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AQUARIUM

DECEMBER 1996

volume III number 10


backing up when someone approaches their tank. The height of the tank does not make much of a difference in the number of discus per tank; although if plants are being added to the tank, the extra height will compensate for the loss of space taken up by the gravel bed, which is recommended for plants. In addition, there is some additional appeal to the look of the higher tanks. WATER

Most of us here in the New York area have great water for discus. The natural habitat of the discus is the Amazon River (Rain Forest Areas). Discus live and breathe among the roots of trees, in order to keep themselves safe from the many predators that inhabit the open waters of the Amazon. In the areas where discus are found, the water is soft and warm, and the pH of the water is very low — often lower than 5. In captivity discus are able to be kept in a wide range of pH values, but seem to do best at values between 5 and 7. The ideal temperature for discus is 84-86 degrees F., but is variable from 78 to 90 degrees F. Initially, discus do not need "special" water. It is best to acclimate discus to the local water rather than to adjust the water for them. Usually they can be acclimated quickly and easily. They can also be acclimated to water with higher pH values and hardness, but when the water is harder, the acclimation time must be longer. Therefore, it is important to test the hardness of the water in addition to the pH when acclimating discus. Interestingly enough, discus sometimes grow much faster in harder water, although discus eggs will not usually hatch in hard water, and adults will not usually raise their babies in hard water if they do hatch out. The most important factor when first starting out with discus is to make sure that the water is clean, and the discus are healthy. The emphasis on water hardness and pH will only become important when the discus begin to breed, and only then if there are problems at that time. It is entirely possible that your discus will raise their babies in your very own tap water — mine do. Since it is not known what the exact water composition should be for discus, it is useless to "create" a particular type of water. It is much more sensible to start them in the water that's readily available. When the tank is first filled, it is a good idea to pre-filter the tap water. One way to pre-filter tap water is to use a simple, inexpensive, household water purifier, which will remove chlorine, and perhaps some other pollutants and/or toxins along the way. These

household units use granular carbon cartridges that can be replaced easily, as long as the filter is accessible. If you are unwilling or unable to use a household filter, and you are using a power or canister or bubble type filter, you can simply add a large bag of carbon to the filter and let it run until the discus are added. When it is time for the discus to be acclimated to the tank, it is advisable to remove the carbon from the filter, and replace it with a safer filter medium such as lava rock or bio-beads. There are some drawbacks to using any type of carbon, in any form. Carbon removes elements from water by the process of absorption. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing when the carbon is saturated. Once the carbon is saturated, and no longer able to absorb, a chemical reaction takes place, and the carbon releases some of its load in the form of phosphates. Phosphates can be lethal to fish. Since there is no way to know when the carbon is saturated, it is necessary to change the carbon often to be safe. In the case of the household filters, the life expectancy of the cartridge is complicated by the fact that the cartridge will pick up small particles of silt from the water that can clog it. This will restrict the flow of water keeping it from coming in contact with the carbon (another reason to change the cartridge often). In addition, water should be run through the cartridge for a few minutes before using it in order to flush any bacteria that may grow on the cartridge in between uses. Water purifiers such as de-ionizers or reverse osmosis units that are designed to strip the water of 90% or more of its components are expensive, and can be dangerous to use due to the fact that those high percentages make the water too "pure" for the fish to live in. Once the water becomes "pure," it must be reconstituted. There are an ever increasing number of products on the market that claim to contain combinations of ingredients formulated to reconstitute water for discus. If you choose to go this route, it is advisable to research these products carefully, and avoid any that contain chemicals or preservatives. The companies that manufacture these products are the best source of information about them. The best way to set up for discus, or any other fish for that matter, is to prepare the tank water before the fish are added. Once the tank is filled with water it is time to add the filter(s). FILTRATION

