth until the fry are ready to be released. Caves, roots, and driftwood provide places where the male can feel safe while holding the eggs. However, with a tank having subdued lighting, brown-tinted water (due to driftwood and dried Indian almond leaves), and many nooks and crannies, spotting very shy small fish (under two inches, adult length) is difficult. So, it was a pleasant and unexpected surprise when I moved a cave while doing routine tank cleaning and found fry. Betta rubra is currently considered to be in the “Foerschi complex.” Members of this complex differ somewhat from other mouthbrooding bettas, and breed in a manner that “borrows” from both the spawning behavior of Betta bubblenesters and mouthbrooders. Typically in mouthbrooding Betta species, a female who is ready to breed swims circles around a selected male (who usually flares his fins in response). The male then embraces the female,

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

expelling eggs which the female picks up and, after obtaining milt from the male’s vent (thereby fertilizing the eggs in her mouth), the female spits the eggs, one by one, into the mouth of the male. On the other hand, females of bubblenesting Betta species usually wave their bodies in front of the male to indicate readiness to breed. While the male still embraces the female to expel eggs, the male also releases sperm at the same time, thereby simultaneously fertilizing the eggs, which he then picks up and puts into his nest of bubbles. In the “Foerschi complex,” females wave themselves before prospective mates, eggs and sperm are released at the same time, and the now fertilized eggs are deposited on the anal fin of the female (or, for those that missed her fin, on the tank’s bottom), from which the male collects them.8 As I have not actually witnessed a spawning myself, I can only assume that this is the spawning behavior of Betta rubra, based on the fact that they are placed within this very unique complex (along with Betta mandor, Betta strohi, and, of course Betta foerschi). I keep my fish in a bare-bottom tank, except for some Indian almond leaves that were slowly allowed to disintegrate. Not only does this make for easier tank cleaning (and Betta rubra is very sensitive to poor water conditions, thereby requiring frequent water changes), but it also makes it easier for the male to pick up any dropped eggs. I found their initial reception to prepared food to be less than enthusiastic, but small live blackworms and live adult brine shrimp were accepted immediately. Over time, some small pelleted food would be taken, but more often than not I had a mess of uneaten food to clean up the following day. The fry readily accepted microworms, and were far less picky about taking finely ground dry food. I believe the fact that my original fish were wild-caught is the reason for their considering as food only something that moved on its own power.

Their tank is kept at about 76EF with the pH at 6.2. While this may seem too acidic, the pH in their natural habitat ranges from 5.5 to 6.0. As usual, when working with very low pH, care must be taken to match the pH of any newly introduced water to that of the tank. The reason is that at very low pH values the biological process we aquarists call the “nitrogen cycle” (wherein certain nitrifying bacteria convert ammonia to nitrite and other nitrifying bacteria convert that to nitrate) simply stops, as the nitrifying bacteria involved cease growing and functioning. Fortunately, under very acidic conditions, a chemical process converts toxic ammonia to non-toxic ammonium without the need for nitrifying bacteria. Unfortunately, if you add higher pH water to a low pH tank where the nitrogen cycle has stopped and the nitrifying bacteria are dormant, you risk an almost immediate and potentially fatal ammonia spike. So, smaller but more frequent water changes are the better option. While Betta rubra breed readily in the aquarium, sexing them is not easy. Adult males are somewhat larger, darker in color, and have slightly longer fins. While I have been told by others who have kept them that males are very aggressive toward each other, I have not found that to be so— at least not in my tanks, where I always have more caves and hiding places than fish. And, while most of the successful spawnings I have read about in Internet news groups involve either one pair, or one male and multiple females, keeping two males and two females in the same tank did not cause problems, as far as I could determine. One final word of caution: these little guys are easily among the best (or worst, depending on your viewpoint) jumpers, and being small, they seem to be able to find and exploit even the smallest opening. So, make sure you keep a tight, well-fitting cover on their tank and be extra vigilant when feeding and performing tank maintenance.

References: 1 Perugia, A. 1893. Di alcuni pesci raccolti in Sumatra dal Dott. Elio Modigliani. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Genova (Serie 2a), pp 241-247 2 3 Baensch, Hans A. (1991), Aquarium Atlas p. 632 4 Baensch, Hans A. (1993), Aquarium Atlas 2 p. 798 5 Baensch, Hans A. (2002), Aquarium Atlas Photo Index 1-5 p. 583 6 Tan, H.H. and P.K.L. Ng. - Raffles Bull. Zool. Supplement (13):115-138. 2005, The labyrinth fishes (Teleostei: Anabantoidei, Channoidei) of Sumatra, Indonesia 7 8

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

April 2012 April 2012



Livebearers Lacking a Thingy Story and Photos by Allen Wood

any first time fishkeepers start out by keeping a common livebearer like guppies, swordtails, platys, or mollies. While these are probably not the best fish for first time fishkeepers, they are great fish. Everyone knows that male livebearers have a ‘thingy,’ so it is easy to differentiate adult males from adult females. Thingy is vernacular for gonopodium. This structure is a modification of the first several rays of the anal fin into an elongated structure that assists in the transfer of sperm packets called spermatozuegmata from the male to the female. Females have a normal, rounded anal fin. Below are photos of a male and a female Xiphophorus, showing a thingy on the male and a ‘normal’ anal fin on the female. All livebearing males of the family Poeciliidae possess this structure. Presence of this structure on some unknown fish in a dealer’s tank indicates that the fish is, in fact, a livebearer.


