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Series III

Vol. VI, No. 3

March, 1999


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President's Message


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A pH Raising Experience


pH Quick Chart


What's Going On?


pH Soup


FAASinations - FAAS Delegate Report . . . . .


Water Quality


. .


Author Award Program — Status Report . . .


NEC Delegate Report


Speaker Biography (Ginny Eckstein)


Amusing Aquarium (Cartoon)


The Aquarist's Sketchpad


It's NOT What It Sounds Like!


G.C.A.S. Happenings


Fin Fun (Puzzle Page)


Printing By Postal Press

Articles submitted for consideration in MODERN AQUARIUM must be received no later than the 10th day of the month, three months prior to the month of publication. Copyright 1999 by the Greater City Aquarium Society Inc., a not-for-profit New York State corporation. All rights reserved. Not-for-profit aquarium societies are hereby granted permission to reproduce articles and illustrations from this publication, unless the article indicates that the copyrights have been retained by the author, and provided reprints indicate source and two copies of the publication are sent to the Exchange Editor of this magazine. Any other reproduction or commercial use of the material in this publication is prohibited without express written prior permission. The Greater City Aquarium Society meets every month, except during July and August. Meetings are the first Wednesday of the month and begin at 8:00 P.M. Meetings are held at the Queens Botanical Gardens. For more information, contact Vincent Sileo (718) 846-6984. You can also leave us a message at our Internet Home Page at: http: //ourworld. CompuServe. com/homepages/greatercity

President's Message


by VINCENT SILEO eek First to Understand, then to be Understood.

Our monthly meetings pack a whole lot into a very short amount of time. It is amazing that we accomplish as much as we do. As President and emcee, I'm pulled in a dozen directions at once and before you know it, it's all over and we're saying goodbye until next time. Often I feel like I may have slighted some of our members and guests by not giving them my full attention. Other times I wonder if I remember everything that everyone spoke to me about while I'm there. If I've ever given you only half my attention or have not acted upon something we spoke about, please accept my apology now. Many of us take talking and listening for granted. We do it eveyday. But many of our conversations would be better if we could truly listen to what the other person was saying before we responded. In an effort to respond as quickly as possible, I sometimes find myself responding to what I expected to hear and not to what I actually heard. Or I may hear most of what is said, but not all of it, and respond regarding the right subject, but the wrong question. We would probably all be more effective communicators if we would take the time to really listen first — listen and understand what the other person is saying and why they are saying it. As I stated before, sometimes I'll respond to what I "THINK" I heard and not what was actually stated. One way to prevent this from happening is to repeat the question as you heard it — "So you're asking me is that correct?" If it isn't, they'll tell you and you won't have to be concerned with misunderstanding the question or answering a different question. I'll try to slow down and do this more often, and try to give you my undivided attention. See if this helps your communications as well. Often people who ask a question or make a statement don't usually come out and explain what they really want and why, or justify their statement until well into the conversation. Again, in an effort to keep things moving as

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

quickly as possible, I may sometimes blurt something out, and by the response I receive, I know that the other person doesn't understand what I mean. I'll say something like "Who is setting up the projector for the speaker?" and get a response which explains what everyone else is doing, but doesn't tell me who is setting up the projector. I would have gotten quicker results if I had stated what I really wanted and followed up with a desired reaction to the answer. For example: "The speaker has a slide presentation, the projector is not set up and I'd like to have everything ready before he is introduced. If you know who is setting up the projector, please ask them to do it now, if you don't know, then please do it yourself or find someone who can." Again, the flip side of this is to try to understand the other person's point of view before making a comment or responding, especially if the person has brought up a topic which you feel strongly about. You may feel threatened or offended by their question or comment when that wasn't their intention. Restate what they said in your own words and make sure that you understand where they are coming from. This will save both of you some valuable time and a more valuable relationship! So try to remember these tips the next time you communicate with me or another member. We'll both profit from it!!! For those of you who were unable to attend our February meeting with the Curtin Brothers' wonderful slide presentation of their Natural Planted Aquariums, you missed out on a real look at good old fashioned aquarium practices and American ingenuity. Perhaps you'll be able to see this presentation at another aquarium society or at a later GCAS meeting. There was so much information that they will probably have to break it up into two presentations!! [Ed Note: The Curtin Brothers will be doing a presentation on plants at the Nassau County Aquarium Society on March 9.] Our May meeting will feature Tom Neal speaking on Livebearers. Tom will also be bringing down fish for that meeting's auction and setting up a table for sale of fish food. He also has a list of frozen foods and other products. A copy of that price list will be available at this meeting and at next month's Silent Auction meeting. If any society member would like to order these frozen foods please contact me (Vince 718-846-6984) to add it to the GCAS order. We must place our order at least two weeks before the May meeting. Tom will donate 10% of the proceeds to the Society. JL

