Modern Aquarium

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Series III

Vol. IV, No. 5

May, 1997

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Editor's Desk

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A History of the

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Greater City Aquarium Society


Wanna Play?


We Did It Again (NEC Award Results)


What To Do When It All Goes Wrong

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The Amusing Aquarium


"Treasure Chest" - Catfishes


Wet Leaves (Book Review)


Auction Mania


G.C.A.S. Happenings


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Printing By Postal Press Series III design concept by Stephan 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 1997 by the Greater City Aquarium Society Inc., a not-for-profit New York State corporation. All rights reserved. Not-for-profit aquarium societies are hereby granted permission to reproduce articles and illustrations from this publication, unless the article indicates that the copyrights have been retained by the author, and provided reprints indicate source and two copies of the publication are sent to the Exchange Editor of this magazine. Any other reproduction or commercial use of the material in this publication is prohibited without express written prior permission. 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 Vincent Sileo (718) 846-6984. You can also leave us a message at our Internet Home Page at: http: //ourworId. CompuServe. com/homepages/greatercity

From the Editor's Desk

n a recent event that must certainly rank in the annals of fish keeping history, a poor unfortunate in Louisiana attempted to swallow a 6 inch Jack Dempsey in response to a dare, and ended up suffocating. This was too momentous an occasion for me to pass up and in subsequent discussions over the incident with Joe Ferdenzi we wondered if fish should not come with labels that say something to the effect of M Warning - this fish contains body parts which could cause choking in persons lacking in common sense!" Having come up with that warning, I now wonder what other warnings fish should come with. "Purchase of this fish could result in the purchase of many others" - who among us hasn't started out with a few fish and ended up with way too many? "Purchase of this fish and the equipment to keep it could result in the purchase of many more such set ups" - just as we tend to buy too many fish, we also seem to have a proclivity to buy too many tanks to keep those fish in. "Purchase of this fish could lead to mysterious late night behavior" - ask anyone who keeps catfish about this one. Basically, most catfish are nocturnal and are mostly active after dark. Therefore, catfish enthusiasts (myself included) resort to patrolling around late at night to see their fish, often with red cellophane over a flashlight (fish can't see red). "Purchase of this fish may result in the owner speaking in strange languages" since many fish (especially cichlids, killies and catfish) don't have common names, it is necessary to refer to them by their Latin names. Try explaining Pseudotropheus lombardoi or Pseudacanthicus spinosus to someone who does not know much about fish! "Purchase of this fish, and the requisite maintenance to keep it healthy may involve the sacrifice of personal time" - more tanks mean more responsibility and more


maintenance. Be sure to take that into account as you add fish and tanks. "Purchase of this fish and many others may lead to joining an aquarium society" - as your interest and involvement in the hobby increases, you may find yourself seeking out others who share those interests. "Involvement in a aquarium society may allow you to develop some other interests" - as you get involved in an aquarium society such as Greater City you may find yourself using some of your other interests and/or skills to help out. Just look at the people who write for our magazine, and those who produce it each month. "Involvement in an aquarium society may result in making new friends" - this is clearly one of the greatest benefits I've gotten from Greater City, all of the new friends I've made and the special relationships I've developed. As you read this, we are only a few days away from our 75th Anniversary show. Have you decided which fish to enter? Remember, it has been requested that each member enter a minimum of two fish in the show. You don't want to be left out do you? Also, it is definitely not too late to volunteer your help if you haven't done so already. Get in touch with one of the show co-chairs, Vince Sileo or Ellen Halligan. They can best tell you where your help is needed. I promise, this is the last time you'll have to put up with my requests for involvement in the show (for this year, anyway!). Finally, as I was writing this editorial the results of the 1996 North East Council publication contest were released. Last year Modern Aquarium was voted top newsletter. Once again, we have won top newsletter as well as garnering a second place award for Joe Ferdenzi 'sArchocentrus nanoluteus article (which appeared in the March, 1996 issue). In addition, Charley Sabatino was awarded first place in the "Best Column" category and Susan Priest took second place in the same category. I could not be more proud of all of our winners. Winning best newsletter two years in a row is a great accomplishment, showing that Modern Aquarium is no flash in the pan, but a consistent winner. As I've said in the past, this magazine is a true team effort and the results show in the finished product. Good work everyone, let's keep it up! Warren Feuer