Goodeidae, the so-called split-fin livebearers. This is a small family with fewer than about fifty species. It is split into two subfamilies, the Goodeinae and the Empetrichthyinae. The Gooedinae are true livebearers, while the Empetrichthyinae are egglayers. They are in the same family due to similarities in structure; reproductive strategies are not used in classification of fishes. The Empetrichthyinae consist a few species found in the Great Basin of the USA. All Empetrichthyinae are protected by the state and federal governments, cannot be legally kept in aquaria, and so will not be discussed further here. The Goodeinae are all found in the highlands of central Mexico. They are not tropical in the sense that we usually mean when speaking about tropical fish. Nearly all of them are found at higher altitudes, in cooler water with seasonal variations in water temperatures. These Goodeids are called split-finned

There are other livebearers that fishkeepers occasionally keep. Some of these are the half-beaks (Hemiphamphidae) and the 4-eyed fish and their relatives (Anablepidae). Males of these families do not possess a true thingy. They are, however, in possession of a structure that looks like a thingy and functions like a thingy, but is structurally different. You might call these ‘pseudothingies.’ Most of the livebearers that fishkeepers are most familiar with are Poeciliids and in fact have a thingy. There is another family of livebearers that are regularly kept by many specialist livebearer keepers. These are members of the family

livebearers because the males have no thingy, but rather a peculiar arrangement of the rays of the anal fin. The first three rays are separated from the remainder by a notch. This gives the appearance of the anal fin being split. This structure is called an andropodium. To the uninitiated this looks similar to an anal fin that has been damaged or has had a chunk bitten from it. On the facing page is a photo of a male Goodea atripinnis showing this notched andropodium. As you can see, this feature looks nothing like a thingy. This andropodium facilitates the transfer of spermatozoa to the female. In the Poeciliidae


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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

the female can retain spermatozuegmata (sperm packets) for an extended time and use these stored sperm cells to fertilize several clutches of eggs. The sperm cells are not stored in the body of a Goodeid female, so she must be inseminated for each clutch of eggs to be fertilized. The fertilized eggs are retained in the ovary of the female, where after a period of sixty days or so they are ready to be expelled as fully formed, free-swimming fry. Older popular aquarium literature uses the terms viviparous and ovo-viviparous to describe livebearing fish. Viviparous meant the developing embryos are nourished pre-release by the mother, whereas ovoviviparous meant that the embryos are nourished by egg yolk material. Poeciliids were called ovoviviparous and Goodeids were said to be viviparous. Current preferred terminology is lecithotrophic and matrotrophic. It has been learned that many Poeciliids are a combination of lecithotrophic and matrotrophic, meaning that the developing embryo derives nourishment from both egg yolk and from the nutrient-rich juices in the ovary or oviduct of the female. Goodeids are primarily m a tro tro p h ic. Embryos develop a structure called a trophotaenia, Male Goodea atripinnis. which is a forked extension produced just in front of the anal fin, that is shed shortly after birth. This structure functions in a fashion similar to that of a placenta in mammals. Unlike in a mammalian placenta, the female contributes nothing to the formation of the trophotaenia. Nutrients in the juices of the ovary are absorbed by the trophotaenia, and sustain the developing embryo; the egg cell contains very little yolk material. Gestation for most Poeciliids is in the neighborhood of thirty days. Gestation for Goodeids ranges from about sixty days and up. Some species drop only a couple of broods per year. Most of the Goodeids have rather small broods—from fewer than ten to thirty or so. This small number of fry is offset by the large size of the baby fish. Some species regularly drop fry in excess of 3/8 inch in length. These fry are able to forage immediately. Fry this size are better able to escape predators than are the smaller fry of most Poeciliids, so fewer fry are needed to perpetuate the species in the wild. Many of the Goodeids live in small bodies of water. For some species, the entire range of its Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

existence is a small spring and its outflow creek. A disturbance of this spring seriously affects the endemic species. Many species are on the verge of extinction due to disturbances caused by man. Industrial pollution, untreated sewage, removal of water by diversion or lowering of the water table by excessive pumping from nearby wells, eutrophication caused by runoff from nearby agricultural activities, and introduction of non-native game fish. Since Goodeids have little economic value, local and national conservation authorities have done little to mitigate these destructive practices. The American Livebearer Association has published a list submitted by Dr. John Lyons detailing the status of the various Goodeid species. Three are listed as relatively secure in the wild; ten species are listed as vulnerable. The remaining thirty species are threatened, endangered, or critically endangered. Many are presumed extinct in the wild. Many of these species are each represented by several isolated populations, which in turn are even more threatened than the species as a whole. As a family, the Goodeidae are probably the most endangered on the earth. Some families have more endangered species, but none has a greater percentage of endangered species. The American Livebearer Association’s Species Maintenance Program focuses on distributing these endangered fish within the hobby. Unfortunately, there are never enough people interested in maintaining these fish. The C.A.R.E.S. program lists 38 Goodeid species on their priority list. Many of these fish are not only rare in the wild, they are also very rare in fishkeepers’ tanks. This state of things makes it difficult to increase the numbers to the point where the fish are secure in captivity. There are some reasons why these fish are not terribly popular among fishkeepers. First, they are livebearers. “Everyone knows” that livebearers present little challenge to a serious fishkeeper, and besides, they are most useful as feeders. While it is true that these fish are livebearers, it is not true that they are all easy fish to maintain and propogate. Some are as aggressive as mbuna, and some only produce a couple of small drops per year in aquaria, so populations have a lengthy doubling time. Neither are they are particularly flashy fish. For the most part they are plain silver, or silver with black

April 2012


spots. Only a few have any other coloration. I keep about 53 colonies of Goodeids, and whenever someone visits my fishroom, their usual comment is of the sort, “You sure have lots of UGF, UTF, and USF fish.” This is shorthand for Ugly Grey Fish, Ugly Tan Fish and Ugly Silver Fish. Further, little selective breeding has been done to try to “improve” the various species, so they all look very much like wild-caught fish (thank goodness!). Third, they are best kept in separate, single-species tanks. Some of the species will hybridize. Other fish will harass or eat the fry. Some species are inveterate fin-nippers. Some species will give all the Corydoras in a tank a haircut overnight. Also, there is no market for the offspring. At club auctions, these fish are often the dollar-a-bag fish. Finally, they are worth few BAP points in the scheme of most clubs’ Breeders Award Programs. Usually these species are worth the minimum number of points, and few people want to dedicate a medium-to-large sized tank to a bunch of plain, worthless, fin-nipping, slow-reproducing, low-BAPing livebearers. Having said all that, I would add that they are not without positive attributes. I find them to be very personable, friendly, active fish. They respond quickly to good husbandry, and negatively to poor husbandry practices. The challenge is to establish a self-reproducing colony and to keep that colony going for the long term. I think they are very cool, interesting fish. While Goodeids place few specialized demands upon the fish-keeper, there are a few things that are essential to their well being. I keep my fish at room temperature. This means the water temperature is about 68 degrees F in the winter and about 72-74 in the summer. As I mentioned earlier, these fish come from cooler bodies of water in locations where there are distinct differences between summer and winter temperatures. I suspect my Goodeids would do better if I would lower the temperature of the room several degrees in the winter, but I choose not to do this since I also keep many Poeciliid species, most of which are not happy at temperatures much below 68. My water comes out of the tap at pH 7.4 to 7.6 depending on the season, with conductivity about 750 microsiemens. This indicates moderate hardness. I do a 15%-20% water change daily on each of my tanks. This is possible because about 20 years ago I installed an automatic water change system. I think regular, small water changes are essential to maintaining these fish. I maintain a photoperiod of about 16 hours light daily. Each tank is lit by a 13-watt CFL. This amount of light allows me to keep low-light plants such as Java fern, Java moss, hornwort, Anubias, Bolbitis, and other similar plants. Most of my tanks also have a 16

