Modern Aquarium

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May 2013 volume XX number 3

over 100 years of educating Aquarists

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At the New York Aquarium, education hall, Surf Ave. & West 8th St., Bklyn, NY 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: Either the Q or F trains to West 8th St., NY Aquarium Station.

Series III ON THE COVER Our cover this month features a female Labidochromis joanjohnsonae, a cichlid endemic to Africa's Lake Malawi. For more information on this beautiful fish with many names, see Jeff George's article on page 13. Photo by Jeffrey George GREATER CITY AQUARIUM SOCIETY BOARD MEMBERS

President Dan Radebaugh Vice-President Edward Vukich Treasurer Jules Birnbaum Assistant Treasurer Ron Wiesenfeld Corresponding Secretary Sean Cunningham Recording Secretary Tommy Chang MEMBERS AT LARGE

Claudia Dickinson Al Grusell Emma Haus Leonard Ramroop

Pete D’Orio Ben Haus Jason Kerner

In This Issue From the Editor G.C.A.S. 2013 Program Schedule President’s Message April's Caption Contest Winner Cartoon Caption Contest News from the NEC Divide and Conquer! by Jules Birnbaum

G.C.A.S. Bowl Show Rules Labidochromis joanjohnsonae One Little Mbuna with a Whole Lot of Names by Jeffrey George

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A.C.A. Delegate Bowl Show Breeder Award Early Arrivals F.A.A.S. Delegate Membership N.E.C. Delegate Programs

Claudia Dickinson Leonard Ramroop Warren Feuer Mark Soberman Al Grusell Alexander A. Priest Marsha Radebaugh Claudia Dickinson Claudia Dickinson Mark Soberman Technology Coordinator Warren Feuer MODERN AQUARIUM

Editor in Chief Copy Editors Exchange Editors Advertising Mgr.

Vol. XX, No. 3 May, 2013

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

Sharks of Grand Bahama by Stephen Sica

Aquarium Superstition & Cultural Belief by Derek Tustin

Pictures from our Last Meeting by Susan Priest

Member Classifieds G.C.A.S. Happenings The Undergravel Reporter These Fish Know How to Use Their Heads

Fin Fun (Puzzle Page) Searching for Cichlids

2 3 4 5 7 8 11 12 13

16 17 20 25 26 28 29 30

From the Editor by Dan Radebaugh


t’s been a good couple of months here for fans of African cichlids. Last month’s guest speaker Larry Johnson took us on a photo tour of Lake Malawi, and in this issue former Greater City President Jeff George treats us to an article on one inhabitant of that lake, Labidochromis joanjohnsonae, the attractive little fish that decorates our cover. For those of us wondering how to keep more fish without buying more tanks, Jules Birnbaum suggests that we “Divide and Conquer!” (see page 11). However, that is not Jules’ only contribution to this issue. If you notice the “News from the NEC” section that appears on pages 8 & 9, you’ll see Jules’ name a couple of times in their annual Publications Awards, along with other Greater City authors Al Priest, Susan Priest, and yours truly. Modern Aquarium has traditionally done very well in these annual awards, and it is gratifying that we continue to do so. My thanks go out to all of our dedicated and talented authors! Steve Sica treats us this month to a very interactive example of fish-feeding in “Sharks of Grand Bahama.” In fact, I don’t think you’d want to get much more interactive than this! In addition to his roles of author/photographer/ travel guide, Steve, as you will note on our masthead, is also our Exchange Editor, and in his column “Fish Bytes,” regularly informs us what is going on in other club journals around the country and beyond, mentioning in passing which journals have reprinted articles from Modern Aquarium. While this has been a successful practice for many years, and Steve has won numerous awards for the column, you will have noticed that it has been appearing less frequently for the past couple of years. This is because there seem to be fewer and fewer clubs regularly including original (or even re-printed) articles in their journals, leaving Steve less and less to review. Setting aside the question of why a club would bother to produce a journal with virtually no content, Steve and I have been kicking around ideas for how to continue to keep our members current on what’s going on in other clubs, and maybe even provide a little inspiration for them where we can. “Fish Bytes” has been a hit for many years, and we’ll continue with that format as long as Steve wants to do it. Meanwhile, we will also begin publishing, as space allows, reprints of articles from other club journals that we find to be of particular interest or merit. As a case in point, you will


find, immediately following Steve’s “Sharks of Grand Bahama,” an article reprinted from a recent issue of Tank Talk, the journal of the Durham Regional Aquarium Society (in Canada). Let me know what you think. Moving on in this issue, Sue Priest, another NEC award winner, contributes photos from our April meeting, and the Undergravel Reporter (a prize-winning column) checks in with some thoughtprovoking information in “These Fish Know How to Use Their Heads.” I am reminded of Clint Eastwood’s movie Pink Cadillac, in which Eastwood’s character at one point used an alias appropriate to the fish in this report. Finally, and appropriately, the issue returns to cichlids as the subject for the “Fin Fun” puzzle. * * * Remember, as always, we need articles! Modern Aquarium is produced by and for the members of Greater City Aquarium Society. Our members are our authors, and with ten issues per year, 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 2013

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 6

Joe Ferdenzi 90 Years of GCAS!

April 3

Larry Johnson Lake Malawi

May 1

Sal Silvestri

Apistogrammas June 5

Leslie Dick Livebearers

July 3


August 7

Silent Auction

September 4


October 2


November 6


December 4

Holiday Party!

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 gcas@earthlink. net. Copyright 2013 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 Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

May 2013


President’s Message by Dan Radebaugh

hen you look at this month’s issue of Modern Aquarium, you will find a section on pages 8 and 9 called “News from the NEC.” First, congratulations to our Modern Aquarium authors for all their contributions, and specifically for winning these coveted awards. We have possibly grown somewhat blasé about winning so many of these, but I assure you that the authors do not feel that way about the articles they contribute, and how they are received. So it’s OK to celebrate! Winning awards takes both talent and hard work, so taking some satisfaction from a job well done is a good thing! On the facing page, you’ll notice that for the second year in a row a Greater City member has been awarded the Betty Mueller Lifetime Achievement Award. Last year’s winner was Claudia Dickinson; this year we can congratulate Leslie Dick, who by the way will be our speaker next month. Congratulations, Leslie! I’d also like to draw your attention to the Member Classifieds. I’ve previously mentioned that Gerry Domingo has some serious health issues at present, and needs to get rid of some equipment to lighten his load. Also, a former Greater City member now living in New Mexico is selling his home in Truth or Consequences (see photos). If a Greater City member ends up buying it, Charlie has offered a very generous finder’s reward to the club. Check it out! On another matter, our September meeting date this year falls on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, one of the major Jewish holy days. We are working on shifting our meeting meeting to a different date, but all the details are yet to be worked out. I'll let everyone know what the real date will be as soon as I can.




