Modern Aquarium

Page 1

President's Message VINCENT SILEO he Holiday Season is quickly approaching as I am writing this President's message — reminding me to thank everyone who has been so supportive during my first few months as President. Obviously, the Board of Governors and the Editorial Board come to mind. However; there are some who are not so obvious, such as the Board members who recently gave up their posts this past season. Joe Ferdenzi has been a constant source of information and inspiration, not to mention a "Living Calendar" who reminds me to prepare for Society events. Mark Soberman keeps in touch regularly, offering advice on how to book speakers and even offering to get speakers for us, such as he did for this December's meeting. Some others whose contributions may not be so readily attributed are Bernie Harrigan, who has published the current (third) series of Modern Aquarium since it started and provides the Society with most of its printing needs at what must be termed "Society Special Prices;" Jason Kerner, who researched, produced and sells all of the T-shirts and sweatshirts for our 75th anniversary, not to mention personally hand pasting the color photo on nearly every issue of Modern Aquarium for the past two years. Jason is also the person responsible for the soda that has been available at our meetings. It was his idea, he presented it to the Board, and once approved, went the extra mile by fulfilling his suggestion. Steve Sagona continues to support the club in various ways whenever possible, such as bringing recent issues of fish magazines to our October meeting as a donation to the Society. Leonard Ramroop, our Early Arrivals Chairman, makes sure that the Greater City Aquarium Society banner is in top shape and proudly displayed. In addition, Leonard also brings the bulletin board to all of our meetings. This bulletin board is there for the use of any member who wants to sell old equipment or some fish they have spawned, or for any other tropical fish related use. Don't make Leonard carry that bulletin board back and forth for nothing, put it to use! Claudia Dickinson travels over two hours to be at our meetings and has added a new dimension to the Membership committee. Thanks to Claudia's suggestion, we will have a special


door prize at our regular meetings, so please don't forget to sign in! This is the last President's message of our 75th Anniversary. "Seventy five years as a continuously active aquarium society." "One of the oldest in the country." We couldn't make those claims without everyone who has contributed to making this Society a success by attending our meetings, participating in our Bowl Show, raffles, 50/50 drawings, donating plants and livestock, or participating in our auctions and helping out at Society events. The purpose of an aquarium society is to share the knowledge of aquariums, enjoy the excitement of meeting people who have the same interests, and generally have a good time doing it. None of us are making any money by doing this; we do it because we enjoy making the Society enjoyable for all. Suggestions are welcome and help is always appreciated. As a matter of fact, we have a number of positions that are currently available. First of all, there are two Board of Governor positions available. Anyone who has been a member for over one year may apply. Two people who are currently serving on the Board of Governors and have served as the Hospitality committee for the past FOURTEEN years are Mary Ann and Joe Bugeia. Most of you know them as the couple who bring the coffee and cake and sell raffle tickets. I know them as a very nice couple who would like to continue serving the Society, but just can't do as much as they would like to any longer. The December meeting will be the last meeting at which MaryAnn and Joe will act as the Hospitality committee and provide coffee and cake. I have made announcements at meetings, sent notices to members and advertised in this magazine for a replacement, but no one has shown any interest. So unless someone shows some interest, this may be the last meeting that we provide coffee and cake. Hospitality isn't a very difficult job, and I bet that once someone accepts the position, there will be many who will offer their help. I'm sure that the Bugeias will be happy to "show you the ropes." And, I'm just as sure that there are a number of members who would be happy to take over, but are worried that they may not do as good of a job or perhaps that they will be stuck with the position for fourteen years! If this sounds like you, please give me a call (718)8466984 or see me at one of our meetings to discuss your concerns. I'll be happy to talk to anyone who would like to be a part of the next 75 years of the Greater City Aquarium Society.

