Modern Aquarium April 2009

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April 2009 volume XVI number 2

Series III ON THE COVER Our cover photo this month features Betta coccina, often called the red wine betta. For more information about this beautiful and challenging little fish, see Al Priest’s story on page 9.

Photo by Alexander A. Priest


Dan Radebaugh Mark Soberman Jack Traub Warren Feuer Edward Vukich

Members At Large

Claudia Dickinson Artie Friedman Ben Haus Leonard Ramroop

Pete D’Orio Al Grusell Emma Haus

Committee Chairs

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

Claudia Dickinson Leonard Ramroop Warren Feuer Mark Soberman Al Grusell Alexander Priest Claudia Dickinson Claudia Dickinson Warren Feuer

MODERN AQUARIUM Editor in Chief Copy Editors Exchange Editors Photo/Layout Editor Advertising Mgr.

In This Issue From the Editor G.C.A.S. 2009 Program Schedule Our Generous Members President’s Message An Open Letter to the Members by Joseph Ferdenzi

Board Members

President Vice-President Treasurer Corresponding Secretary Recording Secretary

Vol. XVI, No. 2 April, 2009

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

How to Become a Not-for-Profit Organization in New York by Jack Traub, C.P.A.

Fishkeepers Anonymous by Susan Priest

Bubbles in the Wine The Red Wine Betta, Betta coccina by Alexander A. Priest

Looking Through the Lens Photos from Our Last Meeting by Claudia Dickinson

AFISH C.A.R.E.S. Letter by Claudia Dickinson

Wet Leaves by Susan Priest

Famous Chocolates Join to Form Trio by Jannette Ramirez

The Fish Mobile by Elliot Oshins

Cichlidically Speaking by Claudia Dickinson

Our Featured Speaker: Mark Soberman by Claudia Dickinson

O Fish Tank! My Fish Tank! by William Amely

The Undergravel Reporter G.C.A.S. Happenings Fin Fun (Puzzle Page)

2 3 3 4 5

6 7 9 12 15 16 17 19 21 25 27 28 29 30

From the Editor by Dan Radebaugh


have been told that for our continued health and development one of the things we should regularly remember to do is give thanks. I have heard this from ministers, rabbis, teachers, colleagues, martial artists, astrologers, authors – by more people than I can name. I even recall a popular song (from the 1950s?) about “counting your blessings.” Most often this thanks giving is a private acknowledgement, but sometimes public declarations are in order. In that spirit, I’d like to give a special thanks to all of our members who have submitted articles for publication in Modern Aquarium. I’ve asked for your stories, you have come through in a big way, and I am truly grateful. Thank you! And keep them coming! I believe you’ll find this a lively issue. Jack Traub documents how an organization (maybe an aquarium society, for example), can achieve “Notfor-Profit” status in the state of New York. Of course many businesses have recently found that becoming a not-for-profit organization is far easier than they had hoped. But I don’t think that’s what Jack is talking about. Speaking of “how-to,” Elliot Oshins chips in with his own do-it-yourself project, the fish-mobile, and in “Wet Leaves” Sue Priest reviews a book that I’m sure each of us has at one time or another wished for, an Aquarium Owner’s Manual. Regarding owner’s manuals, does it seem to anyone else that most of the instructional documentation we now receive with our aquarium equipment seems less designed to tell us how to get the gear up and running than to provide the manufacturer some immunity from being sued? Probably necessary I suppose, but it really activates my inner grouch when the only “owner’s manual” I can find confines itself to telling me that I shouldn’t plug their heater (or whatever) into an electrical source while standing on my roof during a thunderstorm. End of rant.

Rather than an “inner grouch,” Jannette Ramirez reveals her “inner impresario” as she tells us about three famous chocolates forming a trio to delight and enrich their shareholders. The fish on our cover this month is one of the “wild” bettas – B. coccina, also called the red wine betta. Al Priest gives us an in-depth profile of this small and rather demanding beauty. “Through the Lens” this month documents our March meeting, specifically our “enhanced interrogation” of former GCAS President Joe Ferdenzi. In addition to “Through the Lens,” Claudia Dickinson this month debuts a new column, “Cichlidically Spleaking” (easy for her to say), which will keep us abreast of goings-on at the American Cichlid Association. The Undergravel Reporter returns to amaze us with unlikely but true fish stories, and we finish with “Fin Fun.” We even have a poem this month! Remember, 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, or just hand it to me at a meeting. However you get it to me, I’ll be delighted to receive it!

Articles submitted for consideration in Modern Aquarium must be received no later than the 10th day of the month, three months prior to the month of publication. Please fax to (877) 299-0522, or email to Copyright 2009 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: http://www. or


April 2009

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! Claudia





Jeff Bollbach




Silent Auction


Members Night


Tim Nurse Diving Lake Tanganyika

Joseph Ferdenzi


History of the GCAS December

Holiday Party!

Our Generous Members Each month a 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 who so generously contributed, making last month’s auction the bountiful success that it was: Mario Bengcion Rod Du Casse Pete D’Orio

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Joe Ferdenzi Jakleen Minassi-Haftvanni Dan & Marsha Radebaugh

April 2009


President’s Message by Dan Radebaugh ast month we all enjoyed a marvelous tribute to former GCAS President Joe Ferdenzi. Everyone involved did a great job, and Joe was a good sport about the whole thing. For those of you who were unable to attend, be sure and see “Looking Through the Lens” in this issue of Modern Aquarium. I was gratified that we had such a good turnout, especially in light of some of the minor difficulties we experienced getting into the meeting hall. Hopefully this situation will improve as all involved get used to dealing with current exigencies. I’m sure that by now you know that the Botanical Garden’s budget has been drastically cut, and they no longer have the personnel on hand to provide the same level of service they have in the past. Our Board will be monitoring the situation, and if necessary, we will of course look into other possible meeting places. The strengths of the Botanical Garden continue to be its easy-to-reach location, free parking, low cost, and institutional stability. I’ll be first to agree that the current entrance/exit scenario is inconvenient and annoying, but let’s give it a little time before we hit the panic button. Things like this often have a way of working themselves out if approached with a little patience.



Several of our members attended the recent NEC (Northeast Council of Aquarium Societies) annual convention up in Connecticut, and the reports I’ve heard were very positive. There was a strong group of speakers, and everyone seemed to have a good time. I also have a few awards to hand out to GCAS member-authors, as Modern Aquarium garnered its fair share of publication awards. I asked our Editor about listing them in this issue, but he told me not to ruin the surprise for everyone, and promised to publish the winners’ names and their awards in next month’s issue. We are now in the heart of the Spring convention season, what with the ALA (American Livebearer Association) holding its annual meeting this month, and the AKA (American Killifish Association) holding theirs in May. If you have some vacation time coming, these National Conventions are great places to gain information, make friends, and see (even purchase) fish that you might never come across literally anywhere else. If you haven’t attended one yet, and can afford to, I urge you to try one out.

