Modern Aquarium

Page 1



FEBRUARY 1996 volume III number 2




Vol. Ill, No. 2




The -Syrtoddritis schoutedeni on;ithe cover: is one; of the species discusse|Js*n "African Adventure," our featured article this month ;by Mark Sobermah. Photo by Donna Form an

Editor's Desk


African Adventure


The Rainbow Annual


T h e Bill Jacobs Chronicles . . . . . . .


Zebras, Mangos and Gold Nuggets



,,,, ..... ,:.

.. '•" :;.;.: S .

• ••''i. . - . • . . . Board Members 'M&^M&--' President;|. « . . , , i , . Joseph Ferdenzi Vice-President


. ; Ben Haus

Treasurer,, . . . . . .:. , . . . Ernrria Corres. Secretary ..'i.-'. . . v Greg Recording Secretary

. . . PatPtcciane

C;S|: : • : • : • : : \J MembersJAt Large •• ::.::SM::. M ary A nn Bugeia ? ; ; ;-x Joe:BOg^a Don CtJrtin ; : Doug Cuf|in J^ark Soberman Jack Qliva Steve/Sagona i i; 111: Vincent: Sileo Vtfarreri Feuer Com mittee Chairs Membership . . . ;..,..,. .Susan-Priest Publicity -. ... . . .Bernards MODERN AQUARIUM Editor . ; . . . . ... Alexander Assistant;Editor . . , . ;Jasori Keriier PNoto/Layout Editor Bernard Harrtgan Production: Director : Advertising Mgr, . «... . HPat Plcciqne Editorial Assistant ..::. Executive: Editor ^v . . . Joseph Ferdenzi

Surfing The Pubs


There Oughtn't To Be A Law


G.C.A.S. Happenings


Fin Fun (Puzzle Page)


Printing By Postal Press

Series III design concept by Stephen Zander

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 1996 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


hy breed fish? There are several different reasons to breed fish, and I'd like to take a look at them this


Sometimes we breed fish without even trying. How many of us have looked into a tank and found little guppies, mollies, swordtails or platties swimming around? On the surface it would seem that livebearers are the easiest fish to breed. They almost seem to do it themselves, with no involvement by their keepers. Unfortunately, left to their own devices, most of these little babies don't last long. Without shelter such as floating plants, these fry are easy prey for the other fish in the tank, even their own parents! With a little forethought, however, such as providing some shelter, greater success can be had. There are those of us who breed fish for financial gain. This can range from providing a steady supply of common fish such as the above live-bearers to producing fry of much in demand fish. In a recent issue of Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine, there was an article about a successful breeding of the Zebra Pleco. Should this prove to be easily replicated by hobbyists elsewhere, these fish, always in demand, will become more available. The first few successful breeders can expect to be offered pretty good money for their fry. More than a few hobbyists help subsidize their costs by selling fry. One of the ways of gauging success as an aquarist is getting the fish you are keeping to breed. Even with the seemingly always reproducing live-bearers, if conditions aren't right, they won't breed. Being a good enough aquarist to create and maintain tank conditions that allow fish to breed is a measure of success. Even fish such as guppies won't breed if they are not alive long enough to do so. Don't minimize this accomplishment. It says that, at the least, you've created a healthy environment for your charges.

