Modern Aquarium

Page 1



SEPTEMBER 1995 volume II number 7

From the Editor's Desk


t was almost 12 years ago that I first sat in front of a personal computer (PC) and began to find out all the wonderful things that machine could do. It is one of man's inventions that has truly changed the world. The earliest PC's were slow, noisy, expensive and rather unsophisticated. None of that mattered to us. We were prisoners of the first wave of the information revolution, and I've been holding on for dear life since then, trying to keep up with it all. As you probably know from reading some, of my previous writings, when I'm not devoting my time to GCAS, or Modern Aquarium, or my wonderful family, I'm programming computers. So I've been able to gauge the impact of this information revolution first hand. Why, you may ask, am I telling you this? After all, this is a publication for a group of aquarists. And, for the most part, a group of aquansts who tend to favor the "old fashioned" way of doing things. We have almost no members who keep salt water tanks, that new fanglcd sensation, not to mention reef tanks, where high technology equipment abounds. Many of our members keep fish in tanks that are filtered by the good, old box filters powered by air pumps. IVe come across quite a few incandescent light fixtures and even tanks with stainless steel sides. Is new better than old? Is old better than new? The answer to both is a hearty no! Obviously, in order to keep marine fish, either in a fish only tank, or within the confines of a reef tank, new technology is almost a must. However, for keeping and breeding many of the freshwater fish we have, the only real musts are good aquaristic principles. You don't need a state of the art wet-dry filter to breed African cichlids! What you need are the right water conditions (hardness, pH, temperature, etc.), proper nutrition, a compatible pair and the right tank set up. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that technology is bad, or unnecessary. Remember, I make my living thanks to technology. It definitely has its place. And, you

know what, it's coming. More and more, technology will play a part in our hobby. We are starting to see it now in areas such as fish tanks with built in timers for lighting and built in control of heaters. Advances in technology have allowed these controls to be built smaller and smaller. PC technology has advanced so much that in a short while it will be possible to control one's entire house from a PC. Imagine turning the lights in your fish tanks on and off from a computer. Imagine setting the temperature for each tank once, and never having to worry about it again, as long as the PC is running. Everyday tasks such as feeding your fish can be handled by a machine. With the proper sensors and chemicals, pH and hardness as well as ammonia, nitrate and nitrite levels can be monitored and adjusted automatically! Eventually, even water changes will be done by a computer, if so desired. All that will be left for us to do is watch the fish. Of course, none of this will happen tomorrow, but all these scenarios IVe presented could become reality in a short time. Most of the technology exists already. And, despite the possibility of "hands off' fish keeping, it is my guess that our aquaristic knowledge won't go to waste. If anything, I've found that the changes brought about by automation and technology advances still require understanding of the basics. For example, in order to set the pH requirements of a tank for a computer program, it is still necessary to understand pH. So don't feel that any knowledge gained now will go to waste. And, don't fear change. Remember, it wasn't so long ago that people were skeptical about all glass tanks, submersible heaters and fluorescent lights. Here we go with another season starting. I'm looking forward to the continued success of Greater City. In the spring, we are planning to have another one of our tropical fish shows. Believe it or not, it is not too early now to step forward and volunteer to help. These shows, although rewarding, are a lot of work, and everyone's help is needed and appreciated. Plan to free up some time to help us out. You won't be sorry you did. Warren Feuer

