Modern Aquarium

Page 1




volume V number 2

Greater City Aquarium Society - New York

From the Editor's Desk

ecently, I received a phone call from a lady looking for pet stores in Manhattan. My advice to her was to pick up the Yellow Pages and look under "Pet Stores" and "Tropical Fish." "How," she asked me, "can I tell a good store?" This set me to thinking about what makes a good pet store. Some feel that good (also known as low) prices make a pet store desirable. These people shop for price and price only, and have even been known to travel to several different locations just to save several cents on a purchase. While all of us want to feel we are getting value for our money, selecting a pet store only by price is a mistake. Next come those who look for quantity in their pet store. These folks want to shop somewhere with many tanks, filled with as many different species of fish as possible. While it is true that "variety is the spice of life," and the more fish a store stocks, the larger your selection, and the better your chance of finding something you need and/or want; quantity of stock alone does not make a "good" pet store. I can think of several stores that I have gone to that have decent prices, as well as a large selection of fish, yet I will rarely, if ever, purchase anything from one of these places. One of the reasons why I stay away from the places I have described above, even though they have a large selection and good prices, is the quality of their stock. Nothing turns me off more than looking into a tank, and seeing diseased, dying, or dead fish — not to mention wounded or visibly stressed fish. I remember being at a shop and finding an absolutely beautiful lyre-tailed Panaque (a type of pleco catfish) that caught the eye of Mark Soberman and myself. The price was very reasonable, and the store certainly had a large stock to select from. Upon closer observation of the fish, it became obvious that the fish's stomach was rather sunken in, a sure indicator


that the fish was not eating, and might not once it was brought home to one of our tanks. We passed on buying the fish, rather regrettably, but probably wisely. Buying poor quality fish, no matter how inexpensive, or how many are offered, is a big mistake. If you're lucky, the fish will die while in quarantine. If you don't keep a quarantine tank, and you introduce the fish into an established tank, you run the risk of introducing who knows what disease, and could wipe your whole tank out. If the fish is deformed and survives to breed, it could pass along faulty qualities to future generations. The message is: quality counts. O.K. — so you've found a store with decent prices and a good selection of fish in both quality and variety. Now what? Now we come to the "soft" issues: those sometimes hard to define, but essential, final factors that help make or break a store, in my opinion. There are several stores I have been to that have most of the above qualities, but the owners/workers are downright unfriendly. This usually results in my walking out as quickly as possible. Good service is a must. You should feel that the person you are working with wants and appreciates your business and will help you with any needs you might have. This could be trouble shooting, product information, fish compatibility, or even something as simple as an honest opinion on a decision you are making. If you get the sense that someone is going through the motions with you, and doesn't really care, think twice about how much you want to give your hard earned money to this person, and what might happen going forward if you have a problem with an item purchased. Proper service only works to a certain point, then knowledge comes in. We've all dealt with well intentioned, but under-qualified, people. This can be most frustrating, especially when you are counting on them for help with something you know little, or nothing about. So let's add job knowledge to the mix. Finally, we have the main mantra of the real estate industry: "Location, location, location." This is a minor, but sometimes important, factor in what makes a pet store "good," especially in those situations where you find yourself in a "must have" situation at an inappropriate moment (aren't they always inappropriate when you need something?). While location won't make or break a store, in my mind, a convenient location makes a store somewhat more attractive.

Siamese Fighting Foods ALEXANDER A. PRIEST s I was preparing the 1997 Index for Modern Aquarium, I noticed there were no articles on Anabantoids. A recent survey of Greater City members revealed a preponderance of interest for Cichlids and Catfish (as reported in the January, 1997 issue of Modern Aquarium). Nonetheless, judging by the entries in our monthly Bowl Show, and bids at our monthly auctions, many of our members have some interest in at least one Anabantoid: Bettasplendens, the so-called "Siamese Fighting Fish." So, I decided to write a mini-series this year on Anabantoids, and topics relating to Anabantoids. I hope to present information in these articles not otherwise readily available.