Once you've been able to set up and maintain this healthy environment, there's the added challenge of getting a really difficult species to spawn. Finding that right combination that induces previously reluctant fish to spawn can be quite rewarding. One of our members, Stephan Zander seems to have that magic touch. Last year he spawned quite a few fish, but for me the most significant fact in all the breeding that was going on in his fish room was that Steph successfully spawned Corydoras barbatus, Pelvicachromis taeniatus and the Congo Tetra, Phenacogrammus interruptus. Although Steph had been successful in keeping these fish, among others, his being able to spawn them has put him in the big leagues as an aquarist in my book. Steph's next challenge? Getting his magnificent Cyphotilapia frontosa to spawn. We'll keep an eye on his fish room and see how he does. Another of our members, Steve Sagona has taken on a task that's of essential importance if the hobby is to survive. Steve has focused his breeding efforts mainly on the cichlids of Lake Victoria which are, for the most part, extinct in the wild. This is one of the, if not the, most important reason to breed fish. As the availability of wild caught fish becomes less and less, whether through environmental damage or government regulation, it becomes more and more important that we as aquarists are successful in breeding fish in our tanks. And, finally, last but certainly not least, there are those who breed fish for points, such as those members of Greater City who participate in our Breeder's Award Program. Depending on the type of fish bred various point totals are awarded, and, at the end of each club year the member who has amassed the most points is named "Breeder of the Year" and presented with a trophy. This past year we had quite a competition, with two members both amassing over two hundred points during the year. The winning margin was five points. Both Steve Sagona and Stephan Zander deserve to be congratulated for their great success. Why, you may wonder, do I breed fish? Actually, for all of the reasons I've listed above, except perhaps the financial gain. I find breeding fish challenging and rewarding. I particularly enjoy watching the fabulous parental care provided by many cichlid parents, and the varied spawning and care methods these fish utilize. Warren Feuer

that does well singly or in groups. The "Upside Down" cat grows to only 4 inches and is suitable for a small community tank. These peaceful cats are much more active than those previously mentioned. Synodontis schoutedeni: This medium size Synodontis at about 6 inches in length is another good community fish. Their coloration is variable but is always mottled in appearance. I am embarrassed to say that 10 Synodontis schoutedeni have been living peacefully in a 10 gallon tank in my fish room waiting for larger quarters. Synodontis brichardi: This fish grows to 8 inches but is very streamlined in appearance. An attractive fish, black or brown with white or yellow stripes, it comes from fast-moving waters and requires a highly oxygenated tank with a lot of water movement. A long low

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tank is


distinguishing feature of this fish is its helmet-like bony head shield. These animals do not ship well and, when seen in pet shops, are often in emaciated condition. However, a few weeks of proper care and feeding usually results in a full recovery. Synodontis contractus grows to about 4 inches in length. Synodontis flavitaeniatus: This beautiful fish has a unique color pattern of horizontal yellow and brown stripes. I have found S. flavitaeniatus to be shy fish which leave their hiding places only in search of food. S. flavitaeniatus is a slow growing animal and, like other Synodontis, is long lived. In his book Catfishes Of The World. author David Sands reports photographing a specimen in the Artis public aquarium in Amsterdam that was over 20 years old. S. flavitaeniatus grows to about 8 inches in length. Synodontis eupterus: This animal has a




Synodoitis brichardi is a peaceful fish, a little on the delicate side. Synodontis multipunctatus: Here is a fish for all you African Cichlid lovers. Hailing from Lake Tanganyika, this beautiful silver and black fish will coexist well in an African community tank. In fact, there have been many documented accounts of Synodontis multipunctatus spawning with mouth brooding Cichlids via the so called "cuckoo" method where the Cichlid female incubates the Synodontis eggs along with her own. Synodontis multipunctatus is said to grow to almost 10 inches. Synodontis contractus: Like Svnodontis nigriventris, this is another peaceful fish that will find its place in a community aquarium. Synodontis contractus is not as common in the aquarium trade as S. nigriventris. The most

*fÂŁ psychedelic black wavy lined juvenile color pattern that becomes spotted when mature. The distinguishing feature of an adult S. eupterus is its beautiful dorsal fin which develops huge extensions. S. eupterus can hold its own in a tank with cichlids and is aggressive towards other species of Synodontis. I remember a few years ago these fish were selling for $75.00 each, now they are always available for $10.00 to $15.00. S. eupterus grows to 8 or 9 inches in length. There are many different species of Synodontis which become available from time to time; some are rare in nature others are just rarely imported. I currently have 3 Synodontis voltae. which although they are not beautiful fish, they possess interesting features. Their caudal fin is curved like a corkscrew. Their mandible has evolved into a "U" shape, which

