Modern Aquarium July 2009

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July 2009 volume XVI number 5

Series III

ON THE COVER Our cover photo this month features Betta pulchra (the beautiful betta), a rarely seen and only recently described betta from southwestern Malaysia. For more information on this little “beauty,” see Al Priest’s article on page 9.

Photo by Alexander A. Priest


President Vice-President Treasurer Corresponding Secretary Recording Secretary

Dan Radebaugh Mark Soberman Jack Traub Warren Feuer Edward Vukich

Vol. XVI, No. 5 July, 2009

In This Issue From the Editor G.C.A.S. 2009 Program Schedule Our Generous Members President’s Message WCS Certificate of Appreciation Wet Leaves by Susan Priest

Rules for August’s “Silent Auction”

Members At Large

Claudia Dickinson Artie Friedman Ben Haus Leonard Ramroop

Pete D’Orio Al Grusell Emma Haus

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.

The Handsome (or Beautiful) Betta, Betta pulchra by Alexander A. Priest

Lionfish Invade Cayman Islands

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

Handsome is as Handsome Does

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

by Stephen Sica

Member Classifieds Fishkeepers Anonymous by Susan Priest

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

Breeding the Zebra Danio by William Amely

Cichlidically Speaking by Claudia Dickinson

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

2 3 3 4 5 7 8 9

11 12 13 14

16 17 20 21 22

From the Editor by Dan Radebaugh


eading Steve Sica’s scuba-travel adventure stories almost inspires me to learn to scuba dive. Almost. While the idea is appealing, I do have some defensible, rational reasons for not doing so―really! These stories also bring to mind the many and increasingly popular opportunities for viewing aquatic and marine creatures “up close and personal,” in zoos and aquaria, as well as in their natural habitats, to say nothing of the burgeoning number of television shows dedicated to the watery world. On the one hand this has been a great thing. New Yorkers are fortunate to have had a long history of prestigious institutions such as the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium. Many other cities now have public aquaria, which are often central to the local economy, giving potential visitors a great reason to come and spend a few days―and a few dollars. Increasingly these institutions are seen not only as great educational resources (be sure and eat your greens, children!), but as quality-of-life assets that will attract business, lend the community some prestige, and encourage their citizens to stay, rather than move elsewhere. For those of us less willing or able to travel, public television and many of the “cable” channels offer programs of tremendous scope and diversity. On any given day, you’ll likely be able to spend an hour or two learning about some kind of fish, reptile, mammal, or even more primitive life forms, including information about their history, diet, social organization, ecology, population statistics, etc., all presented in an entertaining and compelling way. The available choices and their quality are staggering! As much as I appreciate it though, there’s something vaguely unsettling about it all. Perhaps it’s because this apotheosis of nature film-making and aquarium building seems to be taking place against a backdrop of desperation as regards the real-world situation of most of these creatures. Yes, it’s all beautiful―even breathtaking―but much needs to be done to assure that such scenes will survive in the wild (will there even continue to be a “wild?”) and not just in our electronic


images of them. Habitat destruction continues apace, fueled by continued human population growth, about which conversation seems to have ceased. So the paradox seems to be that more people than ever are conscious of the imperative for conservation, but “more people” are making that conservation more difficult by the day. I’m confident that our speaker this month, Jim Breheny of the Bronx Zoo (and GCAS member) will have some insights for us, which I look forward to hearing. For other conservation insights, be sure and see Claudia Dickinson’s “Cichlidically Speaking” in this issue. Claudia has been and remains a force behind the CARES program, a ‘fishkeeper-centric’ conservation program that deserves our support. Besides the entries this month from Claudia and Steve, we have a “Wet Leaves” from Sue Priest that’s very relevant to this evening’s speaker. Sue also presents us with a new “Anonymous Fishkeeper” to unmask. Al Priest profiles Betta pulchra, the rarely encountered but aptly named ‘beautiful’ betta, while Bill Amely gives us breeding tips on a hobby favorite, the zebra danio. “Through the Lens,” “The Undergravel Reporter,” and “Fin Fun” round out the issue. My thanks, as always, to our wonderful authors. 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 gcas@, or just hand it to me at a meeting. However you get it to me, I’ll be delighted to receive it!

July 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 August

Silent Auction


Members Night


Tim Nurse Diving Lake Tanganyika

Joseph Ferdenzi


History of the GCAS

Holiday Party!