The first topic in this series is commercial dry foods specifically marketed as being for Betta splendens. Understand, however, that a "Betta Food" is perfectly acceptable for other fish. So, if you purchase one or more of the foods in this article and find your Betta does not like it (and Bellas can be quite individual in Iheir food preferences), that same food can probably be fed to any other fish for which animal prolein (typically found in significant amounts in foods for Bellas) is acceptable. Go lo nearly any pel store or aquarium slore lhal sells food for iropical fish and you'll find several foods from differenl manufaclurers specifically packaged and markeled for Calfish, Cichlids, Goldfish, and Guppies. There are also foods for fry — bolh livebearers and egg layers. Bui, how often do you see fish food labeled especially for what our recent Show classed as "Fancy Bettas" (Betta splendens)! If your experience is like mine, you rarely see even one such product in a slore and, if you do, you're unlikely to see more than one brand for sale in thai store. This article is lo make olher Betta fanciers aware of six different foods I found that are specifically markeled for Bellas. The nexl page has a side by side label comparison, which is impossible lo do while shopping, unless all Ihe foods are near each olher on Ihe shelves. Note: 1 am not including a food jusl because il has a Bella on its label. A brand of sinking shrimp pellet I buy for bottom feeders had a beauliful Cambodian patterned Bella on ils cover for years; yel, Ihe sinking nalure of Ihis food makes il inappropriale for Bellas (and, aside from Ihe photo, the label did nol menlion Bettas). Each Betta food was subjectively rated by me on its "floating" ability — an importanl faclor, as Bellas rarely ever eat from Ihe bottom. So, "sinking" food wastes money, fouls the water quickly, and does not feed your Betta. I also listed protein (essential for their good health).

By Iheir nalure as almospheric air brealhers, Anabanloids are usually at or near Ihe surface of Ihe waler. They are considered "lop feeders" (which is lo say Ihey occupy and eat in the upper Ihird of an aquarium). Therefore, all foods for Bellas should floal. I lisl how well each food floals in Ihe chart on Ihe nexl page. The floaling nalure of Ihese foods also make Ihem ideal for Gouramis and olher Anabanloids, as well as olher "lop-feeders." (My Paradise Fish love Bio-Gold pellels which, as noled in Ihe chart, are loo large for some of my Bettas.) This article is on commercial dry Betta foods only. Il should be noted thai brine shrimp, floating spirulina slicks, and daphina (in moderalion) are also good foods for Bettas. Following Ihe chart is a subjeclive commenlary by me on some of Ihe foods. Each food was lested on Bettas of differing ages and sizes. Some of the Bettas used in these food lesls were previously accuslomed to live brine shrimp five or six times a week. Olhers, which I acquired primarily for control purposes, did nol slart receiving live food unlil after my commercial dry food lesls were compleled. Inlereslingly enough, even Bettas accuslomed lo regular feedings of live brine shrimp readily accepled Ihe more popular foods on Ihe accompanying chart; and Bellas which were accuslomed to nothing but commercial dry food still rejected some of Ihe foods lesled. In other words, the mosl popular foods lesled were accepled by bolh classes of my "lesl subjecls." I adapted Ihe formal of Ihis article from Joe Ferdenzi's "Dry Foods For Wei Pels" (Modern Aquarium, Nov. 1996). All commenls are my observalions and are nol Ihe opinion of Grealer Cily, or anyone else. Nolhing should be considered an endorsemenl of any brand. If anyone reading Ihis knows of a commercial dry Bella food nol lesled by me here, please lei me know (and where or how I can gel il), and I'll supplemenl this article in the future.

Maintenance and the Planted Tank WARREN FEUER

ne of the lessons I have learned since joining Greater City is that keeping a planted tank is nowhere near impossible. My earliest attempts (beforejoining GreaterCity) always met with failure. Experience has shown me that a lot of that failure was due to the plants I'd selected to keep. Most plants sold in discount chains are not true aquatic plants. Typically, they are "bog" plants whose natural way of life is to exist with only their roots, and possibly a small portion of the rest of the plant, submerged. Placed entirely underwater in our tanks, they cannot and will not survive. Avoid such specimens as hedge plants, sandrifolia, purple waffle, and pine trees. I've tried them all and you are just throwing your money out! In June of 1993, after increasing degrees of success with keeping plants in my tanks, I took the plunge and started a "planted tank." By that I mean a tank whose emphasis is on the plants and has few, if any, fish. Since starting this tank, I've learned quite a few lessons and made several modifications in the tank's configuration, as you shall see. At this point, some four years plus later, the tank is doing quite well (especially for someone like me who kills artificial plants!), and I've just about run out of room to add more plants. In describing my experience, I will break it down into separate categories and describe what's happened. My objective here is to share what I have learned about establishing and keeping a planted tank.