April 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

An Open Letter to the Members am deeply appreciative of the kind expressions of friendship that were displayed at last month’s meeting. Each one of you – those who made a presentation, those who wrote a message for Modern Aquarium, and those who were just simply in attendance – has my heartfelt thanks. It was a very special evening filled with laughter and great warmth. Again, thank you. I also express my best wishes to Dan as he takes the helm as our new President. It is of great comfort to me to know that Greater City is in the hands of a fine gentleman like Dan, who will be supported by a Board of Directors comprised of experienced, talented, and dedicated members. I know that the entire Greater City membership will make his tenure as marvelous as mine was for me.. Excelsior!


Joe Ferdenzi

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

April 2009


How to Become a Not-forProfit Organization in New York by Jack Traub, C.P.A. haritable, educational and scientific nonprofit organizations enjoy unique benefits on the federal as well as local level. First, they are exempt from income taxes as well as local real estate taxes on property owned, and sales taxes for items purchased. Second, contributions made to these organizations are deductible as charitable contributions. In order to derive this second benefit, organizations must file with the Internal Revenue Service and receive the government’s blessing. In order to obtain federal tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization under the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must first show that it was organized exclusively for charitable, scientific, or educational purposes. Second, it must show that it is being operated exclusively for those same purposes. The organization can be created by incorporating, or if in a non-corporate form, by adopting articles of association. Incorporating the organization does not require the use of an attorney. Everything can be done online. In New York the responsible agency is the State of New York Department of State. Following are the steps to be followed if the organization chooses to incorporate in the State of New York. Other states have similar provisions.


1) The organization will incorporate under Section 803 of the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law. Be sure to select the paragraph that specifies that upon the dissolution of the organization, assets will be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. 2) Obtain Application Form 1023 from the Internal Revenue Service. This is a booklet which contains the form and the instructions. If the organization has already been in existence, then financial statements for the


April 2009

past three years will have to be submitted. 3) Once Federal tax exemption is obtained the organization will want to obtain exemption from New York State Sales Tax by filing Form ST-119.2 – Application for an Exempt Organization Certificate. Having obtained exemption from Federal income taxes, obtaining New York State Exempt Status should present no difficulties. Just follow the instructions on the above-mentioned form, and submit the requested information. 4) Upon approval, New York State will issue Exempt Organization Certificate Form ST119. This form will contain an Exempt Certificate Number. 5) Any time subsequent to receiving Form ST119 from New York State, the organization may make purchases not subject to New York Sales Tax. Form ST-119-1 is used for this purpose, by means of the Exempt Certificate Number. This form can only be obtained directly from the New York State Sales Tax Department. At present it cannot be downloaded from the Department’s Web Site. 6) Only the organization itself may use this exemption, and purchases must be for the use of the organization.

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

by SUSAN PRIEST omance is in the air! Love is in full bloom! And now “The bells are ringing for me and my gal.” for something What on earth am I talking about? I’m c o m p l e t e l y talking about the GCAS’s newest newlywed, and different. We that ain’t all!! For the first time in any aquarium are going to do a society anywhere, a new bride who still has cake on little bit of time her face has written an article for a club magazine traveling. We while on her Honeymoon!!! Now, if that ain’t are going to love, I don’t know what is. (Bobby, I hope you r e v i s i t o u r aren’t too jealous of Desirée’s devotion to us, but December 2008 Holiday party. don’t worry, we’ll share her with you.) Long before she fell in love with the GCAS, or Lots of you were with Bobby, Desirée developed a passion for there, and lots of livebearers, which she still has to this day. When you were given a Our Honeymooner: her head hits the pillow at night, her thoughts drift card with my Desirée Martin to that perfect saltwater aquarium of her dreams. e-mail address, indicating that this is No greater love hath a the best place to fishkeeper of her Suggested Questions submit your hobby than our bride 3 Please introduce yourself. F i s h k e e p e r Desirée. 3 Tell us about your favorite aquarium. Anonymous Q&A's. Well, Bobby, I 3 What was your very first fish? If half of you did it, I can see clearly that 3 Tell us about your education as a fishkeeper. would have enough you have your work 3 Is there someone you think of as a mentor? autobiographies to last cut out for you. You Tell us about him or her. have a lot of stiff Modern Aquarium 3 Describe your “Fantasy Fish Tank.” competition for the for two years. Well, 3 If you were a fish, which one would you be? affections of your one person submitted 3 Who is your “Hobby Hero?” bride. You aren’t by theirs. Have you 3 What fish which you have never kept would any chance a guessed yet that it was you like to acquire? fishkeeper, are you? Desirée? As you 3 Describe your biggest fishkeeping “blooper!” If not, I’ll be glad to already know, she had 3 Describe your most memorable fishkeeping offer you equal space other things on her experience. mind, but she came to tell us about your through for her club. 3 What changes have you seen in the hobby passions. I hope you Now it’s your turn. during your tenure as a fishkeeper? will be able to attend You probably lost the one of our meetings 3 What advice would you give to a card, so I will print the sometime soon, so beginning fishkeeper? e-mail address here: you can see for 3 What are your fishkeeping goals? yourself what it is - OR write a narrative story I know you are reading that your bride likes and enjoying this about us. So far we column, so please, fill haven’t been able to figure it out for ourselves. And thanks Desirée, for my inbox with quips, quotes, anecdotes, bloopers, sharing your love and your honeymoon with all of and assorted stories. In other words, follow Desirée’s lead by sharing your love of the hobby us. with the rest of us. * * *


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



April 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Bubbles in the Wine The Red Wine Betta, Betta coccina by ALEXANDER A PRIEST


quarists who specialize in anabantoids generally, or in keeping so-called “wild” bettas (generally understood to mean any member of the genus Betta other than Betta splendens), are probably familiar with the concept of Betta “complexes” (for more information, visit the website of the SMP, or Species Maintenance Program of the International Betta Congress1). These complexes are a way of categorizing members of the genus Betta that go beyond the generally accepted scientific nomenclature of phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. The “Coccina complex” consists of the species: Betta brownorum, B. burdigala, B. coccina, B. livida, B. miniopinna, B. persephone, B. tussyae, and B. rutilans. They are all small, slender fish that reproduce by building floating “nests” of bubbles into which fertilized eggs are placed and tended by the male half of a spawning pair (however, othe r members of this complex have also been reported to be p a t e r n a l mouthbrooders, and whether those species are “switch-hitters” or represent a separate species is at this time still unclear). The “Coccina complex” is named after what is likely its most Betta coccina well-known (and first discovered) member, Betta coccina, which is the focus of this article. “Coccina” means wine-red or claret. Betta coccina is so named because of its beautiful red body, a body coloration that, until the description of Betta coccina by Dr. Jörg Vierke in 1979, was known to occur in the members of the genus Betta only in Betta splendens. Betta coccina is a small red betta native to the Indonesian province of Jambi (Sumatra), and the West Malaysian states of Johor and Malaka (or Malacca). Based on my personal experience of having kept five of the eight currently recognized members of the coccina complex, all of these species should be kept in captivity only by experienced and dedicated aquarists. This is Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY) Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

