Modern Aquarium

Page 1



NOVEMBER 1995 volume II number 9


AQUARIUM ONTHE COVER T h $:::::::;'"Srjh«a||;f ic till t is h^ ftarnmeus is s beautiful and challenging .; ::|<jr:.: a idetaiteds description : of how : to :|>reed ; them and : hatch their eggs; jread ° Of ill nstant Fish-ancJ: : Seia; Monkey^' in this:- is sue. : ;: '•;•: -I ; : ; .'.:' :: : |l:;A:f ;:;; ;. •;s|lli$| :::x Photo :i>y£eriny jvlackowiak .; ?

Series III

Vol. II, No. 9

November, 1995

FEATURES Editor's Desk


President's Message


A Wonder Down Under


How To Grow Really Big Fish


When Is A Catfish Not A Catfish?


Of Instant Fish And Sea Monkeys


Wet Leaves


The Importance Of Feeling Guilty


The Fish Lunatic Strikes Again


G.C.A.S. Happenings


Fin Fun (Puzzle Page)


GREATER CtTY AOAJARIUM SOCIETY Soard Mern bers President . . . -v'i'J !. . . ;iiJoseph Ferdenzi :; Vice-Presiderrt

. , . ^ :.:s;: . . . 8eri:Haus

Treasurer . , , , . , , , . , . , Emma Haus . ; Carres. Secretary | | | | | | | | Greg ::Wuesfe; Recording Secretary IP • |


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Members At Large ' Illisl Mary Ann Bugeia ||;:;:g:i:Joe::-8U^ia;Don Curtin. s -i Illliiilill IP: • !:&oug Curtia , Steve Sagona

Vincent Sileo

Corn mitteB Chairs:

Vv Harrigan|

MODERN AQUARIUM Editor . ,v':;: ;',".* , . ,:» : r^ .Warren Feuers ; Assistant Editor .. ,;;; Atexandei < » , . Stejphan . . . . ;:::;|y|ark Soberman|| Editorial Assistants... . V .Jason kernerss •• :::;S:;.;:|'W;*'- ''• v: ; 1 Pat Picciones Executive Editor . ..,,,.,.:.. 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.

President's Message JOSEPH FERDENZI

he October 1995 issue of Aquarium Fish Magazine published "Rating the Loricariids" by Warren Feuer, our Modern Aquarium Editor and one of its superstar writers. "Rating the Loricariids" was originally published in the Feb/March 1994 issue of Modern Aquarium. That made it the third article from Modern Aquarium to be published in a national magazine; the other two were John Moran's "Stick Fish: Breeding Farlowellas," which appeared in the June 1995 issue of Aquarium Fish Magazine (and which was originally published in the June 1994 issue of Modern Aquarium), and my "A Spawning of Herichthys haitiensis," which was featured in the July 1995 edition of Tropical Fish Hobbyist (and which was originally published in the January 1994 issue of Modern Aquarium). Believe me, that is quite an achievement! Series II (1969 to 1974) of Modern Aquarium, a landmark series in club publications, achieved that feat only once, when Freshwater And Marine Aquarium republished Nick and Marcia Repanes' article "Spawning The Albino Corydoras" from the March 1972 issue of Modern Aquarium, in one of its early numbers, February 1978 (Vol. I No. 2). In my last President's Message (September '95), I noted that Modern Aquarium had finished second in the Federation of American Aquarium Societies (FAAS) balloting for Best Publication (for those that publish more than six issues per year). Well, I failed to mention that Aquatica. the excellent publication of the Brooklyn Aquarium Society, finished third. As I previously mentioned, since the publication that finished first was that of the Calgary Aquarium Society, a Canadian club, that meant that Greater City and Brooklyn had the top two U.S. finishers. The significance of that event lies in the fact that both Greater City and Brooklyn are New York City clubs. Indeed, we are the only two general aquarium societies


located in N.Y.C. Wow! That's the aquaristic equivalent of having the New York Rangers and the New York Knicks winning championships in the same year. What all of this means is that New York City continues to be a "hotbed" of aquarium activity. That is all together fitting since New York City was home to the very first American aquarium society and to many pioneering aquarists. I think it notable, for example, that Paul Hahnel, the legendary fancy guppy breeder of the 1950's, 60's, and early 70's was a resident of Bronx County in N.Y.C. Well, there is more than a bit of historical continuity in the fact that Steve Kwartler, who was our featured speaker last month, is the current President of the International Fancy Guppy Association and a champion guppy breeder who also lives in Bronx County. (Must be that Bronx water!) Speaking of "hotbeds" of activity, GCAS continues to be that. This season (1995-6) alone we have once again exhibited at the annual fair of the Queens County Farm Museum, where our exhibit is seen by thousands, we will have participated in the Arbor Day activities at the Queens Botanical Garden, we will have staged our 74th Anniversary Tropical Fish Show in April '96, and we have donated funds to worthwhile endeavors such as Dr. Paul Loiselle's upcoming expedition to study the freshwater fishes of Madagascar. (Dr. Loiselle is Curator of Freshwater Fishes at the New York Aquarium.) And these are only the highlights. But, please, remember that participation in these events by members, other than those on the Board of Directors, is eagerly sought. These events are not put on by elves who magically appear at night and cobble everything together. It takes the creativity and sweat of actual human beings to pull them off. Please, ask me what you can do to help.