May 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Cartoon by Elliott Oshins

April's Caption Winner: Al Priest

Yes, it's true—Seeing myself in a mirror makes me flare.

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Call: 718-469-5444 Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY) May 2013


Support Fish in the Classroom! If you have any 5 or 10 gallon tanks, or any filters, pumps, or plants that you could donate to NYC teacher Michael Paoli's classrooms, could you please bring them in or email Rich Levy ( If you'd like to donate larger tanks, be sure and email Rich so he can make sure Michael can accommodate it.


May 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

The Modern Aquarium Cartoon Caption Contest Modern Aquarium has featured cartoons before. This time though, you, the members of Greater City get to choose the caption! Just think of a good caption, then mail, email, or phone the Editor with your caption (phone: 347-866-1107, fax: 877-299-0522, email: gcas@ Your caption needs to reach the Editor by the third Wednesday of this month. We'll also hand out copies of this page at the meeting, which you can turn in to Marsha before leaving. Winning captions will earn ten points in our Author Awards program, qualifying you for participation in our special "Authors Only" raffle at our Holiday Party and Banquet. Put on your thinking caps!

Cartoon by Elliot Oshins

Your Caption: Your Name: Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

May 2013


News from the NEC (Reprinted from the NEC Newsletter)




Breeder Article 1st My Experience Breeding Australoheros sp. “Red Ceibal” 2nd Keeping and Breeding Theraps wessel 3rd Danio margaritatus-The Celestial Pearl Danio

Jules Birnbaum Dan Radebaugh Lonny Langione


Jim Kenniston Don Van Pelt Jim Peterson


Humor Articles 1st Top Ten Ways to Kill a Fish 2nd Too Much Water, Too Many Fish? 3rd A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Bedroom

Open Articles 1st Blackworms-Unrefrigerated Lonny Langione 2nd A Chocolate Covered Cherry, Sphaerichthys selatanensis Alexander Priest 3rd A Fish Fit for a Desktop Jules Birnbaum


Continuing Columns 1st Komments on Killiekeeping 2nd Undergravel Reporter 3rd Wet Leaves

Joel Antkowiak Alexander Priest Susan Priest


Junior Category 1st Kid’s Korner

Emma Adelmann LIAS

NEC PHOTO CONTEST RESULTS Richard Pierce, Photo Contest Chair 8

May 2013

Class 1: Individual Fish / Fish Identification Advanced Class

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Betty Mueller Award at the NEC Convention Banquet Past recipients: 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

Betty Mueller Martin Bernard Penny Faul Ray Horn Lee Finley Ann & Walter Howe Kathy Beebe Jack Adinolfi Sandy Billings Al Faul Dave Quinn John Galvin John Stankevitch Bill Kenney Aline Brousseau Faith Quinn Tony Terciera Don Johnson Sue & Wally Bush Diane Adinolfi Chuck Davis Aline Finley Janine & David Banks Wayne Leibel Karen Randall Mark & Anne Broadmeyer Honoree, Ray Lucas James White Rit Forcier Christine & Frank Policastro Joe Masi Linda & David Giza Barbara Day Bill Cole Claudia Dickinson

Lifetime Achievement Award This special recognition is given to individuals who, over the years, have given overwhelming dedication and support to the aquarium hobby and to the Northeast Council of Aquarium Societies, Inc. (Photos by B Romeo)

2013 RECIPIENT: Leslie Dick

Ray Lucas congratulates Leslie Dick

(Left to Right) David Giza, Linda Giza, Ray Lucas, Leslie Dick, David Banks, Janine Banks, Tony Terciera, Lee Finley, Joe Masi

Page 7 of 23 Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

May 2013



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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Divide and Conquer! by Jules Birnbaum quarists who have no room don’t breed fish, don’t bring fish to our auctions, and don’t participate in the Breeder’s Award Program. There are ways that you can solve this space problem. For instance, you can purchase or construct a tank divider. They are usually made of a plastic mesh, which can be found at arts and craft stores, and cut to fit different tank sizes. Report binders, found in office supply stores, can be used to keep the mesh in place. Some aquarists have glass cut to size for this purpose. Others, for larger fish, use egg crate, while still others use the egg crate for rigidity and sew a mesh on one side. The name egg crate is misleading. This material is generally used for overhead lighting to diffuse the light. It is easily cut to size with cutting pliers. Glass dividers are not conspicuous, and look good in community show tanks, but there is no water flow between the sections. I’ve seen tanks divided into as many as three sections. Home Depot stocks sheets of glass, and sells inexpensive glass cutters. If you’ve ever attended one of Horst Gerber’s talks on the subject you will be able to cut it to size. You can also ask your local glazier to cut some glass for you. There are also acrylic sheets that can be cut to size, but small holes should be drilled to allow water circulation. An alternative to cutting holes would be to place a sponge or box filter in each section. Whether glass or acrylic, your divider can be held in place by several suction cups of the type used for aquarium heaters. Substrate can be used to anchor them to the bottom. I recently saw a tank divider made from the halfinch hardware netting that is used to surround trees. This person had made a round cage without a top, and placed it in the center of the main tank. The gravid female(s) are placed into this cage, and fry can escape to the outer area of the main tank, which should be heavily planted and not contain any predatory fish. I confess that I’m not thrilled with this idea. Another choice would be to use a two or three inch thick foam sheet. These can be purchased from such firms as Poret, JEHMCO, or Angels Plus. The foam sheets can be cut to size by the seller, or you can do it yourself. In order to circulate filtered water into the separated area, a lift tube can be used—a very good one is sold by Poret, that uses air from any air pump. A small cut is made in the foam, at the top, to seat the lift tube. Thus the foam divider acts as a second filter, or if need be, even as the tank’s main filter.