March 1999

Cichlid Care and Breeding (My Way!) by MIKE SHERIDAN

TANK: As large as possible — at least a 55 gallon, and up to 300 gallon, for fish that will exceed one foot in length when fully grown.

circulate around the fixture, and thereby cool off the bulb. I only use fluorescent lights. They produce less heat and are more economical.

AMOUNT OF FISH: Six to eight of the same, or almost the same, temperament. Do not mix African and Neotropical (South American), as they don't seem to recognize each other's behavior signals.

DIET: Feed a varied diet at least two times a day — with at least 3 of 5 feedings being primarily meat based. This would include live goldfish or guppies, but not killies caught in swamps or the ocean. Killie-fed fish do not seem WATER: A 50% change weekly is suggested, to have the color of goldfish-fed fish. Frozen but for maximum size and growth, twice a week krill, shrimp and fish, in addition to live shrimp is better. I do not and blackworms, believe in permanent constitute a good diet placement of rocks a l o n g w i t h and caves. I use rocks supplemental feedings that are easily moved, of prepared popular along with flower pots fish foods, including of different sizes, trout chow and cichlid artificial caves, and pellets. I also do not plants. You can make feed one day per the set-up permanent week, usually the day when spawning is I do a water change. I desired; non-permanusually feed live food ent is best when trying the day before the to reduce territorial water change because it seems that large fish battles. Before unload after such a siphoning, move all feeding. Frozen brine the ornaments to get to shrimp seems to be a the build up of good food, but it is detritus. I also stir the important to remember gravel and wait 10 minutes or so; then I This is an artist's rendering of Guy Jordan, one of the that all frozen and live siphon from the founders of the American Cichiid Association, mentioned in food should be rinsed Mike Sheridan's article, with the head of Guy's favorite before feeding to your bottom. pet cichlid, a Cichlasoma (Nandopsis] dovii named "Pablo." fish. Also, feeder fish GRAVEL: I use only should be kept well enough to cover the fed. This will maximize their nutritional value. bottom. Some cichlids never seem comfortable seeing reflections from the bottom. Some gravel, FILTERS AND FILTER MATERIAL: I use along with more artificial plants and more flower primarily AmmoCarb and sponges. I incorporate pots than seem necessary, cuts down on territorial them into my power filters. Also, I use sponge fights. Cichlids enjoy mouthing and sifting filters and box filters filled with sponges for gravel; it gives them something else to mouth small fish and baby tanks. I also use these filters besides themselves. as back-up filtration for larger tanks that are equipped with external power filters. Sponge, LIGHT: At least eight hours a day to promote charcoal and filter fluff are used in external plant and algae growth, which cichlids should filters. Do not change filter material and tank have in their diet. Also, floating water sprite and water at the same time, though. riccia are beneficial. Place incandescent lights above the tank cover in a way that permits air to Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

March 1999

TEMPERATURE: I like 76째F. It's far enough away from 70째 - the chill area - and 82째 - the spawning area. The tank should be checked twice a day for any extreme variance. I keep heaters on at all times. I place a piece of sponge around the heaters to protect them from the potential bangs they may receive from aggressive cichlids. If you have a heated fish room, individual heaters should not be necessary. Remember that extreme temperature variances will cause stress.