must enable them to better feed in their natural habitat. I also have 3 5. petricola, a stunning little fish, from Lake Tanganyika that are similar in appearance to S. multipunctatus. (There were 5, but 2 escaped!) Since S. petricola only grow to 4 inches, this is probably another good candidate for breeding in the home aquarium. However, at $50 apiece, make certain your tank is well covered. In conclusion, I would like to briefly talk about Synodontis spawning in the aquarium. In recent years, there have been more accounts of Synodontis being spawned in captivity. As catfish in general have become more popular, aquarists have devoted tanks to breeding these animals. I believe that all but the largest species of Synodontis can be bred by the dedicated aquarist. Lee Finley recently told me that an aquarist on the West Coast successfully bred Synodontis granulosus and is raising about 30

fry. Synodontis granulosus retail for about $400 each so this was also a very lucrative accomplishment as well. I was also told that while cleaning one of her many aquariums, Ginny Eckstein found that her Mochokiella paynei had spawned. Many of the popular species of Synodontis come from Zaire. Due to the political instability in this region over the past few years, shipments of many of these fish have become scarce. At some point in time, these animals might not be available from the wild, so every aquarist who is interested in Synodontis should attempt to breed these fish to ensure their future availability. Source: 1. "Species Size in the Genus Synodontis," Lee Finley, Tropical Fish Hobbyist. September 1995. 2. Catfishes of The World. Volume 2. David Sands, Mochokidae.

TROPICAL FISH SHO W QUEENS COUNTY FARM MUSEUM Take Grand Central Parkway to Little Neck Parkway exit Follow signs to the Farm Museum

Sat April 13th & Sun April 14th - 10 am - 5 pm GIANT Fish & Dry Goods /YUCilOIl SUNDAY, STARTING AT 1PM Sponsored by the Greater City Aquarium Society For more information call: Warren Feuer (718)793-8724 «^

Let's hear it for:£

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J> Aquarium Systems and •h Marineland For their generous donations to last month's raffle. Please give them and our advertisers consideration when making your next hobby purchase.

RAINBOW Ann Ual Nothobranchius rachovii JOSEPH FERDENZI his is one of those "this worked for me" articles about breeding the beautiful annual killifish (remember, the vast majority of killifish are not annuals), Nothobranchius rachovii. The large genus Nothobranchius consists of numerous species of small fish (under 3" generally) that inhabit temporary pools of water in their native Africa. They are some of the most vividly colored of all aquarium fishes (well, at least the males are). However, no Nothobranchius is more brilliant in hue than rachovii. My words would be inadequate to describe it, although "rainbow" best sums up its color pattern. Fortunately, N. rachovii has been around for decades, and it is one of those few aquarium fish that has not undergone any recent changes in its scientific nomenclature. Because it is so distinctive in appearance, remain behind. (If the eggs don't, get a strainer few (if any) scientists or aquarists have trouble with a finer mesh.) Using an eyedropper, identifying it. Therefore, I can reliably refer you remove the eggs from the strainer. Repeat this to any standard reference procedure until you are up rriy breeding tank: satisfied that you've run work on aquarium fishes Here is how if you want to see a through 90% of the 5% gallon all-glass tank, covered; picture of it. Regrettably, sand in the tank. (This 2V One box filter filled; with crushed most pictures don't do it procedure will release coral (ordinary gravel is O.K. top); clouds of "dust." Just justice. 25 watt heater (temperature range let it settle back down, Happily for me, for fish kept betw een 70° -7 5 °:?M and then re-introduce my friend Bill Jacobs, Tap-water {pH 7.Q) dosed with one your breeders.) who lives in nearby New teaspoon of salt per gallon; Jersey, is a prolific Once the eggs breeder of a beautiful 5} Bottom of; tank covered with a are removed from the strain of this killifish. one-half inch layer of green sand strainer, there are two (For more on Bill, see (or mart, sometimes called Jersey basic methods of storing the accompanying article green sand, which is actually a the eggs. One method, in this issue.) Therefore, fine clay-like substance sold in the more traditional, is getting a nice trio (one gardening supply stores — do not "peat incubation," and male, two females) was the other method is use normal silica sand, it is too easy. If you don't know "water incubation." ; light in color and tends to "bleacn" a breeder, these fish can I've used both. I've the colors of the fish); usually be obtained by had a little bit more 6} Some Java moss, nylon yarn success with the "peat" mail if you are a member formed into a miniature mop, or method. However, I'll of the American Killifish some plastic plant for the females describe both, and you Association (the address to hide in. choose. is at the end of this In p e a t article). lilt:.:... ;•••'•' :: ; , . and that's it. The breeding incubation, you place fish "plough" the green sand and lay their eggs the eggs on a bed of peat moss that has been there. They are virtual breeding machines, moistened — thoroughly soaked, but then laying one or two eggs every day; this more than squeezed so that it is moist, not soggy. The peat compensates for their "annualism." laden with eggs is then placed in an airtight Every couple of weeks or so, you container of plastic or glass. The container is remove the eggs. To do this, you first get labeled with the date you collected the eggs. yourself a plastic (or metal) strainer. Remove The first container (which can include a plastic the breeder to a temporary holding container. bag) is then placed inside another airtight Now, run the strainer through the green sand. container. This method significantly reduces Lift the strainer just above the water line. Stan evaporation in case there is a small leak in the shaking, gently. The sand will pass through the first container. Incidentally, I like using peat strainer; the clear, but rather large, eggs will pellets that are sold as starter mediums for plant