A History of the Greater City Aquarium Society JOSEPH FERDENZI s we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Greater City Aquarium Society, it is sad to note how little of its history is known. This, then, is an attempt to record that which is known to the author. It is to be hoped that this history will serve as foundation for the addition of future knowledge of the past. Those who have the knowledge are encouraged to share it with the author, so that future generations of aquarists may peek into the grandeur of what history reveals. It is accepted history that the society was founded in 1922. Indeed, in the Society's 1968 Show Journal, Charles Elzer, the then President, wrote that it was founded in August of that year. Unfortunately, no written record exists to document that fact. It is known from published accounts that at least three other aquarium societies existed in New York City in 1922. They were the New York Aquarium Society, founded in 1896 (the first to be founded in America), the Brooklyn Aquarium Society, founded in 1911 (the third to be founded in America; it was preceded by the Aquarium Society of Philadelphia in 1898), and the Ridgewood Aquarium Society (date of founding unknown). Regretfully, none of these societies survived uninterrupted into the present. The New York Aquarium Society, often simply referred to as The Aquarium Society because it was first, lasted into the sixties, and the Brooklyn Aquarium Society was non-existent for a number of years, although its descendant, the current Brooklyn Aquarium Society, re-founded in the mid 1950s, is now prosperous and growing. From the last, Ridgewood, began our own stirrings. In 1922, there was only one "national" aquarium magazine. It was entitled "Aquatic Life." The Ridgewood Aquarium Society also published a magazine entitled "Aquarium News," which was very short lived. To say the least, the Aquarium literature of the day was sparse. The classic Exotic Aquarium Fishes by William T. Innes was not to be published until 1935. However, one of the best books up to 1922 had been published by the Innes family publishing company in 1917; it was entitled Goldfish Varieties and Tropical Aquarium Fishes and was written by Innes himself, who noted on the cover page that he was the "Former President


Aquarium Society, Philadelphia." This book was very popular and went through many editions (from 1917 into the 1930s). This book may have been "the aquarium bible" in 1922. The first great aquarium magazine, "The Aquarium," also published by Innes, did not appear until May of 1932. Nevertheless, in those rather spartan times, Greater City was founded. Indeed, the very lack of information from literary sources may have been one of the reasons behind the proliferation of aquarium societies in those days. How "Greater City" was chosen as the name for the aquarium society is not revealed in any of the society's documents that I have been able to examine. Obviously, the members wanted the society to be cosmopolitan in scope, and since the name "New York" had already been taken, "Greater City" may have seemed an obvious choice for this New York City group. A clue does exist for this hypothesis. When New York City was created in 1898, it was officially known as the "Greater City of New York." In 1922, with the city only twenty-four years old, the term "Greater City" must have been quite familiar, and, therefore, presented itself as an outstanding alternative to "New York." So that the year of the Society's founding may be placed in proper perspective, one might remember that, in 1922, the New York Yankees had yet to win a World Series (they were swept 4 - 0 by the New York Giants that year, and did not win the first of their record number of triumphs in the Fall Classic until 1923), the first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade did not take place until some four years later (1926), and the first talking movie ("The Jazz Singer") was released in 1927 — five years after our Society was founded. In 1922, the President of the United States was Warren G. Harding, and the Mayor of New York City was John F. Hylan. On the international scene, 1922 saw Benito Mussolini become Premier of Italy, and it witnessed the formation of the Union of Soviet Social Republics. Greater City, thankfully, has outlived both Mussolini and the USSR. The earliest known written record of Greater City is in a letter to pioneering aquarist Herman Rabenau, dated May 5, 1929. The letterhead read "The Greater City Aquarium Society of Brooklyn, New York" and was signed by George Wade, Secretary, who lived at 1151

82nd Street, Brooklyn. The letter made Mr. Rabenau an honorary member of the Society. This historic letter was donated to the Society in 1971 by his widow. Tragically, the letter disappeared, but not before its existence was preserved in the pages of "Modern Aquarium" (February 1971). Fortunately, there is a published description of the Society that appeared in the September 1929 issue of the then popular magazine "Aquatic Life." This article was reprinted in the April 1997 issue of "Modern Aquarium." Not all our archival material is lost. We do have a copy of our 1934 show journal. It is a very interesting little booklet. It heralds the show as its "Sixth Annual Exhibition." This means that Greater City must have been holding shows as early as 1928. The journal includes a welcome message from the chairman, one Harry Plotnick, who apparently sold fish and lived in Brooklyn. The journal also contains a one page article by him on "The Home Aquarium." The advice is very basic, but sound. In keeping with the simplicity of the day, there is no mention of filtration or heating devices. As for a beginner's fish, he recommends "guppyi" (as guppy was then spelled) or the "Helleri" (swordtail). The journal also lists and describes the show classes, of which there were only four: livebearer, egg layer, labyrinth, and guppy. Incidentally, the angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) is described as "the most beautiful" member of the Cichlid family—high praise for what was, of course, the emblem fish of the society. The journal featured numerous ads, mostly pet shops and breeders, and a few manufacturers. The three judges for the show were Henry Kissel (an apparently well—known breeder whose impressive hatchery was photographed for the back cover advertisement of the show journal), Richard Buettner (another well-known breeder), and Frederick H. Stoye (who was, perhaps, the most prominent, both as a breeder and writer—he was an editor on Innes' "The Aquarium" magazine and the author of Tropical Fishes For The Home, the second edition of which was advertised in the show journal). Stoye and Buettner, along with Herman Rabenau, were judges at the previous year's show in 1933. Luckily, we also have a precious relic

