Modern Aquarium May 2010

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May 2010 volume XVII number 3

Series III ON THE COVER Our cover photo this month features Macropodus spechti, the black paradisefish. For more information on this striking antabantid from Viet Nam, see Al Priest’s article on page 11.

Photo by Alexander A. Priest


President Vice-President Treasurer Corresponding Secretary Recording Secretary

Pete D’Orio Al Grusell Emma Haus

Claudia Dickinson Leonard Ramroop Warren Feuer Mark Soberman Al Grusell Alexander A. Priest Claudia Dickinson Claudia Dickinson Warren Feuer

MODERN AQUARIUM Editor in Chief Copy Editors Exchange Editors Advertising Mgr.

From the Editor G.C.A.S. 2010 Program Schedule President’s Message G.C.A.S. Sponsors and Advertisers by Claudia Dickinson

Fish Bytes by Stephen Sica with Donna Sosna Sica

The Black Paradisefish Macropodus spechti by Alexander A. Priest

Our Generous Members Looking Through the Lens

Committee Chairs

A.C.A. Delegate Bowl Show Breeder Award Early Arrivals F.A.A.S. Delegate Members/Programs N.E.C. Delegate Technology Coordinator

In This Issue

Tonight’s Speaker: Ken Davis

Dan Radebaugh Mark Soberman Jules Birnbaum Warren Feuer Edward Vukich

Members At Large

Claudia Dickinson Artie Friedman Ben Haus Leonard Ramroop

Vol. XVII, No. 3 May, 2010

Dan Radebaugh Sharon Barnett Susan Priest Alexander A. Priest Stephen Sica Donna Sosna Sica Mark Soberman

Photos from Our Last Meeting by Claudia Dickinson

Wet Leaves by Susan Priest

MTS: Is There A Cure? by Tommy Chang

Cichlidically Speaking by Claudia Dickinson

Member Classifieds G.C.A.S. Happenings The Undergravel Reporter Fin Fun (Puzzle Page)

2 3 4 5 7 9 11

13 14

16 17 19 25 26 27 28

From the Editor by Dan Radebaugh


s some of you may recall, a couple of years ago in this column, I mentioned some conservation issues, and how they might affect us as aquarists. A couple of months later I received a small package in the mail from Randy Stier, a member of the Motor City club in Michigan. He had seen that column through our journal exchange program, and who is very interested in matters of conservation, invasive species, and so on. Well, I recently received another package of press clippings from Randy, which I take to be a reminder that I had talked about a follow-up article or series of articles, and have to date not followed through on that idea. I’ve started working on a few pieces, but have yet to actually produce anything. On the other hand, television has been doing quite a good job of presenting conservation information, as well as profiles of various types of wildlife, including fish. In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m listening/watching a program on Animal Planet called River Monsters. This particular episode deals with snakeheads, and is pretty well done. The “angle” (in more ways than one) of the program is that the host/narrator is a biologist/big game angler who travels around the world investigating―and catching―freshwater fish that have reputations as possible man-eaters. Yes, the hyperbole is often a bit over the top, but each of the episodes delivers good information hidden within the rather overwrought danger/adventure presentation. I recommend it. I also recommend the articles in this month’s Modern Aquarium. Claudia Dickinson starts us off by introducing this evening’s speaker, Ken Davis. Claudia also contributes her regular column, “Cichlidically Speaking,” which keeps us abreast of what’s happening at the American Cichlid Association, as well as her ongoing pictorial of our meetings, “Looking Through the Lens.” Other familiar contributors are Sue Priest, with her “Wet Leaves” review of books for fish-folk like us, Steve Sica, whose “Fish Bytes” column keeps us up-to-date with what’s being published in other club journals around the country, and of course the Undergravel Reporter, who keeps us apprised of the weird and sometimes wonderful things going on in the world relating to our hobby that we might otherwise not know about.


Al Priest gives us one of his wonderful, indepth species profiles; this one chronicles the black paradisefish, Macropodus spechti, a photo of which graces this month’s cover. Following his debut article last month on African cichlids, Tommy Chang returns this month with a cautionary essay on the dangers of MTS, a syndrome with which many of us are a bit too familiar. Finally, in honor of tonight’s speaker, this month’s Fin Fun topic is “Away to Uruguay.” We need articles! Remember, Modern Aquarium is produced by and for the members of Greater City Aquarium Society. Our members are our authors, and we always, always need more articles. I know several of you are keeping and/or breeding fish that I would like to know more about, and I’m certain other members would be interested as well. Share your experience with us. Write about it! If you’re a little unsure about the state of your writing technique, don’t worry – that’s why there are editors. If you have an article, photo, or drawing that you’d like to submit for inclusion in Modern Aquarium, it’s easy to do! You may fax it to me at (877) 299-0522, email it to, or just hand it to me at a meeting. However you get it to me, I’ll be delighted to receive it!

May 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

GCAS Programs



t is our great fortune to have another admirable cast of speakers who have so graciously accepted our invitation to join us throughout the coming season, bringing us their extensive knowledge and experiences. You certainly won’t wish to miss a moment of our prominent guests, not to mention the friends, fish, warmth, and camaraderie that accompanies each meeting. I know I can barely wait to see you here! Enjoy! Claudia March

Jeff Kurtz TFH ‘Q & A’ columnist The Role of Writing in the Aquarium Hobby


Tim Nurse Diving Lake Tanganyika


Ken Davis Adventures in Uruguay

June July

GCAS Visit to the Bronx Zoo with Director Jim Breheny! Jeff Bollbach Fishroom Tour: Missouri Aquarium Society


Silent Auction




Rusty Wessel Mexico - The Panuco Valley: Livebearers and Cichlids of the Region


Joseph Ferdenzi


Holiday Party!

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

May 2010


President’s Message by Dan Radebaugh


ell, our speakers of late have been providing us with quite the travelogue. Last month Tim Nurse showed us photos of his scuba-diving trip to Lake Tanganyika. This month we look forward to Ken Davis’ account of his collecting trips to Uruguay, and next month we get to take a trip ourselves―to the Bronx Zoo, as guests of Zoo Director and GCAS member Jim Breheny. Be sure and watch for your yellow post cards next month for details and directions, and check our Web site as well, www. We’ll provide you with information on how to get there, where to park, where to meet, and so forth. This brings to mind the thought that, with the increased use of email for communications, it would be helpful to have all our members email addresses, so that if something urgent comes up with regard to Society matters, we will be able to reach everyone expeditiously. We promise not to sell it to spammers, um, I mean helpful marketers.

get home (well, OK―tomorrow will do) please send me an email (gcas@earthlink. net). Be sure to mention your name in the email, as not all email systems automatically include that. Also, if you haven’t been receiving your yellow meeting reminder cards, we may not have your correct postal address, so if you feel this may be the case, please include your postal mail address in your email as well. I’m sure we’ll enjoy Ken’s tales of Uruguay this evening, and I look forward to seeing you all at the Bronx Zoo in June! Thanks!