seedlings. The peat in them usually has no additives (fertilizers and such), and is a fine powdered form (once wet) with few sticks or other large debris. They are easier to use and store than bulk peat moss. I store the peat with eggs at room temperature (70°-75°F). Three months after putting the peat away, I place it in a small tank (1 to 5 gallons) filled '/2 way with aged tap water. I sprinkle in one half a fresh peat pellet. I also introduce micro-worms or other small live food (vinegar eels, baby brine shrimp) — just a pinch, mind you. Cover the tank. This "recreation" of Africa's annual rains should result in baby fish within hours. Within 24 hours all the eggs that are going to hatch should have hatched. This usually means dozens of fish. If nothing hatches or only a few hatch, don't despair. This is a common experience. Re-dry the peat, put it away, and try again within the next 3 to 4 weeks. If you don't get anything on the third attempt, save the peat for new eggs. In the water incubation method, you place your new eggs in a small plastic or glass container filled '/2 with water. The container if kept at room temperature. You can add a drop of Acriflavine or other anti-fungal compound if you wish, but it is not a universal practice. Then you periodically check the eggs to see if they are "eyeing up" — that is, you are looking for the dark pigments that are indicative of a developing embryo. This "eyeing up" process is accelerated by higher temperatures (80°F range). In any event, kept at room temperature, the eggs are usually ready well before three months, the period involved with the peat method. When the eggs are "eyed up" (average time six weeks), place them in a small vial or jar of water that can be sealed water tight. Next, you "trick" them into hatching. There are several ways of doing this. I've tried them all — they all work. You put a "pinch" of micro-worms or baby brine shrimp or powdered fry food in the vial or jar (produces carbon dioxide). You also add a few drops of peat water (which you get after squeezing a soaked peat pellet). You place the container at the bottom of your deepest tank, (produces pressure) or you put the container in your pocket and just go about your business (produces agitation). Within hours, the eggs should start hatching. If they don't, put them back in their original container, and try again sometime later. Newly-hatched fry should be kept in a small aquarium (5 gallons or under) at first. If you used the peat method, just keep them in the original hatching tank. Add an airstone. Bubble