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: Mario Bengcion Jeff Bollbach

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Al Grusell Al & Sue Priest

July 2009


President’s Message by Dan Radebaugh

arly last month I took advantage of an opportunity to attend the NEC’s (Northeast Council of Aquarium Society’s) annual Presidents meeting in Farmington, Connecticut. The event was well attended. The speaker was John Todaro, from the Brooklyn club, who did a presentation based on his series of articles, “Secrets to Society Success,” that has been running in Aquarium Fish International. John has experience in marketing and advertising, and his ideas are sound. I don’t propose to recap them all here, but his presentation, coupled with another I attended last week―this one presented by well-known media maven Jeff Jarvis, and based on his new book, What Would Google Do?, stimulated me to reflect on the state of the fishkeeping hobby, and to wonder how organizations like Greater City fit into the changing landscape of the society at large. One of the complaints I hear from many people (inside and outside the hobby) is that young people today are only interested in computer games, so they’re not going to keep fish, they’re not going to go to meetings, and we’re all going to die. Well, we are all going to die (If you discover a loophole, do let me know!), but I don’t think it’ll be from young people playing computer games (though there was that movie, War Games, a few years back, so maybe I’m wrong). What there can be little dispute about however, is that there is now a lot of competition for peoples’ attention, and it comes at us from more sources than ever. When I was growing up, there was print (newspapers, magazines, etc.), radio, and television. That was about it, unless you count billboards (and we used to do that―literally―on long, preInterstate car trips). Now, with satellite radio, about a gazillion TV channels, and the World Wide Web, our attention is much more fragmented. This in turn means that, on the positive side, we have loads more choices than we used to about nearly everything. Need a left-handed cataract surgeon who speaks Ladino and is on your insurance plan? Look on the Web! On the negative side, there are so many choices out there that even good ones can easily be overlooked.



Things change. I began keeping fish a good number of years ago (Eisenhower was President). Even then, traffic patterns changed, neighborhoods and towns rose and fell, and once-successful businesses failed, to be replaced by others. Much has changed in our hobby. The equipment we use is better, the foods we buy are better, and we have a more solid scientific basis for a lot of our fishkeeping decisions. One of the things that has remained true is that people like to gather and exchange thoughts and experiences with others who share their interests. If you look around the room tonight, you will see that this is so. Greater City has been helping us keep up with changes in fishkeeping knowledge for many years. I’ve only been a member for about five years, but during that time our membership, while of course changing somewhat from year to year, has remained strong and stable. I take this to mean that we are providing something of value to our members (ourselves, after all). We must of course continue to do so. Our other challenge is to be sure that we’re visible. Potential new members need to know that we exist, and to be able to find us. I recall that in Joe Ferdenzi’s retrospective of his tenure at GCAS (published last year in Modern Aquarium), he mentioned learning of GCAS from a flyer posted in a fish shop. There’s an example of a small effort that certainly paid dividends many times over. More personally, when I had reimmersed myself in the hobby a few years back, I mentioned to Marsha, “You know, there are chess clubs and camera clubs. I wonder if there are aquarium clubs.” So we looked online, and found the GCAS Web site. The moral is that there’s no one and only way to do it, but we do need to help people find us. Speaking of our Web site, if you’ve looked lately, you’ll have noticed that it’s “under construction.” The old hosting service has shut down, and our Webmaster, Al Priest, has moved us to another. I say “moved” rather casually. In fact Al’s having to rebuild it from scratch. You can find us at will also work. Right now it’s just the bare bones, but we have some ideas for improvement which you’ll hear more about in the future. Stay tuned!

July 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

July 2009



GCAS Proudly Extends a most Warm Welcome to

Jim Breheny

Speaking on “Madagascar Comes to the Bronx Zoo” 6

July 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Q: What is a manatee? 1) a marine mammal 2) a South American tree frog 3) a Lake Malawi cichlid. A: Also known as sea cows, manatees are air breathing mammals which live in the ocean. a Series On Books For The Hobbyist by SUSAN PRIEST uestion: What does the membership of the GCAS have in common with the zoos of New York City? Answer: All five boroughs of the city are represented by our membership, and each of the five boroughs has its own zoo.


Q: At which of New York City’s five zoos are many of the historic buildings decorated with friezes (bas relief sculptures) from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling? 1) Queens 2) Central Park 3) Prospect Park (Brooklyn). A: Sculpted by F.G. Roth, the story of Mowgli adorns many of the buildings at the Prospect Park Zoo.

Q: Which borough of NYC was the first to have its Q: What book, which is part of the “Images of America” series, offers readers a fascinating own zoo? 1) Bronx 2) Staten Island 3) Manhattan (Central collection of vintage photographs of the five New York City zoos and the New York Aquarium, as Park Zoo). well as the answers to A: The Central Park Zoo is the countless questions that they oldest. It dates back to the New York City didn’t even know they had 1860s. Zoos and Aquarium about these popular living museums? Joan Scheier Q:Who was Señor Lopez? Arcadia Publishing, 2005 A: New York City Zoos and 1) a snake 2) a jaguar Aquarium by Joan Scheier. 3) a famous zookeeker. A: Señor Lopez was a jaguar which lived in the lion house at the Bronx zoo from 1906 to 1914. In 1937 two statues of his likeness were given to the zoo by artist Anne Hyatt Huntington. Q: How many different locations has the New York Aquarium occupied? 1) one 2) two 3) three. A: The correct answer is three. It started out in Battery Park at the lower tip of Manhattan (1896), temporarily moved to the Bronx zoo (1941), and finally settled in Coney Island in 1957. Q: What group of animals is the Staten Island Zoo most associated with? 1) Gorillas 2) Insects 3) Reptiles. A: Reptiles. It is especially well known for its collection of venomous snakes. Modern18 Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