To make this easy, if you aren’t sure we have your email address, tonight when you

Articles submitted for consideration in Modern Aquarium (ISSN 2150-0940) must be received no later than the 10th day of the

month prior to the month of publication. Please fax to (877) 299-0522, or email to Copyright 2010 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 January and February. Members receive notice of meetings in the mail. For more information, contact: Dan Radebaugh (718) 458-8437. Find out more, or leave us a message, at our Internet Home Page at: or


May 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

GCAS Thanks You! Our Generous Sponsors and Advertisers The Greater City Aquarium Society extends our heartfelt thanks to the following manufacturers for their generous donations. Thanks also to our advertisers, whose contributions to our success as a Society are deeply appreciated. Please patronize our supporters. Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Aquarium Technology Inc Ecological Laboratories HBH Pet Products Koller-Craft Kordon, LLC Marineland Microbe Lift Ocean Nutrition America Omega Sea Red Sea

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Rena Rolf C. Hagen San Francisco Bay Brand Seachem Zoo Med Laboratories Inc. Cameo Pet Shop Coral Aquarium Nassau Discus World Class Aquarium Zoo Rama Aquarium

May 2010



May 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

The G.C.A.S. Proudly extends a most Warm Welcome to

Our Guest Speaker

Ken Davis Speaking on Collecting in Uruguay by Claudia Dickinson


(AAAA) since 1998. He was elected to the first of four twoyear terms on the American C i c h l i d Association (ACA) Board of Ken on the Rio Uruguay at Salto, Trustees in 1998, fishing for Dorado. and served as ACA Chairman of the Board in 1999 and 2004. In 2002 and again in 2008, Ken was Chairman of two very successful ACA conventions hosted by the AAAA. He was also elected to the Board of Directors of the North American Discus Association in 2005, and has belonged to the American Livebearer Association for many years. In 2001, on a trip organized by noted discus authority Bing Seto, Ken traveled to Asia with a group of breeders and importers for a two-week tour of Asian fish farms, the International Discus Show in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the Aquarama in Singapore. This trip was a memorable experience for Ken―the group also visited Hong Kong, Bangkok, Saigon, Kuala Lumpur, and Penang. May 2010 7

atching introduced exotics in the creek behind his family home in Tampa, Ken Davis began to keep fish, the majority of which were livebearers, when he was six years old. As the small containers full of aquatic creatures proliferated throughout his bedroom, Ken’s parents bought him a 10-gallon tank to keep his catch in, little knowing where this would lead. Over the years, his tanks have multiplied to their current number of around six hundred! Ken does not recall a time in the last fortysix years when he did not have fish. Keeping a variety of cichlids from Africa, and Central and South America, Ken also has many wild type and fancy livebearers. He obtained his first discus in 1978 and recalls that “just keeping them alive back then was the challenge.” His first successful discus spawn was in 1982 with the ‘new’ Wattley turquoise discus that had just come on the scene―he has been hooked ever since. With a love of breeding fish, and spawns numbering in the hundreds of species, Ken has introduced several new species into the hobby. Through the years, Ken has owned a retail pet store, worked at a major university for 18 years, and currently runs a fish hatchery, Fishfarm USA. Active in the organized hobby as well, Ken has served as the President of the Atlanta Area Aquarium Association Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Seining in Rio Tamasopo, Mexico, just above Tamasopo Falls.

Since 2007 Ken has been on five collecting trips to Honduras with groups of serious hobbyists including Rusty Wessel and Eddie Martin. He went to Mexico in February 2006, and over the last three years has also gone on trips to Uruguay during the months of


November and December. With great enthusiasm he states, “Man this hobby just gets more fun.” Ken has enjoyed all aspects of the hobby, from meeting great people, going to shows and conventions, speaking for clubs, breeding new fish, and collecting in wild, exotic places. He says, “It keeps me busy and off the streets!” With great pride, we give a warm welcome to Ken tonight as he brings us his experiences of “Collecting in Uruguay.” Ken in Rio Danto, Honduras.

May 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

An occasional column for society exchanges, guest appearances, articles, and items of general interest. We try not to bite off more than we can swallow. If you wish to offer comments, suggestions, or any information that you would like to see in this column, the authors encourage you to contact us through the Editor (, or at a monthly meeting.

by Stephen Sica with Donna Sosna Sica


t’s the second week of February, with a weather forecast of impending doom―that as much as eighteen inches of snow is to fall the next day. Under these circumstances, I have decided to begin another column to meet my goal of writing a quarterly column each calendar year. Since it’s only February and one column is already in the editor’s hands, I’m ahead of my goal. I usually am at this time of the year, but somehow I seem to fall behind. I have yet to figure out how this always happens to me? Well, I had better begin, because I still have a good pile of 2009 publications to scrutinize before they meet up with the recycling sack. Wow! The March 2009 issue of TropiQuarium reprinted “How We Lost a Fortune in the Tropical Fish Industry” by Mary and Dan Carson of the GCAS. This article was originally published in November of 1970 (!), but more recently appeared in the October 2008 issue as part of our “MA Classics” series. This facetious article’s theme is how the Carsons decided to raise in their backyard swimming pool and market mosquito larvae, as fish food that can be frozen but return to life at aquarium or room temperature so fish could eat live food. I think that the moral of this story should be to keep a clean pool and avoid hare-brained schemes. The April issue claims that “You know you’re a fish nut when” you “have a fish carcass in your freezer to show somebody someday.” Well, I’ve been known to keep a deceased fish or two in the spare refrigerator in my basement, but the only people I want to show it to are collectively the NYC Department of Sanitation. How about this one: you know... when you “have performed autopsies on fish.” I sure hope they weren’t cardinal tetras. Here’s one that everyone must have done occasionally… “left the cover off a tank and found dead fish on the floor in the morning.” I find them all times of the day and night. Here’s my own contribution: throw out live fish during a water