A Wonder Down Under FRANK F. FINCKEN III ustralia, a continent of wonders, is now home for another. The name of this new wonder is the Sydney Aquarium. On a recent trip, my wife and I were fortunate enough to visit this newly opened living museum. It is a must stop for all aquarists who are lucky enough to visit Sydney. The Aquarium is located in downtown Sydney in the Darling Harbour section. A part of town going through a rebirth like that of Baltimore's inner harbor. It is easily accessed by monorail, water taxi, ferry, or foot. The tickets were $9.00 Australian (about $6.50 US). Upon entering you are free to go as you please, but a complete tour is laid out in a circuit with small side loops. The aquarium is quite large with over 300 tanks ranging from 20L tanks up to 200,000 gallon tanks, but as I will describe there is more to this museum than fish in tanks. The focus is on the varied water ecosystems found in the continent of Australia. These are quite varied, from the small seasonal mud puddles of the Outback, to the vast Great Barrier Reef. The first exhibit you encounter is the special displays area. The exhibit on display when we visited was two 2000 gallon reef tanks contrasting the visible differences between a healthy, and an endangered reef. Other displays in this area showed the dangers of recreational diving on the reefs, as well as those presented by commercial boating. Museum curators told us these displays are changed two to three times a year, and topics are picked based on current topical issues of Australia. Other recent displays discussed the rainforest, and Outback fish biologies Australia is a continent where an overwhelming majority of the land mass is arid desert. The museum is broken into small sections each based upon a particular habitat with many individual aquariums showing species specific to those habitats. One of these major areas is of course the Great Barrier Reef. Its display contains about 30 100 - 500 gallon species tanks showing the smallest members of the reef community up to some of the medium sized


sharks. A small disappointment was the absence of the Great White Shark, but it is not hard to imagine that there is probably no tank big enough to hold one short of the Pacific. Another major area is the fresh water systems of the Darling and Murray rivers. These rivers dominate the less arid areas of the continent. The displays show more than the river fish. There are also displays of swamp, estuary and seashore ecosystems. The swamp display was a large 30 by 70 foot area that housed alligators, turtles, and small swamp denizens other than fish. This area could be viewed from either ground level or through an elevated walkway. The estuary area shows the transitional fishes surviving in varying degrees of brackish water. The seashore area contains a touch tank where an 'instructor' explained the various life forms' biology such as the starfish, sea urchins and various mollusks. The highlight of the visit for my wife and I were the two underwater exhibits. Both tanks were in the 200,000 gallon range, and had revolving walkways that ferried the viewers through glass tunnels. The first tank contained the Sydney harbor. Surprisingly fishes Sydney harbor is quite healthy as this tank used water from the harbour. The exhibit contained over 50 species of fish. This exhibit was well laid out showing life among a wreck, and harbour pilings. Even better was the second exhibit which was a coral reef ecosystem showing many of the species found in the Great Barrier Reef. Each trip around the walkway we discovered new niches, and hiding places. The exhibit included Moray eels, several species of sharks, and fish as small as damsels. In all over 80 species were on display; some familiar to reef tank enthusiasts, and some not. Expect to spend about two hours on a quick tour, but you could spend over four hours on a more detailed visit especially if you spend some added time with the 'instructors' or make several trips around the underwater reef tank. The location of the aquarium makes it easy to fold into any tour of downtown Sydney. G'day Mates.

CHOOSE THE PROPER HOME While this might seem obvious, you would be surprised how many mis-conceptions there are regarding fish size and the tanks they can be kept in. Let me say right off the bat that fish will not grow to the size of the tank they are kept in. If you read the popular aquarist magazines you know how many questions are written regarding this subject. I am very often asked that question and I'm sure many of my fellow aquarists are sick and tired of addressing this subject. You cannot keep a fish such as an Oscar in a 10 gallon tank. It will barely fit in a 30 or 55 gallon tank. After several years, they just get too large. If kept in an undersized tank for too long, the water quality will become so poor that the fish will simply die. You wouldn't keep your growing child locked up in a closet and expect it to grow up healthily, would you? Well, the same logic applies here.

your hungry fish will gulp the new food down. Mark never fed his Learius pictus anything but Jumbo-Min and it was certainly none the worst for it. FILTER CORRECTLY If you are going to go the distance and get the right fish, right tank and right food, make sure you use enough filtration. I don't think there is any one filter that can be used to handle large fish/large tanks, despite what advertisers claim. I'd recommend a combination of several filters. For example, in my 75 gallon tank I have an under gravel filter with four power heads and a Whisper 5 power filter. Canister filters are a good choice for large tanks, as are the wet/dry filters often used for marine tanks. Read up on the different filter types and don't be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you keep your filters in proper running order to keep water quality high.