layer of duckweed on the surface. Most Goodeids require a vegetable component in their diet, and the soft plants and the duckweed are an easy way to see to that. I feed the fish primarily good quality flakes— mostly Sprirulina or earthworm. Live baby brine shrimp are fed to those tanks containing many fry. In the summer I raise large numbers of Daphnia in tubs outside. My fish are fed these Daphnia several times per week when they’re available. Since most Goodeids drop very large fry, parental predation on fry is minimal. Some few species do drop much smaller fry, and predation by parents is a problem with those species. I watch, and remove fry from those tanks when I see them. I never move nearterm gravid females, as that will often result in death of the female. For most of my fish I leave females and fry in the colony. I do not get a large surplus of fish. If I were to get a large surplus I would have a difficult time finding homes for the fish. I cannot cram more tanks into my fishroom, so I do have to limit colony size. Most of my Goodeid colonies are kept in either 29 gallon or 55 gallon tanks. A few of the larger species are in 75-90 gallon custom built long tanks. All of my Goodeids are in single-species tanks to eliminate the possibility of hybridization, and to minimize the competition between species. I also try to keep the colonies ‘young’ by removing older, senescent adults. While many Goodeids will live for many years, their prime reproductive life is only a couple of years. I prefer to remove the older fish, leaving more room for younger, actively reproducing fish. I encourage you to try Goodeids. Unless enough fishkeepers like you keep one or more of these species, they will disappear from the hobby, and perhaps from the planet. It seems a sure bet that some will disappear from the wild in the near future. Please do your part to keep these marvelous little fish around. Participate in your club’s C.A.R.E.S. program, and add these fish to your collection. They are not found in fish shops, and only rarely in fishkeepers’ tanks. I often have many fish that I would happily share―all you have to do is ask. I do not sell fish, but would appreciate a few bucks for the shipping. Young fish do ship well, adults do not. If you are interested, please contact me at Please do your part. Livebearing fish without thingies are too cool to lose!

April 2012

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

April 2012


Pictures from our Here is our team of experts:

From left to right they are: Warren Feuer, Jeff Bollbach, “IT guy” Brad Dickinson, Mark Soberman, and Moderator Joe Ferdenzi

Walter Gallo and Ed Vukich renewing their memberships

Al Priest “talking shop” with visitor Tony Lin

Bowl Show Winners (presented by President Dan Radebaugh)

1st Place: Bob Hamje 3rd Place: Richard Waizman

2nd Place: Carlotti DeJager 18


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

last meeting Photos by Susan Priest

BAP Certificates of Achievement (distributed by BAP Chairman Warren Feuer)

Rich Levy

Ed Vukich

Jeff Bollbach

Joe Graffagnino

Last Month’s Door Prize Winner

Dan Puleo

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

April 2012 April 2012



Tropical Fish to the Rescue! by Jules Birnbaum


his is a story about how our hobby helped provide a lifeline for a fifty-five year old school principal with two master’s degrees, who lost his job because of budget cuts in his school district. But Greg Sage had a fishroom and an idea. According to Greg, most online breeders have overlooked breeding and selling rare livebearers. He reasoned that if he could concentrate on this, something he knew best, he could continue to pursue his fish hobby, and might very possibly be able to make a living doing it. Like many of us, Greg got started in the hobby as a child, while in 7th grade. At the time he and his family lived in Lorain, Ohio. He started with 3 tanks bought from a classmate for $15. He has been keeping tropical fish ever since. Greg is a musician, and was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps band. After military service he toured with bands for several years and then taught music in California and Colorado until the school budget cuts forced him to leave education. He lives in Erie, Colorado (near Boulder) with his lovely wife Laura and a seventeen year old Pekingese. SelectAquatics of Erie, Colorado (SelectAquatics. com) was started eighteen months ago, but Greg has been selling fish at the ALA (American Livebearers Association) for eleven years. He is past Chairman of the ALA (2000 to 2004), and is a current member of the Colorado Aquarium Society. I recently read one of his articles that appeared in the January 2011 issue of the ALA's journal, Livebearers. I asked Greg why he is specializing in breeding and selling rare and endangered livebearers. He told me that as chairman of the ALA he heard much 20

about the status of various populations and species that were in trouble. Someone once told him, “Surely you can give up one tank for a species that’s rare, so that it stays in the hobby and you may save the species from extinction.” Over time he developed an awareness that even the best intentioned people often lose or stop keeping these fish. His Select Aquatics hopes to be a resource for species that seem to come and go, and often don’t return unless someone travels to Mexico and finds them again. Some of the fish he is working with include Xiphophorus alvarezi, X. mayae hybrid, X. Montezumae (which this author is trying to keep going), Zoogoneticus tequila, Skiffia multipunctata (I just put myself on Greg’s waiting list for this fish), Alfaro cultratus, Limia nigrofasciata, and purple delta guppies, just to name a few of the fish Select Aquatics is breeding and has available for sale at reasonable prices. Greg presents some very interesting ideas on the Select Aquatics website, such as using bare bottom tanks housing plants set in clay pots. He feels harmful wastes are trapped in gravel which, means more health and maintenance problems. There is also less of an algae problem with the bare tanks. Since he is breeding livebearers, he also keeps many floating plants to shelter the fry. The filters are the old style box type; the floss is changed monthly. Greg has also developed an aquatic plant fertilizer that is much more cost-effective than that which most of us have been using. I recently ordered a supply at a very reasonable price. The water changing system is not something that I have not heard of before, but might be of interest to those of us with many tanks in use. It’s a gravity type

