Modern Aquarium

Page 1

From the Editor's Desk

his will be my last editorial. I have notified the Board of Directors, as well as the editorial staff of Modern Aquarium, that, effective July 1, 1998, I am resigning as editor of Modern Aquarium. Time, or rather, the lack thereof is the main culprit. I find myself with less and less time on my hands. The needs of my family have, and continue, to come first. I am finding that as my two children get older they need more and more of my time. I do not want to be a part time father, nor do I want to give them the impression that anything is more important than they are. I don't want you to think that I am unhappy about all this. My children are my greatest treasure. As my wife completes her studies towards a Masters degree and begins to contemplate re-entering the work force, her time at home lessens. She has basically devoted the majority of the past 8 years of her life to raising Eric and Alison, placing herself last almost all the time. I support her decision to go back to school and pursue a course of study that interests her, and, as she needed, I have tried to always let her school needs come first in my plans. Unfortunately, the work world she is soon to re-enter is not as time flexible as school and will demand more of her time and effort. This means more of my time will be needed at home to help out. Again, no regrets from this writer. My marriage and my family are the corner stones of my life. Within the coming year, 1 anticipate that I will be spending several months recovering from surgery. 1 an experiencing some health problems, that, while not yet life threatening, must be attended to. Not wishing to leave the magazine in the lurch if I need to leave it suddenly, ! feel that it is best to leave now, and let others take over in an orderly manner. This past March I started a new job that will also be placing more and more demands on my time. Since time is a finite matter, limited in


the amount there is. something must give. This time it's Modern Aquarium! I leave with nothing out fona memories and a sense of having learned much ana accomplished more. We have been able to resurrect a magazine that many thought was long gone and once again turn it into a major publication within the hobby. The results as well as the rewards have made the time and effort spent well worth it. Through the magazine I have been able to write about the fabulous hobby that we all share, and all of the wonderful aspects that make it so much fun. More than that, I have been able to share my experiences and feelings with all of you month after month. ! will miss that. Being Editor has enabled me to credit ana thank those who have worked together with me to make Modern Aquarium the wonder that it is. Let me mention and thank them again, one last time: Joe Ferdenzi, Al Priest, Susan Priest, Jason Kerner, Bernie Harrigan, Mark Soberman, Stephan Zander and Pat Piccione. Without them the magazine you see before you would not be possible. I do not know what the future holds for Modern Aquarium. I do know that the editorial staff is a dedicated and talented bunch, well capable of going forward with the magazine. I will help however I can and do what I can. I expect my name will continue to appear within these pages as I plan to keep writing. In closing, let me say that I have been extremely privileged to serve as Editor of Modern Aquarium these past 4 years. It has been a time of much success and reward. In leaving, I sincerely hope others will step forward to ensure the continuea success of Modern Aquarium. Warren Feuer



President's Message VINCENT SILEO icrosoft™ recently started an ad campaign with the question "Where do you want to go today?" insinuating, I think, that they can take you where ever you want to go. "Where do you want to go today?" It's a good question, and one which can easily be applied to Greater City. Where do you, the members, want to see Greater City next year? In five years? or ten? Greater City has been through a lot of changes during its 75 years. When I first started with Greater City some years ago, it appeared to be a very easy going, amiable society whose focus was still on many of the traditional aquarium society functions and aquarium hobby basics. It was very appealing to me. My introduction to the hobby was through the retail and wholesale trade. Everything was gadgets and quick fix remedies. I learned a lot from Greater City. As I continued to explore the "organized" hobby (as opposed to all those hobbyists that go it alone), I learned about some of the well known, expert speakers who were willing to speak at society meetings. I saw how some societies conducted their Board of Governors meetings at the beginning of every general meeting. I had the opportunity to read a number of very well produced society news-letters. And I had the pleasure to attend some of the grander fish shows, conventions and auctions. I was inspired. I wanted to enlighten the members of Greater City and make them aware of the accomplishments of these other societies. But without a concise plan of action my dreams for the perfect, all encompassing, not-to-be-out-done, aquarium society were just that, dreams. A number of members who had been with the society longer than I were already putting together their plan of action while I was still exploring the hobby. So just when I was about to suggest that we try to emulate other societies' newsletters, I learned that Greater City was about to produce a publication to bring back some of its previous grandeur. The newsletter, of course, is Modern Aquarium. Most of those members whose plan of action made Modern Aquarium possible are still on its editorial board, making certain that it stays true to their dream. This brings me back to "Where do you want to go?" I really would like to know what the membership's expectations are for the Society.


Some have suggested bringing in big name speakers from out of town and others have suggested running a newsletter specific to the immediate happenings of Greater City along with Modern Aquarium. So "Where do you want to go?" I'd like to know. Once you have decided upon what you would like to see in Greater City's future, stop and think. It's not just enough to know where you want to go. As I stated earlier, without a concise plan of action, dreams will never become reality. If left to someone else, they will become distorted at best, and totally forgotten at worst. Now, I'm not saying that you have to have all of the answers; heck you probably don't even need to have most of the answers. You just have to bring up the idea and provide a frame-work upon which those with the know-how can build upon it. For instance, let's look at the big name, out-of-town, speakers. At face value, it is a great idea, but in practice there are a number of obstacles, mainly financial. First of all, many big name speakers MUST be flown in. Have you ever compared airfare rates for weekday tickets as opposed to those which include a Saturday night stay over? If you haven't, you'll be in for a big surprise. They are very often four to ten times as much, no exaggeration. So our options are: 1) Change our meeting day to Friday, or 2) Pay for a hotel and meals for four nights (which can cost more than the airfare!), or 3) Find a member who would be willing to put up the speaker for four nights, or 4) Find a way to raise the funds necessary to fuel this dream. (NOTE: #'s 2 & 3 are predicated on the speaker having the ability and desire to spend three days in NYC alone! #3 is predicated on the speaker being willing to stay at someone's home.) So as you can see, many ideas may seem like obvious genius until you try to put them into action. This is not to say that they are impossible. We are currently working to develop a budget for next year's speakers' program along with a budget for all of our GCAS expenditures. We would also like to ask you, the membership, to help with any ideas you might have for fund raising for this dream. Looking again at what was done with Greater City's newsletter, "Network," and what it resulted in (Modern Aquarium), you can see what can be accomplished if you are not afraid to ask for help and have the desire to really see it through. So let me know where you want Greater City to go. Tell me that you're willing to help make it happen and see it through to completion, so your dream remains true. And finally, propose a plan of action to make that dream a reality. I hope to hear from you soon!