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Q: Who among our membership presently serves as the director of the Bronx Zoo? He will be speaking to us this evening on the topic “Madagascar Comes To The Bronx Zoo.” He will be telling the story of how the historic lion house became an up-todate representation of the wildlife and environment(s) of Madagascar. A: New to Greater City this season, we warmly welcome Jim Breheny. The book which has been under discussion here will surely complement your enjoyment of his presentation, and as New Yorkers, I can safely say that there is something in here for each of you.

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


Rules for August’s “Silent Auction” / Fleamarket Next month, Greater City has its annual “Silent Auction”/fleamarket. Here is a brief summary of the rules: i The seller sets an opening price for each item. i Bidders write down their bids in increments of at least $1.00 That is, your bid must be at least one dollar more than the previous bid, and you may only bid in even dollar amounts (such as $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, etc.) Bids of dollars and cents such as $1.50, $2.75 will be invalidated. i A bidder may not cross out his/her own bid to enter a lower bid. i The highest bidder at the end of the auction wins the item. i

Proceeds are split 50/50 between the seller and Greater City. (Of course, the seller may also donate 100% of the proceeds to Greater City!)

i Items not claimed by winning bids (or if there were no bids, by their owners) at the end of the auction become the property of Greater City. i Bids entered after the auction has been declared closed will be invalidated. The decision of the Auction Chairperson or President on whether this has happened is final.


July 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Handsome is as Handsome does The Handsome (or Beautiful) Betta, Betta pulchra by ALEXANDER A PRIEST here are many species in the genus Betta (with new species still being discovered), and some of them are very attractive. One member of this genus has the scientific name of Betta pulchra (pulchra is Latin for “handsome” or “beautiful”) and at least the males of this species certainly live up to their Latin name. I highly recommend this species to anyone in the aquarium hobby. It is not endangered, but it will almost never show up in your local fish store. If it does show up in your local store, grab it. If it shows up at an aquarium society auction, grab it. If it shows up at a tropical fish auction site, such as, grab it—I’ll tell you why. Betta pulchra is a somewhat newly described fish, having first been described in 19961. It is native to blackwater habitats in Pontain, which is in the southern province of Johor, on the southwestern side of the Malaysian peninsula, Betta pulchra quite close to Singapore. Betta pulchra is a paternal mouthbrooder, and can be bred in captivity. The spawning ritual of Betta pulchra is similar to that of other mouthbrooding bettas. Generally, it’s the female that initiates the spawning. First, the pair entwine their bodies, with the male gently squeezing the female. When eggs are squeezed out of the female, they land on the slightly arched anal fin of the male. The female picks the eggs up in her mouth, along with some of the male’s milt. The eggs are mixed with the milt in the female’s mouth and become fertilized. Then, the female spits the now-fertilized eggs out in front of the male, who catches them and holds them in his mouth. Finally, the male incubates the eggs in his mouth until they hatch. The incubation period for Betta pulchra ranges from 12 to 18 days, with 14 days being the norm. The incubation time can vary with water temperature (the warmer the water, the shorter the incubation period). Generally, once the fry are hatched, they are ignored by the parents, who


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

provide no parental care (but, unless starved, the parents also exhibit no predation towards the fry). A spawning tank should contain no more than one pair of Betta pulchra, and have multiple caves. It is my practice to have a sponge filter in all my spawning tanks, because within two weeks or so of operating in a tank with fish, the sponge starts to become a colonizing site for infusoria and paramecia that can serve as first foods for fry. While he is incubating the eggs, the male will hide in a cave. It is usually not necessary to remove the female parent while the male is brooding, but I prefer to do so if—and only if—I can remove her quickly and without unduly disturbing the male. Once released by the male, the fry should be fed newly hatched brine shrimp, microworms, and daphnia. Most of the species in the genus Betta have been grouped by hobbyists and some Photo by Al Priest conservationists into “complexes.” These complexes do not necessarily represent the degree of genetic relatedness among the members of a given complex, but rather seem to be based more on similarities in physical appearance. Betta pulchra is a member of the Betta pugnax complex, but it is never found together with Betta pugnax in the wild. For that reason, and because of various physical similarities, Betta pulchra was originally suspected of being a blackwater variation of Betta pugnax. However, Betta pulchra and Betta pugnax have each been found to breed true, regardless of the water quality in which they were raised. (In other words, when Betta pugnax was kept in the same blackwater environment that Betta pulchra is native to, the resulting fry resembled Betta pugnax, not Betta pulchra.)2 Betta pulchra differs in appearance from Betta pugnax by having a stouter body and a caudal fin that tapers to a sharper and narrower point. A female pulchra is slightly wider, is less colorful, and has shorter fins. Males may fight among themselves, whereas multiple females can be kept together.