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

of draining process that changes about 7% of water each day. He finds that he can replace up to 40% of the water in his tanks daily with untreated tap water without harming the fish. This will vary from one water system to another, so be careful. He cautions that the temperature differential of the new water is very important. The system uses PVC lines for each tank. One side is draining while the other side is filling. No holes are drilled in the tanks. There must be room behind the tanks because of all the in-and-out PVC pipes. You can see pictures of the system on the website. There is a manual for sale showing exactly how to build your own system. Greg also makes available some great articles he has written on tank maintenance and breeding techniques. If you need any tips on breeding livebearers, or would like to try some fish not often Group of Zoogeneticus tequila. Photo from Select Aquatics of Erie, CO.

seen at our local auctions or pet shops, I recommend Select Aquatics. Greg’s plans for the future are to expand his basement fishroom, which presently contains 120 tanks. There will also be work with some additional species, and he is developing his trans-ship business to include Europe and Japan. I questioned him about power problems due to our changing weather patterns. So far he said power has not been interrupted by storms for more than an hour or two, but it’s an expense he will consider as the business grows. In addition to the website,, you can also see some of his fish on YouTube. Characodon lateralis. Photo from Select Aquatics of Erie, CO.

Our Generous Members Each month a blue sheet is located on our auction table where those members who donate items to the auction can indicate their donations if they wish to do so. Due to the immense generosity of those who donate, we have no shortage of items to be auctioned. A warm thank you to the following members and others who so generously contributed, making last month’s auction the bountiful success that it was: Bill Amely Sharon Barnett Sean Cunningham Jeff Bollbach Jules Birnbaum Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Carlotti de Jager Joe Graffagnino Dan Puleo Ed Vukich

April 2012


Ten Fishes I Have Loved by SUSAN PRIEST 1) Mollies (genus Poecilia). Sailfin, sphenops, porthole, etc., I love them all. They have been among my favorites for as long as I have been keeping fish. I haven’t done well with mollies over the years, but that has never discouraged me. When I was working on the Ladies Issue of Modern Aquarium (May 2003), I bought a gravid female, and was able to photograph her as she gave birth to her live fry. When Rit Forcier visited the GCAS in October 2011, he contributed a dozen Poecilia gilli fry to the auction which are now residing in my kitchen. All twelve are growing and thriving in two side-by-side five gallon tanks. (I guess I must have learned a thing or two from reading all of those books!) 2) Desert Pupfish (Cyprinodon nevadensis). There are two important things about this fish which I didn’t know when I brought it home. First, it was a killifish, even though it didn’t look like one. Second, this species was (and still is) highly endangered. Not as important was that I had thought it was a female (I had named it Maxine), but it was actually a male. What attracted me to it right away was that it was so gosh darn spunky!! It would wag its whole body, and even splash at the surface, seemingly because it was just plain glad to see me. I never sought out a mate for him, as I’m sure it would have been illegal to do so. I enjoyed his company for many years. 3) Red-Tailed Black Shark (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor). This is a very beautiful fish with some very peculiar habits. O.K., since you asked so nicely I’ll give you one quick anecdote. Being intolerant of members of its own species, we kept one by itself in a ten gallon tank. By itself except for an otocinclus catfish, that is. The otocinclus used to suck on the body of the “shark” as if it were scrounging for algae. The otherwise restless shark would “stand still” while this was going on, appearing to throughly enjoy the experience. You never knew what might be happening when you stopped by to look into this tank! 4) Apple Snail (genus Pomacea). I’m stretching the boundaries of the title of my article here, as this is clearly not a fish. These snails are not as big as an apple, nor are they the color of most apples, but they have an appeal all their own. They are totally oblivious to everything going on around them, except, of course, mealtime. These snails are true herbivores. It has been many years since I have kept apple snails, and I can’t precisely remember how I got the idea to do so, but I used to feed them baby carrots. I never tired of watching them carry those carrots with them wherever they roamed. They usually left the carrots behind when they crawled up the glass to the surface for some air, or to deposit a clutch of eggs above the water line. (I would be keeping them still if they weren’t likely to consume every aquatic plant in their path. Hmmm, I wonder if they would eat hair algae?) 5) African Knifefish (Xenomystus nigri). I’m pretty much mesmerized by all of the species of knifefishes, but it just so happens that I have one member of this particular species in my bedroom. I bought it at ZOO-RAMA a couple of years ago with the intention of entering it in a bowl show, which I did. Well, the judge that day wasn’t as mesmerized by it as I was, because it didn’t win, place, or show. After the bowl show I thought that I would put it in an auction and move on to something else (maybe some mollies?), but every time I looked at it I found myself more attracted to it. Anyway, let’s go back to my bedroom. The ten gallon aquarium we keep in there serves as a nightlight. When I don’t fall asleep right away, or if I wake up before the alarm goes off, I just love to watch this fish at play. 6) Khuli Loach (Pangeo kuhlii). Sometimes they swim vertically, and sometimes they swim horizontally. Sometimes they don’t swim at all, but crawl on their bellies like a snake. Sometimes they twirl themselves around the stem of a plant like a vine. Sometimes they don’t move for minutes on end, after which they scurry off as fast as a lightening bolt. Sometimes they play hide-and-seek from each other as well as from me, but that is just part of their charm. If I had to come up with one word to describe them, it would be COOL! 7) Moonlight Gourami (Trichogaster microlepsis). Even though I have never kept one of these fish, every time I see one I fall in love. They look more like they are floating on air than swimming as they gracefully glide through the water. I have tried without success to come up with my own description of Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)