Black Butterflies in the Aquarium Poecilocharax weitzmani JOSEPH FERDENZI

t has been said by some knowledgeable aquarists that hobbyists don't breed fish, the fish breed themselves. This truism is certainly exemplified by the story of the "Black Morpho" tetra, Poecilocharax weitzmani. Before I begin my tale, a little background about the fish is in order. Poecilocharax weitzmani was discovered and introduced to the hobby by Dr. Herbert Axelrod. In the March, 1983 issue of Tropical Fish


indeed a shame, because its beauty deserves a wider audience. Generally speaking, the fish has an appearance similar to the more familiar, but larger, Sailfin Tetra, Crenuchus spilurus. My full grown male weitzmani is only two inches in length, whereas an adult male spilurus can easily exceed three inches. However, in both species, the male is easy to distinguish from the female. The male is larger and the colors are more

The Author's Tank Hobbyist, Dr. Axelrod vividly recounts the story of its discovery. It is a delightful and informative recounting. The Black Morpho was discovered in the "black water" regions of Brazil in the same waters as the fabled Neon Tetra, Paracheirodon innesi. When Dr. Axelrod first caught weitzmani in his net, he thought he had accidentally caught a Morpho butterfly that had been hovering on the water. Morpho butterflies are known for their bright, metallic-like colors. Indeed, anyone who sees an adult weitzmani would readily understand Dr. Axelrod's comparison and, hence, the "common" name of Black Morpho Tetra. Regretfully, this fish is anything but common, being seen only as a sporadic importation from the wild. This is 4

Photo by J. Ferdenzi

intense. However, what really stands out between males and females is the finnage. The dorsal and anal fins of the male are markedly longer and more colorful. This makes it possible to tell a male from a female even before they are fully mature. Although weitzmani is smaller than spilurus, it more than makes up for this by its more peaceful nature and its distinctly brighter colors. As the cover photo reveals, the Black Morpho Tetra has a striking color pattern. Along the entire length of its body run three horizontal stripes; the bottom one being black (it is the widest), followed by a yellow one, and then a red one. Indeed, I have often remarked to my friends that the pattern is virtually the same

as that of the flag of Germany! The black stripe has an especially metallic sheen to it. The unpaired fins of the male are also suffused, at the edges, in red. Trust me when I say that you will not see a more striking tetra than a male weitzmani. Fortunately for me, these uncommon fish do not look especially good in the less-thanperfect environment of most retailer's tanks. I say "fortunately" somewhat ironically. The fact that they are small and not at their best in a fish store means that they don't usually sell well. This gives people like me (people who voraciously read as many aquarium books and magazines as they can) a chance to buy them before the casual customer does. Of course, this also has the downside that lack of demand causes most retailers not to carry them often. However, some time ago, in the Summer of 1993, I got lucky. I was talking to a hobbyist friend of mine who also has an interest in tetras. He happened to mention that he had seen some weitzmani in a pet shop near his home. When he informed me that they were selling for less than a dollar, I asked him to buy the whole tankful (yes, that is how we fish nuts operate). He did so. My little treasure trove consisted of about 30 fish. These I divided between myself and another friend who prizes weitzmani. Now, where to put my 15 weitzmanil The aquarium I chose undoubtedly played a large role in their prolonged survival. Let me describe its contents. It is an antique tank from the 1930's that holds approximately 14 gallons. The bottom consists of a substrate of about 1 Vi" of #2 size "Red River" gravel. The tank also contains two small pieces of "Malaysian" driftwood. The slow release of tannic acids from the wood imparts a slight amber tint to the water. The tank has a heater which keeps the tank at between 78 °F and 80°F year-round. It is filtered by a small canister filter containing inert material (polyester floss and ceramic rings), and also has an airstone to further agitate the water. Undoubtedly, though, the most singular aspect of this aquarium is its dense growth of Hygrophila polysperma. There are also a few Anubias nana plants in the tank, but the Hygrophila literally covers the entire tank (see accompanying photo). The tank is lit by an overhead fluorescent fixture suspended approximately two feet above the tank, which has a plexiglass cover. The fixture has two 40W cool white bulbs, and is on an automatic timer that turns the lights on for about fifteen hours a day. When I placed the weitzmani in the

aquarium, it did contain other fishes. These consisted of a dozen Neon Tetras, six Pencilfish (Nannostomus harrisoni\r Corydoras paleatus, one Bristle-nose Pleco (Ancistrus species), and one Charicidium fasciatum (a small darter-like tetra). These co-inhabitants have a few things in common besides geography (South America). They are small and peaceful (although the Charicidium fasciatum can be quite aggressive against its own species). The latter attribute was important because the weitzmani were somewhat thin and weak when they arrived at my home. However, on a diet of newly-hatched brine shrimp and vitamin-enriched flake food, the weitzmani started to fill out. Fortunately, I did not lose a single one. As time passed, I worried less about them, and began to pay them less attention (of course, when you have 80 aquariums, you cannot long concentrate on any one aquarium). Nevertheless, it appeared the fish were prospering. One day, about a year after I had obtained the weitzmani, I decided to do a vigorous pruning of the Hygrophila. After removing the cuttings, there was, at last, an open area in the aquarium which gave a partial unobstructed view of the tank. I then decided to feed the fish to get a good look at them. I sprinkled some flake food on the surface over the open area. As the fish proceeded into it to feed, I noticed two magnificent males. My, how they had grown; their elongated fmnage was exceptionally noteworthy. I performed a pH test, which showed the water to be approximately 6.0. This acidic pH comports with their native waters. The tank temperature, at the 78° to 80° F range, was rather on the warm side. However, the weitzmani do not seem bothered by that. Indeed, many of the original 15 specimens are still alive at this writing (December 1997). Weitzmani are not fussy eaters. Flake food, pellets, etc., suit them just fine. Unfortunately, as far as I am aware, no one has ever bred weitzmani in the aquarium. I have never seen a spawning report in any American magazine. They are not a schooling fish like so many of the smaller tetras. Nor are they constantly on the move. Their behavior is more reminiscent of an Apistogramma cichlid, or a killifish — slow, deliberate movement, undertaken as a solitary unit. Perhaps someday soon, some enterprising (or lucky) aquarist will uncover the secret of weitzmani breeding. For now, it is just a beautiful wild "butterfly" for the aquarium.