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Betta pulchra is native to very acidic water. However, if an aquarist performs a water To appreciate just how acidic, you need to change on a very low pH tank, it is absolutely understand that a neutral pH is 7, and that the pH essential to adjust the new water to the exact pH of scale is logarithmic. What this means is that each the existing tank water. Failure to do so can result whole number up or down is 10 times that of the in a massive ammonia spike, and in the rapid death previous one. So, a pH of 6 is ten times more of all the fish in that tank. acidic than a pH of 7; a pH of 5 is 100 times more Betta pulchra is a very easy species to keep acidic than a pH of 7, and so on. The pH of the in the home aquarium. As mentioned above, they water in the native can adjust to a wide blackwater habitats of range of pH, and Species name: Betta pulchra Betta pulchra range only seem to require Common Names: Beautiful Mouthbrooder, from 3.9 to 4.2! lower pH values for Handsome Betta Nonetheless, they can breeding. While Maximum size: 4 inches (Total Length) be slowly acclimated they need clean Origin: Malaysia to live in a home water, they are not Temperament: Peaceful aquarium at a pH of overly fussy and do (males may fight each other) 7.0, and they will not require special Water conditions: Temperature 70-75EF readily breed in water filtration (I keep pH 5.0 - 7.0 with a pH between mine in a bare Reproduction: Paternal mouthbrooder 4.0 and 6.0. bottom tank with Difficulty: Easy to keep and to breed While Betta only a sponge filter pulchra can live in a and periodic water less acidic changes to remove environment, some solid waste). They aquarists attempt to recreate the native biotope of seem to like a tank with plants, and do not eat the a species. Those aquarists face unique challenges plants, nor do they seem to have any particular when attempting to maintain a species, such as preference as to the type of plant. They are not Betta pulchra, that originate in very low pH water. shy, and will come out whenever you start feeding All aquarists should be aware of the the tank. While I’ve seen some references to the “nitrogen cycle” (or, more accurately, the need for water temperature up to 80 degrees F, my nitrification cycle). This is the biological process experience is the opposite, with my fish seeming to that converts toxic (for fish) ammonia (introduced do best when the water is in the low 70s. into the aquarium via fish waste and uneaten food) As is true for most Betta species, Betta into other relatively harmless nitrogen compounds. pulchra is primarily a carnivore. While they will Several species of bacteria are involved in this eat almost any dry or frozen commercial food in conversion. The precise species of bacteria the home aquarium, they much prefer live food; involved are still in question. and live food is necessary to condition them for What is generally agreed upon is that some breeding. As is also true for most Betta species, bacteria convert ammonia (NH3) to nitrite (N02), a Betta pulchra is a powerful jumper. You must chemical still toxic to fish; then other bacteria keep a tight lid on their tank at all times, and watch convert that nitrite to nitrate (NO3) which, for out for jumping whenever you open the lid for freshwater fish, is far less toxic. But, in tanks with feeding or water changes. pH values below 5.5, the nitrogen cycle apparently just stops (whether it’s because the bacteria involved die off at low pH levels, or for other References reasons, is not yet understood). In low pH tanks, 1 ammonia combines with a water molecule to form Tan, H.H. and S.H. Tan 1996 Redescription of ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH). Ammonium the Malaysian fighting fish Betta pugnax hydroxide is approximately 100 times less (Teleostei: Belontiidae), and description of Betta dangerous to freshwater fish than ammonia. So, in pulchra, new species from Peninsular Malaysia. low pH tanks, even though the nitrogen cycle has Raffles Bull. Zool. 44(2):419-434. stopped working, the most toxic form of ammonia 2 is kept at bay. Goldstein, Robert J., The Betta Handbook, Barrons, 2004.

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



n May 1, 2009 at approximately 9:30 AM Central time, a divemaster named Sunshine discovered a juvenile lionfish, Pterois volitans, about two inches in length plus fins and spines, hovering next to a concave piece of dead coral on a dive site called Marilyn’s Cut, just offshore of Little Cayman Island. The fish was living on a coral reef in about thirty feet of water, atop the six thousand feet deep Cayman Trench. I was swimming just behind Sunny when she found the fish and signaled her discovery to me. I did not see what she was so excited about until the fish swam under the coral that appeared to be either the fish’s home or hiding place. The coral was about fourteen inches long, and probably weighed about six or seven pounds. Since I did not immediately see the elusive fish, I did not have an opportunity to photograph it. Sunny used a thin metal rod about eighteen inches long to work the coral and the fish into a large, clear, heavy duty plastic bag, and then she used the rod to push the coral out of the bag, which she immediately took to the surface while Donna and I continued our dive.

the thirty-fifth lionfish captured in the Cayman Islands (the group consists of only three islands). Sunny stated that all fish are captured alive and studied (including DNA testing) by the local marine biology laboratory. Afterwards, most of the fish are euthanized and dissected. Since lionfish have very few predators, and propagate easily in the wild, the general policy of the local scientific community has been to destroy them, though a small number of fish are tagged and released for follow-up study. Sunny claimed that one dissected full-sized Cayman lionfish had more than twenty-five grunt fry in its stomach.