March 2012

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their color. (The closest I have come is the color of a pearl, but pearls come in very many shades.) Moonlight is simply the perfect choice. Whoever gave them that name must love them at least as much as I do. 8) Giant Danio (Danio aequipinnatus). These are a fish’s fish. By that I mean that they look exactly like what you think of when you think of a fish. They are not flashy, but they do stand out in a community. They are only giants in comparison to most other species of danios. They are active swimmers without being boisterous. Even though their colors are not brilliant, neither are they dull. They display a translucency reminiscent of a jellyfish. For all the things they are not, they are not average. As you watch a school of them in an aquarium, you will find yourself yearning for a peek under the surface of their native Asian waters. Yes, you will be longing to see them “au natural!” 9) Paradise Fish (Macropodus opercularis). They show off as nicely in a large bowl as they do in a tank full of plants. They show off their colors especially well in an outdoor pond in the summer (in New York City they can live outside from early May until early November). They will even show off in a bowl show (without their colors fading under the stress like many fish do). They are resilient and long-lived. They are actually more likable than lovable, but once you get to know them you will be liking them for a very long time. 10) Angelfish (Pterophylum scalare). I have saved my most beloved fish for last. I never tire of watching them. They are feisty, but not combative like many species of cichlids. Spawning is not a random act for them. They choose their mate, as well as the time and place for spawning, with deliberate care. You can watch them preparing as their vents descend, and they meticulously clean their site of choice. They are not shy, and won’t try to hide from your view as they lay and fertilize row after row of golden eggs. When there are a few angelfish together, each of them thinks that they are the most beautiful, and in fact, each of them is. They are ALL the most beautiful!

Epalzeorhynchos bicolor - The Red-Tailed Black Shark


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


BOWL SHOW RULES There is a Bowl Show at every GCAS meeting, except our Silent Auction/fleamarket meeting and our Holiday Party and Awards Banquet meeting (December). These shows are open to all members of GCAS. Rules are as follows:

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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Only current GCAS members may enter fish in the Bowl Show. There is a limit of 2 entries per member per meeting. Unlike some other clubs, every month is an “open” Bowl Show at the GCAS (i.e., there is no “theme,” such that one month cichlids are judged, the next livebearers, the next anabantoids, etc.). Any fish that wins any prize (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) may not be entered again in the same meeting year. The current Bowl Show Coordinator is Leonard Ramroop, who usually also serves as judge (although guest speakers are often asked to do the judging honors). 2.5 gallon containers are available for use (brought to the meetings by the Bowl Show Coordinator), but entrants are responsible for providing enough (and suitable) water for their fish. For a fish too large (or too small) for those containers, entrants must supply a suitable container, which must be clear on at least three sides. Only one fish per container (i.e., no “pairs”). No plants, ornaments, or equipment (filters, airstone, etc.) are allowed in the judging tank (an external mirror, or opaque cards between containers is acceptable, as is a cover that does not obstruct side viewing). Points are awarded: 5 points for 1st Place, 3 for 2nd Place, and 1 for 3rd Place. Ribbons are awarded: blue for 1st Place, red for 2nd Place, and green for 3rd Place. The person with the most points at the end of the meeting season receives the Walter Hubel “Bowl Show Champion” trophy at the Awards Banquet. The decision of the judge(s) is final. A running UNOFFICIAL total of the points awarded is printed in Modern Aquarium. Only the tally of points maintained by the Bowl Show Coordinator is official. In case of ties: 1st Tiebreaker – most 1st Places 2nd Tiebreaker – most 2nd Places 3rd Tiebreaker – most entries

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endangered of species, and recovering species. A new feature in this third volume is called “Champions of the Wild,” which honors conservation heroes. Part Two, Focus on the Wild, puts the spotlight on several aspects of the political a Series On Books For The Hobbyist environment. “Conservation Amid War,” “Parks by SUSAN PRIEST as Peacemakers,” and “Who Owns the Wild?” are titles of a few of the essays. The news is not all as visit to the Bronx Zoo is always an grim as you might expect. Here is an example adventure. On my most recent “safari” I from the essay entitled “Marine Life in Times of discovered this book. It is what inspired me Conflict.” Ever since 1982, a fear of left-over to dedicate the 2012 Wet Leaves column to buried land mines has kept people off the beaches conservation. of the Faulkland Islands. These beaches have, Please observe the sub-title “A Global however, been re-colonized by Magellanic Portrait.” We are offered many a perspective which penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus), which don’t we won’t encounter in our fish rooms. In a similar weigh enough to trigger the mines. They had vein to last month’s title, this previously been displaced book has numerous authors. It from these beaches by State of the Wild 2010-2011 is the third volume in a series, humans, but, at least for now, A Global Portrait and it was edited by Eva they are safe. Can’t you just Wildlife Conservation Society Fearn. picture it? In the wake of Island Press, 2010 The Contents should be war, penguins are dancing! thought of as an outline. I say I have been anxiously this because things pop up anticipating the opportunity unexpectedly which are not listed there. For to tell you about some of the essays in Part Three, example, just when you are thoroughly engrossed in “Emerging Issues in the Wild.” There is a a serious topic, you suddenly encounter a poem or section which addresses “The Art and Practice of a quote which transports you to a new place. It is Conservation,” and it left me with much to ponder. not always a place you want to be, but occasionally Have you ever asked yourself why we use the you will find yourself in word “sanctuary” to a place of refreshment. describe a safe haven “There is many a bitter for animals? The essay pill to be swallowed, but entitled “Faith, Hope, sometimes we can wash and Conservation” them down with a long enlightens us to the fact cool drink of hope.” that “It was the ancient Part One is called role of faiths to protect “State of The Wild.” It certain areas of takes us from one wilderness. Many of continent and ocean to the world’s important the next, and offers us “a nature reserves have glimpse into the most survived because they pressing issues and are considered sacred.” trends affecting In Japan, green spaces, biodiversity in every especially those having region of the globe.” It trees, are most does this by singling out assuredly Buddhist individual genera or temples or Shinto species and their shrines. Shintos situations. “Of the 116 believe that the species of Atlantic mountains and forests sharks and rays, 26 are here to protect us, percent are threatened and not the other way with extinction. Sharks around. As far back as and rays are particularly vulnerable because they are the eighth century, Islamic law established “Hima long-lived, slow to mature, and have low reserves,” protected habitats where hunting was reproductive rates.” Also included in Part One are prohibited, and access to water sources was reports on newly discovered species, most safeguarded for the use of wildlife, domestic


