Modern Aquarium

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f the earliest :<ish kept in the hobby, the Paradise Fish, Macropodus opercu/aris, has world-wide appeal, as evidenced by our cover photo of a postage stamp from Hungary, Read more ?::about this fascinating ?fish?s in This: Way T6 Paradise ift;: this issue, : :

GREATER crry -AQUARIUM SOCIETY Board Members President , . , . . . , , ^Joseph ferdenzi Vice-President


Vol. II, No. 8

October, 1995

FEATURES Editor's Desk


iiipl Your First Aquarium (Gouramis for Beginners)



. . . . . . . . . Sen Haus

Treasurer , ... -

Emma Haus

Corres. Secretary . . . . . .Greg Wuest Recording Secretary

2" The Education of a Betta Breeder (Spawning Betta splendens)


. , . PatiPtccione

|;l|ll?::s "Members At Large • | | | | 1111 MaryiAmtBugeia Joe Bugj^Sy Oan Curtin Doug Curtin Mark Soberman <Jack Oliva $teve Sagona Vincent Sileo: Warren:-Feuer • ; . - •

|p| This Way To Paradise |p? (About Paradise Fish)


Catfish Chronicles


Take Me To Your Liter


G.C.A.S. Happenings


Fin Fun (Puzzle Page)


Committee Chaifs Membership . . . . . . . .;. Susan Priest iPublicity . . . . . . . . B e r n a r d Harrrgan MODERN AOUARIUIVI Editor . , . Warren Feuer Assistant Editor . . . . Alexander Priest Art Director iStephan Zander Advertising Mgr. . . . . Mark Soberman •Editorial Assistants . . . . Jason Kerher Pat Piccione Executive Editor ... .Joseph Ferdenzi : Printing By Postal Press

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. Copyright 1995 by the Greater City Aquarium Society Inc., a not-for-profit New York State corporation. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form of the articles, illustrations or photographs appearing in this magazine is prohibited without express written prior permission. Unless other rights have been retained by the author, and noted in the article or photograph, the Greater City Aquarium Society generally grants noncommercial reproduction rights to other recognized aquarium societies and naturalist organizations upon request. The Greater City Aquarium Society meets every month, except during July and August. Meetings are the first Wednesday of the month and begin at 8:00 P.M. Meetings are held at the Queens Botanical Gardens. For more information, contact Warren Feuer at (718) 793-8724.

From the Editor's Desk


hange is inevitable. It is a necessary component of life. Just think about what would happen if you did not change the water in your tanks. A similar staleness occurs with anything that does not undergo change. The editorial staff at Modern Aquarium has attempted to limit our changes to progress with the magazine, and for the most part I feel we've been successful, evolving rather than revolutionizing. All that is about to change. Our esteemed and award winning Art Director, Stephan Zander, is taking a leave of absence. Like most of us, Stef has a life beyond GCAS and Modern Aquarium, and recently he has found himself with less and less time to devote to the magazine. Not being the type to do a job halfway, Stef will step out of the ring for now. I can't say enough about Stef s contributions. He defined the look and feel of Modern Aquarium. It is clearly the visual aspect of the magazine that puts it at the front of the pack among club publications. If you need a reminder of Stef s talents, take a look at the September, 1994 issue and check out my "Not Just Your Average House Cat" article. The treatment given to that article, is, in my mind, one of the main reasons it won a North East Council Award. Apparently, others agree with me, because in last year's FAAS competition, Stephan won a second place award in the "Best Changing Cover" category. One of the gifts I've been given as Editor of Modern Aquarium is a pool of truly talented people to work with. I've been able to dive into that pool and "draft" Jason Kerner to fill in for Stef. Jason has been quietly assisting us for some time now. For example, it was Jason who did all the work that resulted in the color center fold in our June, 1995 issue. I'm really excited about Jason joining the team officially and I know he'll do a great job. I cannot neglect to mention the fact that, as usual, Bernie Harrigan has stepped up to the plate and offered to help out even more than he already