The female placed herself perpendicular to the body of one of the males and started nudging at his pelvic area. After doing this for a few seconds she laid approximately 10 eggs, placing them between her ventral (pelvic) fins, which she has clamped together. She then swam around the tank looking for a place to deposit the eggs, with the three males in hot pursuit. They found a nice clean spot on the Amazon sword and she then deposited the sticky eggs. The males passed over the eggs several times and fertilized them. Corydoras aeneus (Albino variety) They all went back to cleaning the glass as well as the leaves of the Amazon. Ten minutes later, DOUG CURTIN she went through the same ritual of nudging the male and catching the eggs between her ventral he Albino variety is probably the most fins and depositing them on the Amazon. popular and sought after of all the This went on for six hours. Eggs were Corydoras catfish. It should certainly on the Amazon and on the back glass directly be called the beautiful catfish. I had four of under the Dynaflow. The them in a 65 gallon tank, which a l s o h e l d ?The Dotia Ctiftin Method of Raisins Micro worms; eggs on the Amazon were directly under the Severums, Leeries, and o verflow of the . :; ; : . v ;i;f" two spawns of Kribs. 1} Formula:: Dynaflow. The water Since there were no f^ivIsDish^ 11 dtameteri-J'- high) li||I|||||| current seems to direct plants I felt the tank was ; Plastic lidsfrom coffee can to fit dish being wasted and :;*:2:pieces-?bf wood 3"::.long, obtained from them to the spot to lay the eggs. Probably the | | | | |, removed all the fish : o!d; window shades,. jS::;|i|::: current keeps the eggs except the four Corys ?«:5;:m«ut^;;Quak)ef|p;at;$ oatmeal I (one female and four :« Packet ;;|if?V4 :oz:::Fieishmani3*s Active Dry clean and the movement stimulates the eggs to males). I placed a 37 hatch. After six hours culture of microworms year old Amazon sword the fish separate and are plant in the center of the looking for food. I gave tank and lined the back of them flake food and more : oatmeal 5 ! minutes --(V4 the tank with long variety white worms. Vallisneria. I was going and 1 cup;;water). : I left them alone to load the tank with ?• Let: cool sand transfer to blender. Add till the next day. Then, I guppies but my brother, yeast . Set blender:ori| "Liquify . * Run a fevyl decided to remove the Don, persuaded me to seconds. Add enough water to give a eggs after a phone hold off and see if the conversation with Joe Corys would spawn ; • Poiir oatmeal mixture^ mo dish.. 'and- a d Ferdenzi, who suggested without the annoyance of starter culture of* :: mieroworms . i Mixtitf i$; : . • v I ; • : II that the Corys might the other fish. So I took : should besjjp- to -.1A ' .;! deeji'le:, prefer their own eggs to out 10 per cent of the ; • Putiin. 2|pieces : of ; wood,* one on stop of :the| The water and replaced it with i;6i|||i Place .covejjon culture. Keep:aMO?i;: white worms. spawning took place at fresh tap water. Then I *s8GJ|| in dunly;s:;iit;;s;ro6rri;: Avoi^ 70°F. I took out Vz fed a nice quantity of :stiniight::li|;his will overheat culture.) gallon of tank water and white worms, which : • -Depending on the||fempef ature, yoti : placed it into a one gallon have:miUion$ of microworms in 2-4idays. catfish love. square plastic tank The next day, I equipped with an airstone Your; Worrns: noticed the three males 3> and a glass cover to keep chasing the female around Rempve top :pjece!b|:wpod5containing;a: good; in the heat. I removed the tank at 100 miles per quantity Of; rnicrowormSi SWith the edge of 'j hour. They were pair:of tweezers or; small knife, scrapg Sff sthe the leaves containing eggs cleaning the leaves on the amount you;feei the ;fry wiUconsurnfi:^d dip: and scraped the eggs off Amazon sword plant, as into water- of fry tank. ; :You can /harvest ;:3 the glass with a single well as the glass under timesladay:;and:the: culture Jwill last:;^:week|; edge razor blade, pushing the eggs off the razor the Dvnaflow filter 150. before you, will have to start a new-culture, blade into the one gallon