Since I initially hoped for plants that would grow vertically (upward) as well as horizontally (side to side) I wanted a tank that was tall enough to let some of the larger plants grow, and yet not too tall as to deny light to some of the plants closer to the bottom. Major factors in the equation were cost and space, as both were limited. Eventually, my choices came down to a 29 gallon tank (24"LX20"HX13"W), a 50 gallon tank (36LX18HX18W), or a 65 gallon tank (36LX24HX18W). At the time I was making my decision, one of our members was relocating and selling his entire stock of tanks.

I purchased a 29, a 20 long, and a "Queen Anne" stand for $25. My tank choice was made. LIGHTING

Here's a subject of much controversy. Much of the popular literature suggests 2 watts of light per gallon of water, with a 12-14 hour per day period for plants. When I set up the tank, I purchased a double light strip to be used over a full glass hood. I have found that the standard light strip included with the typical full hood (black plastic, you know the kind) just does not offer enough light for plants. Since this is a 29 gallon tank, each bulb is 24 inches long and provides 20 watts of light. Using the above rule of thumb, the 40 watts provided by the double fixture would not be enough, I would need about 60 watts. To compensate for this shortage, I purchased two "full spectrum" type fluorescent bulbs. Lighting periods of 14 hours per day were controlled by a timer. Initial plantings were large Amazon swords and several other South American plants purchased by mail order after discussing my needs with the owner of the service. My initial goal was to create an Amazon "biotope" tank to house several Discus that I was raising in another tank. Unfortunately, my plans for fish and plants in the tank did not work out. The Discus contracted ich and died shortly before I had planned to transfer them. The plants did not thrive. Instead of a planted tank, I had an algae garden. I began to think I had made a mistake taking on this challenge. My luck, as well as tank set up, changed after a conversation with Steve Gruebel, owner of Cameo Pet Shop. Steve suggested I lower the amount and duration of light in my tank to control algae. Steve also feels that Amazon swords do not need as much light as everyone thinks they do. I certainly would not argue with Steve, as any visit to Cameo makes it obvious that Steve knows what he is talking about. His tanks are filled with obviously healthy fish and spectacular plants. In my many years of dealing with Steve Gruebel and his associate, Steve

the exchange column


his column was conceived by me as a sneaky way for me to be the first to read the publications of all of the aquarium societies we correspond with. I did not want to duplicate the type of exchange column that I saw in other publications. I was hoping this column would be much more than a list of the titles of interesting articles from other societies, and/or a list of the times other societies reprinted articles from our members. What I hoped to accomplish was to use the publications of the other societies to provide insight and information into the way "they" do things, so that "we" at Greater City might leam something. (Hey, just because GCAS is 75 years young, doesn't mean we can't still learn a trick or two, and that even includes our very own Modern Aquarium!) This month, I am focusing on the Nassau County Aquarium Society (NCAS) through their publication, Pisces Press. I'll get to what I learned about the NCAS by reading Pisces Press later. Right now, I want to commend their Editor-in-Chief, Brandie Osman, for a very good looking publication. Like our own Modern Aquarium. Pisces Press has a distinct style and distinctive "look" about it. The pages are 11" x 17" folded in half (forming standard size 8'/2" x 11" pages). The outer cover is of a different color and has a different drawing on it each month. The publication is obviously intended to be mailed, as the back cover has a return address and place for stamps. Interesting use is made of decorative borders. The titles of most articles are surrounded by a decorative boarder. Their Board of Director's report, "From The Board," is a monthly full page feature; and it is surrounded by a border of pencils — a nice graphic touch. In fact, this publication is very graphically oriented. Their bowl show results are in a half page box entitled "Uncle Bob's Bowl Show News" (their Bowl Show chairperson is named "Bob"), and