because they all require specific water conditions that are not easy to achieve, and even harder to consistently maintain in the home aquarium. Betta coccina is native to the very soft, very acidic water found in forest peat swamps. That water has a pH of between 4.0 to 6.0. The water is also very soft, having a degree of hardness (dH) of between 0.0 - 4.0 and a carbonate hardness (KH) of zero (0.0). While you can use various commercial products to lower the pH of water added after a water change, you should not rely on these products to lower and maintain the overall pH of your tank. Many pH lowering products rely on sodium biphosphate (the same ingredient found in Fleet® Enema—green box). Aside from potential injuries to your fish (just Google™ the side effects of sodium biphosphate on humans to see my concerns), relying on externally added chemicals to change your water parameters will almost always not work in the long run. You need to allow the tank pH to lower naturally by adding decaying vegetable material (I prefer dried almond leaves, but oak and magnolia leaves work just as well). Make certain that any added leaves Photo by Al Priest are from a source that has not been sprayed previously with insecticides, fungicides, etc. You can also use driftwood (I use only driftwood purchased from a reliable aquarium store, and I boil it for several hours before introducing it into the tank), or aquarium-safe peat moss inside in a box filter. While using driftwood is probably the slowest method I know of to lower pH, it is also the most consistently reliable. If you must lower the tank pH rapidly, I recommend using blackwater extract (available from several companies and sold in most aquarium stores). Betta coccina do not, in my experience, readily adapt to even slight changes in water conditions, and that includes second and third generation fish bred in captivity. Regardless of how carefully I matched the water parameters of

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newly added water, I had far more fish mortality conditions). There are also reports of males having following a water change than at any other time. a spot on only one side of the body. Even when a For a while I wondered if I was at fault, even body spot is present, it is difficult to capture it in a though I made certain that newly added water was photo (such being the case with my group). well-aged, dechlorinated, and had a temperature Betta coccina is a notoriously difficult and pH exactly matching the water I removed. species to breed in captivity. One problem appears Going on the Internet, I discovered I was not the to be that pairs need to select themselves, and just only person that experienced the problem of having having a group of males and females together in high Betta coccina one tank does not mortality following a insure that a routine water change. compatible pair will Scientific name: Betta coccina The only explanation emerge. So, unless Common name: Red Wine Betta, Claret Betta I have found that you know you have a Geographic location: Sumatra & West Malaysia seems to make sense pair that has Size: 2" (TL) is that, in the wild, previously mated Temperament: Generally peaceful this species lives in together, an aquarist Temperature: 75°-80°F an environment that seeking to breed Acidity: pH 4.0-6.0 experiences very Betta coccina should Hardness: Very soft little change; and so keep several pairs Lifespan: 3-5 years they require an together, in the hope Skill level: Advanced (in my opinion) almost unchanging that a bonded pair Minimum tank size: 5.5 gallons environment in the will form. Once that Reproduction: Egglaying bubblenest builder home aquarium. I happens, the bonded Nutrition: Omnivorous base this on the pair can be separated, and put into a following, from The breeding tank. Another problem is that fry appear Betta Handbook by Dr. Robert J. Goldstein: to be more sensitive than adults to even slight “The coccina species live in stenotopic changes in their environment, while still requiring (rigidly unvarying) semiaquatic habitats consisting virtually pristine water. of small, shallow pools within almost stagnant Other than the fact that Betta coccina are streams that seep through the ancient peat forest much more difficult to spawn and to raise the fry, floor. The water is strongly acidic and almost conditioning, tank filtration and preparation, and black.”2 fish behavior are all very similar to that of Betta Betta coccina is a relatively small fish, splendens. As with Betta splendens, Betta coccina attaining a total length for both males and females is a bubblenester. Males build a nest of bubbles of only about two inches (although females are under a floating leaf, floating plants, a styrofoam usually slightly shorter and wider). The body is cup cut in half, a plastic lid from fish food (or even long and slender (it has been likened to the body of from a can of coffee), or floating tubes that can be many killifish). The body color can be light to made by simply cutting the bottom from an empty dark brown, but is more typically bright to plastic fish food container (remove the label before wine-red color (thus, the reason for their common placing it in the tank). Because the nest consists of name of “Red Wine Betta”). Males may have two bubbles, water movement should be kept to a horizontal bars running from the eye to the base of minimum, so sponge filters and/or a gently the caudal (tail) fin. Their pectoral fins are nearly bubbling box filter should be used instead of power transparent. filters. A mature sponge filter (one that has been in This species, along with some other species a tank with fish for several weeks, at least) also in the Betta coccina group, sometimes has a bright develops infusoria and other microorganisms that blue or bluish-green circular mark on the side of can provide fry with their first meals. males. Although this spot is typically associated Feeding live food is the best way to condition with members of the coccina group, it is not Betta coccina for spawning. When the fish are in always visible, nor is it present on all coccina spawning condition, the female will often show males. Some sources have stated that only young some dark vertical stripes, sometimes with a lighter males possess such a spot, and that as the male horizontal stripe from the head to the caudal grows older the blotch slowly disappears. Other peduncle. As is also true with (darker colored) sources have declared that only the dominant male Betta splendens, a female coccina in spawning has this spot. The important thing to note is that condition can usually be seen to have a small white the spot is not a hard and fast rule for Betta “egg spot”on her underside. coccina; there are numerous reports of males As with Betta splendens, a female who is lacking any spot (most of mine either have no spot, ready to spawn can be become aggressive towards or the spot can only be viewed in fairly low-light

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

a male that is not ready. This is true even if they have already selected each other as mates. On the other hand, males can be very aggressive towards females during spawning, and torn fins on both parents is not uncommon after a spawning. A male coccina embraces the female to release some of her eggs, which he will retrieve and spit into the floating bubblenest. The female usually floats motionless between these repeated embraces, which continue until all of her eggs have been expelled (reports are that from 20 to 50 white eggs are released, but in my experience the number is less ). For a small fish, the eggs are fairly large. Once the female has been relieved of all her eggs, she should be removed, because the male (again, as is the case with Betta splendens) will chase her away from the nest. As was previously noted, she may also have some torn fins, so I like to add a little Melafix™ to her water at about half the recommended dosage. Melafix™ is a product derived from the oil of the Tea Tree, Melaleuca alternifolia. I have found it to be safe and effective in promoting healing of minor injuries in fish, and in controlling any resulting secondary bacterial infections or subsequent fungal infections. Within two days, the eggs will begin hatching. As soon as you start seeing some fry swimming horizontally (usually in about three days after first hatchings have occurred), the male should also be removed, and placed in his own tank with some Melafix™. Do not immediately put the male back in with the female. They both need time to rest and recuperate before they attempt to spawn again.

If you put a mature sponge filter in the spawning tank, and leave the fry in that tank after removing the adults, the fry should be able to graze on the organisms on the surface of the sponge. Some liquid fry food (get the type marketed for egg layers), newly hatched brine shrimp (Artemia salina), and microworms (see “My Microworm Recipe” in the August 2008 issue of Modern Aquarium) are excellent first foods. Be careful not to overfeed, as it is essential to keep up the water quality, and uneaten food can degrade water quality very rapidly! While I personally hate snails, and keep them in only one of my tanks (feeding them to my Clown Loach whenever I have a snail population boom), a few ramshorn snails in the fry tank will help remove any uneaten food. One final but very important note: as with most of the so-called “wild” betta species, Betta coccina is a jumper! You must have a tight-fitting lid on the tank, put tape or plastic wrap around and over all openings cut for air lines or electric cords, and always be very alert to jumping fish when doing water changes and at feeding time. This is a small and attractive fish; but it is most certainly not for everyone. If you feel up to the challenge, please carefully read all of the caveats in this article before starting out. I do not want to discourage you from keeping exotic anabantoids (my personal hobby speciality). On the other hand, I would not recommend Betta coccina to anyone just starting out in the hobby, or as anyone’s first “wild” betta.