JOIN THE FRIENDS OF FISHES ON A C UAH AC ASTE ADVENTURE! Plan on joining Dr. Paul V. Loiselle and the Friends of Fishes in February of 1996, for an exploration of the rivers and dry forest of Costa Rica's sunny Pacific coast. This ten day visit to Guanacaste Province will feature a cruise on the Rio Tempisque, with plenty of opportunities for good fish watching, a stay at historic Santa Rosa National Park, and a chance to fish for the lagunero, Nandopsis dovii, in Laguna Arenal, while experiencing the pyrotechnics of the adjacent Arenal Volcano. A visit to the lush cloud forest of Monte Verde concludes this guided introduction to one of Central America's biodiversity hot spots. The dry forest offers unmatched opportunities to observe a remarkable array of Neotropical birds and animals, while Guanacaste's superb beaches are sure to appeal to travelers who prefer less strenuous forms of recreation! If the idea of leaving the winter behind to encounter Neotropical cichlids in their home waters appeals to you, consider joining the Friends of Fishes on this Costa Rican adventure. It's not too soon to start planning for the vacation experience of a lifetime! For further information, call Friends of Fishes at (212) 289-3605 or address your inquiries to: Friends of Fishes Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation Surf Avenue and West 8th Street Brooklyn, NY 11224

Exchange Issues and Exchange Issues should be mailed to: Mary Ann Bugeia 59-21 157th Street Flushing, NY 11355 Correspondence to Modern Aquarium should be mailed to Warren Feuer 68-61 Yellowstone Boulevard Apt. 406 Forest Hills, NY 11375


SUSAN PRIEST or those of you who have already looked at the photograph and might be inclined not to read any further because you think I don't know what I'm talking about, I DO know that this fish is a MALE. I had him for a while before the distinguishing features showed up, and he has simply refused to give up his name! The first thing I noticed about her was that she was expressing her opinion. She had a definite attitude toward the fish in the tank next to her. Basically, it seemed to be that she would re-arrange its face if she got the chance. I didn't know what kind of fish she was. I was told that she was a female. Most of the others nearby were cichlids, so I asked if she was one also; the answer was no. Could she go into a community? Sure. What pH did she like? Neutral. She wasn't particularly colorful, or distinguished by unusual fins, but the more I watched her, the more interested I became. I learned that she USED to have a boyfriend, but for him it proved to be a "fatal attraction." She was very active, and not interested in hiding; both of these traits appealed to me. By the time she and I left the store, I knew two basic things about her; 1) I enjoyed watching her antics, and 2) her Latin name, which was Cyprinodon nevadensis.

Photo by Susan Priest


I got a phone call from my husband asking if he had gotten any packages. I told him no and that I had bought a fish. He asked what kind and I told him I didn't know yet. Fortunately for all the fish involved, I had the good sense to put her into a bucket, and not into my community tank. A second stroke of good sense (twice in one day !) led me to the fish library. Cyno; Cyprin; Cyrto; Cyprinodon. This can't be right; it says KILLIFISH! Killis are slender-bodied, brightly colored and have angular-shaped fins. The more I read, the more confused I became. She was turning the tables on everything I knew about killifish. Fortunately, I had a recently vacated 5 gallon tank, and I decided to set her up in there. But where to start? I had never prepared a tank with water parameters like these before (see box on next page). Serendipity got me off to a better start than I knew. The smallest substrate material I had was crushed coral. I later learned that that was a good choice. I always keep some aged water available, with 1 tsp. of salt per gallon. I doubled that, added some pH upper, a little Stresscoat, and started adding small amounts of this water to the bucket. The door-bell rang, and it was UPS. I called my husband back. The first word I said to him was MIRROMAX. "Is that the name of the fish?" "No, silly; that's the name on the package you just got." Anyway, before I hung up the phone, I had named my new fish Maxine. As time went by, I learned that not only was HE a pistol, he was smart and very funny. If I come into the room and don't visit him, he splashes until he gets my attention. If he is bored, he chases bubbles. A still photo of Maxine does not do him justice; he is in constant motion. Describing him as alert would be an understatement. He loves to make eye contact. I have no doubt that his idea of "exploring" my finger would be to take a piece out of it. His favorite meal is breakfast. (Very few of the other fish in the house even get breakfast). When I feed him live

It's In The Bag A series by "The Undergravel Reporter"