it very gently. It is also a good idea to add a few small snails to do clean up duty. Keep the temperature in the 70° - 75° F range. Start feeding your fry with baby brine shrimp. Make sure you feed them every day. If you don't have shrimp one day, feed them something — micro-worms, powered fry food, some sort of substitute. It is also important to do a partial water change (about 10% or so) every two to three days. When the fish get to be about one half inch, you can move them to larger quarters. Keep up the feeding regimen. Baby brine shrimp, incidentally, can be fed to N. rachovii for the rest of their life. They will eat it even as adults (at about 2 inches in length, this is not a large fish). One slight drawback to N. rachovii is that they are not very fond of flake food. Live or frozen food should be their fare. Keep up a regular water changing regime (same as for other aquarium fish). Before you know it (less than two months), your fish will have colored up (the dull brown ones are the females) and be ready for spawning. The only other thing I want to tell you about the rainbow annual is that, like all Nothobranchius, they are susceptible to "velvet" disease if their water quality deteriorates from overcrowding, overfeeding, over-not doing water changes. "Velvet" is a parasitic infection that resembles the sheen of velvet or a fine white dust. It is usually best noticed on the topside of the fish, over the snout area. Fortunately, "velvet" is easily cured using Malachite Green (following the dosage on the product's label) for a period of five days. Other anti-parasitic medicines would probably work as well. Keeping annuals is another interesting facet of our hobby. N. rachovii is a virtual miniature rainbow whose splendid beauty is a stand-out among annuals. I highly recommend the experience of breeding it. American Kill if ish Assn: c\a Ronald Coleman, 903 MerjjfieW PlaceiMishawaka, IN 46544 Acknowledgements: I wish to thank two good friends from the Long Island Killifish Association, Bill Jacobs and Jerry Shapiro. Bill and Jerry are good friends themselves. Between them, they have taught me virtually everything I know about the hands-on details of breeding Nothobranchius.

After the breeders have been in the "jar" for a week or so, Bill removes the fish, stirs the "green sand" and then pours the water off into a fine mesh net. The rachovii eggs, which, after stirring, have floated up over the sand, are drained into the net. Bill repeats this process five times to make sure he has gotten all the eggs. The eggs are then placed over previously prepared wet peat moss, which is allowed to drain on newspaper for a day. The moist peat with eggs are then placed into air tight plastic bags. The eggs are then stored for six months, and afterwards hatched out. Bill hatches hundreds of annual killifish this way. On our visit, we observed hundreds of beautiful young Nothobranchius korthause (red) that Bill had hatched out only a couple of months earlier, using the method described above. Other bags containing Nothobranchius eggs and Cynolebias nigripinnis (a South American annual killifish) could be seen about the fishroom. Bill was, of course, breeding other fish as well. Bill showed us a beautiful Blue Gularis male in a 51A gallon spawning tank with two females (nice and fat) and a bottom mop. These well conditioned fish will give Bill hundreds of eggs in short order. Lest people think Bill only breeds killifish, let us note that, on this particular Sunday, Bill also had hundreds of a beautiful wild swordtails (Xiphophorus helleri), a strain with dark red lines over the body and males with long, robust swords, bluish-yellow with black edges. Bill had a breeding female that was the largest swordtail I had ever seen — easily five inches long! In addition, Bill was breeding "painted" swordtails and a goodeid. Bill also had some of his prized "blue headed" albino Corydoras catfish to show us, which he also regularly breeds. Just about everything in Bill's fishroom is of exceptional quality — in size, color, and vigor. And this was Bill at almost 90! I can only imagine what his fishroom looked like back in 1928(!) when he was President of the Newark Aquarium Society. We all left having learned a great deal about the art of fish keeping and breeding. We also left with some of Bill's fish in tow - Bill's generosity is fabled. A visit with Bill is, for a fish nut like me, the closest thing to dying and winding up in fish heaven. Plus, he's just one helluva nice guy !! Bill will be 93 next May 5. Bill, here's to another 80 years of you in our hobby. Only then will I tell you my little secret about where I hide my fishroom dirt. Worth waiting for, isn't it?