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

May 2010

change. It was either a porthole or flagtail catfish. I was trying to keep busy during a winter snow (such as today, February 10). About ten minutes later, I noticed that the fish was missing, so I went outside and found it on a pile of snow. I put it into the tank; it revived and lived a long and hopefully happy life. England’s Peter McKane, on his www.helpfish. org website, writes in “10 Things to Know About Gobies: Bumblebee Gobies,” the ninth and tenth things are to have a plentiful supply of rocky caves or small pots…each goby should have at least one hiding place…have sufficient current to keep small food moving around…gobies harmlessly skirmish with each other over the best pots…aggressively feeding tankmates will leave insufficient food…the golden banded goby requires brackish water, while a true bumblebee goby can survive in fresh water. The May 2009 issue of The North Jersey Aquarium Society’s Reporter has an authorless piece on “Water Changes.” It recommends as a basic rule to change about twenty percent per week. An editor’s note states that studies have shown that anything less than 25-30 percent is “almost a waste of time.” The study continues that “the most you can change (is) up to fifty percent.” Izzy Zwerin also has an article, “Propagating Cryptocoryne Lutea.” Izzy corrects the plant’s name to C. walker; he finds it to be hardy, and tolerant of a wide range of water and lighting conditions. It will benefit from substrate fertilizers and trace elements twice a week. He recommends it as a midground plant. Proper lighting will add red color to the leaves. A native of Sri Lanka, it is subject to “crypt rot,” but will regenerate, so do not discard your plant if it withers. Ed Young, North Jersey’s Exchange Editor, was kind enough to mention Rich Levy’s “Fishroom Challenge” article based upon the four fish room presentations that were held at the second AFISH convention. He also mentioned Joe Ferdenzi’s 9

historical article, “Westerleigh Aquarium: Relic of a Golden Age.” The July 2009 issue has a really interesting article, “A Summer Fish Tub & Water Garden Journal (2009)” by Ted Coletti. He promised another installment of the article in the October issue, but it was not in it. Anyway, the above article is excellent, with or without additional installments. I’ll save the issue if anyone is interested in outdoor summer fish tubs. I received the February issue of Fins & Tales from the Kitchener-Waterloo Aquarium Society. For cichlid fanciers this issue contains breeding reports or articles on Julidochromis marlieri, Neolamprologus maranguensis, Neolamprologus leleupi and Paracyprichromis nigripinnis. There is a review on Zoo Med’s Magclips, which are magnetic “suction cups.” I have been using several of these since they entered the market. I like to use two per underwater heater. It’s an expensive replacement for traditional suction cups, and they are effective unless you accidentally move the outside-the-glass magnet during tank maintenance. This is one reason that I use two; the second one will keep the heater in place. Another new online exchange publication comes from Carol Ross, editor of The Buckette, the official publication of the Bucks County Aquarium Society. For anyone who may be geographically challenged, Bucks County is in Pennsylvania. Since 2010 begins the twenty-third volume of The Buckette, it’s safe to say that this society has been in existence for at least as many years…by the way, the February issue states that Mark Soberman will be giving a presentation on “West African Catfish” on June 3. Here are some simple photography tips from a recent guest speaker: use your camera’s exposure control to get accurate color, use a white background, and shine as much light as possible thru the top of the aquarium and turn off the camera’s flash. Don Van Pelt’s attention-holding article, “Fish Room,” in The Granite-Fisher’s February issue, discusses how he built his retirement basement fish room in a nineteenth century New England house with a piled granite boulder foundation―which means lots of small spaces for cold air to enter. He heated his fish room to seventy-five degrees, and eliminated heaters


for each tank. He also replaced small air pumps with a large piston driven pump and then a much more efficient diaphragm one. He used exterior grade plywood that warped, and replaced it with particleboard. He didn’t glue his PVC airline pipe until it was too late to do so, for fear that the fumes would harm his fish. In spite of a few mistakes, Don now has the fish room that he always wanted! Finally, here is a joke that I stole from Fins & Tales. Where do down-and-out of luck fishes end up? Squid row! Okay, give me another chance. Why are fish easy to weigh? They have their own scales! Hey, it’s hard to find good material to fill up this space. Just ask our editor. I just attended Greater City’s March meeting. Having visited the Toledo Zoo and its aquarium building in 2004 during a car trip to a Jimmy Buffet concert in Chicago, I was quite interested in hearing Jeff Kurtz, the guest speaker. I thought that he chose a good topic. He was brief and to the point; this usually makes for an excellent presentation. I found it especially interesting as a “writer,” because he planted a big seed in my small head. So here goes: to our Illustrious Editor, I’m just wondering, only a little bit, is there any chance that I can get paid for this column? Before you respond, I’m sure that you appreciate my Charles Dickens’ school of writing style. Okay Mr. Editor…

This Harlequin bass is four inches of vertical stripes and speckles with a dash of yellow. Donna thinks it’s too pretty to make fish talk with her. I suggested that she upgrade to pink swim fins.

May 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

The Black Paradisefish Macropodus spechti By ALEXANDER A. PRIEST he fish sometimes found in pet stores under volumes of the Atlas were yet to be published) the common names of “blue paradisefish” lists Macropodus concolor as a synonym of “red paradisefish” or “turquoise paradisefish” Macropodus opercularis and mentions that “There (depending on the prominent color of the vertical are black and albino forms.”4 I understand this body stripes), as well as the “albino paradisefish” was corrected by the 1996 Edition, now called are all the same species, namely Macropodus Volume 1. opercularis, the first tropical fish (that is, excluding When it was later determined that the black the non-tropical goldfish) to be kept in home paradisefish was a separate species, and not a aquariums in Europe and the New World. (In 1869, sub-species, the scientific name Macropodus 100 Macropodus opercularis were sent to France by concolor was assigned to it, again owing to the a French consul in Ningbo, China. In 1876, the St. 1937 Ahl description. Louis philanthropist Adophus Busch brought them But then it was discovered that in 1936 this to the United States.1) species was The black described in a Scientific Name: Macropodus spechti paradisefish is a German aquarium Common Name: black paradisefish distinct and separate magazine as Special consideration: anabantoid (air breather) species (although, as I Macropodus var. Standard Length: 2.5" will explain, it was spechti in honor of pH: 6.5 to 7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral) not always considered the German aquarist Water hardness: soft to neutral to be so), even though M. Spechti.5 This Temperature: 70° to 75° F it can crossbreed with was one year earlier Distribution: central Viet Nam M. opercularis. than Ahl’s Reproduction: surface bubblenester While far less description. The Temperament: somewhat aggressive, jumpers c o mmo n i n t h e International Code Environment: low-light, caves and/or driftwood, aquarium hobby of Zoological heavily planted including floating Macropodus spechti Nomenclature plants, tight-fitting cover with no gaps ( t h e b l a c k specifies that the Nutrition: primarily carnivore (live or frozen paradisefish), is just first valid name worms, brine shrimp, etc.) as easy to keep and given to a species is Filtration: avoid currents and surface agitation breed as Macropodus to be accepted as its opercularis. It’s a scientific name. great beginner fish, And so, the scientific and an easy way to get some breeder’s award points. name for the black paradisefish was changed from (See the April 2010 issue of Modern Aquarium for Macropodus concolor to Macropodus spechti, a complete description of the GCAS breeder’s although you can still find frequent references to Macropodus concolor. award program (BAP). While Macropodus spechti bears a strong Before I describe this fish and its husbandry, I’d like to discuss its scientific name to clear up any physical resemblance to the common Macropodus possible misunderstanding for those of you who opercularis, the noted German aquarist, Dr. Jörg might go to a store, or go online, and ask for it. Vierke has written: “The black paradise fish differ Some books (mostly older ones) refer to the Black so much from Macropodus opercularis in fin Paradisefish as a “black form” or sub-species of formula, color pattern, behavior and origin, that Macropodus opercularis. This is mainly due to the their status as a species is clearly assured. The fact famed German aquarist Dr. Ernst Ahl who, in a that M. concolor and M. opercularis produce 1937 article in Zoologischer Anzeiger2 (one of the fertile offspring in captivity is no evidence against oldest German zoological journals) referred to it as their status as a species.”6 [note, this was written Macropodus opercularis concolor.3 (Concolor before Macropodus concolor officially became being Latin for “uniformly colored” or Macropodus spechti.] I found one supposed “monotone.”) Even my 1991 Baensch Aquarium example of an M. spechti / M. opercularis cross in Atlas (technically Volume 1, but subsequent a long out of print book.7