Goldstein, Robert J., The Betta Handbook, Barrons, 2004, p.34


Modern Aquarium - Greater CityCity A.SA.S. (NY)(NY) Modern Aquarium - Greater

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Looking through the Text and Photos hat a Grande time we had at our March meeting in our surprise Tribute to Joe Ferdenzi! It was with a roast and toast of friendship that we celebrated the nineteen years that Joe has given selflessly of himself as our GCAS President. All of the GCAS played an important part in making this night a special and memorable one in showing our love and appreciation for Joe, and all that he has done to make the club what it is today. GCAS President Dan Radebaugh did a splendid job of getting the meeting underway. Brad Dickinson then took on the role of Master of Ceremonies as he magically converted the meeting hall into the set of a reality TV show while revealing several new sides of Joe, as well as a bit of his own humorous side. Warren Feurer, Rich Levy, Horst Gerber, Sue Priest, and Mark Soberman were *STARS* as they stepped up to the podium to offer special thoughts and recount entertaining memories from the past. Margaret and Jim Peterson made certain that the cake was perfectly exquisite as well as delicious…and personally delivered! Your contributions to Modern Aquarium and your many autographs were the highlight of the evening! A warm and heartfelt thank you to all of you for making this another true GCAS family affair!


Joe the American Idol Star?! Following Joe’s American Idol audition, judge Randy Jackson (a.k.a. Pete D’Orio) felt that he might be better suited to a job as “Joe the Plumber!” A.I. judge Paula Abdul (a.k.a. Claudia Dickinson) thought that Joe had great promise and was definitely on the road to being another David Cook, while Simon Cowell (a.k.a. Anton Vukich), on the other hand, felt that perhaps Joe was best suited as a keeper of slimy creatures that were housed in a glass box that was filled with water! And so, MC Brad Dickinson continued his quest in locating the perfect reality show occupation for Joe...

Joe the family man?!


Joe the Judge?!

April 2009

Joe the cook?!

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Lens with the GCAS By Claudia Dickinson

Or…perhaps “Father Joe” as ordained by “Brother Brad.”

Joe Ferdenzi takes his stage cues from Sue Priest!

Brad Dickinson and Sue Priest share in the laughs!

Margaret Peterson makes certain that Joe Ferdenzi receives a collage of special everyone has a piece of the sumptuous memories with the GCAS and our honored celebratory cake. guests throughout the ages. Joe Ferdenzi makes a wish of good luck before blowing out the candles. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

April 2009


Bowl Show winners Bob Hamje and Mario Bengcion.

Joe Ferdenzi treats us to the opportunity of bidding on his homegrown fish!

Brad Dickinson, Joe Ferdenzi, President Dan Radebaugh, and Marsha Radebaugh take a moment to reflect on another special GCAS evening spent with dear friends!

Horst Gerber is delighted with his Door Prize win!


LaMonte Brown has had a Grande time and is already looking forward to next month! Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Ed Vukich and GCAS President Dan Radebaugh draw the final raffles! April 2009

The Aquarium Hobby C.A.R.E.S. Preservation Program Claudia Dickinson CARES Preservation Program Coordinator Dear AFISH Convention Committee and Attendees,

April 1, 2009

On behalf of the C.A.R.E.S. Preservation Program, I would like to extend a warm and heartfelt thank you for your most kind and generous donation of $256.50 garnered through the AFISH 2008 registrations. These funds will be an enormous help to CARES in keeping up with the many needs of our rapidly growing CARES clubs and schools. We are most honored and extremely grateful to AFISH for your thoughtfulness in choosing CARES as the recipient of these subsidies. Your support for the CARES effort, as well as the tremendous time and work that you placed into the convention, is so appreciated! Hope has been found for a future that seemed bleak for countless species to remain for the benefit and enjoyment of many generations to come. For all that you have done, the C.A.R.E.S. Preservation Program, and our species at risk, thank you! With Sincere Warmth, Claudia The C.A.R.E.S. Preservation Program is about our fish, and it is about people. We are one team, working together. Please, clear a tank ~ save a fish! Because of you, we are making a difference!

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

April 2009


whacker, with the pages all mixed up.) The thing that is most misleading about it is the placement of the photos, as lovely as they are. Many of the sections on general subjects such as “history of fishkeeping” or “body processes” put photos of marine and freshwater fishes next to each other on a Series On Books For The Hobbyist the same page. I think that the uninitiated aquarist could be easily confused by this. by SUSAN PRIEST The Aquarium Owner’s Manual is highly readable, and packed with good information. It is t’s a good title, don’t you think? It kind of a visual delight. By challenging itself to address reminds you of the owner’s manual that comes the needs of both freshwater as well as marine with a microwave oven, or maybe a weed fishkeepers (along with their fishes), it overreaches whacker. Along with all the do’s and don’ts, you its margins a bit. I think that it is best suited to the will be told what results you can expect to achieve, intermediate-level fishkeeper; along with how to make them someone who has a good grasp happen. of the basics, and is ready for a A wide variety of Aquarium Owner’s Manual fresh perspective. fishkeeping topics are touched By Gina Sandford upon in this beautiful book. DK Publishing, 2005 * * * Equipment, stocking, and Over the years of a wide spectrum of writing this column, health and nutrition people have occasionally information complement asked me “why don’t you the sections which include the price of the characterize individual book?” My stock answer species of freshwater, has always been “because brackish water, and the price varies depending marine fish (180 in all). on where you buy it.” I The descriptions of seven will take this opportunity “sample tanks,” which to offer you an example. include rift lake, cold This book was purchased water, and reef tanks, from It was “offer inspiration both chosen from a list of for beginners and more copies available from experienced aquarists.” “alternative vendors” (not Instructions on how to Amazon itself). Used set up a breeding tank for copies were available fish which use such with descriptions ranging strategies as from “poor conditionmouthbrooding, egg water damage,” to “nearly scatterering, nest new,” and from a cost of building (and more), are 21cents up to I’m-notpart of the picture. It sure-how-high, each of wraps up with a double which having a shipping index which covers fish charge of $3.99. The names as well as general c o p y I h a v e was topics. described as “like new,” I especially liked the and had a price tag of section on freshwater plants. “Fine-leaved plants $1.50. Add $3.99 to that, and I received a book such as Cabomba spp. require an efficient filtration with a list price of $25.00 printed right on it (which system to prevent the leaves from becoming clogged I would not have paid) for $5.49! I don’t believe with fine matter suspended in the water.” Too bad anyone had so much as peeked into it. As you can I didn’t know that about fifteen years ago! see, it’s a buyer’s market if you take the time to My main gripe (you know I always have at shop. least one, or I wouldn’t be doing my job), is that it is difficult to separate the information about marine tanks and livestock from the information about freshwater fishkeeping. (It is almost like combining owner’s manuals for a microwave oven and a weed


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March 2009 April 2009

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

Famous Chocolates Join to Form Trio by Jannette Ramirez


ho would have suspected that three well-loved chocolates, Hershey, Nestle, and Perugina ‘Baci,’ would come together to create such delicious combinations for us to enjoy? Flavors to please all – milk chocolate, striped chocolate, dark chocolate/ hazelnut mixes (just to name a few!). Not surprisingly, everything they touch turns to gold! They have the “Midas Touch.” In gratitude, those that they have touched and turned to gold make certain to keep their grounds and landscaping impeccably clean!