FEED CORRECTLY To many people, large fish, especially cichlids, means feeder goldfish. Some people even seem to enjoy watching those poor goldfish get devoured. Believe it or not, whether I have large fish that I feed goldfish to is one of the most frequently asked questions I get when people find out that I keep fish as a hobby. Let

Filially, we come to the area that separates the men from the boys (no off erne intended to our lady aquarists!) . M^M • '..',; '(%*. I."-;;;.:: 1*.

Believe it or not, most fish will learn to eat : just about anjthing you:fÂŁed;tltieniv ::

Finally, we come to the area that separates the men from the boys (no offense intended to our lady aquarists!) Big fish mean a lot of waste and require the proper maintenance, regardless of tank size. Of course, if you have one or two large fish in a 500 gallon tank, you can probably relax a bit on your maintenance. Otherwise, pay attention. Proper maintenance involves water changes, gravel cleaning and making sure that all those filters you're using are in their best running order. In other words, changed and cleaned on a regular basis. Keeping big fish can be a lot of fun, once you accept the fact that they are your responsibility, no matter how large they get. If you can provide a good home for this type of fish and want to, then by all means go right ahead. At the very least, you'll be able to show them off to all your visitors, and you can be sure they won't be ignored!

me say that I do not have any such fish and that I would not feed them goldfish if I did. I find that practice cruel, unhealthy and unnecessary. Why I find this cruel should be fairly obvious. As far as unhealthy is concerned; all you need to do is observe the tanks where most feeder goldfish are kept in prior to purchase and you'll see what I mean. These fish are kept in crowded, filthy tanks, usually along with many dead fish, perfect breeding grounds for diseases galore. Do you want your precious pets to feed on them? Believe it or not, most fish will learn to eat just about anything you feed them. Consider using Tetra Jumbo-Min or Hikari Food Sticks or Sinking Carnivore Pellets. What's that you say, your precious pet will only eat goldfish? And whose fault do you think that is? Try not feeding your "little baby" for a week to ten days (don't worry, fish can survive up to two weeks without eating, especially our well fed charges) and then offer one of the above. In most cases,


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and 3" respectively, are active both day and night (diurnal) and are placid midswimming schoolers. They will eat small fish, so choose tankmates wisely. Pimelodidae: Many of the pimelodids such as the Angelicus Cat (Pimelodus pictus) are day active and quite handsome. But cats of this family can get quite large (5"-5'!) and are efficient predators. Siluridae: The many types of Asian Glass cats (Kryptopterus bicirrhis, et. al.) are spread throughout Southeast Asia. They range in maximum size from 3"-6" (SL) and are peaceful schooling, midwater swimmers. Most are fine with all but the smallest tankmates (especially K. bichurrhus).

Ariidae: I hesitate to even mention the Columbian Shark Cat (Ariusjordani). Its habitat ranges from Mexico to Columbia, and is almost always seen in pet stores as a juvenile. Initially, this fish is a fairly attractive, schooling and day active specimen. However, as it grows to its adult size of 14" (SL), it becomes an efficient predator. Furthermore, while juveniles are generally seen in fresh to brackish water, it requires a more marine environment as it reaches adulthood. So, the next time you are in a pet store, don't ignore a tank just because it is labeled 'XXXX Catfish'. You might be passing up a worthwhile and exciting addition to your aquarium. Good luck and much success!!!

References Axelrod, Dr. Herbert, A., "Atlas of Freshwater Aquarium Fishes", 6th Edition, TFH Pub., 1991. Ferris, Dr. Carl, "Catfish in the Aquarium", Tetra Press, 1991. Riehl, Dr. Rudiger, Baensch, Hans A.."Aquarium Atlas Volume I", Baensch Pub., 1982. Riehl, Dr. Rudiger, Baensch, Hans A./Aquarium Atlas Volume II", Baensch Pub., 1993. Sands, David, "A Fishkeeper's Guide to African and Asian Catfish", Tetra Press, 1986.