The most accomplished cichlid hobbyists are always asking relevant questions to increase their knowledge. Ask questions and apply that information as best you can. Join your local fish club and the American Cichlid Association, and you will do fine. There are various methods used to spawn large cichlids. Many like clean, large tanks. Heavy weekly water changes, proper feeding, high temperatures, and proper filtration should always be used. Unfortunately, many good fish are killed because their keepers do not SALT: I use aquarium take those few extra or kosher salt in all my steps. Dividing a pair Care of Fry tanks. It helps promote of fish will insure the fishes body slime 1. Put them in a separate tank with 50% proper conditioning. and protects against water from the original tank. Gradually add When a divider is used, stress. there is no fighting, and 50% hew water until tank is full. In summation, an almost equal amount let me say that if you 2. Change 50% of the water at least of food is received by are going to try to save every other day; 75% after a week. both fish. A divided a few dollars every cichlid tank placed in a 3. Keep small snails in baby tanks. month by not giving high location will insure enough light, food, and 4. Keep algae on glass for fry to graze that the owner is seeing water changes, the all the prespawning on; a few floating plants will not hurt. cichlids will probably behavior, except for live in spite of you. If 5. Feed at least three times a day, tghe torn fins and the you overfeed the wrong making sure that live food is spread all around deadly body shots the food to get size on fish, the tank. Feed dry food about one out of five fish would give each let me tell you that age, other in an undivided and not size, is the main feedings after first week. Use live and frozen tank. These belly and brine shrimp, daphnia, cyclops, microworms, ingredient for spawning. body shots are believed To be frugal (cheap) is and paste foods. (by me) to be the big wise sometimes, but 6. At least eight hours of light a day. reason for what so many think of all the time, of us call the "I don't money, and effort you 7. Sponge filters - rinse only in water know why my otherwise must put into raising about the same temperature of the tank. You unmarked fish died" good fish before buying can also squeeze the filter out in the water excuse. I've had great the fish. What sense you siphoned out for a water change. success and no losses so does it make keeping far with fish from the 8. Temperature about 76 째F. nice fish in not-too-nice size of dwarfs to large conditions? After all, cichlids (Cichlasoma) 9. No gravel in fry tanks. your fellow hobbyists using a few further and storekeepers will 10. Add catfish and/or pieces after about steps. shy away from you and six weeks. talk about your bad Here are a few methods habits. Check with successful hobbyists in your I use: area and duplicate their methods. Get them to THE DIVIDED TANK METHOD - two fish remember how and why they formed their good housed in separate compartments of the same habits and why they do certain things. Keeping tank. You can do all or any of the following. and spawning large cichlids is not easy, but not Place either a piece of PVC pipe, rock caves, as hard as some think. Keep the fish comfortable connected flower pots or whatever on the and put the tank in a high, open location. Follow female's side. She will be able to travel from my advice and that of any hobbyist who has one side to the other, but the larger, and more success. In the beginning, stay away from highly belligerent male will be confined to his side. technical information as you are not really trying Place a piece of slate or flat rock under the to duplicate the lakes that these fish originate divider. A quarter-of-an-inch piece should from, all you want to do is keep them happy. March 1999

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

already have been cut out of the divider (bottom center) and leaving the ends the original size. This is known as the "hidey hole" method because the female, usually the smaller fish, will be the only one able to fit into the "hidey-hole." The female will probably lay the eggs on the slate, and the quarter-inch space under the divider will insure that a good deal of the male's sperm will get to the eggs. The fish will likely have a few unsuccessful tries, but in many cases it works the first time. If you catch the female in the act of spawning, you can raise the divider. You will see the tubes a few days before, so you can be prepared. Most of my cichlasoma seem to spawn at dusk. I find rubber suction cups to be the easiest method of holding the divider in place. Whether you leave the pair together after the spawning or not is up to you. I suggest you leave them together the first time, but watch them closely. If you have "egg-eaters" or an incompatible pair, then watch the eggs carefully. If you replace the divider and leave the female with the eggs, then observe what happens after they become free swimming. It has happened that the parents will each raise the fish with the fry swimming back and forth. But, be careful, they may also be eaten. If you are interested in behavior, try it different ways; if you are interested in raising the fry, remove them as soon as you can. Whatever you do, if you remove the fry, separate the parents again. Something else about the "hidey-hole": it has happened that the female will spawn in a cave but the male will still get close enough that the eggs will be fertilized. Let nature take its course if that happens. THE DITHER METHOD - The community tank can be divided, with the other fish used as dither fish. But once again, leave a "hidey-hole." Swift livebearers or other cichlids can be used as dither fish in an undivided community tank. If you have your choice of dither fish, try to pick fish not as "tough" as the breeders. It may happen that the male may try to spawn again with the fry still in the tank. If that happens, take the male out, whether it's a community tank or a divided tank. Also remove the fry, and put a divider in to let the female recuperate. If you can divide the pair from each other and the community fish, leave them in the tank after removing the fry. I should give credit here for some of the concepts I've used - the "hidey-hole" and divided tank method are both ideas expressed to me by Guy D. Jordan, and the dither method was conveyed to me by Dr. George Barlow or Dr. Paul Loiselle. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