includes a graphic of a prize ribbon. From this monthly feature, I learned that, in addition to first, second and third place awards, NCAS also awards "honorable mention" in their bowl show. In addition to a monthly bowl show, NCAS has another activity popular at Greater City: the "Silent Auction." While Greater City's is in April and takes the place of a regular meeting, theirs is held in December, along with their Holiday Party. (Imagine a "Silent" Greater City Holiday Party!) Their Officers' list has such unique positions as "Manufacturer's Liaison" and "Pet Store's Liaison." These are two positions that our own Board might want to consider creating. I mentioned earlier that doing this column allowed me to read other publications. In doing so, I often find interesting items relating to Greater City. Last year, Pisces Press reprinted Charlie Sabatino's "It's A Hobby, Isn't It?" (Modern Aquarium. January 1997 and Pat Piccione's "What I Learned From The Aquarium Hobby" (Modern Aquarium. March 1995). O.K., I said I didn't want a column that rattled off the articles of our members that were reprinted — but these are two of my all-time personal favorite articles from Modern Aquarium. I also learned, from an article by Second Vice-President Pat Smith, that Dan Carson (Greater City President from 1972-73, Chairman of the GCAS Golden Anniversary Show, and past Editor of Series II of Modern Aquarium) was the first guest speaker the NCAS ever had, back in 1970. Another interesting NCAS program I learned about through their publication is called "Fish Busters." This is a list of people who have volunteered to answer questions about certain areas of their expertise in the aquarium hobby. While Greater City publishes a periodically updated Membership/Interest list, the names I isted as participating in the NCAS "Fish Busters" program have actually volunteered to help. This is yet another program that our Board might want to take a look at to see if it can be adopted at Greater City. As with all of the other publications reviewed in this series, and which are part of Greater City's Exchange Program, copies of Pisces Press are available to GCAS members for loan on request.

Passau County (NY) Society


Tho Rest Of ~Y~lie Stoi-v:

The clc^r C JOSEPH FERDENZI ight about now, you may be saying to yourself: "What does a murder case have to do with tropical fish?" Ah, read on dear reader. You will learn the tale of a murder in which the tropical fish hobby played a leading role. We transport ourselves back to the Roaring '20s. It is a time of prohibition, Al Capone, flappers, Babe Ruth — America is exuberant. Toiling away in relative obscurity is a Manhattan art and literature critic, by the name of Willard Huntington Wright. Mr. Wright decides it is the right time to try his hand at what was, then, a relatively new literary genre — the detective novel. Of course, no serious, albeit obscure, literary critic would write under his real name. So, he adopts a pseudonym, a "pen" name: S.S. VanDine. His first novel is published in the year 1926. It is entitled The Benson Murder Case. (Subsequently, each of his novels, with the exception of the next to last one, would be entitled "The [always a six letter word] Murder Case." The exception was The Gracie Allen Murder Case. published in 1938, and named after the famous comedienne.) The Benson Murder Case introduced the suave Manhattan bachelor and amateur sleuth, Philo Vance. Well, what do you know? S. S. VanDine (who was also the supposed "real life" chronicler of the Philo Vance adventures, as was Dr. Watson for Sherlock Holmes) had a popular novel on his hands. Indeed, nearly every subsequent Philo Vance mystery turned into a bestseller. Quickly, Philo Vance became the most famous American detective of his day. The Dragon Murder Case was the seventh in the Philo Vance series (there were twelve in all). It was published in 1933. Most students of the tropical fish hobby would agree that the 1930s were a Golden Age for the hobby. New fish, big shows, newly formed clubs, ground-breaking breeding achievements, trend setting magazines, and classic books were part of this Golden Age. (For example, twelve thousand visitors reportedly came to the 1932 show of the Greater City Aquarium Society.) Well, Philo Vance was, if he was anything, a most contemporary "Renaissance Man" — he knew quite a bit about everything that was current. And so, in The Dragon Murder Case. debonair Philo Vance is called upon to investigate