does. As the news of Stefs decision began to circulate through the Modern Aquarium grape vine, Bernie was gracious enough to offer his assistance to Jason with his new duties. I, being the brilliant Editor that I am, accepted Bernie's offer. I look forward to seeing the results of this "Dynamic Duo's" efforts. We also have a new columnist this month. Charley Sabatino, who is a catfish enthusiast like myself, will be writing a monthly column, "Catfish Chronicles." As you probably know, catfish are one of the most popular groups of fish among aquarists, with new species showing up on an almost daily basis. Charley combines his great knowledge with a refreshing enthusiasm for the hobby. In addition, Charley will gladly answer any questions that you might have regarding catfish. You can send them to me and I'll forward them to him. As a catfish lover myself, I'm really happy to have Charley as a part of GCAS and Modern Aquarium. Another new member of GCAS, Louise Glass, has contributed to this month's issue. Louise responded to our ad in Aquarium Fish Magazine and, as we were talking, I found out that she is a writer. One thing led to another and her article in this issue will be the first of many I hope. This month's issue features a special section focusing on Anabantoids. Our Assistant Editor Al Priest is a devotee of Anabantoids and made this issue happen. All I can say is "Good WorkAl!" Speaking of good work, I'd be remiss in my duty if I didn't give a special note of thanks to Mary Anne Bugeia, who has been sending Modern Aquarium to all our exchange societies and receiving their publications. My tireless Assistant Editor has volunteered to write an exhange column and therefore we've decided to have the exchanges go through him for the time being. Thanks so much for all your help, Mary Anne. I think it's great that two of our newest members are contributing to Modern Aquarium so quickly. Having a larger selection of articles to choose from makes creating the magazine each month that much easier. The rest of you out there are not excused from writing, and I'm still optimistic that more of you will contribute in the coming months. Warren Feuer

Gouramis. It opened up a whole new world for me., we have reached the pinnacle of this article. My recommendation to every newcomer who wants colorful and hardy fish that can survive under even the worst conditions that can befall a fish is to purchase a tank and fill it with members of the family called Anabantoids. These colorful fish are equipped with an amazing organ called a labyrinth, hence many people tend to call Gouramis the Labyrinth fishes. The labyrinth is located behind the gills of every Gourami ever born. It enables the fish to breath atmospheric air from the surface. It's like having a set of extra gills! I was amazed watching the colorful and varied Gouramis come to the surface of their aquarium to take a gulp of air just as I did! Now try to imagine I was all of nine years old at the time and was almost ready to chuck the hobby as I watched another black Molly contract the shimmies. What kept me in it all these years was the purchase of my first pair of Dwarf Gouramis. From then on there was no stopping me! I reached a point where I found my home was filled with tanks and I even tried my hand at breeding Lake Malawi Cichlids. I was successful, much to my family's dismay; because everywhere one looked were tanks and fish! If not for that early purchase of the most beautiful Dwarf Gouramis my nine year old eyes had ever seen I would probably be raising Maltese Terriers and writing for a canine publication! Before I describe a few of the popular Gouramis I would like to state that they breed in a most unusual way. When you have reached that intermediate stage of the hobby when you feel compelled to duplicate your pets, you will find breeding Gouramis is one fascinating aspect of keeping them, but it is not recommended for the beginner. I'll just quickly say the male builds a nest of bubbles that floats on the surface of the water and here the eggs are deposited. Then he skillfully seduces and lures the female under his makeshift bubblenest and if she is ready she will release her eggs which in turn are fertilized by her mate. The fry unfortunately are not the easiest in the world to raise so this article does not recommend any attempts at breeding by the new aquarist. Gouramis, with one exception, can live in temperatures as low as sixty five degrees and as high as eighty six and show no ill effects. They can live without filtration for a goodly length of time if one wanted to torture the little guys, but you get my drift.

Now that you know how hardy the Gouramis are let me mention a few popular ones found in most aquarium shops. Besides their hardiness they are one of the most colorful families of fish in the hobby and even a jaded aquarist such as myself enjoys a relaxing community tank filled with Gouramis and a few bewhiskered Corydorus catfish which make terrible scavengers but are too cute too resist. Here are some names of a few of the most popular Gouramis for your first aquarium. In the two inch category....the dwarf varieties are extremely colorful, but run a bit on the shy side, so provide them with a lot of foliage. The popular golden colored Honey Gourami (Colisa chuna), has a bright yellow dorsal fin. It makes a beautiful addition to your tank. The Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia), is covered with bright blue and red stripes reminding one of a miniature American flag! Unfortunately, as with a lot of the different species, the female is a plain dull colored fish. The Kissing Gourami comes in two color varieties. The albino form is the most commonly seen in pet shops. It is not a true albino, possessing a black eye but its body is a light pinkish shade in color. The wild form of the kisser is green and can grow in its native habitat up to a foot in length. I had the opportunity to see some of these large green kissers and was amazed they were even the same species as the small three inch pink fish I have raised. In the larger category but still remaining peaceful despite their size is the Three Spot Blue Gourami (Trichogaster trichopterus). This old favorite has been a mainstay in the aquarium hobby since....forever. It is a relatively powder blue color but possesses two dark spots, the eye being the third, and it is extremely hardy. An exceptionally lovely specimen is the Pearl Gourami (Trichogaster leeri). It is covered in a mosaic-like, almost lacy pattern of grayish blue and like the smaller dwarf Gouramis can be a little shy at times. Just provide these beauties with a lot of or otherwise and they will feel comfortable enough to stay out in the open and please you, their owner. There are other members of this fascinating family of fishes but I feel this was a good starter list for whoever wants to jump on the Gourami band wagon. I'm sure most of you have seen a lone male Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens), living out its life cycle in a small miniature glass orb none the worse for wear. Live specimens of