If you choose to let nature take its course, get a tank as large as possible, and put at least 6 to 8 cichlids of the same species in at the same time. If the fish are fed properly and at spawning size, you should end up with several kinds of beat up pairs. And hopefully you'll care enough to use some of the methods I have suggested. Remember, never use less than 6 of the same species of fish when looking for a pair. Give any pair of fish as many fish as possible to worry about, and you'll have less fish injured and killed. If you cannot find 6 to 8 fish of the same species, then always use fish that are as aggressive as the target species. Use large non-stationary plants of the artificial variety and several extra caves to insure that there are places to hide. Change 60% of the water weekly and feed several times a day when raising the fry. When feeding, drop food in several different places so all the fish get a chance to eat. The weekly water change and the proper feeding should help the fish grow at the correct rate. If you do most of these things, you will have a large selection of beautiful cichlids and one of your friends will say (like mine did), "This looks as good as Wool worths!" PET SHOPS: Deal with pet shops where the owner is present a lot of the time. Chain pet shops deal in volume sales, selling to you, but not educating you. In general, volume stores do not know much about fish, medicine, or products. Pet shop owners should! ELITE HOBBYISTS: When asking about fish you want or would like to own, let him or her know your tank and your water conditions. Don't make them ask you questions about how you maintain your fish. Many lecturers now get paid to speak by commercial enterprises. If they do snub you, write to the companies they represent. ARTICLES: Write a paper for your club. If your club does not publish a bulletin, give your article to a club that does. SHOWS OR WORKSHOPS: Participate in your area. Bring a tape recorder to workshops. Participate in shows. Ask yourself, "What should a good specimen of this species look and act like?" Then, for a month, isolate the fish in the tank you will show it in. Show big fish in big tanks. Catch large fish in large bags.

March 1999

olive oil, I could make a nice vinaigrette salad dressing with that water. I had completely underestimated the tannic acid leaching ability of my wood. Of course, I decided that if I was ever going to add new fish to that aquarium, I had to get it within normal pH parameters. Changing pH, as in changing water temperature, should be done gradually. My first step was to take a tablespoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and sprinkle this into the power filter (this disperses it more gradually into the aquarium). Two days later, I set up my diatom filter with diatom powder and powdered carbon. I let this run for a 24 hour period. The carbon removes some of the substances that can cause a lowered pH. A couple of days later, I performed a 10% water change, using tap water (which, in my area, has a pH of 7.0). Five days later, I performed another 10% water change. After doing all of the above, I decided to test the pH again. This time the reading was 6.5. It was still acidic, but it was now within a

"normal" range. (Bear in mind, for example, that the Baensch Aquarium Atlas recommends a pH of 6.0 for breeding Ruby Barbs.) So, in the span of 12 days, I had been able to achieve a satisfactory, gradual, change. Most of my tanks do not contain driftwood. However, I like the look of driftwood, especially in planted aquariums. Therefore, I had no intention of getting rid of it. What I will do is monitor the pH more closely and compensate for the action of the tannic acid. Eventually, the amount of tannic acid being leached will diminish and so will the water chemistry chores — well, at least for that particular cause! The experience has confirmed several ideas. First, spot check the pH in all your aquariums, especially before adding new fish. Second, do not assume that acclimatizing the fish will compensate for extremes in water chemistry. Third, thank God there are still great stores around from which we can learn (see the advertisers in this magazine, for example).

pH Quick Chart by JASON KERNER

Shown below are general pH ranges for fish commonly kept in freshwater aquariums. The neutral zone (7.0 pH) is marked with a dark bar as a reference point. Remember, many fish with the same pH requirements may not be compatible, depending on size, temperament, and breeding requirements. Check with your local pet store or fellow club members as to which fish can be safely housed together. Shaded areas indicate the general preference of the most commonly available species from the listed group of fish.