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Breeding traps, which have been used for years, hang inside the tank, and are used mainly for livebreeders. These traps are made of a mesh or acrylic. There is usually a plate with holes in it, inserted near the bottom of this cage, for fry to fall through to the bottom. An alternative to this breeding trap arrangement is to eliminate the plate and simply fill the container with Java Moss. If there are no live floating plants available, use a plastic version sold by most pet shops. An alternative to a divider is a small glass or acrylic holding tank, of 1 to 3 gallons, placed near your main tank. I’ve had such a tank on my desk, and recently wrote an article for Modern Aquarium about using this to breed small killifish. The disadvantage of this method is you need some room, and a small sponge filter. A small heater might also be required. There are disadvantages with most breeding traps or cages. How do you keep water circulating, and where do you raise the fry to juvenile size? This leads me to a relatively new idea from Hagen’s Marina division. It is a breeding box, a little over 6 inches wide, that attaches to the outside of the aquarium glass. The improvement here is a lift tube. When an air supply is attached to the lift tube, water from the main tank, is transferred to the breeding box. The air flow can be regulated by a supplied air valve. A slot with a small screen returns water to the main tank and prevents any overflow. The breeding box constantly receives filtered water, and thus there is little chance of fouling the water housing a gravid female, eggs, or later the fry, though I would not guarantee the eggs might not still have fungus problem. This breeding box is very inexpensive to purchase, but you can also make your own. Though why bother, unless you want a much larger breeding box? What type of fish might be bred using this breeding box? I would recommend starting with guppies or platys. White clouds might be next. Cory catfish eggs found on glass of the main tank could be harvested and placed here. Killifish eggs harvested from a mop are the latest I’m attempting to hatch in this way. The results are still not in at this time, but the constant flow of filtered water from the main tank, at a constant temperature, should supply the conditions necessary to hatch the eggs and keep the fry alive and thriving. Try dividing, and you will conquer!

May 2013



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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Labidochromis joanjohnsonae One little mbuna with a whole lot of names Story and Photos by Jeffrey George

he fish we all know as Melanochromis In 1980, D.S.C. Lewis chimed in to reexasperatus has been the center of a lot of describe L. joanjohnsonae, and moved the species confusion over the past several decades. to Melanochromis. Tropical Fish Hobbyist It’s an attractive mbuna from Likoma Island accepted the change of genus, but retained in Lake Malawi, and has enjoyed long-lasting Burgess’s species name; the appearance of this popularity, despite the confusion regarding its fish in Axelrod and Burgess’ seminal African identity. Breeding males are sky blue, with a black Cichlids of Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika, dorsal fin. Females and juveniles—including under the name M. exasperatus, cemented that newly-released fry—show narrow, horizontal name—the most junior and thus the least valid stripes of blue and orange. The unpaired fins of option available—as the one that has stuck in the females are marked with orange squiggles, and hobby. my girls bear a black stripe along the margin of For many years, exasperatus remained the dorsal, just like my in Melanochromis male. Despite their very because it had different coloration, the horizontal stripes fact that both male and and bicuspid teeth. female exasperatus are Labidochromis was quite attractive has no originally limited to doubt sustained their mbuna with unicuspid popularity since the teeth, thus disqualifying early importations in exasperatus from the 1970s. m e m b e r s h i p . Upon critical The horizontal inspection though, stripes placed it in most mbuna keepers A male exasperatus, Labidochromis joanjohnsonae, about Melanochromis rather immediately recognize 2.25” SL. than Pseudotropheus, that exasperatus looks nothing like the other the traditional “catch-all” mbuna genus. In recent members of the genus Melanochromis. Instead, years however, we have determined that cichlids its shape and coloration are typical of the genus adapt rapidly (evolutionarily speaking, of course) Labidochromis, where it was originally described to changes in food sources, so dentition is no as Labidochromis joanjohnsonae by Don S. longer considered a particularly reliable indicator Johnson in 1974 (no, not that Don Johnson). That of evolutionary kinship. Thus, the modern description was followed in 1975 by M.K. Oliver’s definition of Labidochromis has been broadened to allow the inclusion of exasperatus. description of Labidochromis textilis. At the So, after almost 40 years of arguing, time, Oliver considered L. textilis to be the same scientists now have returned to the original name, fish as L. joanjohnsonae, although he argued that L. joanjohnsonae, for our familiar exasperatus. Johnson’s description of L. joanjohnsonae was Based on observations in the lake, Ad Konings flawed in multiple ways, and therefore invalid (I maintains that L. textilis is a different fish, with a am oversimplifying Oliver’s points somewhat, in separate range and a different lifestyle. All photos the interest of…well, in the interest of interest). I can find of L. textilis show males that resemble Jumping in to mix things up even more was the females, rather than the solid blue males we Warren Burgess, who in 1976 re-described L. see in exasperatus. Further confusing the matter joanjohnsonae as L. exasperatus, possibly being is the existence of L. flavigulis, another species in unaware of the previous descriptions of the fish.