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animals, and humans. Even during times of conflict, these places were sacrosanct. “The emerging partnerships between faith communities and environmental organizations could well become the defining movement of the twenty first century.” In the essay “Canine Detection Teams and Conservation,” we learn that dogs have been conservationists even before the word conservation had found its way to a dictionary. For example, in 1890s New Zealand dogs were locating flightless burrow-dwelling kiwi birds so that they could be relocated to an island where there were no introduced predators to threaten them. “Canine conservationists” must indicate the location and numbers of target species without touching them. The best way for them to do this is to track their feces, or “scat.” Even though it all smells the same to us, the scat of every animal species has a unique scent which dogs can be trained to detect. Dogs are being asked to perform even more specific tasks in Russia. For example, scientists have trained dogs to identify individual tigers. In Oregon (USA) dogs have been trained to locate a rare variety of Lupine flower (Lupinus oreganus kincaidii), a plant which serves as a host to the endangered Fender’s Blue butterfly (Icaricia icarioides fenderi). Dogs are helping to preserve an important link in the life cycle of these butterflies. It turns out that man’s best friend is also nature’s best friend. Who knew? Perhaps the most absorbing topic of all is “The Dilemma of Confiscated Wildlife.” The market for wildlife and wildlife body parts is growing at an alarming rate. Most of this trade is illegal, and many of the animals are endangered. Customs officials only have a short period of time to properly manage a crate full of live parrots which are thousands of miles from their native habitats, and some or all of which may be injured or diseased. What to do? The three options available to these officers are: release the animal into nature, maintain it in captivity for the rest of its life, or euthanize it. Even if the animals are healthy enough to release, who is going to pay to ship them back where they came from? In other words, do they belong to the country of origin or the country of reception? Sometimes these animals are needed as “evidence” in trials. Occasionally a zoo can be found with the space, the funds, and the husbandry skills to accept rare exotics, but that is seldom the case. “One of the most significant impediments to zoos and aquariums accepting confiscated wildlife is the public relations challenge posed by animal rights groups that perceive zoos as exploiters of wildlife.” I won’t tell them if you won’t! As I was traveling the globe with these insightful authors, I found myself thinking of each photograph as a postcard. If sharks, butterflies, or parrots could send postcards, they would look like the photos from this book.

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Each individual author uses the section called “Notes” to list their bibliography. You can turn to this section as a resource for additional reading. (If you want to learn more about the Magellanic penguins, you might want to track down Landmines in the Sand: The Falkland Islands, by J.C.Ruan and J.E Macheme, in the Mine Action Information Center Journal, 2001.) I conducted a thorough review of the index to make sure that I hadn’t overlooked any freshwater tropical fish topics. A “leopard cat” did not turn out to be a fish. Africa popped up all over the place in association with such issues as wetlands, migratory birds, and poaching, to name but a few (no Congo tetras or jewel cichlids). Conservation pioneer Theodore Roosevelt’s name was there. However, the absence of such topics as livebearers in crisis, the effect of climate change on aquatic plants of the Amazon, or the conservation status of freshwater crustaceans, leads me to believe that our editor has a computer full of essays which are being prepped for the fourth volume of State of the Wild. I’ll be watching for it. My perusal of the index has also brought me to the realization that this book review may be leaving you with less rather than more. I don’t own a device with a touch screen, my car doesn’t have a GPS unit, and e-mail is as close to anyone’s face as I get. I’m just an old fashioned girl who likes to hold a book in her hand. Most of you are much more internet savvy than I am, and if any of the information covered here interests you, I’m sure a bit of Googling will help you to fill in the gaps. Does anyone know of an on-line lending library? I’ll leave you with this closing quote:

“Thank you earth, you know the way.” a Mohawk blessing

CONSERVATION ALERT Island Press is the only non-profit publisher of books on environmental issues and natural resource management in the United States. They have over 800 titles in print, and they add around 40 more each year. They are committed to bringing the best of an expanding body of knowledge to scientists, policy makers, environmental advocates, the media, and concerned citizens (that’s us!). The book which I reviewed last month was also published by Island Press. You can find them on line at

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City 19 A.S (NY)

Back on the Road To Key Largo Story and Photos by Stephen Sica

Sergeant major, Abudefduf saxatilis. A damselfish species that swims in schools or alone. Very pugnacious, especially when guarding eggs that appear as a dark blue spot on a recess or wall of the reef. Yellow and black stripes add color; it can grow to five inches.


shorty! He said that the blue trim and the B in the manufacturer’s logo on the chest threw him off his mark. Mine was a Bare and his was Body Glove. Oh well, I guess it’s like pouring fruit punch over pizza. Why do people do dumb things? The next three mornings we would be diving twice a day. The water clarity was the worst that I could recall in many years, and the water temperature was a rather cool seventy-six degrees. I did not foresee it, but the warm, humid air was going to react with the lower sea temperature, causing condensation, thus fog, inside my underwater camera case. The water was not clear and neither was my camera lens. A Friday evening dive was cancelled as a result of the poor visibility. Who wants to get lost at sea at night? Donna and I had already determined to skip the dive, even though our luggage was loaded down with four underwater lights and batteries. But all I could think about was the several pounds that I could have avoided lugging around through three hotels in one week. April 2012 27

t was the Thursday before Halloween in the early afternoon. We were about forty miles out of Key West driving to Key Largo when my wife Donna’s cell phone rang. It was CeCe, co-owner of Dive Key West. Based on a conversation that Donna and I had had with British diver Richard, who dove the Vandenberg with us the prior day, CeCe’s partner Bob had managed to track him (Richard) down in Key Largo, where he planned to dive on Friday before returning home to England the next day. Richard had taken my wetsuit by mistake from the outdoor drying rack. I was disappointed because I would have three more diving days in Key Largo, and my almost-new wetsuit was a custom fit. A few minutes later, Richard apologetically phoned Donna, and they arranged that he would leave my suit at the Holiday Inn’s front desk, where I was able to retrieve it two hours later. I was entirely pleased. With me being five eight and Richard six foot plus, I was quite surprised that he would take my full body suit and leave behind his