the mysterious murder that takes place on the Inwood (upper Manhattan) estate of millionaire Rudolph Stamm. In the novel, Mr. Stamm is described as "one of the foremost aquarists in America. He has a most amazin' collection of tropical fish — strange and little known varieties which he has succeeded in breeding." Mr. Stamm's wealth enables him to travel to far flung parts of the globe in search of exotic aquarium fish. His mansion boasts two ground-floor rooms designed to hold his vast collection of aquariums. In fact, practically all of Chapter XVIII is devoted to describing the contents of these fish rooms. Even today, the description of these fabulous rooms is enough to make a hobbyist drool with envy. Some sample passages from the novel are in a box on the next page. As you will see, S. S. VanDine knew his material — which fish were novel and desirable — their descriptions and names are accurate. Most hobbyists of today would have no trouble recognizing the fish he is writing about. During the murder investigation, Philo Vance reveals that he, too, is somewhat of a tropical fish fancier. He admits, for example, that he has bred the Siamese Fighting Fish, Betta splendens. (A battle between two male Bettas belonging to Mr. Stamm is featured in the novel.) The reader is also told the following: "At one time Vance had turned his sun-parlor into an aquarium and devoted several years to breeding these beautiful veil-tailed fish. He succeeded in producing cornflower blue, deep maroon, and even black specimens; and he won several awards with them at the exhibitions of the Aquarium Society at the Museum of Natural History." This passage reveals that the author either did his research or was acquainted with the organized hobby. In fact, the New York Aquarium Society (usually referred to simply as The Aquarium Society owing to its stature as the first American aquarium society) held its meetings and shows at the American Museum of Natural History. Further evidence of VanDine's accuracy can be found in the September 1933 issue of Innes' The Aquarium magazine, which contains an announcement that The Aquarium Society will be holding its show on September 2-4, 1933, at the Museum. S.S. VanDine was obviously not making things up when it came to describing hobby affairs. 11

Excerpts from The Dragon Murder Case: Stamm led the way across the library and into the first aquarium. This room was even larger than the library, and had an enormous skylight as well as a row of high windows along both walls to the east and west. Beyond, through a second archway was still another aquarium, similar to the first; and beyond that was the terrarium with windows on three sides. The aquarium in which we stood was lined with fish tanks of all sizes, reaching to the base of the high windows: and half-way between the walls, running the entire length of the room, were two double rows of additional tanks, set on a long metal rack. There were more than a hundred such tanks in the room, ranging in capacity from five to one hundred gallons. His collection of the genus Barbus was extensive: he had beautiful specimens of the opalescent red-finned oligolepis: the rosy conchonius; the lateristriga, with its chameleon-like golden, black and carmine coloring; the black-banded pentazona; the silvery t/cto; and many others. After these came the species of the genus Rasbora especially heteromorpha and taeniata; and still further were beautiful specimens of the Characinidae, particularly of the sub-family Tetragonopterinee - the Yellow Red Glass, Bronze, and Flag Tetras, and the Hemigrammus ocellifer, or Head and Tail Light fish. In a series of tanks down the center of the room Stamm pointed with pride to his specimens of the Cichlidae - Cichlasoma facetum, severum, nigrofasciatum, festivum (the Flag Cichlid), urophthalmus, aureum, and so on. He also showed us several specimens of that enigmatical Symphysodon discus, about which so little is known, either as to its sex distinction or its habits. "I'm working on this species," Stamm said, proudly indicating the blue-green brassy specimens. "They are closely related to the Pterophyllum and are the only one of their genus. I'll surprise the old-time aquarists yet." "Have you succeeded in breeding any of the Pterophylluml" Vance asked with interest. Stamm chuckled. "I was one of the first aquarists in the country to find out that secret . . . look here." He pointed to an enormous tank of at least one hundred gallons. "That's the explanation. Plenty of swimming space, with heavy stemmed Sagittaria for the eggs, and a good warm temperature." (There were many beautiful specimens in the tank, some of them twelve inches from dorsal to anal fin.) He moved along the west wall, talking proudly and fluently of his fish, with the enthusiasm of a fanatic. Before we had completed the circuit he had shown us specimens of /Equidens portalegrensis (the Blue Acara); tiny transparent glass fish (Ambassis la/a); many species of Panchax, especially lineatus and the rare Nigerian species, grahami; a pair of pike-like Belonesox belizanus; the usual Danio malabaricus; such mouth breeders as Haplochromis multicolor, Astatotilapia moffati, Tilapia heudeloti, and Etroplus maculatus; labyrinthine fishes, such as Osphromenus, Macropodus, Anabas, and Ctenopoma; and hundreds of Lebistes reticulatus.