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

May 2013


seems to have paid off. As young adults of about which both males and females resemble female 2”, my remaining exasperatus consist of one male L. joanjohnsonae, just as L. textilis seems to. and three females, two of which have spawned Interestingly, on his website at malawicichlids. and held eggs. The smallest female—still not com, Dr. Oliver now recognizes exasperatus as L. much more than 1.5” long—has yet to spawn. joanjohnsonae, so it would appear that the matter She resembles her “sisters” exactly, however, so is settled. I am confident that she will grow up to be a girl L. joanjohnsonae is endemic to Likoma as well. The remaining two were lost fairly early Island in Lake Malawi, where fills a niche typical on, a few weeks apart, showing no signs of injury of predatory Labidocromis species. It uses its or symptoms of disease. rather precise snout and teeth to pluck insect larvae The group was set up in a 55-gallon show and other small invertebrates from the aufwuchs tank in my living room, along with groups of (algal mat) on the rocks. In fact, L. joanjohnsonae similarly-sized rusties (Iodotropheus sprengerae), is the only predatory Labidochromis species at Labeotropheus fuelleborni, and Pseudotropheus Likoma Island; the other Labidochromis species saulosi. I still have all found at this location seven rusties and all four are herbivorous, which SPECIES NOTES of the L. fuelleborni I is quite unusual for the Scientific name: Labidochromis started with, and they are genus. In the aquarium, L. breeding as well. I have joanjohnsonae thrives on joanjohnsonae Johnson 1974 not had the same luck a typical diet for Malawi Common name: Exasperatus with the Ps. saulosi— cichlids, centering on a Adult standard length: 3.5” in the only two females, now high-quality cichlid pellet wild; somewhat larger in the aquarium about 2.25” SL, remain. or flake, supplemented by pH: 7.5 to 8.5 My Bronx tap water is a veggie or spirulina flake Water hardness: Hard to very hard treated with SeaChem or pellet. Live or frozen Temperature: 75-80° F Malawi/Victoria Buffer invertebrates are accepted and Cichlid Lake Salt with enthusiasm, but Distribution: Endemic to rocky shores of Likoma Island, Lake Malawi to bring the pH and aren’t necessary for hardness up to rift lake maintenance or breeding. Reproduction: Maternal mouthbrooder levels (about pH 8.0, and In my experience, fresh best kept in breeding colonies of one at least 12° carbonate vegetables sometimes male and several females and general hardness). offered to herbivorous Temperament: Peaceful for an mbuna Additional buffering mbuna—like leaf lettuce, Environment: Lots of caves, tightcapacity is provided by green peas, or zucchini— fitting cover; indifferent to light and three inches of crushed will be ignored by this and plants coral substrate. The most other Labidochromis Nutrition: Primarily insectivorous in the tank is unheated, and species. wild; readily accepts pellets and flakes in stays close to room My Labidochromis temperature. Through joanjohnsonae were the aquarium the winter months it ran acquired as a group of six at about 72° Fahrenheit, and breeding stopped. juveniles, between 1” and 1.25” standard length As the temperature moved back into the mid-70s, (from the tip of the snout to the base of the tail fin, breeding has resumed. Filtration is provided by but not counting the tail fin). Because mbuna are an Emperor 400 power filter, with Bio Wheels for best kept in breeding groups of a single male and wet-dry denitrification. Water changes have been several females, I was very picky about which less than ideal—about 40% every two weeks or little fish I wanted. This tried the patience of the so. I’d be happier if I could make that change store clerk, who insisted that the fish couldn’t be every week, and so would the fish, I’m sure. sexed at that size. Nonetheless, I believed I could The tank was set up in late July of last year, improve my odds of getting a good breeding and the biggest exasperatus was the male, at about group by picking a couple of bigger ones with 1.25” SL. (The biggest fish in the tank was the early-developing egg spots, as well as some of male L. fuelleborni, who was about 1.75” SL at the smaller ones in the tank without any evident the time.) By late September, the exasperatus had egg spots. By skill or by accident, my fussiness 14

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

all grown by about a half inch, and I got my first fry haven’t grown as quickly as they might have. spawn, long before I expected it. The holding As of this writing (March) though, they are about female was no more than 1.5” SL, and the male 1” SL, and are ready for auction. Because the fry hadn’t made it to 2” yet. The female was left in look like the females, and because the females are the 55-gallon community tank, where she held the attractive fish, they are beautiful even at this size. eggs like a champ. Though I expected her to give Since they are headed for auction at the April up and spit or swallow her brood, she did neither. GCAS meeting, by the time you read this, one st On the 21 day post-spawn, I fished her out and of you will probably have those four fry in your stripped her of what turned out to be 5 fry, each grow-out tank. Whoever you are, I am sure you a miniature copy of their mother, as expected. will enjoy them as much as I have! The mother was returned to the community tank Back in my 55, the spring spawns are without any recovery period, and was eating beginning. The middle-sized female exasperatus with gusto the next has been holding a morning. huge mouthful for The fry were about 10 days now; placed in a 5-gallon hopefully her sisters tank with a box filter; will spawn soon as they were joined a well. I’ve also got couple of weeks later a female rusty with by 11 L. fuelleborni a brood of eggs, so fry and 3 rusty fry. things are already (The 1.25” momma looking good for this rusty edged out the season. exasperatus mother Although L. as the smallest mbuna joanjohnsonae is I’d ever stripped!) hardly a new fish Then came Hurricane in the hobby, it is a Sandy. In the week great addition to any that my fish spent in This juvenile exasperatus, already showing a distinct egg spot at mbuna collection. It unheated, unfiltered 1” SL, is the offspring of the male and female pictured elsewhere is peaceful compared tanks on the floor in this article and on the cover. The other fish shown is a juvenile to most other mbuna, Labeotropheus fuelleborni. of our kitchen (we as are most of the live on City Island now, and though reports Labidochromis species. My only cautions in indicated that our basement was quite likely keeping it would be to avoid housing it with to flood, we were lucky to be mostly spared), I other Labidochromis species, with which it might lost a mercifully small handful of fish, including hybridize, or with particularly large, rowdy two of the three rusty fry, and one of the little mbuna like Pseudotropheus williamsi, Chilumba exasperatus. Fortunately, the big mbuna tank zebras, or the bigger Melanochromis species, suffered no losses. which would likely stress exasperatus beyond When the fry returned to the basement, endurance. With these minor caveats in mind, I they were set up in a 10-gallon tank with a box heartily recommend this classic mbuna species to filter. These days, I only have time to feed my anyone interested in the cichlids of Lake Malawi. fish once or twice a day, and water changes don’t happen as often as they did a decade ago, so the

