Modern Aquarium

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volume I number 2/3


omething moved in the dark area created by the overhanging, flat, rocky outcrop. Well, I wasn't going to put my hand in there. No sir!! I learned from my SCUBA diving days never to put your hand in a small cave (something like a Moray Eel may not want to let you pull it back out) nor touch any unusual looking rock — it just might suddenly move and stab your hand with poison venom from a Rock fish's fins. O.K., O.K., so this is fresh water, but old habits die slowly. Instead, I reached into my inflated float bag and brought out a chunk of pumpernickel bread (which doesn't disintegrate too quickly under water). From somewhere behind me, 4 Green Sunfish darted past my arm and were now nibbling at the bread in my fingers. They were young and about 2 inches long, and I was surprised at how tame they were. In moments, several Blue Gills also dashed out to snatch some morsels. Now, the whole darkened overhang seemed to quiver with movement from more fish. Some just peeked out. Others gave a fast start, felt the sunlight and did a quick about face back into the darkness. At last, they lost their shyness and began to make fast sorties to grab bits of food and streak back to their dark protection. Only the Sunfish dared stay out in the open to feed. They'd peer into my face mask, look me in the eyes, nip a piece at my fingertips, back off a few inches and finish munching. By this time, a lot of crumbs had fallen and littered the bottom in front of the cave but they went untouched and ignored by the fish. To my amazement, the little critters could be seen in the semi-darkness elbowing and shouldering each other —jockeying for the best position to make a run at my fingers holding the


food. It was like a game of "Dare" to them. Either that or some other fascination, like the time colorful fish in the Caribbean were attracted to Shirl's painted toenails. And now, to give her credit, it was Shirl who located this fish hangout. Me? I'm supposed to be the big fish Muck-A-Muck in the family. Oh, well, at least I can brag about seeing the 12" fish in deeper water. Did I say 12"? I meant 24"! Hey, it's my story, ain't it? Anyway, there was a specie too fast and shy to describe, other than it looked black. While another whose identity has eluded me had the body shape of a minnow, pale yellow with black specks, clear double dorsal fins and a caudal fin that had a black crescent trimmed with white at the edge. I don't think it's a Yellow Perch because, although the Perch has a double dorsal, it has 6 or 7 vertical bars instead of speckles and the Perch's body shape is much more streamlined. (Any ideas?) Well, here it is September 22 (the first day of fall) and I'm still snorkeling. Of course, I'm the only one. The locals must think I'm nuts. All I know is that the water temperature is reported to be 76 degrees every day on the forecast, and, even though I'm still looking for the spot where they measure it, I'll keep going in the water until my goose bumps have goose bumps. We have the lake practically to ourselves. Since our arrival 11 days ago, I've gotten a tan you wouldn't believe. If I crossed the border I don't think they'd let me back. So, what is this place and where is it? The lake is called Elephant Butte. It's 43 miles long and formed by a dam on the Rio Grande at a place called Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico. (That's really their names, would I kid you?). Geronimo used to bring his warriors here to recuperate in the hot springs. The town is built over them. Every so often, a geyser shoots a house into the sky and over the dam. (Oh see, that you believe, but the names of the towns you don't!). Actually, the place is pretty nice. The Rio Grande circles the town and runs South for another 125 miles where it becomes the Mexican border at El Paso, Texas. The hot springs are really hot—about 107 degrees. They're supposed to be healthy and



gibbiceps - a magnificent loricarid!

THE STANDARD BEARER And now we come to the ubiquitous pleco that we all know so well. The Hypostomus plecostomus is the only fish that has the right to be called a pleco. None of the other latecomers really have claim to the name, but the retail industry has seen fit to call most Loricarids plecos of one sort or another. How does this fish rate as an algae eater? Pretty well, as a matter of fact( after all, it is the original algae eater of choice ). The Hypostomus does not pursue algae with the fervor of a bushy nose or Otocinclus, but it is still an effective algae muncher. When I refer to fervor, I'm describing the desire to rid a tank of every single bit of algae, wherever it may be. I have not noticed that ability or desire in the Hypostomus species. They will clean algae off rocks, attach themselves to a tank's glass to get at algae, but these fish haven't shown me that desire to remove all algae immediately or really get at the tough spots that the higher rated fish have shown.