7.4 7.6 7.8 8.0 8.2 8.4 8.6 8.8 9.0 Killies Tetras Barbs South American Cichlids South American Catfish African Catfish Anabantoids Livebearers Goldfish Rift Lake Cichlids African Cichlids

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

March 1999

WHA T'S GOING ON? A Mysterious Fish Disaster by WARREN FEUER

hen you keep several fish tanks (I have 9), there's usually something strange going on in one of them. Rarely does six months pass without some catastrophe or other occurring. I have to tell you that I consider myself an experienced, cautious aquarist. I never introduce a new species into an existing tank unless it has been in quarantine for at least three months. In addition, I try to make sure the fish in my community tanks are compatible, checking such factors as pH, hardness, type of environment they come from in nature, and the suitability of existence with their neighbors in the tank. I feed my fish sparingly, avoid live food, and do weekly 25% water changes. Yet, in spite of all this, I invariably lose fish before their time. Let me tell you about the latest incident. It started with a suspicion that my Royal Pleco (Panaque negrolineatus) was not eating. "How could I tell," you ask? Many plecos develop "hollow" bellies when they aren't eating. Then, their eyes start to recede into their bodies. This is bad. If you see a fish like this for sale, don't purchase it. The only time I would recommend purchasing such a fish would be the opportunity to purchase it at an incredibly cheap price. But, be prepared for failure. Once these fish stop eating, that's usually it. Anyway, I noticed that my Royal was developing a shrunken belly. Since the tank (a 75 gallon) has many Loricariids (sucker mouth catfish) in it, I figured there must be some territorial tussling going on. I kept an eye on the tank for the next several days, and it soon became obvious that the fish was not eating. This being one of my favorite fish, and having been given responsibility for the fish by my friend, Mark Soberman, I felt compelled to intervene to save the fish. Most of the time, the fish keeps itself well hidden and difficult to get at. Now, however, the fish was easily accessible, hanging out on the intake spout of the power filter in the tank. In general, such a radical change in behavior is another good sign that something is



wrong. Highly territorial fish such as these do not readily abandon their homes. Seizing the opportunity, I grabbed the fish, put it in a bucket of aquarium water I had siphoned off, and placed the fish in my quarantine tank. Then, fish started dying in the 75. First several Madagascar Rainbows (Bedotia madagascariensis formerly geayi) turned up dead, then my whole group of Bleeding Heart Tetras (Hyphessobrycon erythrostigmd), save one, died. Now I was getting concerned. I began more intensive water changes and tested the water more frequently. True, the pH tested a little on the low side (6.5), but this lowering had occurred slowly, giving the fish time to adapt. There were no new fish in the tank. I was at a loss. Even my Jaguar Catfish (Liasomadoras oncinus), normally an exceptionally nocturnal fish, was laying around instead of hiding. When I came home from work one night to find my Pseudacanthicusspinosus (a suckermouth catfish) dead, I got desperate. I'd had this magnificent fish for about 8 years. When I pulled it out of the tank, it didn't have a single mark on it. In the meantime, the Royal Pleco was doing great in quarantine, eating all the food I was providing, and back to its usual hiding behavior. I realized I had a problem with the tank, not the fish. Acting out of frustration and desperation, I brought the pH up slightly by adding some crushed coral to an empty box filter. Eventually, the pH rose to 6.8 and has stayed there. The fish stopped dying. Was it the pH? All indicators point to it. I'm not really sure. But things returned to normal. I rearranged all the wood and stone work in the tank before reintroducing the Royal Pleco to the tank. Now, as I sit back and enjoy watching the population in my 75, I can relax, knowing that all is well. But wait, what's this? Hmmm, the water in my 30 gallon community tank seems awfully warm, and the heater is still going full blast. Here we go again!

March 1999

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)


have resisted the urge to entitle this article "pH For Dummies." Frankly, I think we are all pretty smart. BUT, just because we are successful fish keepers doesn't mean we understand everything that is going on in our aquariums. THEREFORE, I pulled three quarters of my books off of their shelves and extracted the simplest and most useful information I could find. The result is this condensed version of the ups and downs of pH — just add water!