from the 1933 show—a medal. The medal is made of sterling silver with a dark blue ribbon. The front features an angelfish whose ventral fins are greatly splayed. The front also displays the name of the Society, the year, and the word "Judge." Inscribed on the back is the name "C.H. Peters." Presumably, he had also been selected to judge that show. C.H. Peters was the editor of a popular magazine, "The Home Aquarium Bulletin," and the author of several books, including The Home Aquarium, published by the Boston Aquarium Society. This last fact is noteworthy because Peters lived in New Jersey, but the medal was returned to us in 1982 by the Boston Aquarium Society. (For a more detailed story about Peters and the medal, see the article appearing in the February 1997 issue of "Modern Aquarium.") Significantly, the medal appears to prove that the angelfish was our Society's emblem as early on as 1933. For interesting contemporary reports on the 1932 and 1933 show, one should read the articles from "The Home Aquarium Bulletin" and "Aquatic Life" that, among other articles about Greater City, were listed in an article appearing in the April 1997 issue of "Modern Aquarium." These early shows were so popular that a report on the 1937 show appeared on the front page of the New York Times for August 29, 1937 (heralding the first showing of the Neon Tetra in New York — this article was reprinted in the January 1997 issue of "Modern Aquarium"). In the March 1934 issue of "The Aquarium" magazine, there appeared a directory of aquarium societies then existing in the United States. This list was republished in the 1935 book Tropical Fish and Home Aquaria by Alfred Morgan. The directory included the following societies as existing in New York City and the surrounding counties: Greater City (Brooklyn), Marine Park Aquarium Society (Brooklyn), United Fish Fanciers' Society (Brooklyn), Glendale Aquarium Society (Queens), Nassau County Aquarium Society (Hempstead), Queens County Aquarium Society (Long Island City), Rockville Center Aquarium Society (Nassau), Aquarium Society of New York City (meeting at the American Museum of Natural History), Richmond County Aquarium Society (Staten Island), and the Westchester Aquarium Society

(White Plains). As one can see, there were many societies in those days. Except for Greater City, none survived into the present day (Nassau County was non-existent for decades, only to be re-founded in 1971). Greater City, back then, met on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month from September to June. Indeed, this tradition of meeting on Wednesdays, albeit now it's once a month, every month except July and August, has carried into the present. In 1934, the Society met at the Highland Park Y.M.C.A. at 570 Jamaica Avenue in Brooklyn. Its recording Secretary was a man by the name of Harry E. Cronk, Jr., who lived at 125 Decatur Street in Brooklyn. Sometime between 1934 and 1946, the Society moved from meeting in Brooklyn to Queens. By 1946 it was meeting in Jamaica Hall on 91st Avenue in Queens. In the interim, the Society had also held meetings at the Episcopal Church in Woodhaven, Queens. It seems clear from these early meeting sites that the Society was first formed of members from the "border towns" along the Brooklyn-Queens line. Indeed, it is altogether possible that Greater City may have been formed as a "split" from the Ridgewood Aquarium Society (Ridgewood is situated on the Brooklyn-Queens line). This theory is strongly supported by the printed recollections of Robert Maybeck, who joined Greater City in 1931, and was later its president from 1952 to 1953. He remembered that, upon joining, he was told Greater City was founded by a group from the Ridgewood Aquarium Society. Some of the recorded minutes from 1947 reveal that each meeting featured a guest speaker or program and that refreshments were served at the meetings. Both of these features are continued in the present day. However, briefly in 1947, refreshments were discontinued because of financial problems. Unfortunately, the actual minutes and records of the early years also "disappeared" sometime after 1974. It would be wonderful if we could rediscover those precious archives. During the 1940s the club reorganized itself and became very successful. It sponsored shows at the Mineola (Nassau County) Fair during that time. Its president from 1946-49 was Elliot Whiteway of Jamaica (Queens). During his tenure, the Society grew to a membership of 125. From 1950-51, the president was Robert Greene, who moved to upstate Delancey, New York, in 1958 to become a dairy fanner. Mr. Greene was succeeded by the following Society presidents: 1952-53, Robert Maybeck; 1954-55, 1958, Leonard Meyer; 1956-57, Sam