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

May2010 2010 May



As you can see from the photographs in this expel eggs. He then fertilizes the eggs, and places article, Macropodus spechti has a very distinctive them in a nest of bubbles that he has constructed at caudal fin. It is “forked” like that of M. opercularis, the water’s surface (or under a leaf or other but between the twin forked extensions are floating object). The male then stands guard under thread-like filaments, some of which are white. The his nest until the fry are free-swimming, after body of Macropodus spechti is uniformly colored, which the fry are on their own. Due to the lacking both the vertical banding of Macropodus vulnerability of their fry as a result of this lack of opercularis and parental care, an opercular spot. the black It is a very paradisefish, hardy fish, and and indeed most can tolerate a bubblenesting wide range of fishes, produce water conditions. hundreds of O n e e x amp l e eggs at each from my own spawning. The experience bubblenests of demonstrates this. M. spechti seem I had a large to be a bit more breeding group in compact than a 40 gallon tank. those of One day, I M. opercularis, discovered that but other than the heater stuck in that, the Female Macropodus spechti the “on” position breeding and and—well, I nest tending usually take a bath in cooler water than what was in behavior appears to be identical. that tank. Yes, there were a number of fatalities. I have often read that, while Macropodus More surprising was the number of fish that opercularis was the first tropical fish to be kept as survived, and later spawned. I have kept a pet in Europe and in the Western Hemisphere, its Macropodus opercularis in an outdoor tub in popularity waned due to its aggressive behavior. weather with temperatures from 90EF to 45EF, and In my experience, this “aggressive behavior” is I have no doubt overstated, and that Macropodus is usually a spechti are just as result of another hardy. fish straying too As is the close to a male case with guarding his Macropodus bubblenest. opercularis, For a long Macropodus time, it was spechti are assumed that anabantoids, b l a c k meaning that paradisefish adults rely come from the p r i ma r i l y o n former imperial atmospheric (and former oxygen, which national) capital they get by city of Hue in Male Macropodus spechti taking gulps of central Vietnam. air at the water’s surface, and storing it in an However, it has been discovered that wild maze-like structure (generally referred to as the Macropodus recently obtained from that area “labyrinth organ”) in their heads. Because of this, clearly differ from known varieties.8 So, while they can survive in stagnant and oxygen-poor water. there is general agreement that Macropodus Males are larger than females and have longer spechti is Southeast Asian, and most likely from fins. Adult females are smaller, wider, and have Vietnam, the exact origin of this species is still in shorter fins. Like other members of the genus doubt, as is the question of whether recently Macropodus, the black paradisefish, is a bubblenest discovered regional variations constitute even builder. The male M. spechti encircles the female to more new species.



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

While they are native to soft, slightly acidic water, they readily adapt to most water parameters (although wild caught specimens are best kept in soft, acidic water if you want them to breed). They can tolerate a very wide temperature range, but Macropodus spechti is best kept at 75°F or less, although, as I mentioned, they can tolerate considerably higher temperatures. These are very easy fish to keep, and they will readily breed in the home aquarium. Caves, driftwood, and plants are recommended, especially if you keep more than one adult male in a tank. As noted previously, males are territorial when guarding their nests. However, as long as they can stake out a territory, actual fighting (as opposed to posturing and fin flaring) is, in my experience, uncommon. To facilitate breeding, floating plants (or other floating objects) should be placed in the tank to serve as anchors for the bubblenests. Since they build nests of floating bubbles, spraybars, powerheads, and other types of filtration that create agitation at the water’s surface should not be used, in order to avoid destroying the nests. In the wild, black paradisefish are primarily carnivores, eating mostly insects that land on the surface of the water. In the home aquarium, they will enthusiastically eat almost anything (often jumping out of the tank at feeding time!), but floating foods are best, as these fish are mostly surface feeders. Live or frozen foods (e.g., worms and brine shrimp) are recommended for conditioning the fish to breed. These are active and attractive fish, and are almost ideal for aquarists of any skill level. Just give them clean water and food, and (assuming that you have a pair), they will almost certainly spawn for you.

References: 1

Brunner, Bernd, The Ocean at Home: An Illustrated History of the Aquarium, Princeton Architectural Press (2005) p. 78. Ahl, E. “Neue Süsswasserfische aus dem Indischen und Malaiischen Gebiet” {translation: New freshwater fish from the Indian and Malay Region}, Zoologischer Anzeiger (1937) 117 (5/6): pp. 113-119.


Vierke, Jörg, Bettas, Gouramis and Other Anabantoids, THF Publications (1988) p. 147.


Baensch, Hans A., and Riehl, Dr. Rüdiger Aquarium Atlas, Tetra Press (1991) p. 638.


Schreitmüller, W., “Ein neuer Macropode Marcopodus opercularis L. var. spechti” {Translation: a New Macropode, Macropodus var. spechti}, Das Aquarium (1936) 10: pp. 181-182.



Vierke, Jörg, loc. cit.

Goldstein, Robert J., Anabantoids - Gouramis and Related Fishes, TFH Publications (1971), p. 79.



Seehaus, Thomas “Macropodus in garden ponds” Der Makropode, the journal of the IGL (Internationale Gemeinschaft für Labyrinthfische), Volume 31 – 2/2009, p. 44.

also see: Kühne, Jens “News About Heaven’s Peak Paradise Fish” Labyrinth, the journal of the Anabantoid Association of Great Britain, No. 159, March 2010.