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

At 8 AM Friday morning we attended a lecture one small, but all three were well-blended into their and three short slide shows presented by William J. surroundings. We came to a site named “Mini-Wall,” Harrigan, an early dive pioneer who, among many because after we swam over it and turned back to national and international achievements, was an look, there was in fact a mini-wall about fifteen feet Army Ranger, piloted helicopters in the First Cavalry tall. Division, spent twenty years as a NOAA (National Beyond the wall, the water gradually sloped Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Corps down. At eighty-five feet Donna found a turtle leisurely officer, was appointed Manager of the Key Largo nibbling on coral, but I was in a quandary. Donna National Marine Sanctuary, and I were swimming with and later became Director Dave, a dive shop employee of the U. S. National Marine and another Englishman, who Sanctuary Program. As part knew where he was going. of his job with NOAA, he was We did not. I was between responsible for investigating Dave and Donna. Dave ship groundings in the signaled me to follow him, offshore area that ultimately and I nodded yes. As I turned became John Pennekamp to motion to Donna to follow, Coral Reef State Park. After I saw that Donna was looking retirement he established his in the opposite direction. A own business as a freelance second later she turned to me writer, photographer, and and pointed opposite while international marine park making a T for turtle sign with consultant. He is a very her hands. I swam after her, interesting man, and he would saw the turtle, and snapped be going diving with our two fast photos. I signaled group this morning. to Donna to follow me. Dave An hour later, we were had already disappeared into in the dive boat, Sea Dwellers the gloom. If we got lost at III, heading out to Molasses Foureye butterfly fish, Chaetodon capistratus. eighty-five feet and were Reef. The captain inspected These are an adult mated pair, one swimming away forced to surface away from from a brain coral while the other swims behind it. a few places on the reef in The false “eye” ringed in white near the base of tail the boat, we would drift even order to find clear water. For is the reason for fish’s name. farther away and could get this Friday and the following lost. It’s hard to see a boat two days, the same plan was used to search for clear bobbing on the waves, and it’s just as difficult for the water. Of course, there wasn’t any really clear water, boat to see you―especially if no one is looking for so our dives were made in a gloomy forty feet of you! visibility. The forty feet itself was somewhat murky. Dave never looked back, but fortunately we Once underwater, we saw the usual schools of grunts, caught up to him. He swam us back to the boat where a few trumpetfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, and three we finished our dive in shallow water. The only good scorpion fish. One was large, one medium, and thing about sweating it out underwater is that you don’t have to worry about drying off until after you surface. I was glad that we didn’t get lost. Donna thought that everything was just fine. Our second dive and the remaining four were uneventful, on the reefs in water about thirty feet deep. The remainder of the week went by quickly, as most vacations seem to do. Even so, we always look forward to being home again. I wonder why? If all goes according to plan, we’re off to Curaçao at the end of November 2011 to celebrate Donna’s birthday and our anniversary. I hope I find a story in Curaçao. After that the Holidays come and go so quickly. By the time you read this, or at least look at the photos, it will probably be well into 2012. Scrawled filefish, Aluterus scriptus. Bright blue spots and dashes, and a few black spots too, enhance a unique I always feel that time goes by so fast―probably body shape. Often changing its color to blend into its because it does. Regardless, I hope there is another background, it can reach three feet, but most are half that adventure out there waiting for us. Only time will size. I never pass up an opportunity to photograph this fish. tell. 28 April 2012 Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Spotted drum, Equetus punctatus. This drum, likethe jacknife fish, Equetus lanceolatus, is unmistakable by its shape. Stripes and spots highlight the spotted drum. An adult like this can reach one foot in length.

Spotted scorpionfish, Scorpaena plumier. As you either can or cannot see, this fish is a master of camouflage as it sits on the seafloor preying on small creatures. Don’t touch or step on this fish, because its spines can cause great pain and infection. This specimen is sixteen inches long, and it’s just below the center of the sea fan, with a downturned mouth and two dark eyes.

Glassy sweeper, Pempheris schomburgki. This school hovers in a shallow cave for protection. Particles in the water hindered a good photo opportunity.

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Goldentail moray, Muraena miliaris. A small moray, less than two feet long, it is difficult to spot with its small head poking out of a coral crevice. It has tiny teeth, but I‘m sure a bite would be painful. There are subtle yellow markings on its body, and especially on its tail.

Spanish hogfish, Bodianus rufus. The upper body is usually purple, and it has a yellow tail to match its lower body. This specimen is gray on the upper torso, with a matching gray tail. This is an adult specimen at about a foot long but they can reach two feet.

Hogfish, Lachnolaimus maximus. In the wrasse family, this specimen is in its juvenile phase. The fish changes color according to its background or activity. It can reach three feet in length, and is prized as food.

April 2012


GCAS Happenings


Last Month’s Bowl Show Winners:

1 Robert Hamje Albino Kribensis 2 Carlotti deJager Red Betta 3 Richard Waizman Neon Half-moon Betta

Unofficial 2012 Bowl Show totals to date: Robert Hamje 5

Carlotti deJager 3

Richard Waizman 1

A warm welcome back to renewing GCAS members Bill Amely, Sharon Barnett, Steve Berman, Jeff Bollbach, Arne Bristulf, Sean Cunningham, Carlotti de Jager, Brad & Claudia Dickinson, Pete D'Orio, Gerry Domingo, Harry Faustmann, Joe Ferdenzi, Warren Feuer, Michael Gallo, Walter Gallo, Joe Graffagnino, Al Grusell, Bob Hamje, Jason Irizarry, Denver Lettman, Rich Levy, Michael Macht, Joe Magnoli, Donita Maynard, Rod Mosley, Al & Sue Priest, Dan Puleo, Dan & Marsha Radebaugh, Richard Waizman, and Ron Wiesenfeld!