ZUCCHINI CAT (Isorhinoloricaria festae ) : Here's a fish that grows as big as its name. The zucchini cat gets very big, and accordingly has an appetite to match. One of its favorite foods is zucchini, hence the name. It is also an decent algae eater, as its appetite for vegetable food causes it to search out plant matter of any sort, including algae. The zucchini cat is also a quite accomplished plant shredder, and the only plants I was able to successfully keep in any tank with a zucchini cat were the annubias species. Any thing else was quickly and completely consumed. After three years of residence, my zucchini cat outgrew his 30 gallon home and was transferred to a 75 gallon tank. Now about 15 inches long, it happily resides in a friend's 90 gallon lank. Like the Hypostomus, this fish does not have the algae eating fervor of some of it's higher rated peers.

THE FAROWELLA GANG: There are several genera in this gang. Among them are Stuisoma, Farlowella, Rineloricaria, Loricaria. etc. All share the characteristic of a long, thin, suck-like body and are among the strangest looking sucker mouths around. While not great algae eaters, they will definitely munch on algae. IVe seen these guys actually munching en the dreaded hair algae in my tanks. Once a mated pair is found, they make good parents, with the male providing a majority, if not all of the parental care.

THE PRETENDERS : These are the Loricarids that can't be bothered with the chore of eating algae. Mostly quite attractive and expensive, it's as if they are aware of their pedigree. Included in this category also, are the vampire pleco( Leporacanthictis galaxias ), the zebra pleco( Hypancistrus zebra), the gold nugget (Hypostomus sp. ) and the mango pleco ( Parancistns sp. ). Also in this category arc the members of the Pseudacanthicus genera, the leopardus. spinosus and hystrix. These are all quite attractive fish and usually on the pricey side, with the leopardus and hystrix, both usually referred to as red devil or spiny red devil pleco the most expensive. Pseudacanihicus spinosus, referred to as the

THE CLOWNS : These cats, members of the Peckoltia genera, are commonly called clown plecos, because of their bold striping. They are also good, not great algae eaters, but have a definite advantage of being quite colorful and staying small. My Peckoltia vitatus has been seen on several occasions munching away at hair algae growing on the heater bracket of the 5 1/2 gallon tank it lives in.

spiny pleco is a beautiful and relatively peaceful fish that can get large over time. While all three members of the Pseudacanthicus genera need green matter in their diet, they are not great algae eaters. Into this category go the Panaques, negrolineatus( royal pleco ) and suttoni( blue-eyed pleco ). My blue eyed pleco showed no interest at all in eating algae, allowing it to proliferate over all the rocks in his tank. I resolved the algae problem by adding a bushy nose pleco who quickly disposed of all the algae. Unfortunately, the blue eyed pleco is a rather aggressive fish, very intolerant of other sucker mouths in its tank and the bushy nose was harassed by the blue eyed pleco until I moved the bushy nose to another tank.

7) Make the beginner feel hopelessly behind and unable to catch up. If a beginner tells you of a successful spawning, counter with a tale of a much greater success of your own. If you are told of an unsuccessful spawning, always suggest that the problem must be the hobbyist, since everyone knows "those fish" (whichever they happen to be) always spawn like mad. When you give your advice, always remind the person you are speaking to that your advice is based upon your many vast years of experience in the hobby (even if you are conveying a fact that you just read in a magazine the night before). Above all else, brag. 8) Focus on accomplishments. Make it clear that just caring for and watching fish is simply not enough to make one a hobbyist. Stress that one must enter contests and collect trophies and ribbons. Point out that it is essential to have successful spawnings (even when one has no way to care for additional fish and no guarantee that the fry can be placed with other hobbyists) and that the important thing is to accumulate breeders certificates and "points." In general, stress that fish are only a means to achieving personal fame and recognition. Explain that owning a rare fish (even if one doesn't have the time, expertise, or equipment to properly care for it) is more important than enjoying a tank of common neon tetras, black mollies, brick swords and silver dollars for their color and beauty alone. Ask "how many tanks do you have?" and "how much did that fish cost?" Always imply that more is better and that "most" is best of all. Unless these guidelines are followed, more and more rank amateurs will be drawn to the hobby. Some will come for reasons as trivial as a desire to preserve, protect, care for, learn from, and observe interesting and often beautiful living beings that share this planet with us. These new beginners don't care about contests, prizes, standings, or having the most, costliest, or best fish or tank, or being admired by other hobbyists. Obviously, such persons just don't understand. If they are encouraged to enter the hobby, who knows what will happen to the


Established Order? So, do your part to keep fish keeping elite! If this article has angered or annoyed youGood. It was supposed to. Now, please read it again. Now read it while standing before a mirror.