Cleaning For Glass Aquariums JOSEPH FERDENZI leaning algae room" over the tank, as from aquarium is often the case with my g l a s s is tank rack arrangements, something that every there will be insufficient aquarist must face, clearance to enable you sooner or later. Various to use the stick to clean devices can be used to the upper parts of the perform this task, from aquarium. specially made sticks Cleaning with sponge-backed magnets eliminate most, scrubbing pads or straight if not all, of these razors, to generic problems. Yes, they non-toxic scrubbing pads generally cost more than or razors which are the other two types of good quality cleaning hand-held, to "cleaning devices, but good quality magnets should last a magnets." My personal cleaning magnets should lifetime (unless used preference is for the last a lifetime (unless as substitute hockey latter, because they offer used as substitute hockey pucks) versatility and significant pucks). I own a variety advantages over the other of cleaning magnets, and two. Use of hand-held describing each of them will reveal what to look devices has the obvious for in a cleaning magnet. disadvantage of having to I will later describe how to use them properly. immerse one's hand and arm under water. Of "Cleaning magnets" are not just naked course, your hand and arm must be free of magnets which adhere to each other through the contaminants and you must have a towel at the glass. Most cleaning magnets are encased in ready to dry off. Additionally, some tanks are plastic on five sides, and the sixth side (the side situated in such a way that you might not be that comes in contact with the glass) is covered able to reach all the surfaces you wish to clean, in a variety of materials, depending on the or you might have to stand on a stool to reach manufacturer and whether the magnet is the the bottom portions of a tank. Of course, some "inside" the tank magnet or the "outside" the tanks are so deep that even standing on a stool tank magnet. might not enable you to reach the bottom. My largest set of magnets is encased Further, the movement of your hand and arm in housing that is 2 & 3/4 inches by 2 & 1/4 causes significant water disturbance, especially inches. Each enclosure actually houses two at the surface. (I need not mention that use of powerful magnets. This set is very strong. (If hand-held devices is strongly discouraged in you have children, do not let them play with tanks housing Piranhas, do I?) such strong magnets, as they could easily bruise The use of cleaning "sticks" does not their fingers, nose, or whatever else they stick in offer significant advantages over the use of between them, including Rover's tail.) Such a hand-held devices. True enough it is that your strong set of magnets is absolutely essential if hand and arm won't get wet, and there will be you have tanks made out of one quarter inch less surface agitation. But, you will still not be thick or thicker panes of glass. Also, the larger able to reach as many parts of the aquarium as surface area of such sets allows you to clean with magnets, and you will have to expend larger tanks (which tend to be made of the considerably more physical strain than in using thicker glass) faster. My set is made by Sicce magnets. Moreover, if you have little "head


(an Italian company), but other manufacturers make comparable magnets. The "inside" magnet's abrasive surface is made of the same material as the "hook" side of Velcro速 type fasteners. While this material has the advantage of being virtually indestructible, its disadvantage is that the relatively large spaces between the hooks requires that you pass over the same spot a number of times more than with other types of abrasive materials. The "outside" magnet's contact surface is covered in felt, which is pretty much standard for the "outside" one in most sets. My second set of magnets is for medium-sized tanks. This particular set was made by Hagen, and measures 4 inches by 1 & 1/4 inches. The original scrubbing surface of the "inside" magnet was composed of synthetic fibers glued to the magnet. Over the years (this is my oldest set of magnets - over ten years), the fibers loosened and disappeared (sort of like watching a guy go bald). I therefore purchased a generic, non-toxic, sponge/scrubber combination at the supermarket (I forgot the brand). I separated the scrubber part from the sponge and cut it to fit the shape of the magnet. I then glued it to the magnet using aquarium-safe silicone. This has worked very well, and is superior to the Velcro速 - type surface. My third set of magnets is for small aquariums. It measures 2 & 1/4 inches by 7/8ths of an inch. It is surprisingly strong. It is manufactured by a Dutch company, and is sold by the name "Algenmagneet." This small set is useful because, in smaller tanks, using the medium sized set would cause greater water movement, with concomitant greater disruption to its occupants. The "inside" magnet has a scrubbing surface made of a high-quality Velcro速 - type material that is quite effective. My fourth, and final, set of magnets is unique in several respects. Its uniqueness makes it a "must have" set for any collection of magnets. It is a set manufactured by Penn-Plax, a New York based company, and sold under the name of "Magna-scraper." Two things are unique about this set. The first, but least important, is that the "outside" magnet is encased on all sides by plastic. This is far superior to the felt surfaces which have a tendency to fray and loosen with age. Moreover, the smooth plastic surface does not appear to scratch the glass. The second unique feature is that the "inside" magnet also has all of its sides covered in plastic, but with the important feature that the "scrubbing" surface has two channels along its length (the magnet casing is 1 & 1/2