The fish that Sunny captured was placed in a plastic pail where Donna and I inspected it. I never thought to photograph it in the pail until later, when I was formulating this brief article in my mind. Of course by then it was too late! Anyway, I did take a few photos of Sunny capturing the fish. Some of these photos accompany this article. If you look carefully, you can see the fish in the plastic bag. Later, on the boat, Sunny said that the first Cayman Islands’ lionfish was discovered and caught in February of 2008 off Little Cayman. No more were found until December of that same year. The fish that Sunny captured was approximately Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

July 2009


Member Classifieds EQUIPMENT: 3 Rena Filstar XP3 Cannister Filters -- Up to 350 GPH -- $65 each 1 Marineland Cannister Filter C 530 -- 530 GPH -- (used for one month) $125 1 Eheim Pro II 2026 $90 1 Emperor 400 Bio-Wheel HOB Power Filter $40 1 Coralife Turb Twist 18 watt with 3 extra (never used) UV bulbs $100 All nearly new, in original boxes. Call (631) 563-1404 Computers available: Used desktops, laptops, a few Macs. Pricing varies by machine. Contact Dan Radebaugh at 718-458-8437 or 212-957-5300 ext 231. FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED: Back issues of Modern Aquarium, series III (1994 through the present), are available on a first come, first served basis. Most issues are available. The price is fifty cents per copy. Check your collection for any missing issues, or for anything you might want extra copies of. Also, check your annual indexes to find articles written in the past which discuss your current interests. All proceeds go to the GCAS. E-mail your requests to:


July 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

by SUSAN PRIEST his member of the GCAS attends every consists of a Tilapia marie, three albino meeting. Even though I see him/her every bristlenosed plecos, and a four inch redtailed/tiger month, I did not know of her/his attraction to shovelnose (cross) catfish. I love the way this BIG fish. As you will soon learn, the phrase “the catfish moves; seemingly up and down and bigger the better” definitely applies. sideways at the same time. This one will need a * * * really big tank! The tilapia is a gorgeous fish with I have a blue-tailed Australian arowana about bright cherry-red eyes. nine inches long in my twenty gallon tank. I use a In the past I kept a pair of cichlid sponge filter with an Eheim heater in this tank, and managuensis. They were my most memorable I keep the temperature at 80 to 82 degrees. Lighting fish. Someday I would like to have a 500 gallon is provided by a Marineland fluorescent strip light. tank with oscars, arowana, and other big fish. I He (or she) hides behind the sponge filter when would also like to have a blue snakehead and a feeling insecure. She only feeds on bloodworms pirhana. and goldfish. She’s very fast-like a speeding bullet! In conclusion, I would like to thank my past I wonder if this fish will live over 100 years. What and present friends and bosses who gave me the a thought! experience of having a tropical fish tank. Freddy In my thirty gallon tank I have a dragon fish, at Angel Aquarium on Steinway Street in Astoria otherwise known as a was a true mentor to silver arowana. This me. Also, Steve from Suggested Questions fish, only about two Pets Unlimited. I got 3 Please introduce yourself. inches long when I my f i r s t E h e i m 3 Tell us about your favorite aquarium. bought it, is now over canister filter from 3 What was your very first fish? 13 inches long after Ann and Larry at 3 Tell us about your education as a fishkeeper. only seven months, so Coral Aquarium. I 3 Is there someone you think of as a mentor? it will eventually especially want to Tell us about him or her. have to move to a thank my boss, Ron 3 Describe your “Fantasy Fish Tank.” bigger tank. I feed it Sorensen, from 3 If you were a fish, which one would you be? crickets, minnows, Petland Discounts. He 3 Who is your “Hobby Hero?” bloodworms, is my hobby hero. I 3 What fish which you have never kept would goldfish, and food would also like to you like to acquire? sticks. thank everyone at the 3 Describe your biggest fishkeeping “blooper!” Some of my GCAS for the time other fish include a 3 Describe your most memorable fishkeeping they have invested in group of oscars from helping me. experience. Singapore that turn a 3 What changes have you seen in the hobby deep purple-red color during your tenure as a fishkeeper? when they are in Check out the August 3 What advice would you give to a spawning mode, a 2009 issue of Modern beginning fishkeeper? seven-inch pair of Aquarium to find out 3 What are your fishkeeping goals? albino oscars, and a the identity of this - OR write a narrative story pair of jaguar cichlids month’s anonymous (Parachromis fishkeeper. If you managuensis) about have even thought six inches in length. Their color is a deep purple- about doing one yourself, this author might provide silver. the extra inspiration you need. Submit yours to: In my top ten gallon tank I have a black bubble- eyed goldfish that I really love. In the lower ten gallon tank I have a group of young fish that will soon require much bigger tanks. This group


10Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY) Modern

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


Looking through the Photos and captions

Peter Steiner is presented with his Door Prize win by GCAS President Dan Radebaugh.