Estro; 1958-64, Eugene Baiocco (still an active member); 1965, Andy Fazio; 1966-68, Charles Elzer, Jr. (in 1967, the terms of office changed from calendar years to September to June terms); 1968-69, Walter Hubel (for whom our Bowl Show trophy is named). In 1957, the Society began publishing a modest magazine dubbed "Modern Aquarium." Its first editor was a man named Peter Nicholas, who was followed by Gian Padovani (a well known hobbyist to this day). In personal correspondence, Padovani recalls that the name for the magazine came from the concept of imitating Innes' venerable "The Aquarium" magazine, but with a more "modern" slant. This first series of "Modern Aquarium" was discontinued in the early 1960s. By 1971, the Society was meeting on the second Wednesday of the month at the Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (Queens). The Society had moved there from Ridgedale Hall on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale (Queens). Indeed, the time during which the club met at the Hall of Science marked one of the golden eras of the Society. Beginning in 1968, the Society began publication of the second series of "Modern Aquarium," destined to become one of the finest club publications in history. Dan Carson was the first editor, who was followed by Herb Fogal (who held the position the longest), and Jay Fryhover. What was significant about the 1968-74 series was its quality. Compared to other local club publications, it had few rivals (only the journal of the San Francisco Aquarium Society comes to mind in that regard). Even today, it would probably surpass any of the publications produced by local clubs. Why? It was professionally published (indeed, it was sold over the counter in pet shops), contained a good mix of articles (especially significant were its interviews and articles about prominent hobbyists of the day), and it was often illustrated with black and white photography (something no local club does regularly, even now). At a January 1970 meeting of the Society, it was recorded that there were over 300 people in attendance. Also, during this time, the Society sponsored annual fish shows, including one commemorating the Golden Anniversary of the Society in 1972. The design for the Society's current official emblem, an angelfish inside a circle surrounded by the words "Greater City Aquarium Society-Established 1922," was created in 1969 by Frank Margiotta, an artist and member. Big shows were held, including one at the Gertz department store in Jamaica (see the January 1968 issue of "Tropical Fish Hobbyist" for a story on one of them). During the 1970s,


tried some new ideas at last year's show and watched carefully so we could avoid making e have inherited a truly wonderful mistakes when preparing for our 75th aquarium society from those Anniversary Fish Show. The 1996 Bi-Annual hobbyists who Fish Show was a great success. originally formed it 75 years O P P ORTU N1TIE S FOR The lessons learned from that ago, and all the hobbyists who YOU TO GET INVOLVED: show gave us the courage to go have contributed to it since then. one step further, to make our I want to take this 75th Anniversary Fish Show the Enter fish into the show: This opportunity to remind you that most exciting and diverse fish is more important than anything this is your 75th Anniversary show the New York City area Fish Show, and your aquarium else and you just might win a has seen in quite some time! A new feature, which society. This society would not trophy that is bound to be a we have never tried before, will be the success it is if it weren't collector's item. for every one of you, and all of be the "People's Choice Award." Assist with the set-up on the We hope that this will add to the hobbyists like you, who Friday before the show: This came before. Our 75th everyone's enjoyment of the Anniversary Fish Show can only has gone very quickly and show. smoothly in the past, be successful if you participate. There is still work to be I remember when I first Assist with the break-down done to make this show the joined Greater City, six years on Sunday Evening: This has success it should be. As you ago. Then, just as it is now, it probably know, it is more work actually worked better than set than the Board of Directors can was a fun society with a relaxed llllll Ililli accomplish on their own. We atmosphere. But it is also a up! l|| II I society that accomplishes a lot. Greet people as they arrive: need you to lend us a hand. We We have gone through some Many people wilt have stumbled won't ask anyone to do any more major changes since I first upon our show and have no idea than they can. All we want is for everyone to get involved and joined. Most notably are the of what is going on and that semi-annual fish shows and have a great time. they can participate. We are Because all of this work Modern Aquarium. will be for nothing if we don't: The really excitingthing open to the public. is that any member can initiate Monitor displays: Answer 1) Enjoy ourselves through change in the society. All it questions about the society and c o m r a d e s h i p and takes is the desire to do give directions to the restroom friendly competition. something and to present it to and other exotic destinations. the board of governors where it can be thoroughly explored, Monitor the speakers' room: 2) Educate the public who refined and implemented. But Basically, closing the doors have no idea how much fun the hobby is. be prepared to see it through when the speaker is ready to because, as I mentioned before, start and opening them when 3) Provide an opportunity for this is your aquarium society and the lecture is over, hobbyists who may not if you don't do it, nobody will. be able to attend our All of the ground work Auction runner: Simply hold regular meetings to for our 75th Anniversary Fish the item that is being auctioned p art i c ip at e and Show is now firmly in place and and bring it to the auction table exchange information. will provide a solid foundation once the final bid has been for all of the features of the made. That is our goal. We show. Preparations for this show started over a year ago when we Auction table assistants: Help aren't here just to put someone were planning our 1996 Bi- record the item number, bidder on a pedestal. We aren't doing Annual Fish Show at the Queens number and final bid. Place this just to raise money for the society. In fact it is just the County Farm Museum. We items in bidders bags. opposite. We try to raise money knew then that our 75th Anniversary was just around the corner. So we all throughout the year with mini-auctions,