Peace and tranquility are inevitably felt by all who have the honor of meeting these three representatives of highly respected chocolates. They all share equally the responsibility of personally overseeing how everything is done on their premises. Even though all three have similar interests and characteristics, they still possess charming individual personalities and appearances to distinguish them from one Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

another. Did I mention that these particular chocolates contain “zero” calories? And, that by keeping these chocolates you

will regularly burn calories without fail? What other chocolates can make you such a promise?! Read on, friends, and I will soon let you in on this exclusive chocolate secret!

April 2009


Photo of male H. temporalis by Marsha Radebaugh

Having all three of these chocolates under the same hood… err…umm…I mean roof… can only tempt you to want more. These three famous chocolates are my Hypselecara temporalis (a.k.a. chocolate cichlids) that share a large tank with nine goldfish. These goldfish are looking a few carats darker as they mature. I believe that besides the food and regular maintenance given, they also thrive due to my chocolates’ Midas touch! If you decide to treat yourself by adding one or more of these chocolates to your collection of fishes, you may find yourself adding brown to your list of favorite fish colors. You will define ‘brown’ as ‘rich, piercing brown’ – not just plain brown. Anyone who already owns these beautiful fish can tell you that the best way to describe them – and their unique color-changing ability – is to compare them to a “mood ring.” I have seen many different shades and marking


on each member of my chocolate trio, depending on how they are feeling at any given moment in time! My three chocolate cichlids are named Hershey, Nestle, and Baci. Baci is the smallest of the three, and that’s why he is named Kisses (in Italian) and is representing the Perugina company, which makes Perugina’s Baci chocolates. (I certainly didn’t want Hershey to think that Baci was trying to be a “Hershey’s Kiss”!) Each of them is unique. The claim of zero calories is because you won’t be eating these chocolates; the calorie burning will take place when you (happily!) do your partial water changes and scheduled tank maintenance. So, all you chocolate lovers out there, what are you waiting for? Go out and get some of these special chocolates of your own. I guarantee you will love them!

April 2009

Photo of H. temporalis pair by Linda Konst

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

The Fish Mobile by Elliot Oshins


ood or bad, I am a saver. You name it, I’ve saved it. Maybe it would sound better if I said I was a collector. My jacket and coat pockets contain old movie tickets, old business cards, even old matchbooks – and I don’t even smoke. I have about 25 old shirts made in the USA (that’s how old they are). I don’t even feel too bad about wearing one on Saturday afternoons while attending art class. As you can imagine, things can get a little messy painting in oils and pastels. I even had a pair of shoes so old that when I took them to the shoemaker, he would hide when he saw me coming. So I finally decided to throw them out, but of course I did save the laces. Where are those laces now? Who remembers? I don’t. Speaking of shoes… In my closet I found a very old sport jacket and some old winter pants that I was going to donate to charity. While cleaning out the pockets, I came across a very old shoe repair ticket that was from the early 1990s. The ticket was for a pair of loafers I had forgotten to pick up from my local shoemaker. Totally embarrassed, I walked into the shoemaker (who was actually still in business) and sheepishly handed him Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

the ticket. He looked at it, puzzled, and walked to the back of the store. He was gone a good ten minutes, and when he returned he told me they weren’t ready yet, and to come back next week. (Sorry – an old joke I heard years ago and couldn’t refuse.) Why I save things I don’t know – maybe because I was a child of the Depression. While cleaning one day, I realized that I had an old TV sitting in the corner of my basement. As many of you already know, my basement is now my fishroom. Realizing that the TV obviously didn’t work anymore, I decided to get rid of it. As the TV was very heavy, as most old sets were, I called the only person I knew who could give me a hand getting it up the stairs and out the door: my good friend The Maven. When he arrived, he saw the TV and the old stand that it was perched on. “You’re getting rid of that, too I presume?” he said. I replied, “No, just the TV.” “You’re kidding. You don’t need an old TV stand taking up space and collecting dust,” said The Maven. I told him the stand was light and I could carry it myself, figuring (as I normally do) that I could use it for something. A sense of calm and relief fell over me as The Maven said, “OK.” My fishroom started with about 40 tanks. I then downsized to about 30, and now I’m holding steady at

April 2009


about 15 tanks. Feeding all those little mouths became such a full-time job that I found myself spending most of my days feeding them all. My collection includes very large fish and very small fish and of course, the unlimited babies. Feeding them all is no small task. Sometimes I feel like I’m running a restaurant for fish, and having to provide them with a different menu throughout the day. One day, while feeding my fish, I almost dropped a can of fish food into one of the tanks. I started getting frustrated, but then a light bulb went off in my head. So on November 10, 2008 at 9:00 P.M., The Fish Mobile was born. Weight – four pounds, ten ounces. I dressed the sides with very fancy gold hooks for nets and brushes to clean filters. It consists of two shelves. The bottom shelf is for filter pads, plant food, baking soda, and Epson salts (for my African tanks), and chemicals for water changes. The top shelf carries all my food. I very carefully drilled two holes; one for a thermometer used in photo developing (very accurate), and a larger hole for a magnifying glass (good for observing fry).

Now when it comes time to feed my fish, I push The Fish Mobile from tank to tank, taking their food orders. I still feel like a waiter in a restaurant (Caesar Salad, anyone? Baked Alaska for dessert?), but it saves me a lot time, and if necessary I also can do maintenance on a tank. Who knows, this could be a new business venture for me. I recommend The Fish Mobile to anyone who has numerous tanks (and the space to store one). If you want to take the plunge and make one for yourself, go to an old furniture store that might have old TV stands or tea carts that you might be able to hondle for a few bucks. Or better yet, just check your basement – you probably have one hiding down there in a corner. It’s certainly worth the effort. It’s making my life easier and my fish much happier. Thanks again to The Maven for not throwing out my old TV table, and thanks for my ingenuity for seeing the potential in an old relic.

Illustration by Elliot Oshins © 2009


April 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Cichlidically Speaking Your Link to the American Cichlid Association By Claudia Dickinson Photos by the author unless otherwise noted First appearing in the February 2001 issue of the American Cichlid Association’s Buntbarsche Bulletin, my ‘Cichlidically Speaking’ column ran until August of 2005. Its commentary covered current ACA news, as well as relevant cichlid research and conservation efforts. There continues to be much to report in these areas, and so as your ACA Club Delegate I thought I would resurrect that column for you here in Modern Aquarium. Let us think of it as “Volume II!”