Paradise Fish (Macropodus opercularis), an old timer in the world of labyrinth fish are rarely, if ever, seen these days. Years ago you could find live ones squirming in wet mud-filled rice paddies in the far corners of Asia. Now those are hardy fish! The aforementioned Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens), has been bred to have long flowing fins and comes in every shade of the rainbow. You can color coordinate it to the decor of your room! Multiple females, which are short finned and drab in appearance compared to their flashy male counterparts, can be safely housed together with your other fish. The list of Anabantoids to choose from has enough variety to make most aquarists happy. There are only two rules to remember when keeping these super hardy fish: never keep two male Siamese Fighting Fish together, for they will fight to the death, and when keeping the adorable Kissing Gouramis (Helestoma temmincki), which actually seem to be puckering up their rubbery lips to kiss another kisser or kiss the leaves of your Amazon Sword plant, please keep the temperature at eighty to eighty

four degrees. It has been my experience that if chilled, they are very prone to infestation of the parasite Ichthyophthirius, known to the trade as ick. Yes there are many tried and true fish medications on the market to cure ick but after luckily living through only one bad bout of the white spot disease, I say... .why look for trouble? The fish are omnivorous and will eat almost anything, requiring no special diets, no unusual water conditions. Just purchase your favorite species, sit back, relax, and watch them swim through a forest of live or plastic plants. I tend to like both real and artificial ones. The only nemesis of the plant world I have faced is the microscopic algae but that's another article and one I'd prefer not writing! I don't want to be ostracized by the Fancy Guppy Breeders of America, but to this aquarist's mind, the best fish for your first aquarium are Gouramis. Enough said. Happy fish keeping!

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

THE EDUCATION OF A BETTA BREEDER ALEXANDER A. PRIEST his is a blow-by-blow account of the breeding of a Bella splendens, the so-called "Siamese Fighting Fish." But, even more than that, it's an account of what my wife, Susan, and I did not do (or did differently) because of our past experiences. One of the best ways to learn is by making mistakes. Hopefully, you can also learn by (and thus avoid) those same mistakes by reading this article. If you've tried to breed bettas in the past and failed — join the club. We've easily had more failures than successes and this is far from uncommon. As I describe our preparations for this successful breeding, I'll contrast our actions with what we've tried in the past. However, there is still a certain amount of good old fashioned involved in any breeding. We selected a 10 gallon tank this time, instead of the 2Vz gallon tank we usually used, and filled it half full. While we had setup, some success with the 21A gallon we found that water quality can deteriorate much more rapidly in a smaller tank. Also, as the fry start to grow, they can all be kept in a larger tank up until the males start to show sexual differentiation, at which point each male should be removed to a separate bowl, with the females being allowed to stay together. With a smaller tank, if the breeding is of any appreciable size (and we've had breedings approaching 200 fry), the immature fish can outgrow a 2Vi gallon tank rather rapidly. A larger tank also gives both the male and female more room to maneuver. In the tank, we placed a heater to bring the water temperature up to 80 °F (but not over 82°F.) Based on the literature, this is at the lower end of what is generally recommended for a betta breeding. In our experience, this is more than adequate. Once, when we had what we thought was a successful spawning during a Summer, all the fry died. The simple reason (we discovered later) was that the tank, while not