raffles, & lotteries (50/50's) so that we can put on a show and meet the goals mentioned above. Jobs, chores, duties, responsibilities, etcetera. I'm sure you have enough of those at work, at home, and at school. What I would like to offer to you is the opportunity to be a player rather than a spectator. You are the one with the knowledge, the skills and the ability to be part of the team and help win the game! I would imagine that some of you are reluctant to participate because you have no idea what is expected of you. And that is all right. Take my word for it, not only can you perform these tasks with ease, but you'll have fun doing it! This is not the first show we are putting together. Most of us have some previous experience. Some of us are seasoned pros who have not only contributed to Greater City's shows but have helped with shows for other societies and national and international organizations. We will be working with you every step of the way. All you need is a little time and the desire to play. The more of you who join in, the less work for any one person and a better time will be had by all!


Some opportunities available to you to become involved are in the box on the first page of this article. These are just some of the opportunities. As I mentioned before, we don't expect anyone to stay chained to a post for the duration. We would like to have as many people as possible for the same positions, so that we can rotate and everyone can have a good time. Now don't all rush me at once! Really think about how much time you can dedicate between now and SHOW TIME! Then come to me or one of the other board members and we will help you match your ability and availability to some of the opportunities to participate. It's up to you. It's your society. No one is going to force you. The only question you have to ask yourself is: DO I WANT TO HAVE FUN BY BEING PART OF ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING FISH SHOWS IN THE NYC AREA?


North East Council (NEC) Results Announced: NEC Votes Modern Aquarium "Best Publication" 2nd Year In A Row!

1996 - Best Newsletter "Modern Aquarium " - Greater City Aquarium Society 1996 - Best Article - Open Class 1st Kevin Hosmer - Tropical Fish Club Burlington "Lamprichthys tanganicanus" 2nd Joe Ferdenzi - Greater City Aquarium Society "A New Dwarf Cichlid: A. nanoluteus " 3rd Pete Schaumburg - Norwalk Aquarium Society "Total Tank Wipe-Out (Oh, No!) " 1996 - Best Article - Advanced Class 1st Tom Neal - New Hampshire Aquarium Society "Criteria for Judging" 2nd Chuck Davis - North Jersey Aquarium Society "Outdoor Stream-Pond" 3rd Tom Neal - New Hampshire Aquarium Society "Hidden Wonders" 1996 - Best Article - Junior Class Laura Lee Dev - New Hampshire Aquarium Society "My Fish " 1996 - Best Article - Humor Lisa Thomas - Tropical Fish Society of Rhode Island "Coming Out of the Closet" 1996 - Best Columns 1st Charley Sabatino - Greater City Aquarium Society "Catfish Chronicles" 2nd Susan Priest - Greater City Aquarium Society "Wet Leaves" 3rd Bill Simakauskas - Tropical Fish Society of Rhode Island "Oddball Livebearers "

5) Check for aggression. Stress is clearly the most common reason for fish to get sick. Water quality problems cause stress, as stated above, as will aggression. Unfortunately, as fish in our tanks exhibit behavior both day and night, aggression is not always obvious. The easiest way is to observe your tank at different times (night viewing may require a flashlight covered in red cellophane) to see who is bothering who. Other telltale signs could include a fish suddenly out of its normal living or hiding space, trashing of tank decorations/plants on a regular basis, or (as aggression increases) torn fins or wounds. 6) Check for proper water conditions. Water quality is really a two-fold issue. First, as mentioned, it is proper filtration and maintenance—that is, waste management. Secondly, it is keeping other conditions in the tank like pH, hardness, temperature and light intensity at levels that the fish you keep require. For example, are you keeping Rift Lake Cichlids without sufficient buffer? Did you buy a "cool fish" on impulse and add it to your community

tank without sufficiently researching its requirements (I have been guilty of this more than I'd like to admit)?? I hope this checklist will help you to battle diseases in the future. So what happened to my tank?? Here is a theory based on my experience and discussions with others: Parasitic cysts (like ich and velvet) are always in the water, can lay dormant for a very long period of time and can resist any anti-parasitic agent including chlorine bleach (speaking of Darwinism at work!!!). I could have pulled one or more of these up during a gravel cleaning and somehow just the right conditions were met and BANG. Great, I killed my fish by doing the right thing. Well, we all kill fish and it is not always based on something we directly did WRONG. It is an unfortunate part of the hobby that no one is immune; even the super well-known incredibly knowledgeable celebrities (most of them will share countless experiences with you). Much success!!!