BEST LAID PLANS WARREN FEUER nce I make up my mind to do something, it usually gets done. With most decisions I make, I take action on that decision pretty quickly. However, just like everyone else, there are occasions where I procrastinate and don't do what I decided to do, or take my time in getting something done. Sometimes, I regret delaying and, sometimes, it works out for the best. I had decided to get rid of my daffodils. No, I'm not talking about those pretty yellow flowers. I mean the Lake Tanganyika cichlid Neolamprologus sp. "daffodil". 1 had been keeping them for about 3 years, and although I still found them to be great looking fish and perfect aquarium residents, quite frankly I was a little bored with them. Living in an apartment, I have limited space for fish tanks and try to maximize my resources. This means sometimes getting rid of some fish to get others. To keep the "daffodils" I had gotten rid of my breeding colony of Pseudotropheus acii, a Lake Malawi mbuna that I been keeping with great success. However, I really wanted to keep something else and decided to let the acii go. I had intended to keep the "daffodils" in a species tank, that is, a tank with onetype of fish in it. In my experience, this is the best way to keep these fish as they seem to do best and also breed much more readily and with greater success. Due to a donation from a friend as well as some fish from a store that was closing, the tank (a 30 long) ended up being a "community" of Lake Tankanyika cichlids which also contained Neolamprologus caudopunctatus as well as Enantiopus melanogenys. Not an ideal breeding situation. Despite the conditions, the "daffodils" had managed to spawn successfully, and, despite predation about 7 fry survived. For our club, there must be at least 10 fry in order to get breeders award points for the fish, so I was a little shy in that category. Then, the fish stopped spawning. 1 can't say why. Nothing really changed in the tank other than the fact that I replaced the fluorescent light that sat atop the tank. I had originally been using a 24 inch long light and replaced it with a 36 inch fixture. Did that cause the fish to stop spawning? One would tend to think not, but it is possible.


About 18 months after the last spawning in the tank, I began to think about getting something else for the tank. Of the original group of 5 caudopunctatus, there were now only 2. The quartet of Enantiopus melanogenys was now one fish. And the "daffodils" were not spawning at all. Why not try something else? I had developed an interest in keeping Altolamprologus calvus, another Tanganyikan cichlid and figured the "daffodil" tank, once emptied of other fish would be the perfect place for them to go. Somehow, I never found the time to empty the tank. I had been really busy at work, and the little leisure time I had reserved for my fish was mostly spent doing water changes and general tank maintenance. So the "daffodils" stayed in their home. Finally, I got tired of delaying the inevitable and decided that while doing my weekly water changes on the coming weekend I would take all the fish out of the tank and trade them for the calvus I wanted. I had located the calvus in a store I sometimes went to, and had set the deal up. That Thursday, when I returned home from work I was greeted at the door by my son Eric. "Dad", he said, "we have babies in the tank!" I had no idea which tank he meant (I have 9 tanks in all), so I had him lead me to the site of his excitement. As you've probably guessed by now, it was the "daffodils" that had spawned. There were about 20 to 25 baby fish swimming about, the parents and other adult "daffodils" fervently guarding them. The other species in the tank were huddled in the opposite corner of the tank, well away from the babies. Based upon my previous experiences with the spawnings in the tank I expected most of the fry to disappear over the next few days. Despite the relative lack of success the "daffodils" had in protecting their fry (most ended up getting eaten by the other fish in the tank), I am constantly amazed and impressed at the protection these fish provide to their fry. Not only do the parents guard the fry, but the other juvenile and adult fish also get involved, helping to guard the fry. If the tank were larger, I'm sure more fry would survive.

This time, however, that did not happen. The adults continued to provide a constant vigil over the babies and most of them survived. All thoughts of getting rid of the fish were gone. I would have to find another tank for the calvus, if I still wanted them. To increase the number of surviving fry, I decided to keep only the "daffodils" in the tank. Without totally destroying the rock work in the tank, I managed to get the other fish out. Within a day, the change in behavior in the tank was dramatic. Where the babies had previously hid most of the time, they now came out more often, careful however to always be near a hiding space. The adults appeared to be less nervous, and loosened up their guarding of the fry. The babies grew, slowly but surely. In the midst of all this, a family vacation meant one week away from the fish. There was no way I wasn't going ("Sorry, honey I have to baby sit some fry" just doesn't cut it in my house). I had left fish without food for a week before, but never fry. There was nothing 1 could do. If I lost the fry, I'd have to hope that the fish would spawn again. Upon returning from vacation, the "daffodil" tank was the first one 1 checked. Not only were all the fry there, but they had grown! There seemed to be more babies then there were before i left. My gamble had paid off.