ACA Convention Cincinnati 2009 Mark your calendars now and be certain to make your reservations for the upcoming ACA Convention on July 30th to August 2nd, this year hosted by the Greater Cincinnati Aquarium Society! Celebrated greats such as Ad Konings, Dr. Paul Loiselle, Dr. Wayne Leibel, Hans Koops van’t Jagt (a.k.a. Discus Hans), Michi Tobler, and Chuck Rambo top the speaker line-up, plus there will be superb workshops with renowned photography expert, Gary Lange, and catfish expert, Stephan Tanner. You simply must not miss out on all of this plus the most spectacular show of cichlids as you have ever witnessed, an enormous cichlid auction, fabulous side trips, and an immense variety of cichlids for sale coming at you from all directions—hotel rooms, hallways, the huge fish room, the Babes Auction, wherever! It’s all about cichlids, and cichlidiots, and we would love to see you there! Please be certain to register now at!

ACA Convention Show Photos

The ACA Convention is host to the most spectacular show of cichlids featuring species such as this Crenicichla sp. ‘Xingu I.’

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

April 2009

You won’t want to miss out on the extraordinary array of cichlid specimens, such as this Vieja bifasciata, which abound at the ACA Convention!


This extraordinary Aulonocara sp. ‘lwanda red top,’ owned by Ron Georgeone, took Best in Show at a recent ACA Convention.

Ron Georgeone’s stunning Geophagus altifrons took Reserve Best in Show at that same convention.

CARES Lake Victoria CARES Conservation Recent years have found the conservation endeavors of the ACA spanning the globe, from the Old World in Madagascar, Lake Victoria, and Lake Malawi, to the New World in Venezuela, and closer to home in our very own aquariums and those of our youth. Of the global catastrophes occurring as a result of human ignorance and exploitation of the environment, the devastation of Lake Victoria and the endemic haplochromines that once abounded within its waters is arguably the most tragic. Five decades ago, the lake held an estimated population of 500 or more species of cichlids. In a mere half century, three out of every five of those species have become extinct, leaving the current number of survivors to stand at approximately 200 (Loiselle, 2008). Theoretically, if left unchecked, in the year 2040 no cichlids will inhabit Lake Victoria, aside from the possible few that manage to find refuge in the outlying regions of the basin. With this knowledge before us, why is it that such massive eradication has not, seemingly cannot, 22

be brought to a halt? Disheartening and often frustrating, there is no easy answer or prompt remedy to this question. The dilemma reaches far deeper than statistics due to the extreme challenges of human survival in an impoverished land whose people rely on the rapidly depleting natural resources of the lake. Dr. William Ojwang has the solution. It is not a quick fix, nor is it a simple one, but it is the right one. ‘Lake Victoria CARES Conservation Through Education’ will provide the people of the Lake Victoria region with a basic understanding of the give and take necessary to achieve a delicate balance between the lake and its people that ultimately will sustain life for both. It is this long-term remedy that will only strengthen over time and be passed on to the next generations, particularly when the awe and appreciation of cichlids in an aquarium are given the opportunity to touch young lives. When esteemed conservationist, celebrated underwater photographer, and long-time ACA supporter, Dr. Dwight Smith, referred to affectionately by friends and colleagues as “Subsee,” learned of Dr. Ojwang’s proposal, he presented the ACA with a generous contribution to advance its mission with a request that consideration be made to use the funds to accomplish the rehabilitation of the KMFRI Kisumu Research Center, and for the development of aquarium facilities in select schools within the Lake Victoria Basin. With great appreciation to Dr. Smith for his immense generosity, the ACA is proud to see the first major step of Dr. Ojwang’s dream come to fruition. Greg Steeves, Dave Hansen, Barbara Wooton, Troy Veltrop, The Hill Country Cichlid Club, and the Federation of Texas Aquarium Societies (FOTAS), are leading the way on the club front as they hold auctions and fundraisers in their admirable job of supporting this critical endeavor! While we look forward to getting equipment and supplies gathered and shipped to Kenya, and reporting on the progress of the Lake Victoria CARES Conservation Through Education Project, the next step

Turbid river waters demonstrate evidence of poor land use and deforestation in upstream reaches of rivers feeding into Lake Victoria. Photo courtesy of Dr. William Ojwang

April 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Introduced water hyacinth multiplies exponentially in the nutrient rich water, literally strangling what remains of the endemic flora and fauna. Photo by Dr. Peter Howard

for us will be to help Dr. Ojwang expand to outreach schools. For a nominal sum of money, we will have the unique opportunity to play a personal role in the Lake Victoria CARES Adopt-a-School Program. Each school sponsored by a club, organization, or individual will be provided with the aquariums and equipment that will truly make a difference. As we collectively make a difference in our conservation efforts, please take a moment to feel great pride in your accomplishments, whether they be in Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Western Africa, Central America, or in your own tanks—together, we can and we are changing the world!

Herculean efforts to accrue monies for the PVL Fund, thereby bringing this and future awards to realization, are made by Pam Chin, Caroline Estes, Pam Marsh, and all of the Babes in the Cichlid Hobby, who work diligently throughout the year towards the celebrated Silent Auction held annually at the ACA Convention. Your donations, and your high bids(!) at the auction, bring the rewards of success. The enormous endeavors and dedication of the Greater Chicago Cichlid Association, the Bermuda Fry-Angle Society, and individuals are invaluable and deeply appreciated. A warm thank you to all who continue to make this possible! In her research, Carmen addresses the following objectives: 1) examining relationships between habitat heterogeneity, species richness, and assemblage of ecomorphological patterns of cichlid fishes; 2) identifying patterns of resource use and feeding habits among cichlid fishes, as well as the characteristics with which cichlids subdivided resource space in order to facilitate coexistence; and 3) examining relationships among morphological, trophic, and mesohabitats attributes within cichlid assemblages to gain insights about form and function in response to biotic selective pressures. Results from this study will help to gain a better understanding of the ecological traits and life histories of Neotropical cichlid fishes and contribute essential information for future studies of cichlid evolutionary ecology and conservation. Financial support from the ACA’s Paul V. Loiselle Conservation Fund will be used for lodging in Cinaruco River in Venezuela in the spring of 2009 and expenses associated with dietary analysis using SIA. To find out what you can do to ensure the continued conservation efforts of cichlids through research such as Carmen Montaña is conducting, please contact me at:

The students at Onjiko High School receive their first aquarium, and with that take the first step towards environmental awareness. Photo by Dr. William Ojwang

ACA Paul V. Loiselle Conservation Fund The 2008 grant from the Paul V. Loiselle Conservation Fund was awarded to Carmen Montaña for her studies on the ‘Evolutionary Ecology of Cichlid Assemblages in a Neotropical Blackwater River in Venezuela.’ Due to the membership’s immense generosity, support, and concern for cichlids at risk, Carmen now has the opportunity to continue to pursue her research. Such endeavors will provide valuable information, ultimately proving beneficial to the conservation of Neotropical cichlids. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Large piscivores, such as this Cichla intermedia, not only provide Paul V. Loiselle Conservation Fund grant recipient Carmen Montaña with valuable information, they are also a main food source for local people of the Cinaruco River. Photo by Noel Montaña