With that wonderful twinkle in his eyes that lights up our GCAS meetings, award winning author Elliot Oshins thinks up his next humorous article for Modern Aquarium

Jeff Bollbach is given warm words of appreciation from GCAS President Dan Radebaugh following Jeff’s exceptional presentation, A Year in the Fishroom. GCAS Treasurer Jack Traub is thrilled with another successful monthly auction!

Richard Waizman wins First Place and Mario Bengcion wins Third Place in the evening’s Bowl Show.


Karen Ottendorfer enjoys another Grande evening with the GCAS!

Joseph Graffagnino and Carlotti de Jager share an evening of GCAS camaraderie.

July 2009

Longtime fish buddies, Joe Ferdenzi and Horst Gerber share the laughter of dear friends.

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Lens with the GCAS By Claudia Dickinson

Sharon Barnett’s warm laughter and infectious enthusiasm energizes our GCAS meetings. Vince Babino always finds a treasure in the evening’s auction.

Second Place winner in the evening’s Bowl Show, Ed Vukich performs his pro job as our GCAS auctioneer!

LaMonte Brown is delighted with his Door Prize win, presented by GCAS President Dan Radebaugh. (Dan is thinking maybe it is time to go to the gym!)

Bob Hamje is inspired with new ideas to bring home to his own fish after the evening’s presentation.

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Mervyn Bamby is always on the lookout for the next dream West African cichlid to add to his collection.

July 2009


Breeding the Zebra Danio

by William Amely

ne of the easiest species of fish I have ever bred is the zebra danio (Danio rerio, formerly Brachydanio rerio). Even their fry are very hardy and easy to rear. The danios’ torpedo shaped bodies allow these small fish to swim about very rapidly. It is always an entertaining sight to see a group of six or more of these energetic fish moving rapidly back and forth in the aquarium, seemingly playing a game of “tag” with each other. While the information I will provide below focuses on the zebra danio, this technique would also work well with the leopard danio and pearl danio, as well as the black tetra. A two-and-a-half or five-and-a-half gallon aquarium will do fine as a breeding tank. Zebra danios are egg-scatterers, so I recommend lining the bottom of the aquarium with glass marbles. The eggs can then fall between the marbles, preventing the adults from getting to them and eating them. Males are very slender in appearance, while the females are very round in their belly area. In the evening, place at least one ripe (really round) female and two males into the breeding tank.



July 2009

Overnight, they will spawn, and dozens of eggs will be laid scattered about. At normal room temperature, the eggs will hatch in about 24 to 36 hours. The very small fry will be surprisingly hardy, and can be fed fine powdered or flake food if there is no live or frozen food available. They grow rapidly and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. Temperatures between 72 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit are fine. Water changes do not hurt the fry―to the contrary, they will thrive. I normally change about 50% of the water once a week. Zebra danios are fun to watch, and their colors can be striking when they are in peak form. They are a great addition to a community aquarium, where they generally swim in the upper levels of the water column. Give them a try. You won’t be disappointed. Happy Fish Keeping.

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

ACA Convention 2009 The event that we all look forward to, our annual ACA Convention, is almost here!

Register today at! Hosted by the Greater Cincinnati Aquarium Society

July 30th to August 2nd, 2009 Sheraton Cincinnati North Hotel Fairfield Inn & Suites Cincinnati North Hotel It’s all about cichlids, and cichlidophiles. We can barely wait to see you there!

The Babes In The Cichlid Hobby Need You!!! Please support cichlid research and cichlid conservation by bringing along a fish item for the celebrated Babes In The Cichlid Hobby annual silent auction! For more information, contact Pam Chin at ACA Founding Fellow Dr. Paul V. Loiselle and Ptychochromis loisellei Named after ACA Founding Fellow, Dr. Paul V. Loiselle, Ptychochromis loisellei was described by Melanie Stiassny and John Sparks of the American Museum of Natural History in 2006 in honor of Loiselle’s vast achievements and the contributions that he has made in preserving Madagascar’s most endangered vertebrates. Pt. loisellei was discovered by Loiselle in the year 2000 in the Mahanara du Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Nord River of northeastern Madagascar. This is the second cichlid to bear Loiselle’s name, the first being Parachromis loisellei of Central America. A renowned and highly respected ichthyologist and champion of conservation, not only within the ranks of the ACA, but reaching worldwide, Loiselle travels on an annual basis to Madagascar under the Wildlife Conservation Society. His invaluable field research has played a major role in establishing conservation priorities for aquatic habitats in Madagascar as well

July 2009


as the establishment of managed populations of over a dozen threatened Malagasy fish in North America (L. Garibaldi 2001). Associate Curator of Freshwater Fishes at the New York Aquarium for numerous years, Loiselle also recently worked with the Bronx Zoo as a consultant for the Madagascar exhibit, something that we shall all want to see!