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cause such a mark. A few days later, I noticed no evidence for the disappearance of a platy. What would you have thought? Once I overheard a youngster ask the reason why a catfish is so called. His companion answered that it was because of the whiskers, his explanation of the name was probably correct, but as most of you know, the so-called whiskers are very sensitive feelers which function as tactile organs and possibly to pick up vibrations and odors as well.

Catflshes vary immensely in size. The diminutive Cory dor as hastatus is a peanut next to the Mississippi River catflshes which grow up to 200 pounds. Catflshes are found in fresh and salt water. They aren't very fast swimmers, but nature has provided them with some sort of defense. A lot of them are encased in tough armors. Some have poisonous spines. A few are equipped to discharge an effective, powerful, electric shock.

aquarium published bq the Greater Citq Aquarium Society.


Synodontss angelic us, the Polka-dot cat Fish


WET LEAVES A Series On Books For The Hobbyist SUSAN PRIEST recently had the great pleasure and privilege to be a visitor in the "hallowed halls" of Joe Ferdenzi's fish room. This was not my first visit, but I hadn't been there in quite some time. The following morning, as I was reflecting on all that I had seen, a theme quickly emerged, that being the AWESOME sight of so many fish fry. Many, many, Many of the tanks contained baby fish; some were still being tended by their parents and others had graduated to a tank of their own. What has any of this got to do with a book review? This very uplifting l|^ experience led me to the choice of a tome worthy of a Diamond Jubilee. The spine of this book says "Breeding Aquarium Fish." It is not until you pull it off of the shelf and view the cover that you get a feel for what is inside. The cover reads "The Fascination of Breeding Aquarium Fish," and has a larger-than-life color photo of a pair of Paracheirodon axelrodi (cardinal tetras) in the process of scattering and fertilizing a spawn of pearly eggs. At this point, your autonomic nervous system takes over and you randomly open the book to a page, any page, in anticipation of more of the same. It is a rare book that can truly fascinate you before you have even opened the cover. This is a physically imposing volume. It is almost too large and heavy to hold on your lap. The temptation is to get down on the floor with it, where you can spread it out before you and "plunge in." I have given in to this temptation on many occasions. The photography in this book is, well, indescribable! Every single page contains one or more glossy color photos, usually enlarged many times over. It is a veritable feast for the eyes. If I had to choose one photo which captures the magic of this book for me, it would have to be the one on page 119 of a newly free-swimming fry of a Nanochromis squamiceps (the silverbellied Nanochromis), in open-mouthed pursuit of a brine shrimp. By perpetuating itself, this "infant" fish is already perpetuating its species. In keeping with the over-sized theme of every other aspect of this book, the print is also



extra large, making for easy reading. The opening chapter, "How to Breed Aquarium Fishes," makes many sweeping generalizations. One area where the authors get specific is fish foods. Suggestions such as putting worms or beef heart into a dog dish, or feeding seeds to your vegetarian fishes are accompanied by detailed descriptions, with photos, of every variety of food. The following seven chapters cover the main groups of fish being kept in the hobby. They include catfishes, cichlids and livebearers. The informal writing style guides the reader to a seemingly effortless assimilation of the material presented. The text incorporates information on each fish in natural as well as aquarium settings. Remaining true to its title, most of the text is a lively description of spawning activity. For example, did you ever think of a male Corydoras aeneus as trying to excite the female by "tickling" her with his barbels? Excellent use is made of the photo credits. Each one is turned into an opportunity to expand the experience. For example, the description of the photo on page 140 of a leaf laden with the eggs of the Pterophylum scalare, (angelfish), says that "regardless of the color of the parents, the eggs always have the same clear amber color." The final chapter is devoted to "oddballs." In addition to their distinctive physical traits, these fish are unusual in that they are rarely seen in aquariums, and therefore rarely bred in captivity. Chitala ornata (a knife fish), prefers water in the 90째 range, and the female uses her ovipositor, (breeding tube), for cleaning the chosen spawning site. The eggs of the Scleropages formosus (Asian arowana), are 3/4" in diameter, and their fry are not free-swimming for 60 days. Such detailed information on seldom bred fish is a rare commodity. I would probably be overstating the case to call it a glaring omission, but I couldn't help noticing the absence of any coverage of Rainbow fishes, a large and popular segment of the hobby. One minor annoyance was the page numbering. The white numerals surrounded by pale yellow required an extra effort to read. On the occasion of our 75th anniversary, as G.C.A.S. looks to the future, each of us must assess what positive and negative effects our aquaristic activities have had, and will have, on populations of fishes as they exist in nature. The beauty of the aquatic world, as revealed to us within the pages of this book, will help insure that we approach this task conscientiously.