With the growing popularity of Philo Vance, could Hollywood be far behind in its admiration? Of course not. The Philo Vance character soon became a Hollywood fixture. Beginning in 1928, every Philo Vance mystery was turned into a motion picture. The last Philo Vance movie was made in 1940. In 1934, Hollywood produced the movie version of The Dragon Murder Case. This event prompted The Aquarium magazine to feature an article about it in the July 1934 issue. The article is written by one Paul Weber. Mr. Weber apparently owned a tropical fish store in the Los Angeles area, and he was hired to set up and stock the aquariums that would be used in the shooting of the movie. The article is an interesting description of his trials and tribulations on the set of the film. Just as interesting are the still photos from the movie that accompany the article. These photos feature various aquariums and their occupants (several of the "fishy" occupants are obvious "special effects" such as a paper cut-out of an Angelfish in one of the tanks).

What perhaps intrigues the most, however, is the article that follows the one about the making of the movie. It is entitled "Green Water," and is authored by none other than S. S. VanDine himself! (I guess that, even here, he wished not to use his real name.) The article is a short piece about the causes and "cures" for "green water." It is clearly a hobbyist's article. This makes it apparent that S.S. VanDine really was a hobbyist, and that he had engrafted another part of himself onto his fictional Philo Vance character. I must say that I enjoyed reading the novel. It is altogether remarkable to come across a bestseller from the 1930s that featured the tropical fish hobby (don't you know, it forms part of the solution to the murder mystery). It is especially fascinating to see the hobby described so accurately and in such detail in a novel published when both were the paragon of their age.

A Case For Society Management:

The Senior Citizen "Buddy" Program JOSEPH FERDENZI aving been involved in society management for over a decade, I have often heard the complaint that there aren't enough "young" people (usually defined as teens and pre-teens) involved in the hobby. That is true — always has been. However, in all candor, I must confess that even the best efforts to recruit youth to the organized hobby resemble the efforts of a Don Quixote tilting at a giant windmill of vast sociological forces arrayed against significant youth involvement. It is a noble goal, but it is "To Dream The Impossible Dream." I have a more modest dream. I would like to see a society in which every senior citizen who wishes to attend meetings can do so. I am regularly in touch with many tropical fish hobby seniors. Almost without exception, the single factor that most limits their attendance at meetings is their increased inability or dislike for driving alone at night. Some are fortunate enough to have friends in the club who drive them to meetings. However, shouldn't all these senior citizens, who, over the years, have given so much to the hobby, be remembered by the society in some meaningful way? The answer should be a resounding "Yes!" Hence, I would like to propose a "buddy" system. This "buddy" system would be managed by the


society and promoted through its periodical magazine or newsletter. The first step in the program would be to identify those seniors who need a ride to meetings. This can be accomplished through a series of discrete phone calls. After having compiled this list, the society would solicit "buddy" drivers. These volunteers would drive the seniors to and from the meetings. Back-up drivers would also be solicited. The first "buddy" would be responsible for calling the back-up "buddy" on those nights when the primary driver can't make it to a meeting. The person in charge of the "buddy" program would compile the lists and attempt to make matches. To avoid embarrassing situations, the coordinator should keep the respective lists confidential, and only advise the senior of a match after the driver "buddy" has agreed that picking up a particular senior is do-able. Let's start at Greater City. Anyone willing to drive a senior or any senior who needs a ride should let me know, and I will attempt to match you to a senior or driver, respectively. I know it will be a rewarding experience for everyone involved, and it will enrich all of us in the hobby to have the increased participation of our distinguished senior hobbyists.