The type locality of Ptychochromis loisellei窶付he main channel of the Mahanara du Nord River at the village of Antsirabe-Nord. Photo Credit: Dr. Paul V. Loiselle

A sexually quiescent subadult female Ptychochromis loisellei. Photo Credit: Dr. Paul V. Loiselle

This freshly preserved specimen shows the distinctive wedgeshaped midlateral bar characteristic of sexually quiescent adults of Ptychochromis loisellei. Photo Credit: Dr. Paul V. Loiselle


Hands-on aquarium husbandry will encourage these Maseno High School students to learn more of the environment and the importance of current conservation issues. Any item of support, such as airstones, nets, and tank dテゥcor/shelters, will be an enormous help in making the Lake Victoria CARES Project a success! Photo Credit: Dr. William Ojwang

July 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Join the ACA! Not yet a member? Just what is the ACA? The American Cichlid Association (ACA) is the largest and most distinguished national organization of the cichlid hobby! The ACA has three major objectives: to gather, organize, and disseminate knowledge of the family Cichlidae; to further the conservation of cichlids and their natural habitats; and to promote fellowship amongst the members. Your membership in the ACA entitles you to six issues per year of the official journal, Buntbarsche Bulletin (BB). BB will open your horizons to the experiences of other cichlid enthusiasts, collectors, scientists, and educators, just like yourself, from across the globe, as well as giving you the opportunity to share your stories with others. The ACA Newsletter is sent out quarterly, providing updates of current events of the organization.

Membership includes six issues a year of the official journal of the ACA, Buntbarsche Bulletin!

The ACA online forum offers you a unique chance to discuss all things cichlid with other like minded hobbyists. Here you will find pertinent information and be able to talk one on one, ask questions, and answer the questions of others. Plus, you can view the wide selection of photographs taken by fellow members! The Online Trading Post, located on the ACA forum, in the “members only” portion of the ACA website, offers an up-to-the-minute listing of available cichlids, many home-raised by fellow ACA members. You never know what rare and unusual finds are waiting for you at the ACA Online Trading Post—you may just discover that dream cichlid that you have been searching years for! And, if you do not see it—ask! The ACA Online Trading Post is also a perfect method of selling and dispersing your cichlids to fellow members. Every July the ACA hosts a most fabulous convention not to be missed! It is here that you will witness the most spectacular collection of the finest cichlids to be found. The yearly convention is an action-packed, non-stop weekend filled with worldModern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

renowned speakers, workshops, vendors, raffles, specialized study group meetings and incredible side trips, all culminating in Sunday’s magnificent cichlid auction. Most importantly, you will always find the warmth and fellowship of being amongst friends, fish, and fun! Phil Benes and the Greater Cincinnati Aquarium Society have been working diligently to host the most exceptional convention ever for the year 2009! If you have yet to do so, Phil and his dedicated committee are more than happy to help you to plan for this extraordinary event at the Sheraton Cincinnati North Hotel, on July 30th thru August 2nd 2009 by logging onto the convention website at You may also e-mail: I know I can’t wait to see you in Cincinnati, soon! Your membership in the ACA offers so much more such as participation in international conservation efforts, the Paul V. Loiselle Conservation Fund, the Guy D. Jordan Endowment Fund, ACA C.A.R.E.S., show sanctioning, a speaker program, a club liaison program, special awards, and an up-todate, informative website. As a hobbyist, I’m sure that you have found that reading on your subject is of utmost importance, and putting your theories into practice is the next most important step. For total fulfillment of the hobby, there is nothing equal to being a part of clubs and organizations such as the GCAS and ACA, and the camaraderie of exchanging ideas with others that have a common interest. Like the GCAS, the ACA is a dedicated group of aquarists who are always more than happy to share their varied experiences, talents, and knowledge—regardless of whether you are a beginner or advanced hobbyist. If you have yet to do so, become a part of the ACA by logging onto Go to the membership section where you may join directly online, or you may prefer to print out the membership application and send it to ACA Membership Chair, Marty Ruthkosky, 43081 Bond Court, Sterling Heights, MI 48313. Please feel free to contact me, ACA Ambassadorat-Large and Membership Coordinator, with any questions that you may have during our GCAS meetings or by e-mail at I’m sure you will find becoming involved with such a special group of individuals as rewarding as I have! Until next time… Keep on Enjoying Your Cichlids! Claudia

July 2009


Very Fishy Medicine A series by “The Undergravel Reporter” In spite of popular demand to the contrary, this humor and information column continues. As usual, it does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of the Editor, or of the Greater City Aquarium Society. t one time, swallowing live fish was popular among college students. While I would have thought people are smarter today than they were then, it seems that what is no longer being done for “fun” is still being done in the name of medicine (folk medicine, that is). For the last 162 years, the Goud family in India’s southern city of Hyderabad has been offering a cure for respiratory illnesses, such as asthma. The treatment consists of patients swallowing a live two-inch-long Murrel fish that had a secret herbal mixture stuffed inside its mouth.