Auction Mania A series by "The Undergravel Reporter"



hile nearly every month we meet, there is an auction at a Greater City Meeting, the giant auctions at our 75th Anniversary Show are a fish of a different color. I've purposely held off buying some equipment (pumps, filters, etc.) in anticipation of the giant "Dry Goods Auction" on Saturday night. Now, I realize that at times the bargains will be so good, that I'll simply have to bid. And if I get a canister filter rated for a 120 gallon tank for the price I was going to pay for a hang-on power filter for my 30 gallon, it may mean that I'll find out if fish will spawn in the equivalent of the rinse cycle of a clothes washer. Be that as it may, the auction I'm most excited about is the Sunday Fish and Aquatic Plant ("Wet Goods?") auction. Given the fact that I simply don't have room (or time to care for) for another fish, let alone another tank, I shouldn't even enter the auction room. Consider the fact that I just finished my taxes and, in reviewing my checkbook, I was made aware of what I spend annually on books, hobby magazines, fish and supplies, I should lock myself in a closet until after the Show has ended. But, I won't. I've found a solution: the Four A Society — Aquatic Auction Addicts Anonymous. Before I explain how this group is going to help me, I have to tell you that its membership is somewhat exclusive. Not everyone can join. First, you must have been observed at an auction of aquarium hobby supplies or livestock with glassy eyes. Then, you must be observed willing to pay more for a bag of easily obtainable tropical fish than the local pet store is selling them for at that very moment. Finally, it must be documented that you bought fish that you have absolutely no room for and/or that your "significant other" has expressly forbidden you to buy. If you qualify (as I do — on all counts), you can be considered a maniacal addict (or just plain maniac) and can join. Here's how it works:



Unlike some societies for other addictions, there is no 10 or 12 step program, no monthly meetings, no dues, no newsletter, in fact no contact with other members at all. If you have to ask how we recognize each other — you're not ready to join. We (who are members) KNOW when another AAAA member is in the room. The way we help each other is simple — my fellow members do everything in their power to keep me from being the successful bidder on whatever I want. They do this by simply outbidding me. Of course, it is my bound and sworn duty to help my sister and brother AAAA members, by doing my utmost to outbid them. Now someone may think that this is a nonproductive approach. On the contrary, it provides many benefits. First, by driving the auction price up, AAAA members expect to run out of money before they run out of space to put their purchases. Second, the sponsoring societies reap windfall profits from these actions of AAAA members "helping" each other. Third, non AAAA members benefit because, invariably, some things are purchased before an AAAA member's funds run out, but after the member's limit on space has run out. Then, the AAAA member is forced to donate the costly purchase at bargain price at the next raffle or auction, giving everyone a second chance at "the one that got away." Now, if you're not an auction maniac, and don't need the AAAA to "help," there are still a few things you should do to prepare for an auction. First, if you can inspect the items for auction beforehand, do so. If the bags are numbered, write down the numbers of those you are interested in buying. Second, if a fish is put up for bid that you know nothing about, it's better to let someone who already knows how to care for that fish have it. Go home, read up on the fish. Ask questions of those who have or who had that fish. Then, if you still think you want to try your hand at raising it, you'll be ready the next time that fish is auctioned. (And if the successful bidder was from your own society, it's very possible that fry from that fish will be available at a meeting auction in a few months.) Third, set reasonable limits on the most you are willing to pay for any one fish and a limit on what you will spend for the day. Then stick to it. And, if at the auction, you see some glassy-eyed bidders seemingly in a collective trance, you may have spotted AAAA members at work, maybe even me.