In spite ofsHipop^lari:demand- to :the?i contrary, thiphumorianc} information•cokimfv continues, *;As usual, it does/ NOT necessarily";;•. represent tht^ Ibpiriions ofi%the : Editor, or of S trie Greater Crty *Aquari u rri Society, illl IP

n the aquarium hobby, as Roseann Roseannadanna might say, "It's always something." Just when you thought that you understood the rules, someone makes a discovery to change everything; and you find out that you've been doing it all wrong all along! The latest such "discovery" is that you should not float the bags of newly acquired fish on the surface of your aquarium. One of the best discussions to date as to why this ages old practice is wrong is in the July, 1995, issue of Freshwater And Marine Aquarium. This is not the first article I've seen on this subject, simply the best one so far. It always seems as though there is only one "right" answer to a question like this one, but I'm not so sure. The practice of floating a bag of newly acquired fish on the surface of the tank into which the fish are to be introduced has been, until very recently, almost universally recommended by experts in the aquarium hobby. The most common reason given for this practice is that, by floating a bag in the tank, the fish suffer less shock from temperature differences between the water in the bag and the water in the new tank. As the bag floats on the water, the water in the bag will be slowly affected by the tank water temperature, and by the time the fish are released, the "shock" experienced by a rapid temperature change will be minimized or eliminated. Not mentioned in the July, 1995, FAMA article, but present in some of the other articles I've read discussing this same subject, is the question of whether floating has more of a value when the water into which the fish are to be introduced is cooler than the temperature of the water in their bag. (The theory here being that a sudden "cold shower" is more of a shock than a sudden "warm bath.")



What makes this FAMA article most interesting is the reason given for why the practice of floating fish bags is bad. This article states that toxic gasses in the bag can normally escape through a plastic bag, but cannot escape when that bag is surrounded by water. The buildup of these toxic gasses subjects the fish to much greater stress, thereby weakening them and making them susceptible to disease. Well, I'm still not convinced. First of all, I FLOAT my bags of fish, I don't attach weights to anchor them down! So, at least part of the bag is on the surface of (and outside of) the tank water, thereby allowing the gasses to escape. Second, I OPEN my bags immediately to put a small quantity of tank water in the bag. Once I open the bag the toxic gasses (if any) should escape much faster through the opening than they would though a sealed plastic bag. I will admit, however, that in the few cases where fish "escaped" into the tank, those fish did at least as well as fish that remained in the bag for the duration of the "treatment." I remember in particular when one rather valuable fish "escaped" into the tank almost immediately upon my opening the bag. I worried about that fish for days, needlessly as it turned out. A betta breeder of my acquaintance also seems to have great success with 100% water changes on a regular basis, with a zero "adjustment" period to get the fish accustomed to their new (but same room temperature) water. Maybe this is an issue where there is no absolute right or wrong answer. If your fish have been left in bags for a long time, perhaps it's better for them get into fresh water as soon as possible. If there is a noticeable difference in temperature between the bag and the tank water, perhaps a combination of floating (with an opened bag) and frequent introduction of samples of than water into the bag is best. If floating fish bags was such a bad practice, then you'd think that someone would have noticed long before now that aquarists were engaging in wholesale fish annihilation. While I'll admit to possibly contributing to the early demise of a fish or two in my years of fishkeeping (whether by accident, ignorance, laziness, or some combination thereof), I don't think any of my "fish floats" did lasting harm. Read the FAMA article for yourself and decide. There is an experiment suggested in the article. I won't attempt it because it may harm fish and, as I've said before, I didn't go into this hobby to kill fish — I won't even cull or use feeder fish. If you try this experiment, write an article for modern AQUARIUM, and let us all know the results.