inches by 1 & 1/2 inches), each of which holds a custom made straight razor. Razors are absolutely indispensable for removing certain types of algae (the real stubborn kind). Yet, as far as I know, Penn-Plax is the only company that markets a cleaning magnet with razors. There are two points I would like to make about these razors. One, of course, is that they must be used carefully, both inside and outside the tank. Inside you must be careful because it may, on occasion, scratch the glass (hence, the reason I also use "soft" cleaning magnets). Outside you must be careful lest you cause your fingers to become a vampire attractant. The Penn-Plax razor blades can be replaced when they become pitted (this takes many years of use). Unfortunately, I have never seen replacement blades offered for sale. I have, therefore, taken to pirating the blades from various disposable razors (Bic, Schick, Gillette, etc.) and jerryrigging them to fit the channels in the casing, but this is an imperfect solution because, while these substitute razors are of the correct material (stainless steel) and length (1 1/2 inches), they are invariably either too short or too tall for the channel and the tall ones have to be cut down (a tedious and potentially bloody process). The proper way to use cleaning magnets is slowly. If you are too fast, the "inside" magnet may be "left behind" the "outside" magnet, and fall to the bottom. Then, you have to waste time retrieving it. This "left behind" effect may also occur if the inside magnet becomes too thick with removed algae, especially the "slimy" stuff. Also, be careful that particles of gravel do not get lodged between the magnets; that is a sure recipe for scratching your glass. In the event a piece of gravel gets lodged, pull the magnets apart and let the "inside" magnet fall to the bottom (better a wet hand than scratched glass). Incidentally, I have sometimes used one of these magnets to restart magnetic-drive filter impellers that had "frozen." By placing my cleaning magnet on the outside of the impeller's plastic-encased motor drive and giving it a few sudden lateral movements, I have often succeeded in "jolting" the filter into action. One last word of caution; this article has consistently referred to glass. Do not use any cleaning magnet (or, for that matter, any other type of algae scrubber) on acrylic or plastic tanks unless the product is safe for such use as specifically designated by the manufacturer. Well, that's it. Happy algae hunting!


uring the '60s there was a popular poster that depicted an American president (who shall remain nameless) and posed the question, "Would you buy a used car from this man?" I'd like to borrow that phrase and ask you to look at your neighboring aquarist and ask yourself if you would accept a used fish from that person. I know my answer would be an immediate "Yes," because I buy, sell, give, and get "used fish" all the time. Allow me to explain. Unlike cars, fish are living things and can't really be placed in categories such as "new" and "used." However, there are definitely fish that I presently have that I consider "used." At this point, an example to help clear things up is probably in order. One of my favorite fish is a Royal Pleco that resides in my 75 gallon community tank. However, the history of this particular fish begins not in my tank, but at a pet store. I don't know how the fish ended up at the pet store, but my guess would be that it was sold by a wholesaler who purchased it as wild caught from its native waters. To my knowledge, no one is commercially spawning Royal Plecos, so I'm guessing this fish was wild caught. The fish was bought by Mark Soberman and placed in one of Mark's tanks. There it resided for about three years, pretty much keeping to itself, and going about its life in captivity. I had always liked the fish, but unfortunately never thought I had room for one in my tanks; so I enjoyed the Royal vicariously through Mark. One day, Mark and I received notification from Charley Sabbatino, a fellow member of the "Catfish Scouting Society," that a local pet shop had a magnificent Xingu Gold Royal Pleco. Upon first seeing this fish, I tried to figure out a way I could include this fish in my collection. Unfortunately, there was no way I could house it. Mark, on the other hand, had a 90 gallon tank that would be perfect for the fish. There was only one


problem, Mark already had a Royal Pleco, the aforementioned fish purchase, and he didn't really want or need two. The fish remained in the pet store for several weeks, and it became obvious that it was beginning to feel the effects of being kept in a 10 gallon tank. We were witnessing the slow decline of a magnificent specimen. It was Charley who came up with the solution. His idea was for me to buy Mark's present Royal, and Mark could then use that money and a little more to buy the Xingu Gold, which was being offered to us for a down right bargain price, considering the fish involved. I agreed to buy Marks' fish for his original purchase price and Mark bought the Xingu Gold Royal. Everyone was happy, especially the Xingu Gold, who now had a new spacious home. I got the perfect fish for my needs, who has become an integral part of my 75 gallon community. Much better than buying a 1970 Ford Maverick that was only driven on Sundays, right? A nice part about this transaction was that I did not have to worry about quarantining the fish, it had a long, known history of good health; therefore I was not at all concerned about introducing any contamination in the form of disease with the fish. That's a real advantage of buying a used fish, especially if you know the history of the fish. Most of the time, there is no money involved in the acquisition or donation of used fish. Typically, used fish are obtained when a fish has out-grown its present home and the owner has no where else to keep it, or it has worn out its welcome, or sometimes its owner no longer wishes to keep the fish, having lost interest in it. I was in the possession of two rather large Tinfoil Barbs, each one about 12 inches or more in length. Although I was very attached to them, having raised them since they were mere 2 inch babies, they had outgrown my 75 gallon tank, and were constantly getting bruised and breaking