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

May 2013



May 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

SHARKS OF GRAND BAHAMA Story and Photos Stephen Sica

y wife Donna was searching the internet last May when “JetBlue Getaways” sent us an e-mail for a neat little trip to Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos islands. A few days later she received another e-mail with the price lowered by one hundred dollars. When it comes to bargains in the supermarket, Donna likes to go for it. For instance, you can never have too many Philly cheese steaks in your freezer. To break up our visit with my brother and his wife, who were wintering in Delray Beach, Florida, we all decided on a cruise to Grand Bahama Island, more popularly known as Freeport to many travelers. After being ravaged by back to back hurricanes a few years ago, there are few hotels left on the island. Our cruise package included the round trip and two nights at the Radisson Lucaya Beach Resort. Donna said that this would be an opportunity to dive, since the resort is a five minute walk from the Underwater Explorers Society, also known as UNEXSO, the primary diving outfit on the island. Over twenty years ago they began


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

a program to swim with dolphins, and several years later introduced one to dive with dolphins. In fact, I wrote an article, “Diving With a Dolphin,” about our experience with UNEXSO, for Modern Aquarium many years ago. A few years ago UNEXSO expanded its repertoire to include a shark dive, which they call “Shark Junction.” The dive is really a shark feeding experience. There is nothing quite like raw fish, wanted dead or alive, to attract sharks. I’m quite sure that sharks like sushi even more than people do. Our last “official” shark dive was several years ago in Nassau, Bahamas, so Donna thought that it time for another dose of shark excitement. She phoned UNEXSO, and was informed that the weekly Saturday afternoon shark dive was wide open for March 31st, our arrival day in Freeport. As usual, I said to “book it Donna!” I like to say that to her because it reminds me of the original version of that 1960s or 70s television show that I used to watch all the time. I don’t know May 2013 17

in the seafloor. I estimate that the concrete is about eight feet square. I was using my new digital “point and shoot” camera, a Canon Elph 300 HS, a twelve megabyte mini in a custom housing. I was anxious to try it out. We swam to the bottom; the boat hull was about 100 feet from the dive boat. Our safety diver instructed us to kneel in a straight line on the sea floor with our backs to the hull. I guess that this was to offer us a bit of protection, but not much, I assure Sharks swim around the hull of sunken sailboat. A safety diver with a pole stationed himself behind the hull to watch for stray sharks.

if the current remake uses the expression, “Book him Dano!” But if you don’t know what I’m talking about then either you didn’t watch the show way back when, or more probably, you are young. I’m guessing young. But I digress, as I often do, so let’s get back to the sharks.

Open-mouthed shark nudges feeder's fingers and hand looking for an easy meal. If you magnify this photo, you can see that the feeder's gloves are taped to wrists so a shark doesn't pull them off.

you, because the relief of the hull was perhaps four feet above the seafloor. The shark dive came with a videographer. Lastly, the most important member of the crew was the shark feeder. His name was Jim, and he was from South Carolina. He wore a chain Line attached to the shaft of the sunken sailboat's portside screw rises to the surface and the mooring buoy. The divers were instructed to line up with the low hull at their backs for protection from sharks swimming behind the divers.

Seven divers were booked to dive with the sharks. After a less than ten minute ride to the site, the boat was attached to a mooring buoy. We suited up and took a giant stride off the stern. At a depth of about forty-five feet lies the inverted hull of a twelve meter sailboat. Centered opposite the side of the boat and about twenty feet away, is a concrete square embedded

Sharks crowd around the feeder.

A mini frenzy-like feeding.


mail suit from head to toe, as did the videographer, a Canadian named Daniel. Their air hoses were also wrapped in metal. The videographer wore swim fins in order to maneuver among the sharks. The feeder had no fins, as he tugged along the bottom a narrow metal cylinder full of shark food. After everyone was in place, the shark feeder arrived—as did the sharks. It seems that they have been conditioned to follow him and the food. All of them were black-tip Caribbean reef sharks. I counted eleven; Donna counted twelve May 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

or thirteen. The smallest were in the four to five foot range, and the largest were almost eight feet in length. For the next twenty minutes Jim fed the sharks while Daniel worked his video camera. During the feeding, Jim would take a timeout now and then to perform stunts with the sharks. He mesmerized one by stroking its belly, then he stood it on end in the palm of his hand by its snout like a one-armed juggler! He mesmerized another and brought it over to the divers; we each took turns stroking the flanks of its body, fins, and tail. He put a few others into a trancelike state and carried them around to either balance them or show us. Considering the size of the sharks and their teeth so close to Jim‘s hand, I found all of this bizarrely amusing.

Shark feeder strokes snout of shark to put it into a trance-like state.

the more you take, the greater the possibility of taking a few good ones. When the feeding ended, Jim walked into the wild blue yonder and the sharks followed him, while we swam back to the boat and interacted with a few shark stragglers. A few minutes after we boarded the boat, Jim and Dan climbed aboard. They were wrapping up the video with footage of feeding a green moray eel and the large grouper. The next day we decided to purchase the video.

Videographer holds food container while feeder "tames" his shark.

I attempted to take flash photos, but the sharks feeding frenzy churned up the white sand bottom. The sharks were accompanied by an “entourage,“ which included one very large grouper and dozens of yellowtail snappers, looking for an easy meal. After snapping about fifteen or more photos that were full of pink bubbles—that is, bright light reflecting off grains of sand, I turned off the flash. This improved subsequent photos, although it gave my pictures a typical bluish hue from the filtering effect of the seawater. During the feeding I took as many photos as my camera would allow, following that old adage that

After the feeding, Donna swims back to dive boat accompanied by several sharks.

For anyone seeking just a little extra excitement, I highly recommend giving this a try. Go ahead; dive or interact with sharks in some manner. Every now and then there’s a bad apple, but for the most part the sharks leave you alone. Besides, when you’re feeling slightly bored with the job or your life in general, the feel of those ventral fins caressing your ribs, and tail fins slapping your face will really make it all worthwhile!

Feeder demonstrates his shark taming technique. How does he know when the shark is "tamed?"