Our Generous Members Each month a blue sheet is located on our auction table where those members who donate items to the auction can indicate their donations if they wish to do so. Due to the immense generosity of those who donate, we have no shortage of items to be auctioned. A warm thank you to the following members and others who so generously contributed, making last month’s auction the bountiful success that it was: Bill Amely Jeff Bollbach Carlotti de Jager Pete D’Orio

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

Rod Du Casse Rich Levy Dan Puleo Ed Vukich

May 2010 May 2010



Looking through the Photos and captions

Tim Nurse receives a warm thank you from President Michael Gallo and his nephew have discovered some new Dan Radebaugh on behalf of all of the GCAS for his species of Tanganyikan cichlids that they would like to add extraordinary presentation on ‘Diving Lake Tanganyika’! to their tanks.

Michael Henderson is enthused over going on an upcoming collecting trip and gained much helpful information from our guest speaker, Tim Nurse. A warm and heartfelt welcome to new GCAS member, Jon Mena! Jon specializes in South and Central American cichlids, as well as catfish.

Mario Bengcion holds the winning Door Prize ticket to David Boruchowitz’s excellent book on freshwater aquariums!

An honorary GCAS pin tops off the gifts to our guest speaker, Tim Nurse, from President Dan Radebaugh!

Horst Gerber and Jeff Bollbach in some serious fish talk!


May 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Lens with the GCAS By Claudia Dickinson

The smiles of Facebook aficionados and dear friends, Roderick Mosley and Sharon Barnett, light up the GCAS meeting hall!

Congratulations to Joseph Graffagnino, holder of the winning Door Prize ticket for a oneyear membership in the American Cichlid Association, along with recent back issues of Buntbarsche Bulletin!

Dan Puleo, Bill Amely, and Harry Faustmann are thrilled over their GCAS auction finds!

Alexander Priest receives first place in Bob Hamje receives second place Mario Bengcion receives third place the evening’s Bowl Show with his Betta in the evening’s Bowl Show with his in the evening’s Bowl Show with his pulchra. blue/black betta. ryukin goldfish. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

May 2010


Q. What causes my Spotted Headstanders to lose their spots and develop dark patches on their head and back? A. This phenomenon has been reported when the fish are spawning. Q. I have lots of cyclops in my water barrel. Can a Series On Books For The Hobbyist I feed them to my breeding stock? by SUSAN PRIEST A. By all means, but do not put cyclops into a tank containing fish eggs, as they will prey on them. he question and answer format of this book Q. What species would you recommend as an immediately caught my attention. I have introduction to keeping rainbowfish? always found it to be an effective means of A. Many of the melanotaenids are both easy to communicating information, as well as being very keep and relatively straightforward to breed. reader- friendly. Our author proposes the theory Near the end of the book, in between the that “the key to successful glossary and the index, is a fishkeeping is forward planning.” brief discussion of “Fish and What better way is there to plan the Law.” The Tropical ahead than to ask questions? Q. What are the two main Freshwater Aquarium Q. Can you name a carnivorous types of laws governing By Gina Sandford aquatic plant? tropical fish? Interpet Publishing, 2005 A. If you can’t, then keep A. Laws concerning the reading. collection of species This book is under threat, and laws divided into three designed to prevent the sections; aquarium care, introduction of species tropical freshwater fish, where they may pose a and aquatic plants. threat to native flora Aquarium care and fauna. addresses nineteen Are you still different topics. Some reading? Here is the infrequently covered answer to my opening topics include hard and question. soft water systems, Q. I used some ultra-violet sterilizers, bladderwort for my fish and holidays. The to spawn on. They section on fish has fifty hatched out, but I am “categories” such as soft suffering numerous water dwarf cichlids, losses. Why is this? mailed catfish, and A. Bladderworts passive electrogenic (Utricularia sp.), are fish, to name but a few. carnivorous plants. Each of these categories Their small bladders, focuses in on several which resemble air individual species. The bubbles, catch tiny aquatic plant section aquatic organisms, offers criteria for including newly choosing plants, as well hatched fry, which are as advice on how to tend then dissolved as food. and propagate them. In conclusion, I I have picked out a would like to few Q.’s and A.’s to paraphrase Ms. illustrate what I consider to be this book’s main Sandford, who advises us that with the vast array strength, that being communication of information. of equipment, and the sophisticated armory of test See if you agree. kits available to us, we have no excuse for lax Q. My community tank is neutral, slightly alkaline, aquaristic practices. I must also mention the wide and has hard water. Is there a tetra suited to these world of literature that we have at our fingertips, to conditions? which she herself has made significant A. One of the penguin fish, Thayeria boehlkei, contributions. would be suited to your tank.


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

MTS Is There a Cure? by Tommy Chang


t isn’t commonly discussed in the literature, but some of us aquarists are known to be afflicted with a condition called MTS. This three-letter abbreviation is often used when referring to the dreaded Malaysian Trumpet Snail (they can be hard to get rid of), but this short essay is on how to cure Multiple Tank Syndrome. What dedicated aquarist does not want multiple tanks? Everyday people have one nice tank as a showpiece in their living rooms. They are usually not serious enough to learn about cycling the tank, and do not research things like what fish are compatible with fish they already have and so forth. They may buy that cute little Oscar, later to find out they need a much bigger tank. The serious aquarist though, wants to breed these fish; all the better that they are pretty and in demand! This aquarist realizes he may need several tanks in which to raise the fry, separate the males from the females until the time is right, and on top of that have a nice show tank in the living room for house guests to admire. It’s just natural to need more tanks, right? Right??? For those of us who may have MTS, the first line of defense is playing dumb. Say, “I do not have Malaysian Trumpet Snails! Are you accusing me of overfeeding my fish? Or poor tank maintenance?” But perhaps your friends and family have been making fun of you. What to do? Could you really have a problem? Is there a cure? Are you a religious person? Ask your family clergyman to bring a talisman or holy water and perform an exorcism. “Evil MTS Demon, I cast you out! OUT!” Or perhaps you have more of a psychological turn of mind. Pretend you are Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame. I might imagine him saying in front of me, “For your consideration, Tommy K. Chang, a man obsessed with tropical fish. He thinks all night and all day about that next fish tank…” Some of us are lucky enough to be single. Consider getting married. A spouse can often be an effective antidote to MTS. He or she will be more important to you than your fish (right?), so that’s one way to cure MTS―get married! But be sure it’s a person you love, because if you wind up loving the fish more than the spouse, you will have many regrets, as well as an especially aggravated case of MTS. What if you are already married and still have MTS? Well, ask your spouse to get a paddle and

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

have you recite the following list, each point being accompanied by a slap of the paddle on the rear part of your anatomy! 1. No more fish! (Whap) 2. No more tanks! (Whap, Ouch!) 3. We eat in the kitchen! No family members should be having sex in the kitchen! (No breeding your fish, Whap!) 4. A refugium? (Whap!)