April 2009


ACA Cichlid Breeder Awards Last year marked the first of the ACA Cichlid Breeder Awards Program (CBAP), initiated by ACA Club Liaison Chair Ted Judy. Wishing to recognize hobbyists who are actively keeping and breeding cichlids, the ACA CBAP works in cooperation with local and regional aquarium societies. The ACA recognizes individual achievements in breeding cichlids, awards an ACA Cichlid Breeder of the Year from all entrants, and acknowledges the local and regional aquarium societies whose members are collectively breeding many cichlid species. To be eligible for an ACA Cichlid Breeder Award, a hobbyist must have been a member in good standing of the GCAS, participated in the GCAS Breeder Awards Program, and turned in at least one cichlid species in the calendar year. With great pride in you for your cichlid breeding endeavors, I am thrilled to announce the recipients of the past year’s ACA Cichlid Breeder Awards. 2007 Breeding Club of the Year Honorable Mention Greater City Aquarium Society Total number of cichlid spawns: 26 Participating members: 7 ACA CBAP Certificates of Appreciation Awarded in recognition of valuable contributions to the aquarium hobby and cichlid breeding. Ed Vukich Number of cichlid spawns: 4 Warren Feuer Number of cichlid spawns: 4 Joseph Graffagnino Number of cichlid spawns: 5 Jeff Bollbach Number of cichlid spawns: 8

ACA Spawn of the Year Nominee for his success with CARES at risk species Prognathochromis perrieri, Dick Moore shares his fry stripping techniques with Bennie Graham, Jeff Bollbach, and Artie Friedman.

ACA Cichlid Writer Awards Wishing to recognize hobbyists who are actively writing articles about cichlids for their local club’s publications, i.e., Modern Aquarium(!), the ACA Cichlid Writer Awards Program (CWAP), also initiated by ACA Club Liaison Chair Ted Judy, works in cooperation with local and regional aquarium societies. The ACA recognizes articles from individuals in different categories, as well as acknowledging the clubs that have given cichlid topics excellent press in the calendar year. To be eligible for an ACA Cichlid Writer Award, an author must be a member in good standing of the GCAS, and the submitted article must have been published in Modern Aquarium. Eligible articles must be on a topic that is strongly associated with a cichlid species or genus, cichlid husbandry, or cichlid collecting. I will take care of the submissions for you, so all that you need to do is the writing! Good luck! We so look forward to your outstanding accomplishments in the ACA CWAP! Until next time… Keep on Enjoying Your Cichlids! Claudia

ACA Spawn of the Year Nominee Dick Moore Prognathochromis perrieri Congratulations to all! Keep up the great work and the cichlid spawns coming for the next year!


April 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

The G.C.A.S. Proudly extends a most Warm Welcome to

Our Guest Speaker

Mark Soberman Speaking on African Catfish by Claudia Dickinson rom the time he was a young boy growing up in Sunnyside, Queens, Mark Soberman was fascinated by all aquatic life. Occasional visits to a neighboring apartment were savored, as here oldfashioned fishbowls, filled with the allure of guppies and live plants, lined the walls. At the age of ten, Mark received his first tengallon aquarium from another neighbor with like interests. The tank came equipped with all of the fittings, which included an old Supreme piston pump, and two fish that Mark remembers well—one kissing gourami (Helostoma temmincki) and one blue gourami (Trichogaster trichopterus). Encouraged by the full support of his parents, Mark’s passion flourished. It was a memorable day when his father took him on an excursion to Brooklyn for the purchase of his first thirty-gallon tank. His bedroom soon held this plus three more tanks, which housed everything from guppies to discus, and even saltwater fish! Attending college at the State University of New York at Brockport, where Mark went on to get his Masters, put fishkeeping on a brief hiatus. In 1984, the newly wed Mark and Robin Soberman went for a day’s outing at the racetrack, where Mark won an Exacta. Well, he immediately drove to Tropical Fish


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Supermarket with his winnings! The store’s proprietor, Charlie Murphy, assisted Mark and got him back into full swing with a twenty-nine gallon setup. Mark’s hobby had been rekindled and it expanded, until eventually he was able to create his dream of a fishroom. Putting in long days as sales manager of a dental supply company, he can now rejuvenate in this basement room, immersed amongst the fish and bubbling waters of forty aquariums which range in size from 10 to 125 gallons. With Mark’s precise and meticulous style, the neat rows of tanks shine with healthy, vibrant, and prolific fish. Although Mark specializes in breeding Corydoras catfish species, over the years he has also bred cichlids, killifish, characins, and livebearers. He is involved in a variety of projects, his most recent being to attempt the breeding of some of the riverine Synodontis species. One can always spot Mark’s fish in a show, most particularly if they are catfish, for they are certain to stand out from the rest due to the brilliant colors, large size, and striking beauty. His walls and shelves are filled with numerous trophies in recognition of his talents. Mark’s reputation travels far and wide for his ability to condition his fish and provide appropriate conditions for the spawning of the most difficult species.

April 2009


With a deep interest in the history of the aquarium hobby, Mark has a remarkable collection of antiquarian literature and ephemera that joins numerous aquatic artifacts. This is displayed in special bookcases, with extra space available for his insatiable desire to discover yet another rare book. The premier “All Aquarium Catfish Convention,” held in 2004, began a new journey in Mark’s outstanding career as he served as a panelist on the Corydoras Forum and united with fellow catfish experts from across the world. As a result of his acquaintances here, he now serves in the distinguished role of moderator on the highly respected forum, “Planet Catfish,”, and he is a member of the British Catfish Study Group. In 2006, Mark was invited back to the biannual convention to speak on African catfish. Involved with the formation of the North American Catfish Society, as well as other catfish organizations, Mark is also an author, having written articles for Tropical Fish Hobbyist, Modern Aquarium, and several catfish journals. A highly sought after speaker, Mark has traveled extensively, giving his programs across the country as well as in Bermuda for the Bermuda Fry-Angle Society. A member of the Greater City Aquarium Society since 1984, Mark has served on its Board of Directors for more than 15 years and is currently Vice President of the club. Enrolled in Greater City’s Joseph Ferdenzi Roll of Honor in 1998, he is also one of the club’s


top lifetime breeders. Aside from the GCAS, Mark is a member of the Long Island Killifish Association (LIKA), the American Killifish Association (AKA), and the American Cichlid Association (ACA), as well as the aforementioned British Catfish Study Group. It is with great pride and warmth that we welcome Mark tonight as he shares his extensive knowledge and experience with African Catfish.

Photo by Claudia Dickinson

April 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

O Fish Tank! My Fish Tank! by William Amely

O Fish Tank, My Fish Tank, How Happy You Make Me, You sit there in my room, waiting for me to Come in and enjoy the view. O Fish Tank, My Fish Tank, How Happy You Make Me, Fully lit, you brighten my day and allow Me to view you in all your splendor. O Fish Tank, My Fish Tank, How Happy You Make Me, With your filtration providing those who Inhabit you with the vital oxygen they need To breathe, and keeping their watery world clean. O Fish Tank, My Fish Tank, How Happy You Make Me, The plants you house look so green and Beautiful and make your inhabitants feel as happy As I feel to look at them. O Fish Tank, My Fish Tank, How Happy You Make Me, You are a window to a wonderful watery world Whose beauty words alone cannot fully Describe. O Fish Tank, My Fish Tank, How Happy You Make Me, Look at how beautiful and plentiful your Inhabitants are. How I wish I could Have all the different kinds there are in this World and admire them in all their glory. O Fish Tank, My Fish Tank, How Happy You Make Me, When I turn off your lights at night so I may sleep, I smile knowing that I will Wake to your beautiful sight again with the Next day’s dawn.