For starters, let's answer the question that has crossed all of our minds at least once or twice; what do the letters pH stand for? It should come as no surprise that they are the first initials of a Latin phrase: Pondus Hydrogenii,

Let's move on to a few miscellaneous facts about pH: o

In nature, pH is subject to constant fluctuations due to a wide variety of influences, such as weather, changes in the numbers and types of fish, plants, and other wildlife, and, of course, human intervention.


If you have hard water, it will probably be alkaline (above 7) and if you have soft water, it will probably be neutral to acidic (7 or below).


The scale we use to measure pH was created by Sorensen.


There are many different kinds of acids. When we speak of the pH of water, we are in the realm of organic acids.

Next, here is a brief overview of the science of pH: o

pH is an indication of the weight of positive hydrogen ions. (Negative "hydroxyl" ions are the opposite side of the coin, but a pH value does not represent them.)


An ion is a wandering, or "free" atom. Think of it as a student wandering the halls of a school while everyone else (the H2O molecules) are grouped together in classrooms.


A pH of 7 is neutral. The negative and positive "free" atoms weigh the same.


Water with a pH below 7 is acidic. It has more negative than positive free hydrogen atoms.


Water with a pH above 7 is alkaline. It has more positive than negative free hydrogen atoms.


The full scale of pH runs from zero through 14, but for the purposes offish keeping, we only need numbers 5 through 9.


Do not confuse the terms "alkaline" and "alkaloid." An Alkaloid is a poison found in some plants and fungi.


A one point change in pH is actually a ten-fold change. For example, if a pH measurement goes from 7 to 8, it has actually been multiplied by ten, not increased by one.

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

And now, most important of all, here is some practical information about how the pH of the water in your aquarium affects your fish:

March 1999


The main effect that a sudden change in pH has on fish is that they will not be able to assimilate oxygen properly.


In a pH below 7, ammonia is less toxic to fish; in a pH above 7, ammonia is more toxic to fish.


Fertilized eggs and fish fry will not tolerate as wide a range in the pH as adult fish.


Some fish can live comfortably in one pH, but need a different pH to induce spawning. (An example of this is the Rasbora heteromorpha, which can live in slightly alkaline water, but will only spawn in acidic water.)



When showing fish, provide them with as large a volume of water as you can. An overcrowded tank in a room with poor ventilation (such as an exhibition tank at a show) can experience a sharp drop in the pH in as little as a few hours.

Well, there you have it, and in less time than it takes to eat a bowl of Manhattan clam chowder. I hope you found something to benefit you and your fish.

References Axelrod, Dr. Herbert R., The Encyclopedia of Freshwater Tropical Fishes, 1986, TFH Frey, Hans Illustrated Dictionary of Tropical Fishes, 1961, TFH Mills, Dick You and Your Aquarium, 1993, Knopf Wickham, Mike The complete Idiot's Guide to Freshwater Aquariums, 1998, Alpha Books



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The Federation of American Aquarium Societies by ALEXANDER A. PRIEST ast month, we submitted Greater City's entries in the 1998 Publications Awards. In the week before the entries were due, I was contacted by two Editors, one President, one FAAS delegate and one former society President, all complaining about the new rules. I sent one President (not our's) 26 printed pages of e-mails between myself and the FAAS Publications Chair and FAAS President, complaining about the rules, and that the member societies were not given a chance to review and comment on them in advance. (Yet, one Editor was told he was the only one complaining!) Because of rule changes, some of our articles could not be entered, or were entered in



categories that were not as good a "fit" as categories that were discontinued retroactively, and without warning. I ' l l keep you posted on results. While (according to the Nov/Dec '98 F.A.A.S. Report), the FAAS Photo Awards program is "on hold," new rules for it have been distributed. If it is taken off "hold," I will report on them. To do so now seems rather pointless. And, for those keeping count, there is still no word on the Logo contest!

March 1999

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

Water Quality by JEFF GEORGE and GENE BAUDIER ater quality is one of the three most important factors affecting the growth and development of show-quality' fancy guppies, the other factors being nutrition and genetics. The purpose of this article is to define several key aspects of water quality, identify the preferred range for each for the successful maintenance of fancy guppies, and to describe the methods by which they may be measured and controlled.