Zebras, Mangos and Gold Nuggets: Keeping Them Alive


ebra, Gold Nugget and Mango pieces are among the most sought after fish in the aquarium hobby. Almost every hobbyist who has seen them has wanted to buy one, until they see the price. The second concern of anyone who intends to keep one of these gems is how to 'keep it alive' (the first is the $30-70 required to purchase one). Actually, these fish can be kept quite successfully, provided a few guidelines are met. The first step in successfully keeping one of these plecos is purchasing a healthy specimen. Unfortunately, plecos are one of the fish in the hobby that do not ship well. The trip from South America to transhipper to distributor to retailer can wreak havoc on a pleco's health (or any fish). Look for one with a full (not bulging) belly, clear eyes (not sunken in), well formed open fins and bright color with no blemishes, ulcers or parasites. Most plecos are extremely active when flushed out of their hiding place (some are like lightning!!!). Sluggish movement is generally a sign of ill health. Heavy breathing is also not a good sign: it can be a sign of disease, poor water quality or stress. Beware of a pleco that is at the top of the tank, or at the outlet of a filter or lift tube. This behavior can sometime spell trouble. A

healthy, content pleco is usually stuck on driftwood, tank walls or another aquarium fixture. In addition, some plecos will eat or forage for food out in the open during the daythis is a good sign, but is not typical. Ask your dealer how long the fish has been in his/her tanks, ask if it is eating. A new arrival may show signs of stress and it may be best to wait a few days before making a purchase to allow it to acclimate to aquarium life (a very common practice with our saltwater colleagues). A reputable dealer will gladly provide you with this information to the best of his/her ability. Ok, now you've bought one (without taking a loan). Now what? Set up a quarantine tank and isolate your new fish to make sure it is truly free of disease, it is eating, and getting acclimated to your water conditions. This will minimize stress when it is introduced into your main tank (see "Catfish in Isolation" MA 12/95). Successful long term care for these fish can best be accomplished by gaining insight from their natural habitat: The Zebra Pleco (Hypancistrus zebra) comes from clearwater basins of the Rio Xingu' in Brazil. This habitat consists of clean, relatively fast moving water containing high levels of dissolved oxygen. Therefore, the proper aquarium conditions for the zebra must include very good filtration, lots of aeration and regular partial water changes. This fish is fairly territorial. Multiple specimens must be kept in a relatively large tank with plenty of hiding spaces/territory markings to prevent aggression. This territoriality is somewhat less when zebras are kept with other species of pleco, but should still be considered when choosing tankmates. Zebras are omnivorous, enjoying both meaty and vegetable based foods. Algae wafers are a good staple, but other more meaty foods should be used as well. As with all aquarium fish, a varied diet is best. Vital Statistics: Max Size=unknown. Probably 4-5" pH=6.5-7.0 although reports have stated higher. Temp = 75-84 deg F Food= Algae wafers, zucchini, Romaine lettuce, frozen bloodworms, krill, other frozen meaty foods.


The Mango (L47) and Gold Nugget Plecos (L18 or LSI) are undescribed species also found in the Rio Xingu', and have care requirements similar to the zebra. However, unlike the zebra, both plecos are big driftwood grazers so have plenty available. Furthermore, they get a lot bigger than the zebra, so allow for sufficient tank space. Vital Statistics: Max Size=6-10" for both. pH=6.5-7.0 although reports have stated higher. Temp=75-84 deg F Food= Algae wafers, zucchini, Romaine lettuce, frozen bloodworms, krill.other frozen meaty foods.

In conclusion, care for Zebras, Mangos and Gold Nugget plecos can be summarized in four statements: (1) Good filtration (2) High levels of dissolved oxygen (3) Varied Diet (4) Regular partial water changes Now the above are no more than the basic guidelines for success with all aquarium fish. However, Zebras, Mangos and Gold Nuggets are among those especially sensitive to things like undersized tanks and filters, poor maintenance and improper diet and, as a result, will be the first to show stress, become sick or die. To summarize the summary: CARE for your fish, don't just keep them.