Exchange Issues and Exchange Issues should be mailed to: Alexander A. Priest 1558 McDonald Street Bronx, NY 10461-2208 Correspondence to Modern Aquarium should be mailed to Warren Feuer 68-61 Yellowstone Boulevard Apt. 406 Forest Hills, NY 11375

C orrespondence 10

OF INSTANT FISH AND SEA MONKEYS JOSEPH FERDENZI ot withstanding the title, this article is actually about breeding Cynolebias flammeus, a relatively new, and beautiful, South American annual killifish. Breeding C. flammeus involves both concepts" instant fish" and "sea monkeys." But first, I want to talk to you about the last two.


Yes, those f abl ed "sea monkeys" were jyst plam old? brine shrimp ~ and I've y?t;s to see one ••;;.;. act :? like? a monkey t; (although the people who ordered (them may have felt like a monkey afterwards) . Do you remember those comic book ads for "sea monkeys"? Pictured in the ads were these creatures with almost human faces, who performed tricks, that you would raise in sea water. I never ordered them (guess I was too busy reading the comics, or too cheap). But I know people (actually they were just kids like me at the time — now that I am a parent, I know the difference) who did order those sea monkey kits. What did they get? A measly portion of brine shrimp eggs is what they received. Yes, those fabled "sea monkeys" were just plain old brine shrimp — and I've yet to see one act like a monkey (although the people who ordered them may have felt like a monkey afterwards). Over the years, I have also seen ads for various versions of "instant fish" kits. What are those all about? Well, it turns out that the "instant fish" are usually some common species of Nothobranchius (such as guentheri), a genus of African annual killifish. The promise of "instant fish," as it turns out, is fulfilled by sending you a small quantity of Nothobranchius eggs that you hatch out to get "instant" fry ~ you know, tiny, itsy-bitsy fish. This must come as quite a shock to the uninformed and naive buyers who probably expect their "instant fish" to materialize at, to say the least, the size of "Charlie the Tuna." Now let me tell you a more pleasing story involving "instant fish" and "sea monkeys. "


While my article is specifically about my experience with C. flammeus, the general parameters for breeding them apply to most Cynolebias, the largest genus of annual killifish in South America. However, there are some significant exceptions, and therefore, if you wish to learn more about this subject, I strongly recommend that you join the American Killifish Association (c\ Ronald Coleman, 903 Merrifield Place, Mishawaka, IN 46544). I obtained my adult C. flammeus from local killifish hobbyists in the New York City area (again, you can find the local club in your area through the A.K.A.). All told, my spawning group consisted of two males and three females. I recommend at least a trio of fish (one male, two females), but a pair will do. The breeding set-up was as follows. A 10-gallon aquarium was filled with cold tap-water to within an inch or two of the top. (The tap-water in my area is approximately neutral, a pH of 7.0.) The water was allowed to age and warm up to a temperature of around 75 °F (room temperature in my fish room — anywhere in low or mid 70's is fine). Filtration consisted of one box filter filled with inert ceramic tubes (sold under various brand names). A few snails (small Ramshorns) were also thrown in for clean up duty. The tank was otherwise bare. The tank is tightly covered (killifish are notorious jumpers). Lighting is immaterial. The real important part of the set-up is the breeding medium. This consists of using peat moss in a wide-mouth jar or a drum bowl of '/z gallon size or smaller. The container is filled half-way with peat moss - that is, half-way with water soaked peat moss. The easiest way I know of doing this is to buy peat pellets that are sold under the name "Jiffy-7" that can be purchased in gardening supply stores. These peat pellets actually look like brown checker playing pieces, or small disks, wrapped in a plastic mesh. These pellets are made of a very fine peat, with no chemical (fertilizer) additives. I use about four of these pellets in my breeding jar (a 32 oz.

wide mouth pickle jar, cleaned and soaked in baking soda). I fill the jar about % full of tap water, and drop in my pellets, after I have removed the plastic mesh. The pellets absorb the water, and the peat slowly begins to sink. While this is going on, the jar is kept outside the tank. The breeding jar is only placed in the aquarium after all the peat has sunk (you can assist the sinking process by swirling it about with a stick). Then, place the jar in the center of the bare aquarium. Do this gently - you do not want a plume of peat moss to be dispersed into the tank (just messy, not harmful). Now, your tank is ready for the C. flammeus (hopefully, you've been fattening them up with live worms and brine shrimp, although frozen foods are O.K. too). While it is preferable to keep males and females separated till breeding time, if you are short of space, keep them in their breeding tank till you are ready with the peat moss. ;:;|ihe "riiins" have come; ttliei water?: has sunk (iown to the eggs, new dirt is in the pond, and insects have come to "life." After the breeding jar and the fish have been together for 2-3 weeks, I remove the jar, and put in a new one. (During that 2-3 week period, I've been sinking my four peat pellets in a new jar.) In this way, you can gather multiple batches of eggs. The C. flammeus, of course, have been diving into the peat to lay their eggs. Leaving peat in water too long is bad for the eggs, anyway (so I've heard or read). Next, pour the contents of the jar into a fine mesh net. Squeeze the peat gently, once or twice. We want it damp, as opposed to sogging wet. The peat is then placed in an airtight glass jar, plastic container, or plastic bag. Some containers, and most bags, leak air. Therefore, I place my primary container or bag into a second airtight container (the secondary container can be made of metal or wood). It is very important to label your container with the name of the species and the date you collected the peat. The storage time varies with the species, but since, for most, it is quite long, if you do not label and your memory fails you, you will be at a decided disadvantage when it becomes time to try to hatch the eggs. The temperature at which the eggs are kept affects their incubation rate; the higher the temperature, the faster the incubation rate. I kept my container of eggs at room temperature