That’s another tank!

5. A sump? You want that big a tank? Where’s the couch gonna go? We lose the living room and it’s another tank! (No! Double Whap!!) The list can of course be lengthened (if you like) for very severe cases of MTS. You be the judge.

But seriously, one way to keep your number of tanks down is to get some of those screens that divide the tank. They have little holes which do not totally prevent water circulation. Add an air stone to the side of the barrier that is cut off from the outflow of the filter. I use one of these as a barrier to create a refugium. The java moss I bought at one of the auctions, although still tied down, was still clogging up the intake of my filter. Also, I keep African Cichlids which eat most plants, so this is a handy way keep the plants safe so they can thrive and cut down on your nitrates. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to use a powerhead in the refugium part of the tank. As you may know, a tank divider is useful for isolating either weak or overly aggressive fish. I am currently using my divided section to let a subdominant fish heal from its wounds. Although using these barriers is not the complete answer for MTS, it is a useful way of getting more places to put your fish, and avoid having to buy more tanks and find the space for them.

May 2010


I can’t think why any serious aquarist would want Malaysian Trumpet Snails (unless of course he or she raises clown loaches to eat the nasty little creatures). Multiple Tank Syndrome however, is not something that really needs to be cured. It’s just a non-aquarist’s tongue in cheek label applied to a serious aquarist he or she knows and loves. MTS shouldn’t be a problem if you really love that fish geek. Take for example Al and Susan Priest; they have a whole house of fish, and both Al and Sue are serious


aquarists. Although my mother does not play golf well, she has an interest in golf because my father does. So before you go out and buy a paddle to cure MTS, clean up that basement for your spouse. He or she will love you just as much as they love the fish!

Drawing: gallery.php?id=0&show=&tag=spanking

May 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Cichlidically Speaking Your Link to the American Cichlid Association

by Claudia Dickinson

First appearing in the February 2001 issue of the American Cichlid Association’s Buntbarsche Bulletin, my ‘Cichlidically Speaking’ column ran until August of 2005. Its commentary covered current ACA news, as well as relevant cichlid research and conservation efforts. As your ACA Club Delegate, I continue to bring you that column here in the pages of Modern Aquarium. Let us think of it as ‘Volume II,’ or now on its second year with the GCAS, ‘Volume III’?!

ACA Convention 2010 The event that we all look forward to, our annual ACA Convention, is almost here!

July 22 ― 25, 2010 Hosted by the Milwaukee Aquarium Society Olympia Spa and Resort Have you registered yet?!?! Register today at! Be sure to get your room reservations now by calling 800-558-9573. The group code for our special convention rate is MAC10. It’s all about cichlids, and cichlidophiles. We can barely wait to see you there! ACA Founding Fellow Ross Socolof The legendary and beloved ACA Founding Fellow and Jordan Fellow Ross Socolof passed away on October 20th 2009, three days before his 84th birthday. Ross is deeply missed, but will live on in the hearts of the ACA and the aquarium world where he has left the consummate gift of his legacy. Placing together the Buntbarsche Bulletin December 2009 special edition tribute to Ross brought great joy, for it is a true celebration of a man who had a profound effect on the hobby, while touching the lives of all who he encountered. With it came smiles, laughter, and yes, even a tear or two, from the Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

May 2010


lighthearted to often moving stories that share a common theme. They describe a man who was warm, kind, thoughtful, generous, and intelligent, a friend to all, a mentor to many, a father figure, and one who had a passion for life and who gave of himself, and his ‘CARE’ packages of books and literature, freely. That was Ross Socolof. On a personal note, the books and memos that Ross shared with me will be treasured forever, and whenever I come across malted milk balls I will always think of him with enormous fondness, for he loved those and enjoyed keeping a supply in the freezer. My large wish has been that Ross knew of the great love that the ACA and the hobby held for him, and I am quite sure that, as his dog, Irving, from Socolof Fish Farms came to greet him at the rainbow bridge, in his heart he did know. Contributors to the issue who share their special memories with Ross include ACA Fellow and treasured friend, Rusty Wessel, lifelong best buddy, Harry Specht, ACA Founding Fellows Dick Stratton and James Langhammer, ACA Fellow Wayne Leibel, Albert Klee, our own Joe Ferdenzi, Rosario LaCorte, Dan Woodland, Raymond Wetzel, and Lee and Aline Finley.

Pair of Thorichthys socolofi guarding fry. Photograph by Rusty Wessel

Ross and friend in Honduras, circa 1991, with an impressive collection of iguanas. Photograph by Rusty Wessel

Jodi Socolof’s favorite post card An inquisitive audience gathers as longtime best buddies and traveling comrades, Ross Socolof and Harry Specht, from her father, Ross. examine cichlid specimens held in a formaldehyde solution. Courtesy of Jodi Socolof Photograph by Rusty Wessel 20

May 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Conservation Awareness: A CARES Conservation Priority Species Success Story! It is a pleasure to share the triumphant story of Astatotilapia desfontainii, a CARES conservation priority species that the ACA first shined the spotlight on in August of 2008, Buntbarsche Bulletin Number 247. We feel great pride in Greg Steeves, one of the first recipients of the ACA CARES Member of the Year Award, for his major role since that publication in rescuing A. desfontainii from extinction—one of his many notable accomplishments. Also our CARES Conservation Priority List Lake Victoria Regional Coordinator, Greg brings us his report of a cichlid in peril that had the great fortune of finding its way into his tanks.