A satisfied patient?

There are a number of fish, including species kept by some aquarium hobbyists, that are known to change sex, in response to the lack of a member of the opposite sex within a group. However, scientists are discovering that pollution is also a major factor in sex changes of fish. British scientists have found male fish are taking on female characteristics because of hormones and pollutants discharged into rivers and estuaries. They believe that high levels of estrogen compounds found in the water are due to the widespread use of the contraceptive pill. Sex changes in fish are a concern because, if males take on female characteristics, it will interfere with reproduction and could jeopardize the survival of a species. Last year, the British Environment Agency warned that a third of male fish in English rivers could be changing sex due to female hormones in the water.2 Australian scientists intend to use a new $6 million laboratory to establish whether traces of drugs in the waterways are changing the gender of fish. Research scientist Dr. Anu Kumar said she wanted to see what would happen when native fish were exposed to effluent from waste water treatment plants which contains residues of drugs and personal care products that interfere with hormones. Her laboratory is equipped with the tools she needs to find out whether males start turning into females.3

“Grandpa” the lungfish

photo by Reuters

This live fish travels through the throat, wagging its tail and fins. In the process it negotiates through any phlegm and congestion, and is claimed to provide a 100% cure. Three extra doses of the medicine must be consumed once every 15 days thereafter, with patients following a specified diet. To effect a permanent cure, treatment must be repeated for three consecutive years.1

How often have you asked “how long will that fish live in my aquarium?” Well, the oldest known fish at a public aquarium is called “Granddad.” Granddad came to Chicago’s John G. Shedd Aquarium in 1933. As the world’s oldest living aquarium fish, his age is possibly 80 plus.4

References 1 2 3,22606,25607545-2682,00.html?from=public_rss 4


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

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

GCAS Happenings


A warm welcome back to renewing GCAS members Mervyn Bamby and Mario Bengcion!

Last Month’s Bowl Show Winners: 1 Richard Waizman 2 Ed Vukich 3 Mario Bengcion

Marble Half-Moon Betta Apistogramma cacatuoides Female Pastel Guppy

Unofficial 2009 Bowl Show totals to date: Robert Hamje 17

Mario Bengcion 9 Richard Waizman 6 Ed Vukich 3 Richard Levy 1

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: August 5, 2009 Speaker: None Event: Silent Auction 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 E-mail: 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: September 8, 2009 Speaker: TBA Topic: TBA 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: September 11, 2009 Speaker: None Event: TBA 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:

Long Island Aquarium Society

Next Meeting: September 18, 2009 Speaker: TBA Topic: TBD Meets: 3rd Fridays (except July and August) 8:00pm. Greenhouse Meeting Room, Holtsville Ecology Center, Buckley Road, Holtsville, NY Email: Margaret Peterson - Website:

Next Meeting: September 17, 2009 Speaker: TBA Event: TBA Meets: 8:00 P.M. Lyndhurst Elks Club - 251 Park Ave - Lyndhurst, NJ Contact: NJAS Hotline at (732) 332-1392 e-mail: Website:

Norwalk Aquarium Society

Next Meeting: September 17, 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 E-mail: Website:

Articles submitted for consideration in Modern Aquarium 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 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 Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

July 2009


Fin Fun Uncommon Bettas This month’s Modern Aquarium has an article on Betta pulchra, the “Handsome” or “Beautiful” Betta. There are many other species of bettas. See if you can correctly match the scientific name with the common name of the bettas listed below. Answers next month. Betta species scientific name

Betta species common name

Betta albimarginata

Reddish Dwarf Fighter

Betta channoides

Emerald Betta

Betta coccina

Dusky Betta

Betta enisae

Jealous Betta

Betta fusca

Painted Betta

Betta livida

Wine-Red Betta

Betta picta

One-Spot Betta

Betta rutilans

Whiteseam Fighter

Betta smaragdina

Blue Band Mouthbrooder

Betta unimaculata

Snakehead Fighter

Answer to last month’s Puzzle:

It's Istanbul, not Constantinople

Fish Common name

Fish Scientific name

Current place name

Ceylon combtail

Belontia signata

Sri Lanka

Prior place name Ceylon

Persian blenny

Ecsenius midas


Siamese fighting fish

Betta splendens



Lamprichthys tanganicanus



Tanganyika killifish Sudan squeaker

Synodontis frontosus


Burmese bat catfish

Exostoma labiatum


Zaire lampeye


Hypsopanchax platysternus

July 2009


July 2009


Sudanese Republic Burma

Democratic Republic of Congo


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

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