Much Success!!!!!!!!!!! References Zebra Plecos: So Many Questions About These Little Fish. Ginny Eckstein, Aquarium Fish Magazine, September 1995. Conversations with Lee Finley

Aquatica reports on the BAS "Bowl Show," which differs somewhat from that of GCAS. In BAS, fish are judged in one of four classes: egglayers, livebearers, open or marine. (In GCAS, there are no classes.) GCAS limits the exchange column entries to two per family per month; BAS has a limit of four entries. BAS awards an additional 2 points for best of show, 1 point for the reserve (next best) of show and 1 point if the fish entered pertains to the topic of discussion of that meeting. So, if freshwater angelfish are being ALEXANDER A. PRIEST discussed that night, an angelfish could garner up to 7 points if it is also awarded best of show (4 his is the second "Exchange" article I points for 1st place, 2 points for best of show am writing. Those of you who read last and 1 point for being the "fish of the month"). month's column will remember that I A fish placing first in a BAS bowl show may not am trying in this column to convey a sense of be entered at the next meeting. (GCAS restricts what a group is about, what it is doing, and what any fish winning any bowl show prize from Greater City can learn from our sister societies. being entered again that entire season.) Well, there is no other general aquarium society Recently, Aquatica underwent slight physically closer to Greater City than The appearance changes. They're now using small Brooklyn Aquarium Society (BAS). In addition, graphics ("tombstones") at the end of articles. BAS's publication Aquatica. placed just behind (Notice the angelfish at the end of this column.) our own Modern Aquarium in last year's Their page numbers are white, inside black fish. Federation of Aquarium Societies' publication Aquatica averages 22 8'/2" by 11" sheets awards contest. So, it is fitting that I discuss ^ of paper folded in half, this excellent publication. forming 44 sides. (The Let me say from The Brooklyn Aquarium Society; centerfold is an 8 1A" by the outset, I am not an Brooklyn; New York CityyNY 14" page.) Like Modern impartial observer when Aquarium. Aquatica has it comes to Aquatica. I some regular columns, have been a member of such as "The Guppy Corner" by Stephen BAS for several years and, while logistics Kwartler and "Killie Forum" by Michael prevent me from attending their meetings, I Rosenthal. One column no longer run (and renew my membership faithfully, in large part so which I enjoyed and feel we might imitate in the that I can continue to receive Aquatica. future) was "Conversations With Members" in The current Editor of Aquatica is John which BAS reporter Rhoda Cohen visited Todaro. Based on a September 1993, "Editors members and interviewed them at home. Desk" article, it appears that the current Their Exchange Column is "Club Aquatica format was created by John in 1988. Connect" by Charles Loweth. It does not run in John left this position of Editor for two years, every issue. It is interesting in that it describes during which time Aquatica had two other an article, gives at least one "tip" from that editors. The September 1993 issue marked article, and offers members an opportunity to John's return as Editor. obtain their own copy, for a small copying fee. Each issue of Aquatica has a centerfold. Reflecting the greater BAS interest in saltwater While often attractive, intriguing, and alluring, and reefs than is found in GCAS, the column Hugh Hefner need not worry; these centerfolds "Reef Questions & Answers" was recently are of fish or aquatic plants (usually expertly added, written by Bill Lynch. hand drawn by a BAS member) and accompanied Aquatica reports on SIGs (Special by a thumbnail fact sheet. From Aquatica. I Interest Groups) — members with specialized learned that BAS gives publication awards to interests (killifish, reef tanks, etc.) meeting in recognize its members who write articles (as each others houses. This is something else we does the Calgary Aquarium Society, whose could explore. (Personally, I'd like a betta SIG.) publication was reviewed last month). BAS also In summary, Aquatica is good and getting better. gives "Advertisers' Appreciation Plaques" to its It has good articles and gives good insight into advertisers. (I believe both of these practices the society that it ably represents. should be given serious consideration by GCAS).