To compensate for their extended fast, and ease my guilt I fed the fish twice for the next few days. In general, I try to feed once a day. Most weeks I use one day as a fast day, not feeding the fish at all. From everything I've read and seen, fish do better when they are slightly under-fed, rather than over-fed. (As I was once told, "There is no flake food fairy in the wild.") Several days after returning from vacation, I noticed that the apparent breeding pair of "daffodils" seemed nervous. Had they spawned again? My guess was correct. This time they spawned on the back wall of the tank, and I watched as the eggs developed. The adults provided a constant vigil over their eggs, fanning them to keep the water flowing around them, and nervously keeping an eye out for intruders. As the days passed, the eggs disappeared off the wall. Had they hatched, or just fungused and been removed? Several days after the last of the eggs were gone, I happened to be looking at the tank in search of any new fry. As I looked into one of the crevices formed by pieces of slate piled on top of each other I noticed some movement. Several very small, barely noticeable, fry moved in the tank's current, surrounded by older siblings. I had read about juveniles eating the younger fish, but that did not seem to be the case. Another generation had been started. Sometimes, it pays to wait.


Unscramble the letters below to form words used in the tropical fish hobby. Then, use the circled letters to find the answer to this quiz. #1.

What the aquarist thought he had finally found (in his tank).





You would think this fish could cut a piece of driftwood.

Q H Y C R E R (_) O M T H U


QQQ (_)

T A F L O (_)







R A D FW i }



L A N G 0 L



This fish could lead you to a pot of gold.

Q ___ QQ__Q I L S A N (J) _ W P S N A F I U X T E B




(J) _ _




Now, take the circled letters in the answers to 1, 2, and 3, and tell us what makes aquarists happy.


Tnrougfn The Eyes or a Hobbyist

On The RoaA To The NEC! CLAUDIA DICKINSON 'm so excited, I can barely stand it! No, I can't write that ~ it's so unprofessional. Well I'll throw all caution to the wind! I'm off to the Northeast Council of Aquarium Societies' annual convention, which is always the highlight of the year's fishy travels and not to be missed! From the very first NEC convention I attended, I've had such a fabulous time and learned so much, that I am "hooked!" This year the main focus will be on catfish, with many other subjects being discussed, so there will be plenty to peak every individual's interests. A parting glance over our Ivy Rose Cottage to be certain all is in order before pulling the picket gate latch closed behind me. A brief note of appreciation of the tiny new leaves of spring on the roses, as they push their way forward to greet the promise of a beautiful sunny day. The tanks have all had their final water change, parameters checked, and each inhabitant's overall condition accounted for. (Yes Warren, I pause and think to myself, it's true ~ there is a most "special fish" in my life ~ and someday I may just spill it all and tell the world of this wondrous being!) There is the contented sound of crunching biscuits coming from under the kitchen table, while a few wide eyes are felt, pleading with me to reconsider my journey. Parsley and greens are heard delicately torn away by little beaks. After words of love and reassurance, Cie Cie, my cockatoo, has gone to the birdsitter's where he sits in a "gruffled" (yes, I've even been known to make up my own words to suit the occasion!) state, awaiting my return. A "bah" from the backyard sends a calming message from my lips to Bentley, Asher, and Franklin. As I jump in my car on this glorious, brisk, March day, a note from my most special husband, who will be caring for all of this while I am away, greets me, and floods my heart with warmth, and fuels my soul with the confidence and encouragement to continue on my "fishy" ventures. Moving briskly now, winding along country roads, and two short ferry rides to one l!/2 hour ferry. Here I have a moment to reflect into the depths of the rich, green sea and ponder all of the creatures ~ gliding, darting, crawling, burrowing, and swaying through the daily rituals of their sub-sea existence. Before I knew it, I was swept up in the excitement of the NEC! For those of you who have heard of the Northeast Council of Aquarium Societies and wondered what it is all about, if you are reading this ~ YOU are more than likely already a member! Anyone who belongs to the G.C.A.S. or any of the "sister" societies in the


Northeast is automatically a member of the NEC. It's YOUR organization ~ isn't that GREAT! The NEC is a large and unified force for all of the goals of the member societies. These include our endeavors to educate the public, showing beginners, as well as those who have given up as a result of failed attempts, that aquariums can be fun ~ once the basic concepts are understood. Most importantly, the conservation of endangered species through our working with the public, as well as maintaining, breeding and distributing these fish. The individuals who put this event together do such a splendid job at making an actionpacked weekend, full of opportunities to soak in a wealth of knowledge, meet wonderful people, and create a most unforgettable experience! All is handled in such a cheerful, inviting, easygoing manner, which makes the event most enjoyable! The registration room on Friday evening is filled with arrivals meeting and greeting one another. Lee and Aline Finley had a large selection of Lee's books to be poured over, with Lee always on hand with an educated book review. Now was the time to treat oneself to that special "wish-list" title! What would an NEC event be without Ray Lucas' shining face amongst his vast array of products, never ceasing to educate the hobbyist on the importance of our avocation and the manner in which we conduct it?! Tom and Peggy Neal were showing Tom's very reasonable and nutritious line of gourmet fish foods from flake earthworms to all varieties conceivable. Tom, in his gentle unassuming manner, has that oneness with aquatic life to have raised and bred more species of fish than most of us could imagine. With Tom's quiet, modest demeanor, one would never know ~ he is THE Tom Neal who, through his wonderfully informative articles in TFH, has introduced us to many new varieties of fish and their habits. Tom also dedicates much time and effort towards the breeding and conservation of freshwater as well as saltwater fish. Several other vendors, all of whom were open throughout the convention, included Uncle Ned's Fish Factory, with a large collection of fish for sale, Aquarium Fish Magazine, Waterlife Imports, and Marineland Aquarium Products. At 7:30 P.M. came the first of the unsurpassed speaker line-up, with Harro Hieronimus from Germany on Mollies, and Dave Grzanka giving us many pointers through his great successful experiences in breeding Corydoras. Dave believes in keeping your Corys in a colony and removing the eggs into a jar with an airstone for 3-5 days until hatched. He feeds with green