Choosing a filter is always complicated, due to the large variety of products on the market. In order to choose the correct type of


filter for each unique situation, it is necessary to become familiar with the three types of filtration (biological, mechanical, and chemical); and it is important to understand them. There are numerous books and articles available on the subject of filtration, and each manufacturer of filters has detailed literature available about their specific products. Once again, the manufacturers, as well as the shop owner who sells their products, are always happy to help you to understand how the products work. The filter is the method of maintaining the cleanliness of the tank. A clean discus tank is a healthy discus tank, and is one of the two equally important factors in the growth of your discus (the other is food). The decision making process should not be a hasty one. All types of filters are useful, and a combination of types is sometimes the best. Discus breeders, such as myself, almost always use air driven sponge filters as the main source of filtration. However, water changes must be done often to remove the debris that builds up in the tank. (Mechanical filters do a good job of removing debris.) The sponge filter is the best form of biological filtration, and sponges can be added to almost any filter. It is important to note here that if sponge filtration is the only form of filtration used, water changes must be done more frequently in order to lessen the biological (organic) load. Adding a mechanical filter will improve the situation, and the appearance of the tank (specifically the clarity of the water). Larger discus breeders often use large central filtration systems operated by what essentially boils down to a large wet/dry filter which services multiple tanks by use of a pump that circulates the filtered water through a pipe distribution system. Frequent water changes must also be done with this type of system due to the build up of debris. However, in this case, if the wet/dry (sump) part of the filter is large enough, the build up of organics is not as severe, and the water changes will be more beneficial to the discus. Using a wet/dry filter will create a similar effect. These central systems are usually backed up by the air driven sponge filter system which I described above. The more knowledge that you obtain concerning filters, the easier it will be to adapt the knowledge that you will obtain in your experiences with discus, and perhaps the greater success you will have initially. It is important to remember that whatever you decide, there are always adjustments that can be made, and changes are easy (but unfortunately they can be expensive).

WATER CHANGES

Once the tank is ready, and the discus are in, it is not a good idea to use chemicals to alter the composition of the water. It is easier for discus to adjust to the every day changes that naturally occur within the tank, than it is for you to try and control these changes with the use of products that contain chemicals. Constant fluctuations in the composition of the water (such as pH) will disturb discus. For example, the chemicals used to lower pH are acids, and if added to the water too quickly (or if the acids come in direct contact with the fish), the discus may unintentionally be burned. Discus have a protective "slime" coating on their bodies which (when in place) allows them to resist interferences that might otherwise harm them. This is the reason that they are strong, and conversely, when the slime coating is destroyed, its absence will cause weakness and the beginning of an overall breakdown in health. Water conditioners (and products that are additives — such as liquid vitamins or liquid trace elements) are difficult to break down in the tank, and therefore, they add additional biological load to the filtering system of the tank, while not doing much of anything for the discus. Water changes are important to the growth of discus. Therefore, water should be changed as often as possible due to the large amount of food eaten and waste produced by the discus. All hobbyists need to check the water parameters in their area on a regular basis due to the fact that water treatment facilities often treat the water with different chemicals for a variety of reasons. Although, when present, these chemicals do not necessarily affect us, they can, unfortunately, affect our fish. Checking pH and water hardness levels may indicate that something has been added or removed, changing the water composition. Therefore, it is a "good fish keeping" practice to check pH and hardness often. Noticing a change in the water composition does not necessarily indicate that there will be a problem. However, knowing when changes occur is important knowledge to have in case a problem develops. If you pre-filter the water that you use for water changes, or if the water is aged, large water changes can be made (50 percent is not unusual — but start with smaller changes and build up). If. however, you are adding water to your tank directly from the tap, smaller water changes are advisable (not more than 25 percent — start smaller, build up). Frequent water changes will help keep your discus healthy, and they will grow proportionally. A

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The NORTHEAST COUNCIL of

AQUARIUM SOCIETIES PRESENTS THEIR

22nd ANNUAL CONVENTION April 11-13, 1997 Hartford Marriott Hotel - Farmington, Connecticut Exit 37 off 1-84 West of Hartford, in Farm Springs Park

1997 CONFIRMED

SPEAKERS:

Peter Unmack . . . . Desert Fish Terry Seigel Marines Ginny Eckstein . . . . Catfish Mike Schadle Livebearers Kurt Zadnik West African Dwarf Cichlids Wayne Leibel Pike Cichlids Charlie Grimes . . . Banquet Speaker Convention Includes: ^ Manufacturers displays and vendor tables ^ Friday night includes dry goods silent auction, social hour and specialty organization introductions ^ Saturday night banquet ^> Giant auction Sunday 1 l:00am, open to the public. Live fish, plants, and drygoods. Viewing opens at 9:30am ^ Raffles and Door Prizes ^ Discount Hotel Rates This is a weekend devoted to the exchange of information among tropical- fish hobbyists of all levels of expertise. Approximately 300 novice to expert tropical fishkeepers will gather together for the weekend to greet old friends, meet new friends, exchange ideas and information, and gain further knowledge, not only from the speakers, but also from other hobbyists who have a world of information to share. National manufacturers of aquarium products and equipment will be represented at the convention. Display booths will be set up with representatives there to explain their newest products, answer your questions, and discuss their product lines. Independent vendors will also be present selling their fishy wares - live aquatic plants, new and used aquarium books....

REGISTRATION INFORMATION AVAILABLE: CALL: Janine & David Banks (802)482-3616 or Penny & Al Paul (508)371-0593 or WRITE: Janine Banks - RR 3 Box 1548 - Hinesburg, VT 05461 or EMAIL us at dbanks@together.net. VISIT NEC's web page at http://www.cadvision.com/nolimits/nec.html

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lake Tanganyika Tango WARREN FEUER

I

t takes two to tango, the saying goes. And on this particular dance card the two partners are both Lake Tanganyika cichlids, Neolamprologus sp. "Daffodil," and Julidochromis transcriptus.

I have wanted Daffodils since I first saw them in Joe Ferdenzi's fish room. Once I had some space available, I accepted Joe's offer of some juvenile Daffodils. My new treasures were housed in a 30 gallon long tank that contains a crushed coral substrate and lots of red shale stacked both vertically and horizontally to form lots of crevices and layers. The Daffodils share the tank with several Neolamprologus caudopunctatus "red dorsal." Filtration is a Whisper 3 Outside Power filter. I change about 25% of the water weekly. I had the fish about 18 months when I noticed one baby Daffodil in the tank. 1 can only assume that the N. caudopunctatus had eaten the other fry. Still, I was happy and excited about the appearance of the one fry. This meant that I had at least one breeding pair in the tank. Three months after the first spawn, more fry appeared. This time there were five new babies in the tank. Most interestingly, the survivor from the first spawning was actively involved in guarding the fry, chasing the N. caudopunctatus away from the nest, despite the fact that they were much larger. As 1 write this, I'm awaiting the arrival of some more fry. If spawning Daffodils was easy, Julidochromis transcriptus was even easier. I keep the fish in a 20 gallon long with a

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Whisper 2 Outside Power filter. As with the Daffodils, the substrate is crushed coral, and 25% of the water is changed once a week. Their tank is landscaped a little differently. There are two piles of rocks that serve as nesting sites. The dominant pair of fish have claimed one pile of rocks as theirs and they raise their babies mostly hidden from view. At about one month of age, the fry dart in and out of the nest, grabbing morsels of food, each fish a 1/4 inch bullet of black and yellow. Since this is a species tank, with no threats present, the fish roam around the tank freely once they grow past 3/4 of an inch. Fry tend to stay near the nest until there is another spawn, at which time they migrate towards the other rock grouping, where no spawning activity has taken place. In the event that one or two of the fry don't move I notice that the adults go after them and push them away from the nest. Eventually they seem to get the message. Other than that, there is no aggression evident in the tank. The one negative I have noticed about both of these fish is that they tend to be jumpers. It is probably fortunate that they reproduce so easily, or I'd soon have none! Provide the right conditions and you can spawn them too.