book itself shows care and attention to detail. This book is a visual knockout. While I have over a half dozen "species" tanks myself, I've always found community tanks to be more interesting. However, it is difficult to put together different fish that are compatible with A Series On Books For The Hobbyist each other and whose needs (ideal temperature, ALEXANDER A. PRIEST ideal water hardness and water acidity/alkalinity) are also similar. This book tells you how to do here are many times that I wished I had it, and shows you the results. more room for, and more time to care However, I do have a few reservations. for, additional tanks of fish. Usually In the suggested "southeast Asia Back-water" those times follow a visit to a pet store or a visit tank, Tiger Barbs (Barbus tetrazona), which are to the fish room of another hobbyist. If this notorious fin nippers, are recommended in a tank happens to you, don't buy this book. Not with a male and two female Siamese Fighting because the book is bad. On the contrary, this Fish (Betta splendens), and several different book is so well conceived and beautiful that it is gouramis. Now, the very thin, long, dangling downright addictive. ventral fins of the gourami, as well as the The book starts off innocently enough flowing fins of the domestic male betta, make looking similar to many "fish books" for the these relatively slow moving and graceful fish hobbyist. By this I mean that it describes the perfect targets for the origins of the practice fin nipping barbs. TheComplete Aquarium of keeping ornamental While, in theory, barbs : ^?sb|si^er;^:jSe^;;::|il;V'';'••:; fish, discusses fish kept in large enough j)orliitg Kintlersley Publishing, Inc. anatomy, classification, groups will harass only evolution, environment, each other, I can attest from my own experience biology, reproduction, and water quality that a betta (even a shorter finned female) will (including the nitrogen cycle). If this were all not fare well in a tank with tiger barbs. I'm also that this book did, it would be useful for the a bit unsure about another suggestion—putting a beginner, but not tremendously helpful for the Paradise Fish (Macropodus opercularis) in this more advanced aquarist. However, what makes same tank as bettas and gouramis. this book truly unique (and highly addictive) is in The book is soft covered with glossy its descriptions of how to set up different types pages. For a list price of $16.95, I would have of tanks to simulate different ecosystems. liked to see a hard cover, or at least one which Environments such as "Amazon Rain Forest was a bit more sturdy. Stream," "Amazon Rain Forest Acid Pool," I liked the author's view of fishkeeping. "Zaire River Rapids," "Southeast Asia At one point, he states "The golden rule of fish Back-water," "Southeast Asia River," "Papua breeding is that fish break all the rules. This New Guinea Sandy River," "Central America means that you must accept generalizations as Rocky Lake," "East Africa Rocky Lake," among being at least partially error prone." many others, are discussed. For each The book concludes with chapters on environment, this book discusses water water chemistry, filtration, heating and lighting, chemistry, equipment needed, and suggests plants, feeding, breeding, and diseases. It has an plants and fish (with excellent thumb-nailed appendix with capsule discussions of things such discussions of each fish). Each finished tank is as water acidity, carbon dioxide, the nitrogen displayed in full color across two 9" wide pages. cycle, hardness, trace elements, etc. It has a Fresh, brackish and salt (including reef) tanks glossary and an index, all within 192 pages. are all discussed and displayed. O.K., forget what I wrote at the start of After only a quick look at the finished this review. Buy this book. But don't blame me tank, I want to set up an "East Africa Mangrove if it makes you want to add more, and more, and Swamp" tank, although the "Central America still more tanks. Coastal Stream" tank is probably easier to maintain and seems almost as interesting — but This jcolumn i is ?open to y any one i; irts GC A§i;; not quite as interesting as the "West Africa who: wants to review ;any: book or magazine! Floodplain Swamp" tank. See what I mean? related to the aquarium hobby. This book makes each of these tanks look too easy and too beautiful. The layout and overall appearance of the



CAMEO PET SIOP TROPICAL FISH AQUARIUM Specializing in Tropical Fish and Aquarium Supplies Large Selection of Aquatic Planis Knowledgeable Staff Same Location Since 1947(718)



115-23 Jamaica Avenue Richmond Hill, NY 11418



Fin Fun Animal Crackers The common names of several freshwater fish include the names of terrestrial animals. See how many of these you can identify by filling in the missing letters below. (The scientific names are to the right):




D Gudgeon


_ U


B .


Brachygobius xanthozona


Brachydanio rerio



Capoeta tetrazona





Cichla ocellaris


M .


K_ Cichlid L

_ _E

Ophieleotris aporos



.N G

F .


Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus



Gambusia affonis


. E __ F .


Acanthopsis choirorhynchus


Lepisosteus tristoechus

. Fish

Pantodon buchholzi

SOLUTION TO JUNE. 1995. PUZZLE: School's Out Schooling SNAKEHEAD







/ /















Not Schooling


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