water for three days, and then live brine shrimp. Dave recommends keeping tanks small to contain food within the fry's access, and lots of water changes are a must. At 9:00 P.M., the convention kicked off with introductions and an auctioneer contest of dry goods donations. All budding auctioneers did a splendid job - each with their own personal flair. Socializing then continued into the wee hours for some of the "hardiest" attendees! Saturday morning we woke up to an unexpected magical, beautiful snow that fell all day! Beginning at 9:15 A.M., many difficult decisions had to be made as so many great speakers were giving their presentations simultaneously. The day began with Lee Finley on Auchenipterid and Ageneiosid Catfishes, and Neil Frank on plants. Afterwards Harro Hieronimus spoke on Corydoras and Mike Hellweg, who I had the great fortune to hostess for the weekend, along with his lovely wife Angela, told us all about culturing live foods. I was so excited about learning first-hand how to grow and harvest my fishes' meals, and I came home, brimming (literally-Mike so generously sent me off with my very own Whiteworm and Grindalworm cultures {Brad is really thrilled now!}) with new ideas! I was so privileged at lunchtime to be able to eavesdrop on one of those intensely educated and interesting conversations between Mike Hellweg and Al Castro, who were so kind as to allow me this opportunity, and let me feel at ease. I thank them both for the knowledge gained. At 1:30 P.M., Shane Linder told us all about Bagrid Catfishes, and Paul Loiselle gave another rising performance on the conservation of the endemic inhabitants of Lake Victoria. Al Castro gave his ever-knowledgeable approach to raising and breeding Killifish, and Dave Ball gave a very impressive talk on Synodontis Catfish. On Saturday evening all convened for wonderful conversation and a delicious banquet meal, followed by catfish expert Ginny Eckstein as Master of Ceremonies. Ginny gave a hilarious performance, and had the room roaring with laughter! Many prestigious awards were presented to accomplished breeders, writers and photographers, with the G.C.A.S. making a most impressive showing, winning a total of five awards! First place in the Open Class for Best Article was awarded to our most eloquent Joe Ferdenzi for "Breeding African Rift Lake Cichlids by the Complete Divider Method" In her delightfully refreshing style, Susan Priest took first place in the Best Article-Advanced Class for "Welcome To Our Community." First place for Best Column went to Charley Sabatino for his wonderful and much-missed "Catfish Chronicles" Second Place in this category went to Al Priest, with his terrific intellect, for "Surfing the Pubs" A huge round of applause for the Best Overall Magazine - "Modern 10

Aquariumr To all of you who put countless hours of time, effort, and energy into this magazine ~ you make us very proud! The other recipients of awards from our sister societies are to be congratulated as well, as there were many highly talented individuals in the competition. Afterwards, the crowd poured over the newly posted auction lot listing for the next day. For those very hardy souls, more fishy discussions continued into the night. Sunday morning is always looked forward to with anticipation and amazement at the vast maze-like viewing line of bags of fish! One cannot imagine such an array! The Grand Ballroom filled with people, milling about and finding the perfect seat, eager for the Giant Auction to begin! Begin it did, with Ray Lucas giving his lively presentation with the auctioning of an extraordinary and generous assortment of dry goods. One could bid on anything from pumps to filters to fish food, and even boxes of fabulous rocks for African Rift Lake tanks! When the last dry good lot was sold, Ray took a moment to firmly remind us of how very important it is for us to support our small local aquarium shops. It is these independent stores who spend their time supplying us with information, answer our questions, and give us lessons on how to use the equipment, as well as go out of their way to special order hard to locate fish. It is up to us, the hobbyist, to purchase our goods from these stores, or soon we will hop in our cars to run down to the local pet shop and be stunned by the fact that there is no longer one to go to! No place to SEE fish, to LOOK at goods, and to TALK about fish! As we all reflected on our favorite aquarium store, on came the first round of the Grande Fish Auction! Bag after bag of all varieties of fish from Synodontis to Corydoras, Lamprologus to Julidochromis, Tilapia to Tropheus, Angelfish to Discus, Tetras to Guppies, interspersed with plants, snails, and live food cultures. As the day drew to a close, good-byes were said, e-mail addresses and fax numbers were exchanged (I still had only the old-fashioned telephone number!), quips were made and parting words were spoken, to treasure until the next fishy affair. There were planes to catch and miles to be traveled as we reluctantly captured one last moment to savor the everlasting experience. With new additions to the fishy family safely packed in Styrofoam coolers, the journey home held a peaceful contentment, rich with thoughts of friends, fish, moments, and memories to be cherished forever. Animals would be eager for attention, Brad would be there to listen to my chatter, fish would be wriggling for their meal, and I would return to our Ivy Rose Cottage with another depth added to the wonderfully insatiable fulfillment of life! Happy Fishkeeping!

A REVIEW OF THE THREE MAJOR AMERICAN AQUARIUM MAGAZINES JOSEPH FERDENZI here are three major American aquarium magazines: Tropical Fish Hobbyist (TFH), Freshwater And Marine Aquarium (FAMA), and Aquarium Fish Magazine (AFM). I thought it might be useful if I offered a review of these magazines. Before I do that, however, a little preface is in order. First, you should know that I am thoroughly familiar with these magazines. I have been reading TFH since 1967, but, in addition, I own and have read every prior issue, with the exception of about a dozen from 1952 to 1967. I have also read every issue of FAMA and AFM since their inception. I have, naturally, subscriptions to all three. Second, you should know that, inasmuch as I've been keeping tropical fish since 1967, I can't claim to be thrilled when I see the "umpteenth" version of "How To Breed The Convict Cichlid." However, having served as the long-time President of an aquarium society and as an Editor for aquarium publications, I am fully aware that a certain amount of repetition and "beginner's" topics are necessary for the sake of new hobbyists. TFH has been around the longest. It began publication in September of 1952, under its founder, Herbert Axelrod. The early issues were rather modest bi-monthly affairs — 34 pages, in an 8!/2 x 5l/2 inch format, with black and white illustrations (save for the cover). In the mid 1950s it became a monthly, and it began to use extensive color photography inside. This use of color, combined with Axelrod's penchant for reporting on new fish discoveries (many from his own expeditions), catapulted TFH into the premier spot in aquarium publishing, surpassing Innes' The Aquarium (which ceased publishing in the early '70s). TFH still has the best photography around. They also probably have the biggest collection of photographs. TFH is now published in an 11 x 8 inch format, on glossy pages that do credit to the photos. TFH publishes a greater proportion of articles on topics that appeal to veteran hobbyists — new fish discoveries, newly bred fish, habitat exploration. They also, to my delight, translate articles from foreign magazines (primarily German and Japanese) more often than the others. These foreign articles are uniformly exceptional, and expose the average American