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

May 2013


WTFish?: Aquarium Superstitions and Cultural Belief

by Derek P.S. Tustin


n researching my article from last month on Loricariidae, I came across a piece of information that, while I didn’t include it in the article, really got me thinking. As I mentioned, the common name for most Loricariidae involves the name pleco. While the name is actually derived from Hypostomus plecostomus, it has been co-opted by the aquarium hobby to identify almost every species of Loricariidae in one form or another. But what interested me was that in many online sources, especially in online forums, the word “pleco” is typed as “pl*co”. I ignored it for the most part, but after I finished the article it was still nagging at me, so I went back and did a bit more research. What I found was that at one time a person had typed “pleco” when discussing one of their Loricariidae, only to have the fish die soon thereafter. From that experience arose the superstition that by typing “pleco” their fish would die. So people instead started to type “pl*co”, and found that their fish lived! As we all know plecos, especially wild-caught specimens, can be difficult to acclimate to new surroundings, so it is likely that the difficulties experienced were environmental rather than any true bad mojo. Still, this was one of the first superstitions I had seen relating to the aquarium hobby. I would guess that due to the exacting care that aquariums truly require, the majority of people take a scientific approach to aquarium care and don’t consider any supernatural aspects affecting their fish. But if one superstition is present, and as humans by and large are a superstitious lot, I figured there would be some others out there, so started looking around. I stumbled across a couple of different ones using the simple search terms “aquarium” and “superstition”. Superstition, by definition, is the belief in a supernatural causality, or the belief that one event or action can cause another without there ever being a direct physical process linking the two.

The first result of my basic search was the superstition that you shouldn’t have an empty tank around as it is bad luck financially. Well, that one makes sense. After all, we all know that an empty tank is just begging to be filled. So the cost of substrate, decorations, plants, filtration, heater, lighting and fish adds up quickly and I can see where that would be a financial hardship. So maybe that one isn’t really a superstition per se, but rather the reality that most aquarists face. Another that I found was that you shouldn’t put an aquarium in the bedroom as it results in a bad relationship for the couple who sleep there. My wife has told me that I’m not allowed to have a tank in our bedroom. I guess it would make her want to go to the bathroom more often in the middle of the night, so in my case, not having a tank in the bedroom leads to a better relationship with my wife. So again, probably not a superstition. But that was about all I could find. At least until I started expanding my search and looking around. Tank Talk – March 2013 / Volume 40, Number 07 20

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It’s true that there aren’t that many aquarium related superstitions in either the North American or European aquatic communities. However, if we examine the Asian aquatic community, we find that not only are there many widely held beliefs that some might consider to be superstitions, but that those very same beliefs are the very underpinning of the entire hobby in that region of the world. The concept of aquariums has been around for thousands of years. It is known that the Sumerians, a civilization in the region that is modern day Iraq, kept fish in ponds 4,500 years ago. It was believed that fish were trapped in artificial enclosures after monsoon floods would recede. So basically the Sumerians were taking advantage of yearly flooding to capture fish as a food source. But it was the Chinese, who were not only able to keep but breed carp 4,000 years ago, that really started the aquarium hobby.

Cultural Beliefs in the Asian Aquarium Community It is impossible to provide a truly comprehensive look into why the Chinese were and are so enamored of keeping fish, but it is possible to give a quick overview. The Chinese culture is one that is very spiritual, seeking to find a balance between the world and the person. Central to their belief if the concept of “Qi” (pronounced “chee” in English), which is the life force of a person. This life force can be either positive or negative, and can be influenced in one direction or the other based on their surroundings. One of the ways in which this influence can come about is through Feng Shui. Feng Shui is a system through which a person can seek to achieve positive qi. There are five elements of Feng Shui; Wood, Fire, Metal, Earth and Water. It is believed that when all five elements are present and interact in harmony with each other, positive qi is achieved. An aquarium is believed to be an excellent method to harmonize the five elements. Water is of course the element that is present in all aquariums. Earth is present in the aquarium through the presence of sand, gravel, stones and rocks. And Wood, in the form of aquatic plants and driftwood, is easily added. But that leaves the elements of Metal and Fire. While Metal may at first seem counterintuitive, we should remember that the framework of many aquarium stands are made from different metals. But even in the modern acrylic aquariums Metal may be present not in an actual physical form, but through the presence of other items representing Metal. For instance, gold is a Metal, and can be represented by gold or silver coloured fish. It is also this colour representation that allows the presence of Fire in the aquarium. Remembering that Fire appears to us as colours, the colours red, orange, and yellow can all represent Fire in the aquarium. So the actual aquarium itself is an example of combining the elements of Feng Shui. But each of the elements also has properties associated with it. One of the key ingredients to a balanced qi is the Water element, and with the central focus of an aquarium being that element, it is understandable why aquariums have such popularity. The Water element is essential to health and wealth. It is seen as nourishing all living things, and symbolizes the flow of life. The sound of gurgling water is soothing, and it adds humidity to the room the aquarium is kept in. The motion and movement of water increases the positive energy of the area where it is (removing stagnant or negative energy), and brings good fortune and wealth. Tank Talk – March 2013 / Volume 40, Number 07 Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

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There are places where Water should be present in the house (such as at entranceways to facilitate entrance of positive energy), but also several where it shouldn’t be. For instance, as water is a restless element (always moving) it shouldn’t be present in the bedroom, where you are seeking rest. (So maybe it is a superstition as well a practical recommendation.) Further, kitchens are associated with the Fire element, so you don’t want an aquarium in the kitchen as Water and Fire would disrupt the positive influences of each other.

Lucky Fish But an aquarium without fish is just a bowl of water. The fish can also add positive energy. In the Chinese languages the word for “fish” is pronounced as “yu”, but the same pronunciation is also used for “bounty” or “surplus”. So the actual word for fish also means financial gain. And there is another aspect of fish that make them a symbol of good fortune. Fish never close their eyes, and it is believed that this allows the fish to see all obstacles and good fortune ahead. While all fish in general are considered good luck, three types are seen as being Arowana and Flowerhorns.