(70-75째F.), on the floor under a fish tank rack. The C. flammeus eggs were collected on 12/17/94. The incubation periods for Cynolebias eggs kept at the above indicated temperatures varies, but 3 months generally represents the low end and 6 months the high end. C. flammeus is on the high end. (Again, I strongly suggest that anyone interested in breeding annual killifish join the A.K.A. and\or read books on the subject.) Imagine waiting six months! Yes, as in all other facets of the aquarium hobby, patience is a virtue. next part is simply amazing. If all goes well, within 24 hours; ; a tank that previously looked lite it just had "mud" in it is now full of "instant fish." Finally, on 6/18/95 (how appropriate that day happened to be Father's Day), I placed the six-month aged peat in a four gallon aquarium, % filled with aged tap-water. (Any tank from one gallon to ten gallons will do. With the latter, you only fill it half way.) Provide no aeration at this point, and put a cover on it (filled up that carbon dioxide). Break up half a fresh peat pellet, and sprinkle that into the tank (a "trick" taught me by my killi friend, Dan Katz). Got some microworms (vinegar eels, etc.)? Throw in a dab of that. You get the picture: the "rains" have come, the water has sunk down to the eggs, new dirt is in the pond, and insects have come to "life." The next part is simply amazing. If all goes well, within 24 hours, a tank that previously looked like it just had "mud" in it is now full of "instant fish." In my case, it looked like a hundred fry! It is truly an incredible sight when you consider that these eggs have been lying around for six months. Now, notice that I said "If all goes well." Sometimes, you only get a few fry, or none at all. This has happened to me and just about every other killi hobbyist I know. Persevere, and be patient. Sometimes the first wetting of the peat doesn't work due to a number of factors. Dry the peat again, wait a month, then re-wet it. You may get fry the second, or even the third, time. Assuming you get fry, the next step is to feed them. Fortunately, Cynolebias fry are rather large at birth (as is true of most annual killifish). You can start them off with newly hatched brine shrimp: "sea monkeys" to feed your "instant fish." Feed the fish the day they





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cycle is covered by a couple of sentences on the page titled "Choosing Your Fish." "A community warm water tank," on page 38, gives a good overview of a completed aquarium. The only thing I would question here is putting Rosy Barbs together with Guppies. I A Series On Books For The Hobbyist liked the section on adding plants on page 22, cleaning the tank on page 31, and the "Growing SUSAN PRIEST Fish" on page 42. The two page section on "Theme Tanks" is much too advanced a concept ere are a few of the things I do and for this book. don't remember about my first A symbol representing a parent and aquarium. It was a ten gallon tank. It child together tells the child to "ask a grownup." was located on a windowsill and above a It shows up to tell the child to ask for help with radiator. SOME of the fish it contained were: electrical equipment, pH and nitrite testing, and Corys, "Pop-Eye" Goldfish, and Guppies. I "blanching" lettuce. This feature could have don't remember any plants. I do remember a been used to better advantage. corner filter, but I don't remember cleaning it. Such advice as "First buy two fish to I remember algae, and pondering over how to live at the bottom of the tank. Then buy two dispose of the dead fish. I don't remember a fish to live at the middle of the tank. Finally syphon, or a book. It was 30 years before I buy two fish to live at tried again. the top" (page 25) is ASPCA Pet Care Guides For Kids — FISH It occurred to totally useless. In more me some time ago that A Practical Guide T6 Caring For Your Fish than one place, the ' : -. : : ; -: W. • • by Mai-kl Evans ' '• V.; I ,.-'•:". ' :": a worthwhile child is told to plug in Published by: Dorling Kindersley contribution to the Wet the heater or filter, but Leaves column would not to turn it on yet. In my experience, plugging be a discussion of a fish care book written for these items in is the same as turning them on. children. I thought that I could choose among The sections on "Things You Will them, or that I could possibly cover a couple of Need" and "Setting Up Your Fish Tank," are different books. I didn't even think of the quite good. There is a lot of practical possibility that I wouldn't be able to find one! information presented in a well organized way. My search lead me to many pet and book stores, The girl who is "setting up" is clearly much some with large children's departments. I came older than seven. I liked the suggestion on page up with some story books about fish, and 21 that the child draw their own background considered settling for one of these. I even scene. This book would have the child progress enlisted my aunt, who is a librarian in a school. from cold water to warm water fish. This seems It took me a while, but I found this title at a to make sense, and thankfully there is no store called Pet Nosh, located in Hartsdale, NY. mention of goldfish bowls. Although some of the poorer aspects of I wish I could whole-heartedly this book caught my attention early on, it does recommend this book. It is hard covered and have a lot to recommend it, not the least of has color photos on each of its 44 pages. These which is that it was the only one I could find. It features probably justify the $9.95 price tag. On covers a lot of ground; some it does well, and the back cover it says that it will "Engage and some not so well. It would be greatly enhanced inform readers ages 7 and up." I think a child by a glossary. The best advice in the book is in would need to be somewhat older to be able to the note to parents at the end of the Forward, follow most of the directions. If you are going which was written by the President of the to "engage and inform" a child, then you also ASPCA "Don't let your child keep fish unless have a responsibility to offer them the next step; you are sure that your family has the time and a successful fishkeeping experience. resources to care for them properly for the whole Every page with photos of fish has of their lives." combinations which could not possibly coexist in This: column is open to anyone: :-in GC AS nature, much less in an aquarium. For example, who wants to review any book or magazine page 12 has photos of a goldfish, a guppy, a related to the aquarium hobby. salmon, and a Rift Lake cichlid. In several places there are photos of saltwater fish, and their care is not addressed at all. The nitrogen