Greater City vSooiPtv liiSii OUUlCiy

Queens - New York City, NY


^—* f

Presents its 75th Anniversary DIAMOND JUBILEE

Giant Fish Show Saturday May 17 and Sunday May 18, 1997 La Guardia Marriott (102-05 Ditmars Blvd, East Elmhurst, NY) Competition/awards in 14 categories! 4 Raffle for a 30 gallon custom tank and cabinet! (Free raffle ticket for every three entries in the show) 4 Dry Goods Auction (Saturday)! 4 Fish and Plant Auction (Sunday)! + Noted speakers! Saturday

9:00 AM - Fish Room and Manufacturer's Displays Open 10:00 AM - Speaker: Dr. Paul Loiselle - World Renowned Cichlid Expert 11:30 AM • Speaker: Rosario LaCorte • America's foremost Breeder 1:00 PM - Lunch Break 2:00 PM - Speaker: Ray Lucas • One of the Country's Best Known Hobbyists on "Getting to know a hobbyist and what the hobby is all about." 6:00 PM - Fish Room and Manufacturers' Displays Close 7:00 PM - Giant Dry Goods Auction


9:00 AM - Fish Room and Manufacturer's Displays Open 12:30 PM - Fish Room and Manufacturer's Displays Close 1:00 PM - Awards Ceremony & Giant Livestock Auction 3:00 PM - Raffle Drawing

For information or entry forms, contact: Vincent Sileo (718)846-6984 or the Greater City website Registration for show competition after May 9 subject to a Late Fee. No registrations accepted after May 14. 18

G.C.A.S. HAPPENINGS \Ar 61COITl6. Let's extend a warm welcome to the following new members: Peter Mo Michael Pollack



GCAS's 75th Anniversary Show: La|prdi|;^arriq|t Hotel Ma^ 17 and 18. Pick up ajj; fehtry form at:||i| meetingtti .en||y|sh Jpjfie g|(npet(|iprii%|ntries after May 9 subject |d a lates fe£l|J\lo erilries accepted aftef Maf ft. l§ii| ^|||p facing page for details. Corgi to th|%hpwP Cast your vote for the NEW "Peoples' Choice" AwSfdlJJjpr weft ^nown shakers, P&fibipate in TWO auctions and save a

Jf^^^^x^LcaxL CiclmlidL JSLss :;: ;il


July 10-13 - Wyiidham Convention Chair: Lee


There are openings for Bqarti|^)f Governors po||i0|| lor the June elections. Cons||et: running for one of t^| Qj^l:;pb§itions. . ^^^^^^swss^,,. Here are meeting times -anti



pCpH : Well known ( i p ; i . - 1st Wednesday of at::!ii|fel Queens Botanical Garden |^(>rit^tf::^f|> Vincent Sileo 846-6984 Association

Aquarium Societyi;«|l Limhengco speakjng on " - Bella s^^en^lg fPM: EHiis|3|j!3ti Hall, .ji^qpirium for Wildlife Conservation -•Contact: BAS Events. -;3Jlephone: %%j| _._v:;:||iJS^;fipple Gup:p||eiij|:; JfF

:i||Qnth at tie|^|jfens- Botpical Gai:dign C^ilact: Stepiilriliwartier / Ed Rf|ihond Teleplme: (7 1 8)8f :4£7 1 8)M -0 1 66


8:00^^^^^^ ^^m^ch moiii|iat the Qu^g;pi5tanici§N ContiH^: MrSiSilSiid Curtin 631-0538

Long liiirid Aquarium Society

Nassau County pquarium Society

Meets: 8:00 P.M!;-iiiillrl|i|^|: month at Holtsville Park and ZSiD| Buckley Rd. Holtsville, NY 11801 Contact: Mr. Vinny Kreyling Telephone: (516) 938-4066

ijjjjjl^i^f2nd Tuesday of each iiohtfi: at the Merrick Park Golf Course, Merrick, NY Contact: Mr. Ken Smith Telephone: (516) 589-5844

North Jersey Aquarium Society

Norwalk Aquarium Society

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

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 Nine Lives We've heard it said that the larger a fish grows, the longer it lives, and the more likely it is to be a catfish. Match the Latin name with the common name (and the length of the fish). If you have to ask what size tank these fish need, you are not ready for them! Schilbe mystus Ictalurus punctatus Acanthicus adonis

Satan Pleco (14" to 27") South American Red Tail Cat (3 to 4 feet) Grass Cutter Cat (13" and up)

Pangasius sutchi

Adonis Pleco (14" to 27")

Acanthicus histrix

Sturgeon Shovelnose (16")

Phractocephalus hemioliopterus

Prehistoric Cat (24")

Glyptoperichthys gib biceps

Butterfly Pleco (18")

Megalodorus irwini Platytomichthys sturio

Channel Catfish (3 to 4 feet) Irridescent Shark (1 to 2 feet)

Reference: "Catfish Chronicles" by Charley Sabatino; winner of the First Place Award for "Best Column" of 1996 from the North East Council (NEC) of Aquarium Societies

Answer to last month's puzzle: TOPPING Of? YOUR TANK TOP

Water Hyacinth




Four Leaf Clover Duckweed


Madagascar Lace Plant


Frog Bit


Water Lettuce


Water Sprite



Hair Grass


Giant Vallisneria


Reference Aquarium Plants, Rataj and Horeman, TFH 1977



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