overheated according to the available literature, was a bit too warm for the fry, whose metabolism was speeded up by the higher temperature, causing them to absorb their yolk-sacks before they were ready or able to ingest food by mouth. The tank also had two plastic plants (weighted down by marbles glued to the base with aquarium sealant). One live Java moss plant was added after the spawning. The plants were arranged so that they, in effect, formed a sort of "wall" which divided the tank into two unequal partitions, the smaller partition being about one quarter the length of the tank. The fish could, of course, swim through these plants, but the male, being both larger and much fuller finned, could not do so as easily as the female. This provided the female with a means of escaping the male, when his attentions proved to be too much. In the larger section of the breeding tank, we placed one half of a white styrofoam cup, dome or rounded side up. Most male bettas readily accept these cups as ideal places to build their bubble nests. We've tried both natural and artificial plants, (one source suggested the use of yellow leaf plants) but the styrofoam cup seems to be accepted most readily. In the center of the tank, we placed a clear hurricane lamp sleeve. This sleeve will house the female for a while and will be allowed to remain in the tank during the spawning. In addition to allowing the male and female to adjust to each other (and get "into the mood"), the empty sleeve will also serve to provide a female who is being pursued by an overeager male with an additional barrier, along with the artificial plants, behind which she can flee. No filter or airstone is used at this point, and no gravel of any kind is used. Under the bare bottom glass tank is a relatively dark surface. All of these are to assist the male in finding and retrieving any eggs (which are white)

that may fall to the bottom of the tank during tank up to 82°F. On Sunday, we lifted the spawning. hurricane lamp sleeve and released the female The water we used was New York City into the tank. While our male, "Fang" was tap water, with a natural pH of 7.0 (neutral), interested, our "Apricot" female was really which was allowed to age for two weeks. playing hard to get. So, on Monday morning we Normally, we age our water from 24 to 48 hours tried something suggested in several articles for water changes. Fortunately, our tap water is we've read. We introduced a second female into also rather "soft" — about 6°DH. (A reading of the lamp sleeve. 15°DH and over is considered "hard" water.) It may or may not have been the second Softer water is known to be more conducive to female (Jealousy? Competition?), but by Monday breeding in bettas. afternoon, Ms. Apricot, after numerous "false Up to now, I haven't discussed the stars starts," approached Mr. Fang in a head of our show: Fang and Apricot. The male was downward position (indicating submission and a young single-tail of the coloration sometimes readiness to breed) and spawning began in referred to as "marble." He had a primarily emest. Mr. Fang proved to be quite expert in white body, with red streaks on his fins. My catching the eggs. We did not see any instance wife named him "Fang" because the red streaks in which an egg fell to the tank floor (but he on the white body looked like blood stains carefully searched the floor, nonetheless). The (shades of "Dracula"). The female was a number of eggs in this spawning were less than somewhat older, single-tail, and of an we had seen in other spawnings, but otherwise apricot/peach color. ^^^^^^^^^^^^ this spawning was The pale color of these Naturally, the male immediately tried to uneventful. two fish as well as the Both females get to her. Soon, he realized that she age difference were removed (generally speaking, an was "look but don't touch" (at least (remember the other older female with a for now) and he began to spend time female was still in the younger male usually building his bubble nest. hurricane lamp sleeve) results in more male and the male was left to bettas) are the main reasons we selected these tend the nest by Monday evening. The light was two as potential mates. In spite of this, the left on the tank both day and night. We did this actual spawning resulted in far more females so that the male could find and retrieve any eggs than males. (Remember, I did say that luck was that dropped from the bubble nest. By 9 AM on still a factor.) Wednesday some movement could be detected in Each fish was fed a diet of spirulina the bubble nest and little "wigglers" could be flakes, freeze dried bloodworms and live adult seen moving about the nest. The male carefully brine shrimp to condition them. In the past, we monitored their activity and caught any which used live bloodworms and live tubifex worms. "fell" to the tank floor. He would then "spit" While nearly all of the literature recommends them back up into the nest. Not once could we live worms to condition bettas prior to spawning, see any evidence that the male was eating any of we have had quite a few otherwise healthy bettas the newly hatched fry, even though they were sicken and even die within hours of a live worm considerably smaller than the adult brine shrimp feeding. We have learned that live adult brine he was used to eating, and even though he had shrimp seem to be tolerated much better, while not eaten since before this spawning process still doing an excellent job of conditioning the started (another reason to be certain your fish are fish. well nourished before mating them). On a Thursday, the male was introduced On Thursday the fry were swimming into the tank first and given a day to establish horizontally. So, exactly a week since we put this tank as his territory. On Friday, the female the male into the tank, we removed him to a was placed into the hurricane lamp sleeve. separate bowl and a well deserved and generous Naturally, the male immediately tried to get to portion of brine shrimp. Interestingly enough, her. Soon, he realized that she was "look but even though he must have been starving, it took don't touch" (at least for now) and he began to him a while to realize that it was O.K. to eat spend time building his bubble nest. As we those things that were swimming in front of his expected, he was attracted to the styrofoam cup eyes. But, once he came to that realization, the half floating in the water. He built a small nest brine shrimp were devoured in near record time. both under and surrounding the cup. On We now added live Java Moss from a Saturday, we adjusted the heater to bring the previously established tank. We got that Java