Astatotilapia desfontainii. Photograph by Lee Ann Steeves If there could ever be a flagship fish for the CARES program, it might well be the beautiful little haplochromine Astatotilapia desfontainii. For those of you who might not know the story, please allow me to present the condensed version. In the spring of 2007, two Spanish ichthyologists collecting killifish in Tunisia happened upon a nearly dry irrigation ditch. In this small trickle of water an unfamiliar haplochromine cichlid was found. Specimens were caught and preserved for the Natural History Museum in Madrid, Spain. Unfortunately, by all accounts what might have been the last wild habitat for A. desfontainii is, in all likelihood, dried up completely now. Live fry from this collection made their way to Dr. Anton Lamboj in Austria. I was honored when Anton contacted me to work with the fry. At this time I had no idea of the rarity of A. desfontainii and the peril it faced. I will admit that I was a little nervous when I realized the entire scope of the situation. Anton trusted me with some of the last remaining live specimens in existence. Fortunately, the fish grew quickly and first spawning occurred in the spring of 2008. Having the first batch of fry was a huge relief and I wanted to distribute them as quickly as I could. Two weeks post release, the fry were split into three groups and given to people I knew I could trust with them—fellow members of the Hill Country Cichlid Club. From this time on, the original wild fish bred with regularity. Through the CARES program, I was able to provide additional seed colonies to hobbyists across the country and, with Anton’s help, into Europe. Thinking back and realizing that A. desfontainii is quite likely extinct in the wild, was all but unknown in the hobby, and in a little over a year has gone from a small group of four tiny fry to healthy colonies across the United States and Europe, gives me a sense of accomplishment. In the same breath, I realize that there are hundreds of other fish in this very same predicament. Other species Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

May 2010


will die completely without ever making it into the tank of a caring hobbyist whose efforts could thwart extinction. Through fry distribution in the CARES program, once established colonies are in place, the opportunity for captive survival is promising. In my opinion, CARES is the greatest plan ever set in place to give many endangered and threatened species a legitimate chance of survival. I can only hope that vulnerable wild seed stock can be obtained before it’s too late. Greg Steeves

A warm and heartfelt thank you to Greg for his enormous and continued dedication to conservation priority species. For complete information on Astatotilapia desfontainii and this success story, please be certain to see his detailed account in the April 2009 issue of Cichlid News. News On The Cichlid Scene

Paretroplus damii. Photograph by George J. Reclos and Marina Parha

Paretroplus damii Bleeker 1868 Inhabiting Malagasy rivers and lakes that have a sand, mud, or rock substrate, Paretroplus damii is found in soft waters that range from acidic to alkaline, and are relatively high in temperature (de Rham and Nourissat, 2004). A rare find in the tanks of hobbyists, this damba was first reproduced in France in the pools of Jean-Claude Nourissat in the early 2000s (Artigas Azas, 2008). A shoaling species, colonies are best kept in groups of six or more. Individuals grow to over 40 cm (15.7 in), making aquarium maintenance not always an easy feat for aquarists, as this means an outdoor pool or large aquarium of a minimum of 1,000 to 1,300 liters (264 to 343 gal) for a colony. It is, however, a relatively peaceful cichlid which makes it an ideal candidate for the large Malagasy setup. When kept under proper conditions, Pe. damii possesses the potential of being one of the most colorful species of the genus. As challenging as it is to maintain and breed this CARES conservation priority species due to its immense size and need for a large aquarium and dedicated attention, commendable success has been achieved by skilled aquarists, George Reclos and Marina Parha of Athens, Greece and Manchester, United Kingdom. Their efforts are well worth it to secure a future for this extraordinary species at risk. Offspring have recently made their way to the United States and under their skilled keeper’s attention, we look forward to availability here in the not-too-distant future. 22

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Be certain to see detailed information on Paretroplus damii in George and Marina’s complete account which appears in Buntbarsche Bulletin #251, April 2009.

There are no rules as to where Paretroplus damii will spawn. Photograph by George J. Reclos and Marina Parha

Paretroplus damii pair care for newly laid eggs. Photograph by George J. Reclos and Marina Parha

Paretroplus damii guarding fry. Photograph by George J. Reclos and Marina Parha

Join the ACA! Be certain that you are a part of the ACA by sending your dues through PayPal to or you may prefer to print out the membership application at and send it to: Marty Ruthkosky ACA Membership Chair 43081 Bond Court Sterling Heights, MI 48313 Please feel free to contact me during our meetings with any questions that you may have, or e-mail me at I’m sure you will find becoming involved with such a special group of individuals as rewarding as I have!

Until next time… Keep on Enjoying Your Cichlids! Claudia Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

May 2010


DANBURY AREA AQUARIUM SOCIETY Serving the Hudson Valley Area, Westchester, Fairfield, and Litchfield Counties

24nd AUCTION - Spring 2010!    TO BE HELD AT THE: Carmel Firehouse 94 Gleneida Ave (Corner of Route 52 & Vink Drive) Carmel, NY 10512  , 1 red dot, 50/50 split, *60/40 for 6 or more lots, and preprinted lot #

labels (no description, please label your bags) *Acceptable lots will be determined by the auction committee Vendors: TBD

Food &Refreshments will be available 

REGISTRATION.................................8:30 AM TO 11:15 AM VIEWING OF GOODS........................10:00 AM TO 11:15 AM AUCTION..................................................11:30 AM TO 5 PM RAFFLE..........................................................................50 / 50

 24

May 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Member Classifieds EQUIPMENT: 3 Rena Filstar XP3 Cannister Filters -- Up to 350 GPH -- $50 each 1 Eheim Pro II 2026 $65 1 Emperor 280 Power Filter (single bio-wheel) $20 1 Emperor 400 Bio-Wheel HOB Power Filter $30 1 Coralife Turb Twist 18 watt with 3 extra (never used) UV bulbs $50 All nearly new, in original boxes. Call (631) 563-1404 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------2-10’s---complete $15 each 2-20 Longs complete, no lights 20 each 1-20 high-complete, no filter 20 2-29’s complete 30 each Refrigerator 30 1-55 complete 60 1-65 with canister filter, full lighting, Laterite in gravel metal stand---$250 Some large wood, meds, rock, caves. “Complete” means heater, filter, full lighting (they were used as plant tanks), canopy. Call Charley: (917) 837-6346 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------46 bow tank, light, stand, all oak finish $310 Looking for Oak stand for 36g bowfront Call Ron: 718-464-8408 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Free Cyclop-eeze! Wanted Female Yellow Labidochromis Caeruleus 2.5-3 inches Wanted 1 Male Rusty Iodotropheus Sprengerae 2.5-3 inches Contact Tommy 718-423-8995 cash or trade

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

May 2010


GCAS Happenings


Last Month’s Bowl Show Winners: 1 Al Priest 2 Robert Hamje 3 Richard Waizman

Betta pulchra Ryukin Goldfish Blue/Black Betta

Unofficial 2010 Bowl Show totals to date: Al Priest 10 Robert Hamje 6

Mario Bengcion 1 Richard Waizman 1

A warm welcome back to renewing GCAS members Sharon Barnett, Mario Bengcion, Lamont Brown, Carlotti De Jager, Pete D’Orio, Joe Ferdenzi, Steve Miller, Temes Mo, Rod Mosely, Jerry O’Farrell, Mark Soberman, and Peter and Susan Steiner!