516-775-8183 . •••%.,

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First You Say You Do ... A series by "The Undergravel Reporter"

|i|n spite of popular demand to the contrary T thi s humor and i nfprrnati on col u fn n co nti n u es, As usual, i t d o es NOT necessarily represent the opinions of the Editor, or of the Greater City. Aquarium Society.

here once was a song (which some of our members are too young to remember) of a man singing of the fickleness of his girlfriend. It included the lines: "First you say you do, and then you don't. Then, you say you will, and then you won't" To some extent, this is how I feel about some of the advice recently being given to those of us in the aquarium hobby. For example, take the traditional advice that you should always float a bag of newly acquired fish on the top of the tank you intend to put them in. (Hopefully, it's a quarantine tank.) While the bag is floating, you are to scoop some the tank water into the bag at intervals until the temperature of the water in the bag is the same as that of the tank and the water in the bag consists of 50% or more of water from the tank. This advice has been challenged. Some experts have even advanced the theory that not only is this accommodation process unnecessary, but actually harmful. According to this theory, keeping fish in degraded water conditions for longer than absolutely necessary subjects them to greater stress than would be the case if the fish were simply placed directly into the quarantine tank. My opinion is that if you know the fish has been "bagged" for days (such as might be the case if you were importing fish directly from an out of state or foreign distributor), get the fish out of the bag and into water of the same temperature as soon as possible — otherwise, float as usual. Generations of aquarists have floated bags of fish on their on tanks. If mass deaths were the result of such actions, I think we'd have heard about it long before this. Then, there is the issue of using carbon in filters. Traditionally, it was assumed that carbon filtered out harmful chemicals (chemical filtration), until the carbon was saturated. After that, it served as an attachment point for bacteria


(biological filtration). Now, there is a school of thought that filter carbon actually filters for only a few days. (I've seen estimates of as few as three days.) A related theory is that once the carbon is saturated with harmful chemicals, it regurgitates those chemicals back into the water, polluting, rather than filtering the tank. Well, I'll admit that I don't change my filter carbon every three days, so the thought of my filter vomiting pollutants into my tank is not a pleasant one. What about undergravel filters — are they any good, and are they compatible with plants? This question has been around for almost as long as these filters. Unfortunately, there seems to be no definite answer. In my opinion, the undergravel "filter" included with one and two gallon hex tanks is probably worth exactly what you paid for it — nothing. On the other hand, a quality undergravel filter can provide effective biological filtration, but it can also clog. Also, vacuuming gravel with a cleaning syphon can bring detritus up and into the water. Undergravel filters need help from powerheads and other mechanical filters. If they are carefully selected and regularly cut back to prevent roots from growing into and clogging the filter plate, plants can grow in tanks with undergravel filters. Even better, plants in pots with no opening for roots to grow out of pose no clogging problems. Newly added water should always be the exact temperature as that of the tank — right? Well, how often is rain the same temperature as the surrounding air? Nearly always, rain is colder. That means that every time it rains, fish in natural bodies of water are subjected to the introduction of cooler water. Yet I've never read of mass fish deaths in ponds, lakes, or streams just because it rained (acid and polluted rain notwithstanding). In fact, many fish spawn just after water changes, as it resembles rain to them. Shouldn't we then always have our replacement water a few degrees cooler? Makes sense to me. While I'm on the subject of tank temperature: I keep reading that it should be kept constant. Yet, if aquariums are attempts to duplicate natural conditions, then can anyone tell me where in the world the evening temperature is the same as that during the day? If we put our lights on timers (I don't, but I know many aquarists who do), then shouldn't we put our heaters on the same timer. (Lights go off, heat goes down — just as it does in nature.) The song I mentioned in the beginning of this article asks: "You're undecided now, so what're you gonna do?" That about sums up my feelings, too.