Goldfish As mentioned, various species of carp (mostly Carassius auratus), have fish in China for thousands of years. In process of this aquaculture, the normally silver or grey coloured fish produced red, orange and yellow mutations. This was recorded as early as the Jin Dynasty, which lasted from 265 – 420 AD. During the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD) the raising of carp in ornamental pools and ponds became popular. It was during this time that the selective breeding (rather than natural occurrence) of the red, orange and yellow mutations became popular, giving rise to the domesticated Goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus). As the domesticated colours reflected the Feng Shui representation of the Metal and Fire elements, they became extremely popular.

been raised as food

Arowana Keep in mind that for the most part we are discussing the Asian Arowanas. (There are ten species of Arowanas; four from Asia, three from South America, two from Australia and one from Africa.) While there is some dispute that the Asian Arowanas are actually separate species, many sources accept them as; • • • •

The Green Arowana farmosus) The Silver Arowana macrocephalus) The Red-Tailed Golden Arowana and The Super Red Arowana legendrei)

(Scleropages (Scleropages (Scleropages aureus), (Scleropages

While all Arowanas are believed to be lucky, the different colours of the above species supposedly bring different sorts of luck to their owners. Green Arowanas are considered the unluckiest of the lot

Tank Talk – March 2013 / Volume 40, Number 07 22

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(which accounts for them also being the cheapest of the Asian Arowanas to buy), while the Silver Arowana is believed to protect a person’s home from bad luck and evil. The Red-Tailed Golden Arowana will bring peace to the home, and the Super Red Arowana (the luckiest and most expense of them all) will keep the owner wealthy. In addition to the colours, Arowanas are considered lucky because they resemble the dragons of Chinese legend. Dragons were known as the keepers of good fortune. So the resemblance to Chinese dragons combined with the colours representing the elements of Feng Shui make Arowanas treasured as creatures of good luck and prosperity. Flowerhorns I`ll admit to being confused by Flowerhorns. The first time I was in a primarily aquarium store (Dragon`s Aquarium in Mississauga if I recall), I was surprised to see tanks of Flowerhorns. Still relatively new to the hobby, I didn`t (and visually still don`t) understand the attraction. But in the Asian aquarium community they are considered very lucky.


Flowerhorns are an interesting if controversial subject within the aquatic community. They are a man-made hybrid, originating in Malaysian in the early 1990`s. The Malaysian culture admired fish with protruding heads and considered them to be lucky. As a result, efforts were made to create a hybrid fish that emphasized this feature. The fish that are now known and sold as Flowerhorns reportedly originated from the intentional breeding of several fish including Red Devil Cichlids (Amphilophus labiatus), Trimac Cichlids (Amphilophus trimaculatus) and Blood Parrot Cichlids (itself a man-made hybrid originating from breeding of the Midas Cichlid [Amphilophus citrinellus]¸and the Firehead Cichlid [Vieja synspila]). They succeeded in creating a fish that has a very pronounced hump on its head. Supposedly this hump resembles the forehead of Shou, the Chinese embodiment of longevity, as well as symbolizing a calm and stable mountain. So, that’s the origin of the “horn” part of the name. The “flower” part of the name comes from the black marking on the Flowerhorn’s body. These are known as “hua”, which is literally the Chinese word for flower. So black markings with pronounced head hump = hua + Shou = flower + horn. Flowerhorns became very popular around 2003 when someone claimed that they “translated” the black body markings on the side of a Flowerhorn into numbers, played those numbers in a lottery and won. Another interesting way that Flowerhorns have been used in relation to lotteries is to place them in a tank with marbles. On each of the marbles is printed a number. The Flowerhorn will apparently play with the marbles, the owner will record which numbers are selected by the fish, and then play those numbers in the lottery.

Mixing Colours and the Magic 8 But the colouration and type aren’t the only aspects that Feng Shui considers when considering which fish to place in an aquarium. Also of importance is the mixture of colours and the number of fish in the tank.

Aquarium City A.S Tank Talk –Modern March 2013- /Greater Volume 40,(NY) Number 07

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The Chinese word for “8” also sounds like the Chinese word for “prosper”. The number eight is also considered lucky because the physical structure of the number is two circles with no end, and is considered a symbol of infinity. So eight is associated with prosperity, and also with infinity, and therefore has come to represent infinite prosperity. So having eight fish is considered to be extremely lucky. As mentioned before, the colour of the fish is important, with red, orange or yellow being desirable, both because of their representation of the Metal element (specifically gold) and because of their representation of the Fire element. But to ensure the best possible prosperity, you need to ensure that any negative energy is removed. So it is recommended that you have seven red, orange or yellow fish and one black fish. The black fish will absorb the negative energy of the seven other fish before it reaches you. (It should noted that some suggest having nine fish, with eight being coloured and one being black.)


So there you go. What started as a simple question of why “pleco” is spelled as “pl*co” has provided me with a greater insight into not only some of the superstitions within the aquarium hobby, but also a greater understanding of some of the differences (and reasons for those differences) between the North American and Asian aquarium communities.

This article originally appeared in Tank Talk, the journal of the Durham Regional Aquarium Society, Vol. 40 No. 7, March, 2013.

Tank Talk – March 2013 / Volume 40, Number 07 24

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Pictures from our Last Meeting Photos by Susan Priest


Our speaker, Larry Johnson (L) with GCAS President Dan Radebaugh

Dan Puleo

New Member: Joe Gurrado

Fish buddies, Joe and Artie

Ron Weisenfeld

Fish pals, Jerry and Gino

Last Month’s Bowl Show Winners:

1st Place: Rich Waizman 2nd Place: Ruben Lugo 18

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

3rd Place: Jerry O’Farrell May 2013 May 2013

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


Member Classifieds WANTED: For Restoration Project: Does anyone have some pieces of bubble-edge glass? Perhaps from a broken or old tank? Need three pieces -- Will pay! Please contact Steve: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FOR SALE: Need 6 1 2 3 1

to part with 10 fully set up tanks: Ten-gallon tanks 20-gallon-long 0-gallon tanks 125 gallon tank with wood stand and canopy

Call Gerry: 347-837-5794 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------FOR SALE: Fish Hobbyist’s Dream Home: $189,000! Fishroom: 15 X 26 – Almost 400 square feet. 10 Picture-window tanks, with builtin wall shelving underneath for storage. Room for more tanks, with pressurized air system throughout the room. Full sink (hot/cold) with work space; ceramic tile floor. Pond Room: 12 X 16 – Almost 200 square feet. 300 gallon indoor pond for tropical fish. Mag pump, ceramic tile floor, large cathedral windows, lots of light for growing plants. Gorgeous views. Great place to read the Sunday papers. Rest of House: 2 BR, 2 BA, HUGE kitchen with 49 cabinets and drawers. All rooms huge, LR/desk area. Almost 2,000 square feet. Central A/C. Climate: 340 sunny days last year. Mild winters with absolutely NO snow shoveling. Location: Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico. Great name, huh? Was formerly called Hot Springs (and yes, we’ve got ‘em). Very friendly community. Cars actually stop for you to cross the street. Rarely hear a car horn. Two blocks from town. 26