reader to an otherwise largely unaccessible breadth of information. TFH also has some very good columnists and their ever-popular "Mail Call" feature (where they answer reader's letters that are of general interest). FAMA is the next oldest, having published its first monthly issue in January of 1978. When it did, it revolutionized the American aquarium magazine scene. It was the first national magazine to be published in the large 1 1 x 8 inch format, which has since become the standard. It also became the first to publish full page ads (with prices) from mail-order stores. This endeared it to the average hobbyist, but caused it to be banned from many a pet shop. However, Don Dewey, the publisher, was obviously gearing his magazine toward the average hobbyist who was in need of practical information (see his comments in his first editorial in the January '78 issue); here is a sample: "This is a magazine written by hobbyists, for hobbyists. It is a monthly publication where the 'how-to's' of the hobby will be emphasized. There are no "experts" on the staff of FAMA . . . we want to know what you want to see in this magazine—it is your publication." At first, FAMA was very successful at this. It published many "How To" articles and product reviews that were extremely useful. For a time, its circulation eclipsed that of TFH. However, in recent years, sad to say, it has begun to falter. And, contrary to some of Dewey's comments in his first editorial, the magazine has not achieved the popularity (in circulation) that he implied was possible, even when circulation was at its height. Several factors may account for the failure to achieve those optimistic goals. For one, most of the articles are poorly illustrated in comparison to TFH. (Take a look at the Apistogramma article in the April 1998 issue — not one photo.) There are fewer color photos per page, and they tend to be of lesser quality. There are now very few in-depth "How To" articles — although they continue to run their "For What It's Worth" column that features reader's mail-in suggestions. (This is one of the columns I enjoy most.)


The FAAS Breeders Award Program and You! ALEXANDER A. PRIEST

he Federation of American Aquarium Societies, consists of aquarium societies in the U.S., Canada, Central and South America. FAAS helps aquarium societies grow; fosters communication among societies; promotes the hobby and aquatic life forms; and lobbies in the interest of the hobbyist. By now, most GCAS members know that Greater City's magazine, Modern Aquarium has done very well in the FAAS Publication Award Program. FAAS also has a Breeders Award Program (BAP), and after discussions with Greater City's own BAP Chairpersons, Greg Wuest and Carlotti DeJager, I am happy to announce that GCAS members can also participate in the FAAS BAP, earning additional individual awards for themselves and, perhaps, contributing towards Society awards for GCAS. This article includes a brief unofficial outline of the FAAS BAP program. (The entire program is currently on 12 single spaced pages.) It also tells you what you need to do if you want prior GCAS BAP credited spawnings submitted on your behalf to FAAS. But, before that, a few things should be noted: 1) Credit is given by FAAS only once. So, any spawn for which you received BAP credit from a sister society, which submitted that spawn to FAAS, cannot be submitted again by GCAS. 2) While there is a special award for breeding hard to breed, or rarely bred, fish, there is no difference in point values for all other fish. 3) All spawnings recognized by the GCAS BAP after 9/1/98 will also automatically be submitted to FAAS (unless that spawning was previously submitted to another FAAS member society and, if so, please let us know). You can get FAAS credit for all spawnings recognized by the GCAS BAP before 9/1/98, by completing the appropriate form, as will be explained later. 4) "Year'5 in the FAAS BAP means December through November. (The 1998 "year" is December 1997 through November 1998.) 5) The date the spawns are credited by the GCAS BAP, and not the actual spawning date, is the date used by FAAS.


6) For "undescribed" species, only one spawning a year per breeder will be recognized for all purposes from any genus or supergenus (e.g., Haplochromis sp., Aulonocara sp., etc.). The FAAS BAP — An Unofficial Outline As FAAS Delegate, and with the O.K. of our Board, I submitted documentation to FAAS that shows that the GCAS BAP meets the criteria of the FAAS BAP. I will update FAAS on any changes and will serve as liaison between the FAAS BAP and the GCAS BAP. Our members get credit for spawns under the FAAS BAP when GCAS submits an "authentication form" on their behalf, signed by the FAAS Delegate and our BAP Chair. There are two forms a society can use to request FAAS BAP credit. If you want to get credit for spawns credited by GCAS before 9/1/98, you must fill out an "Individual" authentication form. Spawnings credited by the GCAS BAP on and after 9/1/98 will automatically be submitted to FAAS on a "Society" authentication form. This form lets us submit all new spawnings as they are given credit by GCAS, without our members having to do anything else. Now, a description of the FAAS BAP: A "General Breeding" award is given for every 10 spawns credited. These are awarded by FAAS as earned, throughout the year. A "Specialty Breeding" award is given annually for the most species bred in each specialty category in a given year. (There are 15 Specialty categories. Refer to the box on the next page.) Specialty Breeding credits are given on the basis of one spawn per species per individual. A spawn credited towards a General Breeding Certificate will automatically be entered into the appropriate Specialty Breeding category. A "Special Achievement" award is for breeding difficult or rarely bred species. (Some examples given: Butterflyfishes, Scats, Monos, Archerfish, Anableps, Hatchetfishes. Silver Dollars, Knifefishes, Synodontis Catfish, Tinfoil Barbs, Congo Tetras, Cardinal Tetras, Harlequin Rasbora, Uaru, Saberfin Killifish, and Sharks, Eels, Loaches or Marine Fishes.) This award 13