BIG BOYS DIANNE SPELLMAN ll my life IVe been fascinated by tiny things: doll houses with minuscule furnishings; ceramic figurines the size of sub-atomic particles; cities and towns of tiny buildings and the teensy-est of "N" gauge trains. Considering this obsession one would conclude that my fish keeping interests would follow suit. However, I am only human and, thus, can scoff in the face of logic and do as I please. I will admit that a tank load of neon tetras , killies or dwarf cichlids can be beautiful and I do keep these fish and enjoy observing and caring for them. But the really big thrill for me is an all-consuming passion for the Big Boys. Call them what you will - Big Bruisers. Tank Busters, Gravel Gobblers - they have rightfully earned these nicknames. They are messy, pugnacious, nasty, not at all adverse to biting the hand that feeds them, but they are also breathtakingly beautiful, their social and antisocial behavior is fascinating to study and their mating displays and subsequent care and raising of the fry is one of nature's miracles. I am, of course, referring to the gigunda Heros or



Aquansts persist in dreaming that these will clean the water without ever being cleaned themselves.


Slimy creatures of low intelligence commonly found on floors, behind aquariums, in filters and in dealers' shops under signs marked •Rare - $25 per pair1. Often causes divorces, murders and riots (particularly at aquarium society meetings).


Organic materials worth roughly 1/10 of what you pay for them. Probably of little nutritional value for fish.


Electrical devices used in aquaria for cooking fish.


Causes many white spots on tropical fish and, eventually, in aquarist's hair. Usually brought on by chilling (what the dealer says you did when you got your new fish home). Many remedies will eradicate ich, along with a few of your favorite fish.


A remedy for fish diseases that works by turning your water so blue that you can no longer see that your fish are sick.


Determined by taking the number of fish now in one of your tanks and dividing by three.


What aquarists get when they see that new pair of Discus the dealer just got in. Often can be caused by merely glancing at the price tag.


What everyone should keep newly purchased fish in until their diseases have progressed far enough to be contagious when introduced into the other tanks.



The only things in my tanks that never seem to die, and spawn continuously.


A device used to wipe up water spilled around the aquarium.


An injury sustained by fish immediately prior to shows.


Refers to the hardness of keeping fish in it


What guppies seem to do.


What I have to do to keep my fish from starving.

ROLL OF HONOR Gene Baiocco Dan Carson Charles Elzer Herb Fogal

Ben Haus Emma Haus Paul Hahnel Jack Oliva

As Of February 1,1994 Herman Rabenau Marcia Repanes Nick Repanes Don Sanford

PRESIDENTS (Post 1945) 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962


Elliott Whiteway Elliott Whiteway Elliott Whiteway Elliott Whiteway Robert Greene Robert Greene Robert Maybeck Robert Maybeck Leonard Meyer Leonard Meyer Sam Estro Sam Estro Leonard Meyer Gene Baiocco Gene Baiocco Gene Baiocco Gene Baiocco

1963 Gene Baiocco 1964 Gene Baiocco 1965 Andrew Fazio 1966 Charles Elzer 1967-68 Charles Elzer 1968-69 Walter Hubel 1969-70 Walter Hubel 1970-71 Dave Williams 1971-72 Dave Williams 1972-73 Dan Carson 1973-74 Herb Fogal 1974-75 Herb Fogal 1975-76 Richard Hoey 1976-77 Ted Tura 1977-78 Gene Baiocco 1978-79 Louis Kromm 1979-80 Don Sanford

1980-81 1981-82 1982-83 1983-84 1984-85 1985-86 1986-87 1987-88 1988-89 1989-90 1990-91 1991-92 1992-93 1993-94

Don Sanford Brian Kelly Brian Kelly Brian Kelly Jack Oliva Jack Oliva Joe Ferdenzi Joe Ferdenzi Joe Ferdenzi Joe Ferdenzi Joe Ferdenzi Joe Ferdenzi Joe Ferdenzi Joe Ferdenzi