NOTICE The organization known as FACE (Federation of American Catfish Enthusiasts) is undergoing a badly needed reorganization. Efforts are currently underway by a wide ranging group of aquarists in both the United States and Canada to resurrect this group. The reorganization team is interested in making contact with two groups of aquarists: 1) Those who are interested in catfishes and the study thereof, but who were not previously connected with FACE; and 2) Those who had previously joined the organization, but have had little or no contact from it. If such "members" will forward a copy of their cancelled check, or a copy of their membership card to the address below, they will be automatically tenured into the reformed organization. Catfishes are one of the most interesting and important groups of aquarium fishes, and it is time for an organization to seriously address this area. For information, and/or to be added to the mailing list please contact: Lee Finley 150 North Road Pascoag, Rl 02859 Phone - 401-568-0371 FAX - 401-568-1561


The Importance of Feeling Guilty A series by "The Undergravel Reporter"

In spite :of popular derriand ';to the: contrary;; thf$ riumor ar}d informationf. continues. As;usual, it does ; riece$$ari!y represent;^ the* ;s of the • : Editor^ or bf : " the i <3reater:Ctty Aquarium Society.

hy do we keep fish? In the very first issue of Modern Aquarium in this current series, our Editor attempted to address this question. But, once we have decided (for whatever reason or reasons) to keep fish, what is it that keeps us going? Is it love, hate, pride, curiosity? Perhaps, a bit of each. Yet, one thing I have found to be an almost universal trait among aquarists is guilt. Guilt can be a good thing to have. Recently, certain trials of accused murderers and terrorists have caught the public's attention. When I speak of "guilt" among aquarists, I am not speaking of it in this legalistic manner. What I mean is that for many (perhaps most) of us, water changes are not done according to a recommended schedule. Oh, when we first started out (and had maybe one or two 10 or 20 gallon tanks), we may have had a regular schedule. But how many aquarists, in the hobby for more than, say five years, and with more than five tanks, are still holding to a rigid schedule? And should we? After a while, we discover that many fish are a lot tougher than we thought. I've accidentally poured tap water that did not have a chance to age into a small tank with fish. After a few minutes, I realized my error and poured (accidentally, again because of my undue haste to correct my first error) about three times the recommended amount of a dechlorinating water conditioner. While I expected a tank of dead (or at least chlorine bleached) fish, all the fish survived for quite some time after that. On another occasion, I forgot to turn a filter back on after a water change. A day later, when I discovered my error and started the filter up, I could detect no signs of stress or distress in any of the fish. (Admittedly, the tank was not crowded; it was a well-established tank with good biological balance, and there were live plants and snails in the tank.)