going, started a day or so apart (so that when flake food before water changes so as to prevent one batch runs out, the second is ready). We've fouling their bowls with uneaten food. Floating also learned that if our hatch rates are too low, food, such as Hikari brand "Micro Pellets," are (and we've checked the salt solution with an also readily accepted. hydrometer to be 1.024) it's time to throw out What did we get from a while/red the brine shrimp eggs we were using and get a marble male and an apricot female? Not what fresh supply. we expected, but we certainly weren't We try to avoid overfeeding (the water disappointed. The first male we removed from should not remain cloudy for more than a half the fry tank had a white, almost silver, body hour after feeding). Frequent small feedings are with a pointed caudal tail and blue fins. The the rule. Frequent partial water changes (often next male had a pink body with red fins, an using that turkey almost classic baster) are also used. What did we get from a while/red "Cambodian." Our We put all extracted marble male and an apricot female? females are mostly water into a bowl for Not what we expected, but we Cambodian, yet none so examination to be sure certainly weren't disappointed. far look like their no fry were removed in ^^••"^^•^••^^^ mother. There are also error. several small fry in the tank which are almost Within four months, some of the fry are dwarfed by their siblings. If I didn't know showing definite male characteristics, and it's better, I'd think that they were from a different, time to remove those and place them into more recent, mating. These fry may produce separate bowls. We'll leave the females together more males, but it's too early to tell. unless we see an especially unusual or interesting This is what we've learned so far and specimen which we might consider mating. She how it has helped us. I hope this will help you would also be removed into a separate bowl. to avoid our mistakes. We're still learning. From our past experience, we have Right now I have two tanks of Betta imbellis I learned not to judge the quality of the fry too hope to breed. Maybe that will be the subject of quickly. The mating I am describing here was a future article. of two single-tailed bettas. (A double-tail is a betta whose tail, or caudal, fin is naturally split into two relatively equal halves) In our experience, many double-tailed fry apparently take longer before they are able to coordinate their fins as well as single-tailed fry. In one instance, it looked as if we had an entire batch of deformed fry, as we viewed an entire bottom of a tank covered with fry that seemed unable to swim properly. We found these double-tailed fry soon developed the strength and skill to use their fuller finnage and we were rewarded with some Exchange Issues of the most gracefully swimming fish should be mailed to: Alexander A. Priest imaginable. Since double-tail is a recessive trait, 1558 McDonald Street, Bronx, NY 10461-22081 it is possible for two single-tailed bettas to produce some double tailed fry, if each of the Correspondence to Modern Aquarium parents carries the double-tail trait gene. So should be mailed to: Warren Feuer, 68-61 Yellowstone Blvd, apt. 406 unless you're certain that the parents do not have Forest Hills, NY 11375 the double-tail gene, don't be too quick to cull out a fry that seems to be having a hard time getting off the bottom of the tank to swim (unless, of course, the fry is obviously deformed). As the fry develop, they are gradually brought over to "adult" food. While most any flake food will be accepted by adult bettas, they have a hard time picking up flakes that have sunk to the bottom of their bowls (bettas being top and surface feeders). So, we generally feed

Exchange Issues and



Macropodus opercularis Paradise Fish Native to: Korea, Southern China, Taiwan Length: 4 inches gH: 5.8 to 8.0

Color: Most have alternating red and blue vertical stripes Social: Species tank; very aggressive. This fish is a jumper! Interesting fact: These fish will not eat plants but hardy vegetation is called for because of vigorous courtship

T Macropodus concolor

Macropodus chinensis Round-Tailed Paradise Fish Native to: Eastern China, Korea, Vietnam Length: 3 inches 2H: 6.0 to 7.5

Color: Orange tail with dark vertical stripes on body Social: Pairs are best; can be kept singly with other fish the same size or larger. Interesting fact: Considered rare. Due to the political climate, none of these fish were exported from China for seven decades (1913-1983). Since then they have become available on a limited basis. These fish can over-winter at 40째F.


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