How To 15

Petrification SUSAN PRIEST

In last month's issue of Modern Aquarium (May 1998), our Executive Editor, Joe Ferdenzi, issued himself a literary license before writing the article entitled "Is The Club Magazine Dead?" I don't pretend to have answers to all of the questions he raised, or agree with everything he said. I would, however, like to suggest a response to one of his questions, slightly paraphrased to read "Where are all the authors?" All of the authors are in the sixth grade. Once you hit the seventh grade, everything changes. Your teacher issues a writing "assignment." It is sure to be on a hot topic like Thomas Jefferson. You are told how many words to write, when to write it, and that it will be graded. Then comes the icing on the cake; you will have to read it aloud in front of a "jury of your peers." It doesn't help knowing that they will all have to do the same thing. No matter what you write, the jury will find one phrase to tease you with. It will follow you until everyone who remembers it has graduated. Again, you will be teasing them with something they wrote, but that will not ease your agony. By the time you have completed this assignment, a full layer of your brain cells has become petrified. With each writing assignment thereafter, a new layer of rock will be added to your brain. By the time you graduate, you will need the aid of a jackhammer just to pay your bills or write out a shopping list. The author part of your brain has been firmly encased in granite! Fast-forward 30 years: you are straddling the fence of middle age. You are successful at writing as long as it doesn't require putting more than two words together, like writing a note to your mechanic that says "brakes squeak," or signing your tax return. You manage to do a little better than this at work, because it is an "assignment" and because you are being "graded" with a pay check. Then one day someone suggests that you might enjoy putting your experiences with


fishkeeping on paper. Your Response is "Huh?" (When you can only put one word together, your condition is critical.) Your brain has been petrified. It is not your fault. The situation, however, is not hopeless. Here is what I suggest. I would like you to try having an imaginary conversation with a real or un-real friend. Let's say there is someone you have recently met who is, or would like to be, keeping one of the same fish you are. What would you say to them? What questions would they ask? Take the phone off of the hook and start talking. You can unplug it so you don't have to listen to the dial tone. We all have experience talking to someone who isn't really there because we have to leave a message on an answering machine at least once a day. If your sixth grader comes along and asks you what you are doing, tell them the truth. They will say "cool," and head for the nearest extension to give it a try. If your eighth grader comes along, tell them that you were talking to your mechanic when the phone accidentally became unplugged. If you tell them the truth, they will roll their eyes up in their head, and take off for the mall. So, you just start talking about this fish. You are sharing successes, failures, and your favorite fish tips. We all have experience with this because we do it at every meeting of G.C.A.S. You might want to make a few notes as you talk, but write them on anything other than a spiral notebook. I won't presume to guess what you might say, but I am pretty sure that they haven't named a fish after Thomas Jefferson yet. By the time you hang up the phone, a couple of layers of petrified brain cells will have been peeled away. As you look over your notes, you might find yourself inserting a few verbs and some punctuation. NOW do you know the answer to the question: "Where are all the authors?"


To All G.C.A.S. Members. A Special "Thank You!" As we come to our last meeting of the season, I look back upon it, and think of all of the remarkable events of the past year in the Greater City Aquarium Society. I cannot tell each and every one of you what it has meant to me to be a part of such an organization, and such a most wonderful group of people, who have cared and shared ~ ideas, talents, and ~ FISH! As I think of each and every one of you (I may not yet know you all by name, but I will!), each one of you stands out in your own special way. You have enriched my life (as well as my fishkeeping abilities) more than words can ever say, and I look forward with great eagerness to serving you as membership chairperson in the coming season! I must also thank my most caring and supportive husband, who has seen me off, and looked after the animals while I follow my fishy dreams! I wish you all a beautiful Summer, and hope for all of you that life will be as extraordinary for you, as you have made it for me! I THANK YOU! Happy Flshmg!

With Warmest Regards,

Editor's Note: The Greater City Aquarium Society does not meet in the months of July or August. (Exchange Editors, please take note that the next exchanges you will see from us after this issue will be in October, when we send you our September and October issues.) Greater City's next meeting will be Wednesday, September 2, 1998. Mark your calendars.

"In a remote stream in Afghanistan, a strange catfish was just found, the Glyptosternongarfieldi. It feeds on lasagna." 16

WET LEAVES A Series On Books For The Hobbyist SUSAN PRIEST

hen I came across these books as I was browsing through Borders Bookstore, I thought to myself "more of the same." I wasn't even going to give them a first look, never mind bring them home. (My somewhat "mixed" review of Nature Aquarium World Book 1 appeared exactly three years ago, in the June 1995 issue of Modern Aquarium.) The warning "be careful what you ask for, because you might get it" usually implies that we might not want it after all. In this case, I was treated to the unique experience of feeling as if the author had read and responded to my earlier ^ comments. I realize that it is not only beyond the boundaries of probability, but downright impossible when the publication dates are taken into consideration. Maybe some other astute reviewer caught the author's attention. Book 2 (pages 1 through 180) focuses on "small to medium size aquariums" (1 quart to 50 gallons), and Book 3 (pages 181 to 300) is dedicated to "medium to large size aquariums" (50 to 5,000 gallons). These two books can be thought of as one large volume, and, indeed, the original Japanese version was published within one cover. The photography defies description. What I find most noteworthy about it is that every element, each fish and plant, is a different distance from the camera, and yet all are in perfect focus. I have a hard time getting all the parts of just one fish in focus at the same time. It makes me wonder how many photographs were rejected for each one that was published. I needed plenty of time to "read" these books. After a few pages, I was reaching for an atlas of fishes. I was familiar with both the appearance as well as the scientific names of some of the fish, such as Cardinal Tetras or Discus, but the common names were not given and I had to look up many of them. As for the plants, the scientific names were there. (One of my main complaints from Book 1 was that the plants had not been identified.) Even though the names of the plants were listed, each photo contained several. Rather than looking them up in a separate book, I found myself comparing the