G.C.A.S. HAPPENINGS Sept '97 — June '98 Bowl Show Standings to date; 1: 19 points: Steve Sagona; 2: 6 points: Francis Lee; 3: 5 points: Mike Loweth; 4: 4 points: Ken Hooper; 5: (tie) 1 point: Claudia Dickinson and Ellen Halligan " IVIodei-n Aqxia.r-ium CTeeds YOTJ'*

Articles for Modern Aquarium are ajwiafifl^nee^^^^jicy can be submitted handwritten (neatly, please!), typed, uploaded as an e-mail attachment ::p.n our website (or to GreaterCity@compu$erve.corn), or (prefer|bly) fpilcomputer disk. We can accept computer disks on standard high density i|r double iensl^ 3.|i'libr,;|i|5'\,^§kettes, formatted for MS-DOS (including W|ndo%s and Win95), Macintosh, or Amiga? ;|f yoj subfnit an article on disk, please: |p:'. •*• -w ,J;;;;.;.;, '%.. 1) M^Ske and kWp a duplicate copy (disks do go bad a^df||hen mailed, aje I .^Sometimes "cancelled" by the post office). :xs;f : '.',..11 Isi % .,:::€) Inei||d§ a "hard copy" printout. Kr^Vf'JF \:? 3) SaveFthe artic :fe;i|r|nat

(RTF). If you don't kno>v how* to dolthis with your word;;|::l; I? j;: processor, ask any member of!fOtir EdHorial BoardWexcept Joe Ferdenzi!) IS help you. s OuriBlitorial Board will worry abotij grammar or spelling, so you won't have to. If you we'll even work with ^u JoSelp you write your article;;::::::, Heresa-re meeting times and locations of a q u a r i u m societies in the Metropolitan New York area: GR;y


Mareh;;4 H

Brooklyn Aquarium Society s&ijf

Meets: 8:dO::P?M. - j i w " e d n e s d a y of each; month; at the;; QueenS; Botanical Garden Contact::Mr! Vine^it Sileo ^Telephone- (7J8I)

Next Meeting: February 13 at 8PM : ....... : Ginny Eckstein: "Whiskers & Warriors" :8PM: Educatioii: Hall, ;;;Aquianum,,,. for \ViU31ife Conservation Cofttact: BAS Telephone: (718)j|?-4455 •

East Coast Guppy Association

Big Apple Guppy CJub

Meets: 8:00 P.M. - Ik Thurspy of each month at theiQueensfitJtanical;;;Garden::i|| Contacts: JefBiSeorge / Gen^laudier ''** Telephone: (718)428-7190 / (516)345^6399:;

Meets: 8:00 P.M,;- |rd-?Thursday <Jf each month a|;tbe QueenS Botanical Garden Contact: MrgiDonald Cu^pP* Telephone:(718) 631-0511

Long Island Aquarium Society

Nassau County Aquarium Society

Meets: 8:00 P.M. - 3rd Friday of each month at Holtsville Park and Zoo, 249 Buckley Rd. Holtsville, NY 11801 Contact: Mr. Vinny Kreyling Telephone: (516) 938-4066

Meets: 8:00 P.M. - 2nd Tuesday of each month at the William M. Grouse Post 3211 V.F.W., Rte. 107, Hicksville, NY Contact: Mr. Ken Smith Telephone: (516) 589-0913

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) 332-4415

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 Thumb: Both Wet & Green We hope that "Maintenance and the Planted Tank" in this issue inspired you to add some plants to your tanks. You might even be rewarded by a flower — but only from varieties of plants that produce a flower, of course. So, this month, we're challenging you to classify (from their scientific names) which of a select group of plants are flowering, and which are not: PLANT



Hygrophila polysperma Riccia fluitans Salvina minima Echinodorus amazonicus Salvina auriculata Sagittaria graminea Cryptocoryne parva Microsorium pteropus Hydrocotyle vulgaris Echinodorus longiscapus Source: Aquarium Plants by Dr. Karel Rataj and Thomas J. Horeman 1977 TFH Publications, Inc.

Solution to Last Month's Puzzle: TJ | | | |) | ^ A) Otocinclus affinis B) Synodontis angelicus C) Pterophyllum scalare D) Poecilia reticulata E) Farlowella sp. F) Ancistrus temminckii G) Bella splendens H) Lamprologus multifasciatus I) Glyptoperichthys gibbiceps



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