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CHUCK DAVIS

o this guy comes walking into the pet shop and says to me, "Can you get me one of those big salamanders?" My reply is standard salesman talk, "Of course we can, and what big salamander would that be?" The customer is typically unprepared to answer, but replies none-the-less with, "You know, those big ugly salamanders like I saw on the Discover)' Channel on TV." Well, I didn't know, because 1 was working while most people are watching the Discovery Channel. So I suggested we go to the Amphibians book and look it up. As we perused the text, he explained that he wanted to give his

S

length and are often found at the one foot size, as were the two specimens I got from the Susquehanna Valley. They arrived promptly, but to my dire disappointment the customer had in those short few days reconciled with his marriage partner and decided to forfeit his $50 deposit. Now, what I do with a couple of foot-long sallies? Take them home, of course! C. alleganiensis is a strange and curious creature and not by size alone. Literature tells us it does not see well through those small off-set eyes. But it does have a lateral line organ, like many fish, which can sense vibrations in the

ex-wife a fitting pet, and thought a large, ugly salamander was just the thing. "Cryptobranchus alleganiensis" was exactly what he had in mind — the infamous "Hellbender." After reading about them and discovering they are native to the mid and north eastern United States, I informed the customer that I could probably locate one, but (standard sales pitch) they are expensive, will take some searching, and will no doubt require a purchase permit. He offered a $50 deposit, so it was off to the races to get a "Hellbender." After a few phone calls, I found a place in Pennsylvania that had a few and would be willing to ship two. 1 only wanted one of these gigantic salamanders, but the shipper insisted on my taking two, as one would not be worth the shipping effort. Hellbenders can reach 30 inches in

water and react like electronic eyes for the salamander. It is also believed that the entire skin surface of the creature is photosensitive and that this sensitivity is used both for finding food and for detecting danger. It is a nocturnal animal and is quite happy to be nestled under a rock or some other permanent and dark structure. This affords them the protection of blending in with their environment. The Hellbender comes in a variety of colors from a rich reddish hue to the drab brown/gray that is most common. Though they can swim quite well, using their giant tail for propulsion, they are adept at walking on the bottom of their watery home. They live in very clean, highly oxygenated, and moving water. They use a unique system to remove oxygen from the water through their skin, using pore like openings to absorb oxygen through the skin and into the respiratory system.

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I kept the two Hellbenders in a 50 gallon aquarium that was filtered by a large power outside filter and two power inside filters. The idea being that all three filters would create the needed current for these salamanders, while doing a good job of keeping the water quality high. They were not hard to feed, as they immediately took large earthworms and goldfish on a daily basis. As often as I tried, they never ate any of the freeze dried or pelleted food in my presence. They would, however, take frozen shrimp, mealworms and snails. Periodically, they would tussle over the food, but since they were gulpers, it was usually first come first served. The Hellbenders hardly grew in length over a two year period, but they clearly increased in bulk. They each had a piece of PVC pipe (12 inches long and 3 inches in diameter) piled over with shale rock as a home. Two other pieces of PVC were available, but they were rarely used by the giant salamanders. At one point I found in the literature that the Hellbenders had a diet of crayfish in the wild, so I purchased a dozen crayfish from my wholesaler and introduced them to the salamander tank. They were consumed in less than 24 hours. This was a periodic feast for them, but not a regular diet; it was just too expensive. Hellbenders should not be confused with the similar looking "mudpuppy." They are totally different animals and the mudpuppy is a much smaller animal.

Once in a tropical fish show in Ohio I saw a 22 inch Hellbender exhibited. It was an unusual sight and one can definitely appreciate the awesome appearance this salamander can make. In fact, the two I had were so borderline repulsive, I named them "Quasi" and "Moto." Hellbenders have been bred in captivity, though rarely, and since their habitat is being consistently reduced, captive breeding may be the salvation of this species. Dams, pollution from industrial wastes, and run offs from farms are all affecting their natural habitat. Quasi and Moto were subsequently given to a nature center near their birthplace and were put on exhibit. For all I know they may still be there since Hellbenders are known to live over 25 - 30 years in captivity. If you are interested in keeping a Hellbender, then you should be mindful of their habitat requirements and any permit situation that may be required, legally, to keep them as pets. They are big eaters and require big houses to live in. Hellbenders are very sensitive to water conditions other than those already mentioned. They can withstand a wide temperature range, except higher water temperatures. Aquarists should avoid temperatures over 74 degree F. Cooler temperatures will directly affect their appetites, so through observation you should find the right temperature before the colder months set in.