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

April 2009


Truman simply slithered out again, the aquarium said. Then, there’s Otto, a six month old octopus at Sea Star Aquarium in Coburg, Germany, who shorted out the aquarium’s entire electrical system by squirting water at a spotlight overhead. At two feet, seven inches, Otto discovered he was big enough to swing onto the edge of his tank and shoot out the 2,000 watt spotlight above him with a carefully directed jet of water. Staff at the aquarium believe Otto was annoyed by the bright A series by “The Undergravel Reporter” light shining into his aquarium, and discovered he could extinguish it by climbing onto the rim of his In spite of popular demand to the tank and squirting a jet of water in its direction. contrary, this humor and information And then there is the female two-spotted column continues. As usual, it does octopus at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium in NOT necessarily represent the California. She apparently tugged on a valve that opinions of the Editor, or of the allowed hundreds of gallons of water to overflow Greater City Aquarium Society. its tank. While no sealife was harmed by the ruman, a 7-foot-long, 30-pound octopus at the flood, the brand new (and ecologically designed) New England Aquarium, managed to squeeze floors might have sustained some damage. As you can see, the octopus is a very his body into a 14-inch square acrylic box in dexterous creature. Because it’s made of muscular search of food. The 30-minute performance drew a hydrostat (the same type of muscle as the human crowd of staff and guests. Caretakers at the tongue) the tentacles of aquarium place food an octopus can bend in inside locked boxes as an any direction. When an enrichment activity. The octopus reaches for idea is that the animals, something, its tentacle who are very intelligent, thins and elongates as it must figure out how to stretches toward the unlatch the boxes and get object of its desire, the food. Recently, enabling it to access biologist Bill Murphy crevices. Once it reaches placed some crabs inside a its destination, the 6-inch-square acrylic cube octopus can then grasp an and latched it, then placed object by wrapping the that cube inside a 14-inch end of its tentacle around cube with a different latch. The cubes were then Photo courtesy of the New England Aquarium it. So, if these abilities could be translated into a placed inside Truman’s robot, then that robot could provide nearly endless tank. capability for exploring hard to reach places in the The idea was for Truman to release the latch ocean, or at least that is the thinking of Cecilia on the larger box, then release the latch of the smaller one to get his food. The staff did not expect Laschi, professor of industrial bioengineering at Truman to get to work until after the aquarium the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy. closed and it was dark, because octopi typically prey Laschi’s project, officially titled “Octopus,” was on other animals at night. But Truman was proposed and approved by European impatient (or very hungry). He got to work right Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme away. Rather than undoing the latch on the larger (FP7), the EU’s main funding organization for box, he squeezed his legs and large head through a research initiatives in technology.

Tails of the


two-inch hole in the larger box. Once inside, he worked for 30 minutes to try to unlatch the smaller box. When he couldn’t get the smaller box open, References


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

April April2009 2009

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

GCAS Happenings


A warm welcome back to renewing GCAS members Bill Amely, Sharon Barnett, Steve Berman, Jeff Bollbach, Arne Bristulf, LaMont Brown, Pete D’Orio, Rod Du Casse, Harry Faustmann, Joe Ferdenzi, Warren Feuer, Walter Gallo, Horst Gerber, Arie Gilbert, Joe Graffagnino, Al Grusell, Bob Hamje, Bernard Harrigan, Ben & Emma Haus, Mike Henderson, Jason Kerner, Denver Lettman, Rich Levy, Matt McGullam, Jakleen Minassi-Haftvanni, Temes Mo, Jim & Margaret Peterson, Al & Sue Priest, Dan Puleo, Dan & Marsha Radebaugh, Donna & Steve Sica, Mark Soberman, Peter & Susan Steiner, Jack Traub, Anton Vukich, Ed Vukich, and Richard Waizman! A special welcome to new members Steven Lin, David Parris, Peter Rivera, and Barbara Romeo!

Last Month’s Bowl Show Winners: 1 Bob Hamje 2 Mario Bengcion 3 Bob Hamje

Red Capped Oranda Double-Tail Betta Kribensis

Unofficial 2009 Bowl Show totals to date: Robert Hamje 6 Mario Bengcion 3

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 6, 2009 Speaker: TBA Topic: TBD 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 (347) 866-1107 Email: Website:

Meets: 1st Thursday of each month at at 8:00 pm. Alley Pond Environmental Ctr.: 228-06 Northern Blvd. Contact: Gene Baudier (631) 345-6399

Nassau County Aquarium Society Next Meeting: April 14, 2009 Speaker: Ed Champigny Topic: Goldfish and Koi 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:

Big Apple Guppy Club Meets: Last Tuesday each month (except Jan & Feb) 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 10, 2009 Speaker: Tony Vargas Topic: Diving On The Philippines Reef Meets the 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:

Norwalk Aquarium Society

Long Island Aquarium Society Next Meeting: April 17, 2009 Speaker: Tony Pinto Topic: Trip to Kalimantan, Borneo collecting wild bettas and licorice gourami Meets: 3rd Fridays (except July and August) 8:00pm. Greenhouse Meeting Room, Holtsville Ecology Center, Buckley Road, Holtsville, NY Website: Email: Margaret Peterson - Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Next Meeting: April 16, 2009 Speaker: Mo Devlin Topic: Big Cichlids Meets: 7:30 P.M. Lyndhurst Elks Club - 251 Park Ave - Lyndhurst, NJ Contact: NJAS Hotline at (732) 332-1392 Email: Website: or

Next Meeting: April 16, 2009 Speaker & Topic: TBD 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 2009


Fin Fun Pussies Galore! Our scheduled program this month is on African catfish. Of course, catfish are not just found in Africa. There are Asian, South American, North American, and even Australian catfish. Using the chart below, see if you can pick out the African catfish from those endemic to other continents.

Scientific Name

Common Name

Eutropiellus buffei

Swallowtail Glass Catfish

Synodontis congicus

Congo Synodontis

Corydoras crypticus

Cryptic Cory

Hexanematichthys graeffei

Benny’s Shark Catfish

Auchenoglanis occidentalis

Giraffe-Nosed Catfish

Tatia galaxias

Milky Way Woodcat

Glyptoperichthys punctatus

Spotted Sailfin Pleco

Schilbe marmoratus

Shoulder Spot Catfish

Synodontis eupterus

Featherfin Catfish

Peckolita vittata

Striped Peckolita



Source: Baensch Photo Index 1-5, Baensch Hans A

Answers to last month’s Puzzle:

Vivaldi in the Fishroom

Common Name

Scientific Name Crenichthys baileyi baileyi

White River Springfish

Baryancistrus niveatus

Snowflake Bristlenose Snow King Sailfin Pleco

Liposarcus anisitsi

Spring Pygmy Sunfish

Elassoma alabamae

Christmas Darter

Etheostoma hopkinsi

Easter Damselfish

Chrysiptera rapanui

South American Leaf-Fish

Monocirrhus polyacanthus Forbesichthys agassizii

Spring Cavefish Snow Pleco

Pterygoplichthys anisitsi

Source: Baensch Photo Index 1-5, Baensch Hans A



April 2009 April 2009

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

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