TEMPERATURE The warmth of the water throughout the tank. Temperature is measured by thermometers, which are available in many types. Unless the guppy keeper is willing to put a permanent thermometer in every tank, he is well-advised to invest in a reliable thermometer that can be moved from one aquarium to the next. Good choices are photographic thermometers, which are reliable and more accurate than most aquarium thermometers. They cost $10-$ 15 at camera stores. SALINITY There is considerable debate about the use of salt in guppy tanks. Whatever amount of salt you decide to use, you must be consistent. As available hydrometers aren't sensitive enough to measure the salinity found in guppy tanks, the only approach is to precisely measure salt into water as it is prepared, before it is added to the aquarium. If you always add the exact same measure of salt to the exact same bucket or aging vat, you can be assured that your salinity will remain consistent.

pH Indicates the presence of free hydrogen ions (H~) in a solution. A pH of 7 is neutral; below 7 is acidic, while above 7 is basic, or less correctly, alkaline. (A base is the opposite of an acid.) pH has significant effects on the toxicity of ammonia. Low pH values impede the function of a biological filter, rendering the bacteria virtually useless below 6.0. And high pH values significantly increase the proportion of toxic free ammonia as a portion of total ammonia, vastly increasing the toxicity of ammonia above pH values in the mid-7s. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

HARDNESS AND ALKALINITY Measures of the concentration of certain minerals in solution. Hardness, also called general or permanent hardness, is a measure of positive ions, or cations, of metals like calcium and magnesium. Alkalinity, also called carbonate hardness, measures negative ions, or anions, of carbonate compounds. Both are important to the fish's regulation of its own body and blood chemistry, while alkalinity determines the buffering capacity of water. Buffering capacity determines the ability of water to resist sudden, drastic changes in pH value — the higher the alkalinity, the more stable the pH. Short-term changes can be made to pH by adding acids or bases to water, but permanent corrections can be made only by adjusting the buffering capacity of the water, by changing the alkalinity. Hardness and alkalinity are usually measured in German degrees, or DH, each of which is equal to 17.9 parts per million (and 1 ppm equals 1 mg/1). AMMONIA, NITRITES AND NITRATES Ammonia is the primary waste product of fish. It is present in two forms — toxic free ammonia (NH3), and the comparatively harmless ion, ammonium (NH4~). The proportion of these two forms is directly affected by the pH — at higher pH values, more free ammonia is present. The percentage of total ammonia — which is what test kits measure — present as toxic free ammonia can be found on the following chart: at pH of:







% of total 0.18 0.55 1.73 5.28 14.97 35.76 ammonia as I\IH3

Ammonia is eliminated from the aquarium by the nitrogen cycle, a process by which special nitrifying bacteria convert ammonia into nitrites and ultimately nitrates. These bacteria require four to six weeks to become fully established in the filter, so the fishkeeper should avoid replacing all the media in his filters at once if at all possible. Nitrites (NO2) are the intermediate product of the nitrogen cycle. Nitrites are just as toxic as ammonia, and produce the same symptoms in fish. Note that unlike ammonia, the

March 1999


Bernard Harrigan, Artist;



Warren Feuer, Research


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Scientific Name: Synodontis multipunctatus Common Name: Multi-Spotted Synodontis Adult Size: 43/4"

Native Habitat: Lake Tanganyika (Africa) Water Conditions: pH 8.2+ (moderately alkaline); 74°F-78°F Degree of difficulty to keep: 3 (fairly easy) Degree of difficulty to breed: 8 (very difficult) GCAS Breeders' Point Value: 15 Last Bred in GCAS (month/year): June 1996 Articles about this fish in Modern Aquarium: Mentioned in "The Catfish Families" by Lee Finley (March '95) Mentioned in "African Adventure" by Mark Soberman (February '96) Featured on the cover of June '96 — photo by John Moran Featured in a breeding article, "Synodontis Multipunctatus by way of Victoria's Secret" by John Moran (June '96)

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

March 1999

TROPICAL FISH AQUARIUM Specializing in Tropical Fish and Aquarium Supplies Large Selection of Aquatic Plants Knowledgeable Staff Same Location Since 1947. (718) 849-6678

11 5-23 Jamaica Avenue Richmond Hill, NY 11418









Visit "LUCILLE",

Our Pond& Falls In Our Backyard! You Can Build A Pond Too.