Here are meeting times and locations of some aquarium societies in the Metropolitan New York area: Greater City Aquarium Society

East Coast Guppy Association

Next Meeting: June 2, 2010 Host: Jim Breheny Event: GCAS Trip to the Bronx Zoo* Meets the first Wednesday of the month (except January & February) at 7:30pm: Queens Botanical Garden 43-50 Main Street - Flushing, NY Contact: Dan Radebaugh (718) 458-8437 E-mail: Website: *The May meeting will be at the Bronx Zoo. Call, email, or see our Web site for details.

Meets: 2nd Tuesday of each month at at 8:00 pm. Alley Pond Environmental Ctr.: 228-06 Northern Blvd. Contact: Gene Baudier (631) 345-6399

Nassau County Aquarium Society Next Meeting: May 11, 2010 Speaker: John Clairmont Topic: Killifish Meets: 2nd Tuesday of the month (except July and August) at 7:30 PM Molloy College - Kellenberg Hall ~1000 Hempstead Ave Rockville Centre, NY Contact: Mike Foran (516) 798-6766 Website:

Big Apple Guppy Club Meets: Last Tuesday each month (except Jan, Feb, July, and August) at 7:30-10:00pm. Alley Pond Environmental Ctr.: 228-06 Northern Blvd. Contact: Donald Curtin (718) 631-0538


Brooklyn Aquarium Society Next Meeting: May 14, 2010 Speaker: None Event: Giant Auction Meets the 2nd Friday of the month (except July and August) at 7:30pm: NY Aquarium - Education Hall, Brooklyn, NY Call: BAS Events Hotline: (718) 837-4455 Website:

Long Island Aquarium Society Next Meeting: May 21, 2010 Speaker: Rich Levy Topic: Fish at School, Focus on Youth Meets: 3rd Fridays (except July and August) 8:00pm. Greenhouse Meeting Room, Holtsville Ecology Center, Buckley Road, Holtsville, NY Email: Margaret Peterson - Website:


Next Meeting: May 20, 2010 Speaker: Ted Coletti / Pete Nitzsche Topic: Breeding Fish in Tubs / Water Plants & Veg Filters Meets: 7:30 PM Lyndhurst Elks Club, 251 Park Avenue, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071 Contact: NJAS Hotline at (732) 332-1392 e-mail: Website:

Norwalk Aquarium Society Next Meeting: May 20, 2010 Speaker: Martha Morris Topic: Discus in the Home Aquaria: the “Wow” Factor Meets: 8:00 P.M. - 3rd Thursday of each month at: Earthplace - the Nature Discovery Center - Westport, CT Contact: John Chapkovich (203) 734-7833 Call our toll free number (866) 219-4NAS E-mail: Website:

May 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Smarter Than They Look A series by “The Undergravel Reporter” In spite of popular demand to the contrary, this humor and information column continues. As usual, it does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of the Editor, or of the Greater City Aquarium Society. ecently I was trying to net a particular fish that I wanted to move into a larger tank. Usually as soon as I open the tank lid, that particular fish is right there at the top, begging for food. This time, I had to practically tear the tank apart to catch him. I know many (if not most) of you have had similar experiences. It’s as if the fish “knew” what was going to happen. Of course, fish aren’t that smart — or are they? Studies of Astatotilapia burtoni, a Lake Tanganyikan cichlid, show them to have the reasoning capacity of a four or five year old child, at least when it comes to figuring out social


A male cichlid eavesdrops on two other fish fighting. New research shows that these fish have the reasoning capacity of a four to five -year-old child when it comes to figuring out which of its peers is “top dog.”

dominance. (Male Astatotilapia burtoni fight aggressively to establish territory, to secure control of scarce food resources, and to maintain a location for spawning with females.) The Stanford University scientists who conducted the studies claim this to be the first demonstration that fish can use logical reasoning to figure out their social pecking order. They found that a sixth fish could infer, or learn indirectly, which were the first through fifth strongest just by observing fights among them in adjacent, transparent tanks, rather than by directly fighting each fish itself, or seeing each fish fight each of the four other fish. This type of reasoning, called transitive inference, is a developmental milestone for human children, showing up nonverbally as early as ages 4 and 5; it also has been reported in monkeys, rats and birds. It allows thinkers to reason that if A is bigger than B, and B is bigger than C, then A is also bigger than C. The scientists staged dozens of fights over an 11 day period among five different fish (known to the scientists as A, B, C, D, and E, with A being the strongest and E the weakest) in a circle of transparent, plastic tanks that allowed a “bystander” fish in a center tank to observe each fight as it took place. Fish A fought B, B fought C and so on. Later on in an open tank, the bystander was able to choose whether to associate with either the A fish or the E fish (remember, the bystander fish never saw Fish A fight Fish E). The bystander was also tested to choose between the B fish and the D fish, which had never faced each other. Bystander fish typically chose the weakest fish (those that had lost the most fights) as their preferred companion, making the safest choice for their long-term survival and ability to reproduce. This preference shows, the team writes in the Jan. 25 issue of the journal Nature, that the fish used observation and logical reasoning to infer or deduce the relative ranking among the five fighting fish. So there you have it: scientific proof that at least some fish think like five-year olds, which is somewhat more mature thinking than a few adults I know.

Reference 070124_fish_brains.html

© 2009 All rights reserved.

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Fin Fun Away to Uruguay According to Wikipedia, the word Uruguay comes from the Guarani language meaning “river where the painted birds live.” Our scheduled speaker this month will share his adventures in this country with us. He may or may not mention some of the fish endemic to Uruguay. Can you identify the fish endemic to Uruguay from the list of fish below?

Endemic to Uruguay? Scientific name

Common name


Ctenopoma acutirostre

Spotted Climbing Perch

Barbus choloensis

Silver Barb

Austrolebias viarius

Roadside Pearl Killifish

Anodontiglanis dahli

Toothless Catfish

Megalebias cheradophilus

Mud Hugger Pearl Killifish

Aplocheilus werneri

Werner’s Killifish

Megalebias prognathus

Long Snout Giant Pearl Killfish

Olyra burmanica

Longtail Catfish

Balitora mysorensis

Slender Stone Loach


Answer to our last puzzle:

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






Viewing Lots 7:30pm - 8:30pm Auction Starts 8:30pm Free Admission • Free Parking • Free Refreshments •Freshwater Fish • Plants • Marine Fish Aqua-cultured Corals • Dry Goods Discount Books • Sales Items • Raffles • Door Prizes Car Directions: Belt Parkway to Ocean Parkway South (Exit 7S). Take Ocean Parkway approx. 1/2 mile. The NY Aquarium will be on your left. Subway Directions: From anywhere take either the Q or the F trains to West 8 St, NY Aquarium Station. Follow signs to NY Aquarium.

For more information visit us on line B R O O K L Y N A Q U A R I U M S O C I E T Y. O R G