Here are meeting times and locations of some aquarium societies in the Metropolitan New York area: Greater City Aquarium Society

East Coast Guppy Association

Next Meeting: May 2, 2012 Speaker: Jeff Michels Event: Dwarf Cichlids Meets: Meets the first Wednesday of the month (except January & February) at 7:30pm: Queens Botanical Garden 43-50 Main Street - Flushing, NY Contact: Dan Radebaugh (718) 458-8437 Email: Website:

Meets: 2nd Tuesday of each month at at 8:00 pm. Alley Pond Environmental Ctr.: 228-06 Northern Blvd. Contact: Gene Baudier (631) 345-6399

Big Apple Guppy Club Meets: Last Tuesday each month (except Jan, Feb, July, and August) at 7:30-10:00pm. Alley Pond Environmental Ctr.: 228-06 Northern Blvd. Contact: Donald Curtin (718) 631-0538

Brooklyn Aquarium Society Next Meeting: April 13, 2012 Speaker: Larry Jinks Topic: Setting Up A Fish Room Meets: 2nd Friday of the month (except July and August) at 7:30pm: NY Aquarium - Education Hall, Brooklyn, NY Call: BAS Events Hotline: (718) 837-4455 Website:

Long Island Aquarium Society Next Meeting: April 20, 2012 Speaker: Ginny Eckstein Topic: Catfish Meets: 3rd Fridays (except July and August) 8:00pm. Room 120 in Endeavor Hall on theState University at Stony Brook Campus, Stony Brook, NY Email: Margaret Peterson - Website:


Nassau County Aquarium Society Next Meeting: April 10, 2012 Speaker: Mark Soberman Topic: Breeding and Raising Corydoras Catfish Meets: 2nd Tuesday of the month (except July and August) at 7:30 PM Molloy College - Kellenberg Hall ~1000 Hempstead Ave Rockville Centre, NY Contact: Mike Foran (516) 798-6766 Website:

NORTH JERSEY AQUARIUM SOCIETY Next Meeting: April 19, 2012 Speaker: Karen Randall Topic: Collecting Aquatic Plants in Thailand/ From the Golden Triangle to the Malay Peninsula Meets at: The Lyndhurst Elks Club, 251 Park Avenue, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071 Contact: NJAS Hotline at (732) 332-1392 Email: Website:

Norwalk Aquarium Society Next Meeting: April 19, 2012 Speaker: Martha Morris Topic: Breeding Discus Meets: 8:00 P.M. - 3rd Thursday of each month at: Earthplace - the Nature Discovery Center - Westport, CT Contact: John Chapkovich (203) 734-7833 Call our toll free number (866) 219-4NAS Email: Website:

April 2012

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Living Color Aquariums of Fort Lauderdale installed and maintains the tanks and claims they can withstand hits from foul balls and missed throws. The tank walls are acrylic and shielded by a bullet-proof Lexan plate with an air gap to absorb shock. But even if the aquariums can withstand thrown and batted balls (and the occasional infielder running into them), animal rights’ activists are concerned. “I can tell you even if the glass doesn't shatter, [stadium noise is] going to A series by The Undergravel Reporter cause a tremendous vibration and disturb and upset the fish,” Animal Rights Foundation of Florida In spite of popular demand to the spokesman Don Anthony is reported as saying.2 contrary, this humor and information In support of this theory, a recent study column continues. As usual, it does showed that three-spined sticklebacks who were NOT necessarily represent the opinions exposed to noise made more foraging mistakes and of the Editor, or of the Greater City were less efficient at consuming food, as compared Aquarium Society. to those in quiet conditions. Dr. Andy Radford, who leads a major project to investigate the impact of anthropogenic noise on marine animals, said: t seems someone got the bright idea to put tanks “Noise pollution is a rapidly increasing issue of of fish in a baseball stadium that is home to a global concern, especially underwater. Although team named after a fish! The new stadium for the lots of research has considered the potential Miami Marlins will have fish tanks. The tanks are not in a lounge area, or where the public can view and appreciate them. No, they’re in the infield! “About 80 reef fish will swim in each of two unique saltwater aquariums installed near the infield of the Miami Marlins new home stadium. “Aquariums behind the plate don't exist anywhere,” Marlins President David Sansom says in a videotaped interview.”1 Hmmm... I wonder why? Could it possibly be because aquariums don’t belong in the path of hard, round objects some pitchers can hurl at up to 100 miles per hour, Fish tanks at Marlin Park and that can be propelled by a bat at even greater speeds? impacts on marine mammals, we know relatively The twin tanks — each 22 feet long and little about how fish are affected, despite their holding more than 450 gallons of water — flank the critical importance as a food source for the first- and third-base lines near the team dugouts. The burgeoning human population. Our study suggests tanks have live fish, with porkfish, a fish commonly there could be a much wider range of detrimental seen at Keys coral reefs, among the most numerous effects than previously thought, and so there is a residents. The corals in the tanks are artificial vital need for further research.”3 (“museum-quality replicas” made of cast urethane There’s a video of the aquariums on and epoxy). So, why not use plastic fish, as well? YouTube4 if you can’t wait until the next televised game from Marlins Park.

Take Me Out to the Aquarium


1 3 4 2

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

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

April 2012

April 2012



Fin Fun This month’s Modern Aquarium has an article about Betta rubra, a species of Betta probably unfamiliar to most of you. While a lot of you have probably heard of Betta splendens and Betta imbellis, how many of the following Betta species can you find in this puzzle? Answer next month. Words in the puzzle:
















Solution to our last puzzle:

Common Name

Scientific Name

Harlequin rasbora ----------------------------------------- Rasbora heteromorpha Clown loach----------------------------------------- Botia macracanthus Clown barb----------------------------------------- Puntius everetti Clown catfish----------------------------------------- Gagata schmidti Clown killi----------------------------------------- Pseudepiplatys annulatus Clown knifefish----------------------------------------- Chitala ornata Clown rasbora----------------------------------------- Rasbora kalochroma


April 2012


April 2012

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

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