2890 Nostrand Avenue Bet Kings Hwy & Avenue P Brooklyn, NY 11229




March 1999

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

G.C.A.S. HAPPENINGS Last Month's Bowl Show Results 1) Tom Miglio - Betta splendens 2) Bob Wranovics - Frontosa sp. 3) Tsu Yong Ko - Pelvachromis pulcher Sept '98 — June '99 Bowl Show Standings to date: 1) Tom Miglio - 16 points 4) Leonard Ramroop - 5 points 2) Howard Berdach - 9 points 5):.|jtig),:]g|t Piccione and Jeff George - 3 points 3) Bob Wranovics - 8 points .x,::ffl::;::::::iSli'Tsu Yong K0::T::Jjgoint




New mgiriber: iyiicS||l Philips Renewing memr%;: EJ^an Rosenthal March 7 -

Exotic Fish Society of Hartford Auction. 1 :gft|pi| |||lonn Bellm ...Center $-84 Exit 39, right at first stop, them procecd.^ip^]0|i|p8ile). For Wayne Mercer (860)879-5085 or Day^i|||§€|^|k (860)657-55 1 I


Jersey Shore Aquarium Society Colonna (609)371-1 195. ^


information call Chr4iSine

Greater City's own ,'puiliri Brothe^E |100i ||d Doug) will be presentin|i|lir program on Plpts at the Nassau C^nig ^|uarium Society. (See meeting information ' meeting times and locS|i|Jpns of aquarium


New York Wea: Society

Next Meeting : Sllglp- A (no speake|;

arch 1 2 Sprung

sh0\vf Garden : Mr| Viic6tt Sileo

P.M. ;:;pionth atihe Que^ris^filpanica fcurtin , ;-Contact:j:|&ii$r . 63 1 -

; i : ^ : : ; - ; : x : l s t Thursday of month iaiiiithe Queens||li^tanical parden Contacts: iSl|:peorge ^i^ge §audier Telephone:

Long Island



B||| EdilSajlll: Hall, Pi|i||fe Conservation (N, >:CQ|jaict: BAS Events i^lelhone: (718)



Nassau County Aquarium Society

jtm Society

Meets: 8:00 P.M. - 3rd:;::friiaf^l month at Holtsville Park and Zoo, 2W Buckley Rd. Holtsville, NY 11801 Contact: Mr. Vinny Kreyling Telephone: (516) 938-4066

iill|iiilv;::::- 2nd Tuesday of each 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: 8PM - 3rd Thursday of the month at the American Legion Hall, Nutley, NJ (exit 151 Garden State Pkwy., near Rt. 3) Contact: NJAS Hotline at (201) 332-4415 or e-mail: tcoletti@obius.jnj.com

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

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

March 1999


Fin Fun Uppers and Downers Several of the articles in this month's issue have illustrated the importance of knowing the pH requirements of the fish you keep. Your fish are counting on you to get all of these questions right. Acidic (below 7.0)

Neutral (7.0)

Alkaline (over 7.0)

Cyprinodon nevadensis Macropodus opercularis Apistogramma agassizii Pseudotropheus zebra Neolamprologus leleupi Corydoras aeneus Julidochromis dickfeldi Barbus conchonius Aphyosemion australe Synodontis angelic us

Solution to Last Month's

puzzle: Cultivating Your Vocabulary:

1) Fleshy horizontal stem Rhizome 2) The common name for Microsorium pterorus Java Fern 3) End product of the breakdown offish wastes, which can be used as a fertilizer by most plants Nitrate 4) A non-branching plant in which the stem can be seen between the leaves Stem Plant 5) Absorbs water and nutrients, and transports them to the green part of a plant Root 6) A young plant which develops along the edge of a mature leaf Daughter Plant 7) A modified leaf which curls around a blossom Spathe 8) The scientific name of a Temple Plant Nomaphila stricta


March 1999

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

Profile for Dan Radebaugh

Modern Aquarium  

March 1999 volume VI number 3

Modern Aquarium  

March 1999 volume VI number 3