JLJ1 the exchange column


he Internet is a truly fascinating thing. When I set up a website for Greater City on the "World Wide Web," I did not fully appreciate the benefits we would be getting as a result. We've been contacted by "Net Surfers" all over the world. Well, late last year, I was checking my e-mail and found a message from Hawaii. The message was from someone whose name should be familiar to those of you who have been reading the historical articles we've been printing this year. The sender was none other than Dan Carson, who was President of GCAS 25 years ago, Chairman of the 50th (Golden) Anniversary Show, and was also a past Editor of Modern Aquarium (Series II). I immediately asked him for an article for the Show Journal I was __^_^^_ preparing, and he graciously agreed. In subsequent correspondence, I discovered that he was a member of the Honolulu Aquarium Society and was also about to start a newsletter for that society. We agreed to add each other's societies to our exchange lists. For a newsletter less than a year old (the first issue was January 1997), the publication is remarkably well thought out and well put together. As a result of our exchanges, the very first issue of FA Q HAWAFI featured a reprint from Modern Aquarium ("The Joys of Harboring Seahorses" by Susan Priest, a 1995 FAAS Publication Award winning article, recently also reprinted by an Australian society). Their second issue reprinted Warren Feuer's "Lake Tanganyika Tango" and mentioned Greater City's website. They recently adopted something else in common with GCAS. They went from a Clown Loach logo on the newsletter to a stylized Angelfish. From their monthly publication (they meet and publish 12 times a year), I discovered that they hold an annual show. As expected, there are classes of fish which are judged. Unique is a "perpetual Best-In-Show" trophy.


Like hockey's Stanley Cup, each year the winner's name is added to it. (It is unclear whether the winner gets temporary custody of the trophy until the next winner is announced.) The classes in their show are interesting, and two are almost guaranteed to make a certain immediate past President of GCAS cringe: "Novelty Community Tanks" must only have items not normally found in nature (colored gravel, plastic plants, figurines, ornaments, etc.) and "Combination Community Tanks" must include plastic along with live plants. (Not indicated for either class, but probably assumed, are live fish.) FA O HAWAFI has a monthly column (generally a page in length), reporting on the last Board of Director's meeting. The newsletter has a regular "Trading Post" column of items for sale, or items wanted, by members. There is apparently also a monthly "Table Show" (similar to our Bowl Show) with ribbons awarded for first, second, and third places and an additional cash award for first place. Members may enter up to three fish per category, one fish per container. (There are two categories, Live Bearers and Egg Layers.) The Table Show fish container must have at least one flat side. Greater City has its April "Silent Auction." The Honolulu Aquarium Society apparently has its November "Swap Meet and Garage Sale." Each member is given "floor space the size of two sheets of newspaper" to display hardware or livestock. The Honolulu Aquarium Society merely provides members with a place to transact business and, while it will accept donations, the Society does not receive a portion of the proceeds. Also, unlike Greater City's Silent Auction, this Swap Meet replaces only the society's regular auction and door prize. In other words, there is a regular meeting that night, in addition to the Swap Meet. The publication has numerous original cartoons in every issue. This is not to imply the publication is frivolous — it isn't. Articles of scientific interest, including research performed at the University of Hawaii, are not uncommon. The Honolulu Aquarium Society's Internet website is Heartland/Meadows/2948/HASF.html or you can link to it through Greater City's website. As with all of the other publications reviewed in this series, and which are part of Greater City's Exchange Program, copies of FA O HA WAP I are available to GCAS members for loan on request.

Since the wide spread use of Algae Magnets WARDLEY decided to stop making their containers with metal."


Artists' Showcase

Creature Clje#t By now, you have a feel for the talent, knowledge, and variety that our literary heritage represents. For this last article in the Treasure Chest series, we thought we would share with you some of the art work that enhanced the pages of Modern Aquarium, Series II. We hope you enjoy . . . Robert Perrini "Marine and Freshwater Angels" (4/74)

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