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

House Location: On historic site for Geronimo and his braves, where they ground holes in huge boulders (on the southern edge of the property) for cooking maize. Evidence still there (placard next to property). Just 20 feet below us stands a fish pond stocked with trout, and another hundred feet down is the Rio Grande River, for rafting, tubing, and fishing. For even greater bass fishing, we’re only five miles from Elephant Butte Lake, the largest lake in New Mexico, which also features water sports such as boating, swimming, fishing, jet skiing, etc. There are two marinas. View: Tremendous! From the front porch (completely tiled) you have the best view of Turtleback Mountain rising majestically above the park and river in front of you. Breakfast on the porch is breathtaking! Lunch too! Taxes: Only $600 per year. Summing Up: We’ve lived here for 19 years, and I both the fish pond and the fishroom built for my hobby, but I’m now 83, and it’s time to retire from the hobby. We watched our grandchildren grow up as they spent all their summers here. Irreplaceable memories. You could have them too. Charlie Kuhne: (575) 894-2957

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

May 2013


GCAS Happenings


Last Month’s Bowl Show Winners: 1 Richard Waizman Red Severum 2 Ruben Lugo Ancistrus 3 Jerry O'Farrell Albino Rainbow

Unofficial 2013 Bowl Show totals to date: Richard Waizman

9 Mario Bengcion 5

Ruben Lugo 3

Jerry O'Farrell 1

A warm welcome back to renewing GCAS members Bill Adams, Mervyn Bamby, Carlotti de Jager, Gerry Domingo, Harry Faustmann, Artie Friedman, Peter Goldfien, Joseph Graffagnino, Robert Hamje, Michael Gallo, Ben & Emma Haus, Michael Henderson, Rich Levy, Ruben Lugo, Jr., Roderick Mosley, Jerry O'Farrell, Richard Waizman, and Herb Walgren!

Here are meeting times and locations of some aquarium societies in the Metropolitan New York area: GREATER CITY AQUARIUM SOCIETY


Next Meeting: June 5, 2013 Speaker: Leslie Dick Topic: Livebearers Meets: 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 Email: Website:

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

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 10, 2013 Speaker: None Event: Giant Spring Auction Meets: 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 17, 2013 Speaker: Christine Williams Pasagelis Topic: When Aquariums Attack Meets: 3rd Fridays (except July and August) 8:00pm. Room 120 in Endeavor Hall on theState University at Stony Brook Campus, Stony Brook, NY Email: Margaret Peterson - Website:


NASSAU COUNTY AQUARIUM SOCIETY Next Meeting: May 14, 2013 Speaker: TBA Topic: TBD 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:

NORTH JERSEY AQUARIUM SOCIETY Next Meeting: May 16, 2013 Speaker: Larry Jinks Topic: Breeding Catfish Meets at: The Lyndhurst Elks Club, 251 Park Avenue, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071 Contact: NJAS Hotline at (732) 332-1392 Email: Website:

NORWALK AQUARIUM SOCIETY Next Meeting: May 16, 2013 Speaker: TBA Topic: TBD 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 Email: Website:

May 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

These Fish Know How to Use Their Heads 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.

Both the male (top) and female of P. cuulong bear their genitalia behind their mouths. Photograph © Magnolia Press

ational Geographic reports that: “A tiny new species of fish from Vietnam sports its genitalia on its noggin.”1 Phallostethus cuulong is a species in the family, Phallostethidae (“penis chest” in Greek), all members of which have the copulatory organs of both sexes on their heads. The male uses its bony “priapium” to clasp a female while he inserts sperm into her urogenital opening (located on her head). The priapium faces backwards and is a modification of the fish’s pectoral and pelvic fins. All members of the Phallostethidae family fertilize their eggs internally. The new species was discovered in shallow brackish waters in Vietnam's Mekong Basin. While this habitat has undergone heavy development in recent decades, these fish have proved highly resilient, and seem to have adapted to modern life. Scientists have even collected them in a ditch on the side of the road. P. cuulong, like most members of its family, is less than an inch (2.5 centimeters) long and mostly transparent, according to a study published in the journal Zootaxa.2 The placement of the male sex organ prompted at least one publication (The Huffington Post) to declare: “'Penis Head' Fish, Phallostethus Cuulong, Discovered In Mekong Delta” 3 (That’s a bit much, even for the Undergravel Reporter!)


So, are we going to let Vietnam “out-weird” us in the “fish with genitals on the head” category? Of course not! Enter the Eastern Pacific black ghostshark, Hydrolagus melanophasma, a member of the family Callorhinchidae native to (where else?) California!4 (The first new species of cartilaginous fish to be described from California waters since 1947.)

Hydrolagus melanophasma Photograph © National Geographic

Chimaeras, also called ratfish, rabbitfish, and ghostsharks, are one of the oldest groups of fishes still alive today. Male chimaeras have retractable sexual appendages on the forehead and in front of the pelvic fins and a single pair of gills. Since this is a “family” publication, I will refrain from the all-too-obvious “head” jokes and ribald references that can be drawn here. Use your own imaginations!

References 1 2 3 4

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Fin Fun In the word search puzzle below are 12 genera of cichlids found in Lake Malawi. See if you can find them all!

















Solution to last Month’s Puzzle: Select the WRONG answer: 1) These fishes will often rise to the surface for a gulp of air. B) Suckermouth catfish 2) These fishes are all livebearers. A) Corydoras catfishes 3) These are all schooling fishes. C) Red-tailed black sharks 4) These fishes are all endemic to Africa. APRIL FOOL - There was NO “Wrong” answer to this question! 5) These fishes all have horizontal stripes D) Altum angelfishes 6) These fishes all have spots. B) Heckel discus



May 2013 May 2013

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