The reason I mention my mistakes is that I believe my experiences are typical of most aquarists. After a time, it becomes too easy to say to ourselves that "One more week" (without a water change) won't hurt," or that "While I know that it's time to change the filter media, I can let it go another week or so since the old media is probably doing an excellent job of biological filtration, even if its mechanical filtration efficiency may be fair to poor." Too often, it's guilt that causes us to do what we should have done. We notice that a tank is cloudy, or that certain fish are, atypically, spending a lot of time at the surface gulping air, or at the bottom. Tragically, sometimes it's the loss of one or more prize fish that triggers the guilt reflex. Sometimes, things go wrong in spite of our best efforts. Sometimes we feel guilty for doing or not doing something and the fact is that there was nothing we could have done. Fish die of old age (and many have short life spans, regardless of the quality of care they are given.) Fish do get sick, and are very often sick when they are imported. Certain fancy guppy strains are so inbred that their genealogy tree resembles a straight line—where breeding for color and shape was the only concern, with a total disregard with breeding for vigor and disease resistance, and this is unfortunately not solely limited to fancy guppies. Yet, the fact is that many aquarists are "guilty" of less than optimum care of their charges. If feelings of guilt spur corrective action, then guilt is good. On the other hand, not all guilt is either deserved or beneficial. Many "experts" try to use guilt to get you to do things the way that they would like to see them done (in other words, they way they do them). Thus, we have opinions, masquerading as facts; for example, on what constitutes a "community" tank (one description I heard recently included, as a "community" tank a single species of fish and two or more species of plants, if you can believe that!), and external appearances. In spite of this obviously silly approach, there is a place for guilt in our hobby. Again, not the "Court TV" version of guilt: not the "your tank has a plastic diver, in direct violation of the esthetics of 'Expert X'" type of guilt. Rather, guilt has a roll to play as a motivator. When our fish show signs of distress or our tanks show signs of neglect, we should feel guilty enough to be motivated to correct the situation. You should feel guilty enough about every "impulse" purchase of a fish that we are not familiar with to do take the time needed to -•

research that fish. True, if you waited until you got home to read up on the fish, it could be sold out by the time you returned to the store (and relying on store clerks is, at best, risky). But most stores have one or two good reference books you can browse through right there and then. If not, you should do your research as soon as you get home (and before you put your new acquisitions in a tank with any of your other fish). If you don't do research because it makes sense to do so, then do it so as not to feel guilty. Far too few of us properly and regularly quarantine acquisitions. But, if you buy a fish when there are signs that other fish in the tank are not in the best of health (as may happen when you believe you have a "find" and don't want to let it slip by), guilt should make you put the fish in a quarantine tank.

Guilt is good when it acts to motivate us to care for our charges in a responsible way. Guilt is bad when it is misused by "Experts" who try to convince you to do things in the hobby which do not contribute towards better care of your fish. Guilt may also be good if it prompts us to "go the extra mile." Series III of Modern Aquarium is almost two years old. Yet, aside from our President, Joe Fredenzi, and members of the Modern Aquarium staff, how many other GCAS members have written articles in that time? Regardless of your feelings about this column, the Undergravel Reporter is the ONLY contributor to have written something in every issue since Series III of the magazine started. You've seen my writing and you KNOW you can do better. Now, don't you feel guilty?

THE FISH LUNATIC STRIKES AGAIN "The Fish Lunatic" on't believe what anyone says. I'm really a nice guy. And every now and then I even do something to prove it. Once, trying to calm a novice who was afraid to put her hand in a fish tank, I told her that fish are afraid of hands and won't bite. Me, being the man I am, thrust my hand into the nearest tank without looking. Of course, as luck would have it, the tank contained two large Oscars who immediately attached themselves to a few of my less important fingers. As pain killers and sedatives were pumped into me as those fingers were re-attached I was once again reminded how relaxing the hobby is. I was so relaxed that I want to do it again this weekend. Moving my fish room from its fortified underground bunker was an experience I found most interesting. I thought that you might find it interesting, too; so that's why I'm sharing it with you. Then again, who cares about what you think, this is my gig, so mind your own business. Oh, sorry, I got confused for a minute. Now, where was I? Oh yeah, the big move. 95 tanks, count them, 95, just about all of them occupied. First I had to decide what to keep and what to sell. Of course, I kept all the wrong fish and hate them all to this day.



As I hunt and peck at about one word a minute, I'm thinking "this is crazy, I could be collecting stamps." But the way my luck goes I'd fall asleep and wake up with the stamps stuck to me. Oops, I got off on a side rant. Back to the correct rant. What is it with these fish that reach adult size and don't spawn? Why do they look at me with their cold, black, fishy eyes and when I turn to look at them they turn away and act like they weren't doing what we all know they were? Since I started writing about the move it's been about 80 words, and not a one about the move itself. I started to plan early, but when D-Day came the plans went out the window. I tried throwing myself down the stairs, but I lived. I now had to figure out how to cram 95 tanks into 25. I put fish in buckets, bags, boxes, anything that held water (and sometimes didn't!) Lots of good old relaxing after about 6 to 8 hours of doing this alone (I'm so annoying no one can stand to be with me). The end results? A few broken tanks, a few dead fish, and, unfortunately for me, I survived. Which only means that I'll be back to share more of my thoughts on the joys of fish keeping!!!