JIVI

"I'm no scientist, but I think we have a fungus problem around here!" 16


WET LEAVES

1) What food (foods) do you feed your adult discus? Nakamura-Japan: "We feed discus minced beef heart mixed with vegetables and shrimp." A Series On Books For The Hobbyist SUSAN PRIEST 2) Do you feed your breeding pairs differently than other adult discus? any of you were privileged to attend Feiller-U.S.A.: "I feed all of my adults our program last March, which the same diet. All of the adults are potential featured an excellent presentation on breeders, or breeders on rest cycles." discus by Mary Ellen Sweeney. This month, 3) Frequency of feeding and variations Modem Aquarium is proud to feature "Setting Up of feeding program? For Discus" by our own resident expert, Ellen Long-Zinbabwe: "All adult discus are Halligan. While I am dropping names, I will fed twice daily, six days per week. One day I throw one more into the ring to complete the "hat fast the adults whereas all young, growing discus trick"; Jack Wattley. He is the author of Discus are fed daily, three times." For The Perfectionist; the subject of this review. 4) Any special vitamins and/or nutrients Mr. Wattley takes what, in my added to the food? Schmidt-Focke - Germany: experience, is a unique approach to organizing a "Yes, drops of multivitamins added to my beef comprehensive body of hearts." Discus Foi^:TliegPerfectionist information. The 5) Y o u r ; ' Jack Wattley 111111 discus fancier is treated opinion of live tubifex to a very user-friendly worms for discus? S c h u 1z e experience. Pages England: "Never." 14&15 have a list of 46 questions, broken down Space does not allow me to print all the into categories. Some of these are: purchasing answers; each question may have as many as 14 discus, breeding, disease, long range future of the different responses. Not every respondent discus hobby, etc. Each question was asked of a answered every question. panel of 14 experts in the field of discus. As The 15th respondent is Mr. Wattley readers progress from one area to the next, they himself. He might be giving his own answer to are presented with an astonishing compilation of one of the questions, adding his comments to facts and opinions. If you want information on someone else's response, or injecting a personal a particular subject, it is easy to locate. anecdote. His contributions are found within On page 121 you will find a list of the parentheses, prefaced with his initials, and printed names and addresses of each of the respondents. in italics. Even though he has organized the They hail from the U.S., Germany, Japan, book to be a forum for others, he makes his England, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, and presence very much felt. Canada. "Reading this book is like visiting the The international flavor of this book can world's best discus breeders, and asking them the be summed up by two quotes. First, "Language fundamental questions of how to successfully and political barriers do not stop discus maintain and breed discus fish" (p. 14). I would enthusiasts in their quest. Indeed, the discus fish have liked to see a short biographical sketch of has played its part in fostering friendship among each respondent. all peoples of the world" (J. Wattley, p.9). Also, Before I get into some of the questions, "I anticipate forming an international discus I must point out that the pages of this book are organization where we can exchange information filled with exquisite photographs. Some are of regarding discus, and to cooperate with each centerfold status, some are full page close-ups, other in order to promote and maintain the pure and there are even a few "family portraits." strains of discus fish throughout the world" Those of you who have just brought (Y. Nakamura, p. 107). home your first discus and are learning how to care for it have something in common with the In closing, I would like to wish all of experienced breeders; in order for each of you to our readers a happy and holy holiday season, and be successful, you must provide proper nutrition. peaceful fishkeeping in the coming year. Here is a list of the questions presented in the section on food, (pp. 22-35), along with a representative response.

M

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G.C.A.S. HAPPENINGS Darryl Cruz

Let's extend a warm welcome to our newest members: Joseph Marsala Melissa Wood Rodney Young

Last month's BOWL SHOW Winners: 1st^"Steve,.Sagona (Electric Blue) 2nd - Steve Sagona (Albino Edwardi); 3rd - :Tom Miglio (Sailfin Molly)