names from previous photos. By a process of association and elimination, i was soon identifying them for myself. As I turned eacn page, I had the satisfaction of being greeted with something I had just learned, as well as the challenge of assimilating some new detail of fin or frond. I know, this sounds a little bit like work. I won't go so far as to call it a labor of love; more like an enjoyable effort. Here is a hint from Book 2 which you may find useful: "In order to make an aquarium display appear bigger than it actually is, it is important to use bushy plants that have small leaves." I would like to give special mention to two unique "panoramas." The first, "Hill Rug" (pp. 257 - 265), is a series of photographs taken of a 95 inch long tank. They were taken at 3, 5, 7, 9, and 12 month intervals in the life of this aquascape. The second, called "Watercolor Panorama" (pp. 275 281), is a series of photos of an 18 foot long aquarium. At its inception, it was the largest nature aquarium display in the world. As remarkable as ail of this is, I return over and over to the beauty of "Aquarium Minimum World" (pp. 285 - 295); a collection of microscopic photographs. I think I am intrigued by the vivid colors of things that I look at every day, but never really see. Something else on my wish list from Book 1 was photos taken in nature followed by photos of Mr. Amano's aquarium rendering of the scene. "The Nature of Marshes" is my favorite of the several examples of just such a presentation. The chart of equivalent measures informs the reader that degrees Celsius equals 5/9ths F째 minus 32, and that degrees Fahrenheit equals 9/5ths C째 plus 32. I still needed to keep my calculator nearby. The Contents for Book 3 is found on the very last page (300). I wonder, is this typical of publishing style in Japan? Having three years more experience, and being familiar with a wider variety of fish and plants than I was at the time of my original review, could be a contributing factor in my enhanced enjoyment of these books. In his epilogue, Mr. Amano says "always, it is nature that is my teacher." See for yourself how well he has learned.


G.C.A.S. HAPPENINGS Obituary It is with a deep sadness that we notice the death of Kathy Oliva (April 26,1998). Kathy was married to long-time member and former President Jack Oliva. Kathy was a frequent hostess for various board of directors meetings. In this role and in support of her husband's hobby, Kathy always had an amiable disposition and a ready smile. She was a truly delightful person who will be missed by all of us.

Last Month's Bowl Show Results: May '98 1 st Place - Jeff George - Red Delta Guppy 2nd Place - Francis Lee - Betta Splendens 3rd Place - Jeff George - Corydorus Trilineatus

Lct^s welcome our newest GCAS members: Bunthid Lex Tumnontigoon Gordon Bastian

YTD Standings Steve Sagona Jeff George Francis Lee MikeLoweth Carlotti DeJager Ken Hooper Ellen Halligan Claudia Dickinson



pts 25 13 9 5 5 4 1 1

And welcome back: Steve Berman Seth Kolker

Here are the meeting times and locations of aquarium societies in the metropolitan New York area:

GREATER C3TY AQUARIUM SOCIETY Next Meeting: Wednesday, Sept 2nd. Have a Safe and Happy Summer! Meetings: 8PM - 1st Wednesday of each month at the Queens Botanical Garden. Contact: VicentSileo- (718) 846-6984 E-Mail:

East Coast Guppy Association

Brooklyn Aquarium Society Next Meeting: June 12th, featuring: Bob Stark Suecesful Strategies for Reef Aquaria. Meetings: 8PM Education Hall, Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation (NY Aquarium) Contact: BAS Events Hotline Telephone: (718) 837-4455

Big Apple Guppy Club

Meets: 8:00 PM - 1st Thursday of each month at the Queens Botanical Garden. Contact: Jeff George / Gene Baudier Telephone: (718)428-7190 (516)345-6399

Meets: 8:00 PM - 3rd Thursday of each month at the Queens Botanical Garden. Contact: Mr. Donald Curtin Telephone: (718) 631-0538

Long Island Aquarium Society

Nassau County Aquarium Society

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

North Jersey Aquarium Society Meets: 8:00 PM - 3rd Thursday of each month at the American Legion Post Hall, Nutley, NJ Contact: Mr. Dore Carlo Telephone: (201) 332-4415

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

Norwalk Aquarium Society Meets: 8:00 PM - 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 Triple Header Elsewhere in this issue, Joe Ferdenzi makes a few waves with his "Review of the Three Major American Aquarium Magazines." If you are not familiar with them, you should be. How many of these questions can you answer without looking them up? (Hint: at least one answer can be found in Joe's article.) Once again, the three titles are - Tropical Fish Hobbyist (TFH), Freshwater and Marine Aquarium (FAMA), and Aquarium Fish Magazine (AFM). 1




1) The editor of which magazine opens their editorial with a Bible reference; Book, Chapter, and Verse? 2) Which magazine has these monthly columns: "Society News," "Aquarist's Library," and "Cichlid Forum?" 3) Which of these magazines has been around the longest? 4) David E. Boruchowitz is the editor of this magazine. 5) Which magazine has these monthly columns: "Catfish Corner," "Wayne's New World," and "Mail Call?" 6) Which of these magazines dedicates itself to "Fishkeeping-The Art And Science?" 7) Which magazine has these monthly columns: "Aquatic Maestro," "Reef Notes," and "The Fishy Quiz?" 8) Which of the three is "The Magazine Dedicated to the Tropical Fish Enthusiast?" 9) Which magazine has a regular feature on ponds? 10) Which magazine pays a monthly tribute to the "Newsletter of the Month," which recognizes the contributions of amateur aquarium publications?

Solution to Last Month's Puzzle: Geography 201: South America 1) Guyana, Suriname, Ecuador, French Guiana, Bolivia 2) Poecilocharax weitzmani, Corydoras duplicareus, Aequidens portalegrensis, Apistogramma caucatoides, Chilodus punctatus 3)

a) True

4) Brasilia 5) None

b) False

c) False

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