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There Oughtn't to be a Law A series by "The Undergravel Reporter"

In spite of popular clem a nd to the;;; contrary, this iiurrtor; and information coyprv continues. As usual, it does? NOT -necessarily represent the| opintbns of the Editor, or of G reater City Aquari u rri Soci ety.

e probably all remember learning in school about "how a bill becomes a law." Somewhere in that process, we were told that there was reasoned debate and discussion. Unfortunately, our teachers failed to tell us reasoned discussion and debate takes place with only a small percent of the bills that are proposed. Most bills pass or fail without debate. Without debate, the flaws of the bills may never be brought to light, until it is too late. Most legislators propose bills that they honestly believe will be of some benefit. They have neither time nor resources to research every bill they are asked to sponsor. If a bill sounds reasonable and they see no obvious objection or partisan conflict, most legislators will sponsor any bill given to them by a constituent/supporter. There is a bill currently in committee in New York State (Senate 3152/Assembly 5447) which sounds like something aquarists could and should support. Its stated intent is: "To ban the practice of giving away goldfish as prizes." The reason given is: "The giving away of goldfish in plastic bags and small bowls at fairs, carnivals and other events has been practiced for years. However, the reality of using a live and pain-sensitive animal to make money is tarnished when the situation is reviewed . . . . I t is estimated that most of these fish will die within the first 24 hours of being received. This is particularly sad since the lifespan of a goldfish in the wild can be 20 years. Like all other creatures, goldfish have habitat requirements which must be planned for well in advance of their possession. They need their water temperature to remain fairly constant, they require food and more importantly, they cannot



survive in most tap water due to chlorine content. This type of living prize also encourages confusion about and callousness toward a living creature. A pet that dies by the next day only serves to frustrate children without teaching them the knowledge of habitat requirements of this particular animal." Now, the facts. First, goldfish given as prizes are "feeders." They are sold at anywhere from six to a dozen or more for a buck. Those not given away as prizes wind up in the belly of an Oscar, Jack Dempsey, or similar large fish. So: "lifespan of ... 20 years" — not these fish. Then the statement "They need their water temperature to remain fairly constant." While fancier goldfish varieties may need warmer water, the common varieties (those used as prizes/feeders) can survive between 40°-SOT (Handbook of Tropical Fishes. H. Axelrod, p273). The fish whose "habitat requirements . . . must be planned for" in fact "has thrived on more abuse at the hands of uninformed people than any other aquarium fish" and "they keep on living under conditions which would quickly kill any fish less rugged." (Encyclopedia of Tropical Fishes. H. Axelrod & William Vorderwinkler, pi63). Just because they thrive even when abused is no reason they should be abused. Still, with the depletion of coral reefs, global warming, acid rain, oil and chemical pollution and overdevelopment threatening so many fish species, I'm not sure I'm ready for a "Save The Feeder Goldfish" campaign. Regular readers of this column know I oppose using feeders and culling out healthy, but perhaps not as pretty, fish. So, why do I oppose this bill? Because banning live fish as prizes still does nothing to give children "the knowledge of habitat requirements" of the fish. But requiring a flyer on proper care and maintenance be given with every fish might. Why not also require an adult to accept such prizes on behalf of a child? Well, don't worry, even if this bill passes, it won't do what it claims. The current language in the bill is: "No person shall give or offer to give away any live animal other than purebred livestock or fish as a prize in any game, drawing, contest, sweepstakes or other promotion . . . ." If "purebred" only modifies the word "livestock" (which it appears to do), then this bill would still permit as prizes: (1) purebred livestock, and (2) fish. Yes, this would permit what it claims it prohibits! And why is it less cruel to give purebred livestock than it is to give "thoroughbred" livestock? Will this prohibit live turkeys or lobsters as prizes? Only your legislator knows for sure.

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