G.C.A.S. HAPPENINGS \A/ SICOrnS* The following people joined Greater City in October: Lucy Lewis

Louise Glass

OCTOBER'S BOWL SHOlV RESULTS 1st: Pete d'Orio * Gold Angelfish; ,:;?*"' ..,.. %| 3rd:


2na Al <%;$u:e Priest - RiilMarble Bella splendens '

WANTED: Original articles for modern AQUARIUM. We accept typedjor hjttd.written;:articles orjt compui;e|; disk. We can take most popular computer formats: IBN||;JapS MS/PCIDOS Compatibles (3Vi" or 514" disk, high or low density); Amtga" ;or Macintosh (Sv^.'s||igh or;|ow density), or Commodore (5W C-64 mode as a SEQ o|;|p|ASCI|pe). Computer articled should beli||;ASCII (text), WordPerfect or Word format^::!f^|'11:t^|:;|are of formatting/ipelling aid grammar. If you have photos or slides to illustja|epfiifl! arttcIeC-Pe may be able to use them, also/? Wanted: articles and drawings from,:our: junior'' membprs for future publication. ||||V

Dqpp Miss our DECEj^EK Meeting: John O'Malley will spe^k on :FteilPhdtographv; Weiipe^iayi December 6. Join us!

January 3, 1996. ,

make it a success.

Here are meeting times and locations of aquarium societies in the Metropolitan New York area: Big Apple Guppy Club Wi SJGJ^P.M. - 3rd Thursday of eacli in|p'nth k tfillQueens Botanical Garden Ms. Diqie Gottlieb i.tetebh'biie: (718) 26!|y|650



::|ast Coast Guppy Association Mels: 8:00 P.M|:?:;:lst:Thursday month;k;the Queens;":'Bll|J8ieal; Garden Contact ?!i|itephen Kwartler 7 IS Telephone:W S 8)829^6506 / (718)761 -0166

Brooklyn Aquarium 8:00 P.M. ยฅn||inth in Old Jo|:;Wildlife Con^iirvation "s' ^Contact: BASptvents Hbtline:.; :Me1>hcme;l:::f718) 3 32-6677 : :

,o||iach ;A[uarium|

GREATER CITJ^ IpplUUtM SOglETY 1st Wedn^|ly of each month at; |tiei: Queens Botanjeiii Garden Contact: Mr. Warren |ยงiier Telephone: (718) J|Js8724 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


Long Island Aquarium Society Meets: 8:00 P.M. - 3rd Friday of each month at the Bayshore Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall, Bayshore, NY Contact: Mr. Thomas Soukup Telephone: (516) 265-2682

Nassau County Aquarium Society Meets: 8:00 P.M. - 2nd Tuesday of each month at the Merrick Road Park Golf Course, Merrick, New York Contact: Mr. Ken Smith Telephone: (516) 589-5844

North Jersey Aquarium Society Meets: 8:00 P.M. - 3rd Thursday of each month at the Nutley American Legion Post Hall, Nutley, NJ Contact: Mr. Dore Carlo Telephone: (201) 437-5012

Norwalk Aquarium Society Meets: 8:00 P.M. - 3rd Thursday of each month at the Nature Center for Environmental Activities, Westport, CT Contact: Mrs. Anne Stone Broadmeyer Telephone: (203) 834-2253


Fin Fun IT'S ALIVE! The livebearers are fascinating to keep and, usually, easy to spawn. Most hobbyists know the more common livebearers, such as Xiphophorus helleri (Swordtails) or Poecilia velifera (Sailfin mollies), or, of course, Poecilia reticulata (the Guppy). But, can you connect the scientific names with the common names of these not-quite-SO-COmmon livebearers? [Reference: A Fishkeeper's Guide To Livebearing Fishes by Peter W. Scott, published by Tetra Press]

Anableps anableps


Ameca splendens

Black-finned Goodeid

Belonesox belizanus

Black Prince

Characodon audax

Butterfly Goodeid

Girardinichthys viviparus


Jenynsia lineata

Merry Widow

Phallichthys amates amates

One-Sided Livebearer

Phallichthys amates pittieri

Orange-dorsal Livebearer

Skiffia bilineata

Pike Livebearer

Xenotoca eiseni

Red-tailed Goodeid

SOLUTION TO OCTOBER, 1995, PUZZLE: Gouraniis, Gouramis - - - - - - - T H I C K L I P P E D - - - - - - - - - - - - T O P S E E R H T - P Y p- .- -_ -_ -_ -_ - _ - _ - _ - _- _- _- __ _ Y _ _G . M _ _

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