THANKS! We wafen| to ex|l|d M wj||ne||!;tha|iki:;;;;;|p last month's guesy^speaj^rflpatly McConnelt; a ;:TWI|>rgiucer fer National Geojgrarjlaie ^o jpresented "Jewel of the Rift," alpiout the. . .lichlids of Lake Tanganyika have Tetra to thank fbr,;|heir : ge||erous donatioW to monfti's raffle. Remember our ad^tlisers ^|p donors when you f%iir next hobby purchase. ^fK' >:C \/^/9 This year, our annual Holiday P;ar|y and Awards Dinrier viufJibe at the Palace Diner and will be:|ie;fi§! the SECOND Wednesii|||jOf;ib^ponth (January 8, 1997||;i|;ijg rneal will be partially subsidlel by GCAS. The cost to rrig|nbers%j|ibe only $10 per person. • But; ;wfe:mus$...have a $5 each person attending. Depb|itS:::will ;be collecte^^t the £Jec$tliber:peietir1i§P:;;;; Here are meetirig times and locations of aquarium societies in the Metropolitan New York area: Jaijiary 8 - t|pl^ia;y Party. A $5 a p%sptt :dejp$it,% tpiyfht's meeting is required! : ::Mels: SM^.M. - 1st Wednesday of e1||: ii;mp^h;.jati::||||, Queens Botanical Garden :f| Contact: Mfriyincent Sileo Telephone: (7i8)|§ft6-6984

Brooklyn Aquarium Society l)ec 1 3 - H oliday Party . ™::: ;;8PM: Elittelllgn Hall, tor ': Contact: BAS Events Ij||lirie:;: Telephone:

I East Coast Guppy Association .Meets: 'lll^iiyi. - lst:;:;phursdaysof;:lisin::j m^mlh at the:Cjiig|ns..B9^Snical Garliii Conlfet: Stephen Kwartler / Ed Ri«(|pFnond Telephlae: (718)82S)-6506 /;mMB-0166

Meets: 8:00 P.M. *|rd:iTn%:payjeach mon!|?at the Qtt|gip?lotanical Contact: NfeisDiane Gottlie.:¥;;l

Long Island Aquarium Society Meets: 8:00 P.M?*ilii;irl^|:o month at Holtsville Park and £00; 249 Buckley Rd. Holtsville, NY 11801 Contact: Mr. Vinny Kreyling Telephone: (516) 938-4066

Nassau County Aquarium Society : - 2nd Tuesday of each month at the Merrick Road Park Golf Course, Merrick, NY 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

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Fin Fun If you have read this far, then you should be familiar with these terms which are used to discuss Discus. If. after you find each word, you can use it in a sentence, then Warren Feuer will be turning to you for the next Discus article.

G F S B S U T A I C S A F I U Q E A N T

AEQUIFACSIATUS AMAZON BEEFHEART CICHLID DISCUS HECKEL REVERSEOSMOSIS STRIATION SYMPHYSODON TURQUOISE

H I S E J M I S L Y C D Y A R G E T E U

J S Y L O I E W C C Y I B S D L L H T I

K Q M I N K Z M H Y N L D I N N 0 J H 0

O U P S H E E E Z H E B L F A 0 L W E P

T A H E C K E L 0 E O H M J M S Y E L M

W R Y W M D E D N S C I C W D T V V I V

X N S A A W P U S I D S M B L E 0 T Y D

V E 0 N U E A C C S O S U I O R L Y H R

N V D K R I Y Y S 0 A D U E E R N U E Y

M A 0 T S B E U T M D E L C H I U 0 R J

Q W R T U E S T V D N E A K K M A S E B Y U S P 0

E N L L E M Z R 0 E E N S T I S Q U F I A S

Solution to Last Month's Puzzle: Meals Fit For A Fish carnivore Badis badis

herbivore

/ /

Tinfoil Barb

/

Sailfin Molly

/

Flying Fox

/

Siamese Flying Fox Firemouth Cichlid

/ /

Bala Shark Black-barred Lima

/

Sword tail Kissing Gourami

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omnivore

^ /

N A L C D 0 S T E S A T P S S D I 0 J

S I D A A N H E N A W N P H F R S R C U I W A I F R U J A C T 0 C S R A K F

T R C I K E Y O E

D P D T A W S N V

S Q U V I L M X U S H

U I V O N A I D K

U R O R M Y 0 D E R T A E R I M T E L

C 0 T M 0 Z S T R I A T I 0 N E Z W D


1922

1997

Profile for Dan Radebaugh

Modern Aquarium  

DECEMBER 1996 volume III number 10

Modern Aquarium  

DECEMBER 1996 volume III number 10

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